When Doug Gottlieb jumped from ESPN to CBS last summer, the opportunity to broadcast the NCAA Tournament was one of the “carrots” that lured him to make the move.
A former Oklahoma State point guard, Gottlieb, 37, had the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament all three of his years in Stillwater. But as an ESPN game and studio analyst, all he could do was look on with envy as CBS, and now a CBS/Turner Sports partnership, produced “March Madness.”
“When you work at ESPN, you feel like, man, we have so many of these games, we're so much a part of the sport, it stinks to sit and have somebody else broadcast the biggest part of the sport,” Gottlieb said in a phone interview.
“It's the one part of the sport that I love that I would consider myself an expert that every mainstream fan watches. The tournament is so much bigger than the rest of the season. It's unfortunate because it's been a great season, a really fantastic season, hard to be No. 1, very competitive, a lot of parity.”
Gottlieb will broadcast the second and third rounds from Salt Lake City with Spero Dedes and reporter Jamie Maggio. The first of his four games Thursday will be Wichita State vs. Pittsburgh at 12:40 p.m. Thursday on TBS. He also will get to call games with No. 1 seed Gonzaga and No. 3 New Mexico, two of his tournament favorites.
After calling two games Saturday, Gottlieb will be part of the studio crew the rest of the tourney, including working the Final Four.
“The Final Four is my Holy Grail, and I didn't get there as a player,” he said. “I used to go as a kid; my dad is a former college coach and I used to go with my friends. Now to get a chance to be part of the tournament, part of the Final Four coverage, that's more than anybody could ask for.”
The move to CBS has gone well for Gottlieb. Besides his basketball work, he hosts a 2-5 p.m. radio show on the new CBS Sports Radio network and co-hosts a late-night TV show, “Lead Off,” at 11 p.m. weeknights on the CBS Sports Network.
The only drawback has been added travel. He has made numerous flights from the Los Angeles suburb of Orange, Calif., to New York to be on the CBS studio shows.
“I'd be lying to tell you it was easy. It's a lot more travel than I had at ESPN,” he said. “I've been gone just about every weekend since Dec. 1. ... The travel has been a little hard just because it's hard to see your kids if you're not there on the weekends.”
Another of the reasons, Gottlieb said, he jumped to CBS was to be able to see his kids after school. His radio show ends at 3 p.m. Pacific time. When he lived in Connecticut, he usually got home in time to tuck his three young children into bed for the night.
“The real thing is the growth,” he said. “I'm the youngest analyst they have and I'm the only guy who gets to do games and do studio. I get to work with the CBS studio guys and the Turner guys. Next week I'll get to work with Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith as well as Greg Anthony in New York.”
Doug Gottlieb's Final Four picks
Indiana, Florida, Michigan State and Gonzaga. “I'm really torn between Gonzaga and New Mexico,” he said. “I'm wavering.”