The NCAA Tournament gets started again tonight and once again on the call at two different locations with be play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson and color commentator Bill Raftery. Raftery (featured in a great NY Times article) will handle Pittsburgh-Xavier and Duke-Villanova while Gus is on Louisville-Arizona and Kansas-Michigan State. The shame of the NCAA tournament is that we never get to hear these two guys together. I think they work great with their current partners. Raftery is with Verne Lundquist of Happy Gilmore fame while Gus, well it doesn't really matter who Gus is with, but he is joined by Len Elmore.
I'm far from alone in having Gus as my favorite college play-by-player or Raftery as my favorite college hoops analyst - but we need to have some games with these guys together. Are we really ready for these two to be together? Maybe not, the energy would be completely off the charts. From Raftery opening the game signaling a team in "man-to-man" defense to Gus closing out a potential close contest with insane calls such as "Brooklyn, Stand Up!" it would be wire to wire entertainment. I really wish this would happen but I fear that it just won't because these two guys are the stars of their teams. People tune in to hear Raftery and likewise for Gus and it might leave some other games lacking. My thought is it is fine to keep these two men apart throughout the tourney but please bring them together for the Final Four. Nothing against Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg but things would just go up another level if Gus and Bill were on the call.
Since every elite announcing team needs a sideline reporter I think adding in Jay Bilas would be a nice touch. He knows his college hoops and would add a serious guy to this team. You can't have someone all jacked up reporting a broken ankle from the Marquette bench so Jay can cover that angle. Also in the likely event Gus and Bill blow out their microphones on an alley-oop dunk Jay could fill in momentarily from the sidelines.
With this dream team in mind I looked at some other major sports and assembled their great teams. Some of these people have worked together but it would be nice to see it again and on a more regular basis.
Play by Play - Marv Albert
Color - Bill Walton
Sideline - David Aldridge
Marv is hands down the best in the NBA in play-by-play so that is a no brainer. Nothing makes a game even better than hearing Marv say "Yes" or "Oh what a move." Walton has overcome a stutterring problem to be a heck of an analyst although back issues have kept him on the shelf as of late. He is great for calling out players who are loafing and also played the game at an MVP level so he adds credibility. Aldridge is just very knowledgeable about the NBA and comes without the hideous suits or bad humor of Craig Sager.
Play by Play - Bob Murphy
Color - Keith Hernandez
3rd Man - Harold Reynolds
This of course has a heavy Mets slant on it as I am a Mets fan. We include Murphy prior to his coughing bouts because he was always good for the Happy Recap and over 162 games every team needs a homer. Keith Hernandez pulls no punches and says whatever he wants which is refreshing. Finally we shout out the Godfather in Harold Reynolds. Does a pretty nice job in providing the playing perspective.
Play by Play - Gus Johnson
Color - John Madden
Sideline - Kim Kardashian
Well this would be a real treat, as again we bring in Gus who also does football so this is totally feasible. Madden is the legend when it comes to color commentators, he would likely ignore most of what Gus said but Gus would set him up nicely for some of his Maddenisms. Finally we bring in Kardashian who to my knowledge doesn't work in sports but dates Reggie Bush so likely has some idea of what is going on. Also we get to hear Gus flirt with Kim which would also be worth tuning into the Bengals-Chiefs.
Play by Play - Gary Thorne
Color - Darren Pang
Sideline - Barry Melrose
I don't watch much hockey so I'm going on limited knowledge here. I know Thorne is good at most things he does and has a good voice for hockey. Thorne slightly edges that guy from the Panthers who just quotes movie lines. Pang or Panger which I believe he is known played goalie back in the day, knows the sport, and follows the Canadian rule that you must add a "y" or "ie" to the end of every players name. This applies to Gordie Howe and Bretty Hull. Barry Melrose and his mullet do a nice job on ESPN so he seems like a good choice to round out this team.
Play by Play - Gorrilla Monsoon
Color - Bobby "the Brain" Heenan
Guest Wrestler - Rowdy Roddy Piper
Gorrilla was a staple for many years as the play by play man for the WWF and he worked very well with Heenan in their love-hate relationship. Monsoon was classic for calling out Heenan's often glaring side agendas such as the progress of Rick Flair in the Royal Rumble 1992 or the success of a certain Mr. Perfect. Heenan meanwhile helped push the "heel" story lines and is also responsible for costing the Ultimate Warrior a match against Ravishing Rick Rude by holding down the Warrior's leg (a move no official happened to witness). Piper lands here solely for his work in Summerslam 91 where he coined the phrase my friends and I still use today as words of encouragement, "Come on VIRGIL!"
While many of these pairings are no longer likely the Gus-Raftery team can be a reality, it is just up to CBS to make the call. Hopefully they come to their senses before this tournament ends and it's too late.