Thanks to two network talent changes announced this week, I'll be less likely to use the mute button during the upcoming NFL and college basketball seasons.
In college basketball, Billy Packer is out as CBS' lead analyst after covering 34 consecutive Final Fours. Studio analyst Clark Kellogg, 47, will join Jim Nantz on the No. 1 broadcast team. The NFL Network has hired New York Giants play-by-play announcer Bob Papa to replace Bryant Gumbel on its late-season package of Thursday night telecasts. Cris Collinsworth will return as analyst. Packer, 68, had turned into a crotchety old know-it-all who clearly didn't. He had become a constant complainer about college basketball, and his commentary was stained by his pro-ACC bias. Packer showed particular disdain for mid-major teams when they received bids to the NCAA Tournament, complaining when four Missouri Valley Conference teams were selected in 2006 and St. Joseph's received a No. 1 seed in 2004. He also had his share of controversial incidents. In 1996, he called Georgetown guard Allen Iverson a "tough little monkey,” and in 2000, he made sexist comments to two female Duke students who were checking his credentials before a game. The Washington Post reported that Packer knew during the 2007-08 season that it would be his last year working with Jim Nantz, who also was aware his long-time partner would not be returning.
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Billy Packer, left, is out after 27 years as the lead college basketball analyst for CBS. Jim Nantz, right, will work with Clark Kellogg at the Final Four starting this April. Associated press