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Collected wisdom: FOX's Gus Johnson talks about his meteoric rise

After 15 seasons on CBS in which he became widely known for his enthusiastic delivery in the NCAA basketball tournament, Gus Johnson jumped to FOX Sports last year to be the lead college football announcer.
by Mel Bracht Modified: September 15, 2012 at 4:48 pm •  Published: September 15, 2012
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photo - FOX College Football & NFL on FOX Play-by-Play Announcer: Gus Johnson. PHOTO PROVIDED
FOX College Football & NFL on FOX Play-by-Play Announcer: Gus Johnson. PHOTO PROVIDED

After 15 seasons on CBS in which he became widely known for his enthusiastic delivery in the NCAA basketball tournament, Gus Johnson jumped to FOX Sports last year to be the lead college football announcer. His signature phrases include “Bam!”, “Cold-Blooded!” and “Ha-Haaa.” He and analyst Charles Davis will be in Norman on Saturday to call the Kansas State-OU game at 6:50 p.m.

Johnson, who graduated from the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy and with a political science degree from Howard University, talked about growing up in Detroit and his broadcast career.

I was educated by Jesuit priests. Not only was it strict, but if you got out of line, you could catch a left hook.

I played some ball — football, basketball, baseball growing up as a kid, hockey. I played squirt all the way through bantam. My mother, her whole thing was “an idle mind was the devil's workshop.” She kept me busy all the time.

My father was a hardworking dude. He worked for the city of Detroit for 40 years. He wasn't a sportsman as much as he loved music. He could have been a crooner if he got a break. He always made sure that I kept my nose clean.

I was a member of the Boys Club from the age of 6 all the way through high school. I came back and worked there in the summers when I was in college. They taught me a little bit of everything. Like the old saying goes, “It's a club that beats the streets.”

I had thought about becoming a lawyer or a priest. Lawyers work too hard. Priests, I didn't think I could make that commitment. Sportscaster is the next best thing. A lot of fun. As my father would always say, it beats working at the plant.

My first job was in Waco, Texas. Oh gosh, I loved that place. I was a weekend anchor, a weekday reporter. I edited, set up live shots, covered high school football, Baylor sports. I remember shooting a T-ball game for 6-year-olds. I miss the food. Chicken-fried steak and gravy. Luby's. I wish I could get some food like that in New York City. I'd be happy.

When I left Washington, D.C., to work for Madison Square Garden Network, that's when everything opened up for me. I learned so much. I worked around so many great announcers. I was doing regional TV in New York City every day, so they saw me everyday. Not long after I got a call from CBS.

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by Mel Bracht
Copy Editor, Sports Media
Mel Bracht is a copy editor on the presentation desk and also covers sports media. A 1978 graduate of Indiana University, Bracht has been a print journalist for 34 years. He started his career as sports editor of the Rensselaer (Ind.) Republican...
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