Every year around this time I ask myself the same question – why is Billy Packer the lead analyst for CBS’s coverage of March Madness? While Packer is working the game for the TV audience, Bill Raftery is calling the game for the much smaller radio audience with more passion, knowledge, and love for the game than Packer.
Raftery and Verne Lundquist are CBS’s second pair to Packer and Jim Nantz, who have been number one for the past 15 years. Packer seems to be hated by more fans than he is loved, mostly for his intense ACC bias (particularly towards his Alma matter Wake Forest), his refusal to accept mid-major conferences as worthy competition for power conferences, and his inability to admit when he is wrong. Raftery, on the other hand, is revered for his enthusiastic and animated commentary that displays his love for the game.
Packer has repeatedly insulted others with his unwarranted criticism. In 1996 Packer described the Georgetown Hoyas star guard Allen Iverson as a “tough monkey”. He also questioned Larry Bird’s Indiana State team, Jameer Nelson’s St. Joseph’s team, and this year’s George Mason team for getting too much respect from the selection committee as mid-majors. Each went on to prove Packer wrong in the tournament, yet Packer will not publicly admit to it or apologize for his comments.
In direct contrast, the fun-loving Raftery is best known for catch phrases such as “[team] is going MAN to MAN”, “Send it in, Jerome”, “With the kiss”, and my personal favorite, “Onions!” Raftery is also extremely intelligent when it comes to his basketball IQ. From 1970 to 1982, Raftery was the head coach of Seton Hall University where to he led them to four ECAC post-season tournaments and two NIT appearances
What are you waiting for CBS? Pull the plug on Packer and give the fans what they want – a more knowledgeable, more fun, and less bitter analyst!
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