By Andrew Zuhosky
Okay, your bracket is set, your picks for the Final Four in Phoenix have been made and your schedule for the next four days has (hopefully) been cleared. You’re ready to watch college basketball all weekend.
You’re probably also ready to hear some of the best play-by-play calls you’ve heard all year from some dynamite announcers.
One of the announcers you won’t be hearing call games, not only this weekend, but throughout the entirety of the tournament seen on CBS, TNT, TBS and TruTV is veteran play-by-play man Brad Nessler. He just returned to CBS Sports this season after over 20 years as a commentator for ESPN and ABC.
Nessler has called games for CBS’s college basketball package this season and will succeed Verne Lundquist as the play-by-play announcer for the network’s Southeastern Conference football package this fall.
In 1991, Nessler worked the NCAA Division I-AA (now Football Championship Subdivision) National Championship Game for CBS Sports, a game won 25-17 by Youngstown State University to capture the first of four FCS titles for current YSU president Jim Tressel.
Additionally, he was the lead play-by-play announcer for ABC during its inaugural season as the NBA’s current broadcast television partner in 2002-2003, being paired with Bill Walton before the two were later joined by Tom Tolbert.
In recent years, Nessler and Dick Vitale worked the Men’s Final Four and National Championship, serving as the English language commentary team for international television.
Many of us who grew up in the 2000s and had access to a video game console know Brad Nessler as the voice of the “EA Sports NCAA Football” and “EA Sports NCAA March Madness” (later retitled “EA Sports NCAA Basketball”) video game series.
I can remember playing an NCAA Football video game for the first time and hearing Nessler’s voice call out “Touchdown, Ohio State!” I thought to myself, “The way he delivered that line, it almost sounds like it was taken from an actual telecast.”
Nessler has a knack for making every sporting event he calls exciting.
If I had to select four play-by-play commentators for my Mt. Rushmore of announcers, it’d have to be Gus Johnson of FOX Sports, Cleveland Indians radio play-by-play commentator Tom Hamilton, former UFC announcer Mike Goldberg and Brad Nessler.
Personally, when I first read online that Nessler was not going to be an announcer for March Madness, I was very surprised.
Don’t get me wrong, the commentators that CBS Sports and Turner have for the tournament this year (led by Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery and Grant Hill) are great, but Nessler would give CBS/Turner that much more star power.
Richard Deitsch, a reporter for si.com, was frequently asked why Nessler was left off CBS/Turner’s starting lineup for the tourney this year. In his March 5 sports media column, Deitsch mentioned that he was given an answer to that question.
He said that he was told by someone at CBS, “We have a great bench of play by play announcers.”
CBS certainly does have fantastic broadcasters working the tournament. Nantz has been working the Final Four as play-by-play announcer every year since 1991 after Brent Musburger was fired by CBS the year before.
Keep in mind that CBS/Turner’s play-by-play roster for the NCAA Tournament can change from year to year. They could make alterations for next year as time progresses.
So while Brad Nessler isn’t part of the tournament in 2017, it might be just for 2017.
Enjoy the remaining 63 tournament games. If you need a buddy to watch the games with you, my door’s open. Bring the wings.