Monday, July 14, 2008

Good riddance Billy Packer

* Billy Packer is leaving CBS.

Would any other statement in college sports cause as much universal celebration as that one? Some might come close, but I dare you to name two people you know who actually like Billy Packer. Some may be indifferent, but does anyone actually enjoy the man? I honestly can't name a single person I know.

CBS ended its partnership with the controversial basketball analyst on Monday, 27 years after Packer landed arguably the best college basketball job in the country. He has worked 34 straight Final Fours, has probably seen more Duke-Carolina basketball games than Mike Krzyzewski, and served as the voice of arguably the greatest game of all time -- the 1983 National Championship game NC State won at the buzzer:

"They won it... on the dunk!"

Despite all that history, I dare you to Google Billy Packer and find positive posts from bloggers, sports writers or ... well ... anyone. Seven of the top 10 things you will find are all critical, two offer today's headline that he is leaving, and the only other thing listed in the top 10 is Packer's Wikipedia page, which details plenty of the controversies he is known for:

• He called Allen Iverson a "tough little monkey" in 1996.

• He allegedly asked two Duke students, "Since when do we let women control who gets into a men's basketball game? Why don't you go find a women's game to let people into?" when the two students asked to see his credential in 2000.

• In 1979, 2004 and 2006, Packer criticized the inclusion or ranking of teams in the NCAA Tournament only to later eat his words when those teams performed well.

What is perhaps most surprising is that the disdain for Billy Packer is held across both rivalries and conferences. Do Carolina fans like Billy Packer? Ha, head to Google again and type in "Billy Packer UNC." The first five hits are all along the lines of the first one -- "Fire Billy Packer." Ironically though, the enemy of their enemy is still hated at Duke. Blue Devil fans can't stand the man either. Ditto for the average Maryland fan, NC State fan... and you get the point. Maybe those "indifferent" people all went to Wake Forest, but being from Winston-Salem, I know plenty of Demon Deacon fans who loathe Billy Packer as well.

Now it's Clark Kellogg's turn.

I enjoy Kellogg's analysis for the most part on CBS, though I am hoping he goes a little more indepth with his analysis this year. (Personally, I was hoping for ESPN's Jay Bilas even though I knew it was wishful thinking.)

The thing I like most about the switch -- and the reason most people dislike Billy Packer -- is this will end the negative analysis. Too often, Packer criticized college kids for not making plays. If someone got their shot blocked, it was because they made a bad play -- not because the defender made a good play.

I'm happy to hear fair criticism and I encourage it, but Packer went far too negative far too often. He also gave analysis of players' body language. As an analyst, don't go there. Tell me about basketball, tell me why UCLA's guard play is giving Stanford fits, but don't tell me that one player's heart just isn't too the game or that he's quitting on his team. You have no idea what's in his heart or what's in his head.

I'm happy to be getting an analyst and not a shrink.

Goodbye Billy Packer. Good riddance.


Anonymous said...

I would have much rather seen Dick Vitale get fired. He needs to be forcibly retired too.

Anonymous said...

I have been a college basketball fan and followed the game for 20+ years.

Who cares about Billy Packer?

oh yeah, Go Niners !!!

Anonymous said...

nTo be honest, I thought Packer was honest and brought up good points in most games. Did he go overboard sometimes, sure. But he is substantially better than Vitale or the other guys you hear on ESPN.

Anonymous said...

Horrible person and commentator.

Wes Wilson said...

I like the passion that Dick Vitale brings to the arena and to each basketball game he does. I much rather have his enthusiasm for the game than Packer's seemingly disdain for one of the coolest jobs on earth.

Also, behind the scenes, Vitale is truly a nice guy and does even absurd things for fans (like leaving voicemails for one fan's Mom.)

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I would much rather listen to Billy Packer than Dick Vitale. I'd rather listen to Phyllis Diller than Dick Vitale.

Vitale just likes to hear himself talk. It might not be so bad if he actually talked about the game that we're watching but he has flashbacks to some games/players than no one has ever heard of nor cares about.

If Dick Vitale is commentating, I try to pick up the game on XM. If I can't get it there, I just leave the sound off and watch the game.

cliff said...

packer should have been gone along time ago. he hates all teams if they are not W.F.U.. who cares. he has bad comments about every player if not playing for his university. he especially hates u.n.c.?? jealous packer?? i am personally glad to see him gone. i could not stand too hear him commentate on a game i was watching, especially the unc-duke game. good ridance,hey hey hey, bye bye.....lets go vitale

Erik said...

Vitale is fun! Packer just seemed like a grumpy old man wishing he could still play instead of enjoying the game.

I was hoping Gus Johnson would take over... I know he's not an analyst, but he's the most exciting play-by-play guy out there.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the idea that Packer tried to be too much of a shrink and was too critical. I also always felt that he did show bias for one team or another during a game by the way he called it. I don't like the way Vitale calls games as well, he is all flash and dash and very little substance. Maybe if he tempered his hyperactive blathering, he could probably be a far better to hear speak. I have always felt that he is more of a promoter than analyst. I guess I can live with Kellog, but I agree with you, he needs to add bit more substance. However, you can always turn down the volume, and turn up the radio broadcast. Or turn off the video outright.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the general consensus here. Let's go for a full overhaul and get rid of the Duke-riding Vitale. He is non-sensical, brining up Duke during non-Duke games. We get it Dick, you like Duke... now let's hear some commentary on the game we're watching! Let's replace Dick.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe Billy Packer lasted as a broadcaster for as long as he did. He is horrible.
He is soley responsible for making Woody Durham the celebrity he is today. When we could not attend the games we would turn on the TV, mute the volume and tune in Woody Durham for the play by play. Listening to Billy Packer is worst than going to the dentist.

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