UPDATE 2: A new twist to the story that's big enough to go at the top of the post instead of the bottom. Apparently, this wasn't a spontaneous decision. Packer said this to the AP:
"These are really good circumstances," Packer told The Associated Press by phone. "This decision was made with myself and CBS over a year ago. Their timing to announce it is their business. I have nothing to do with that. I was working on a series of 1-year contracts for several years. ... I did say there would be no mention during the season so as not to detract from the games and the guys involved."
Well, that makes things a bit more interesting, doesn't it?
Now back to the original post...
I'm working on a feature post for either later this week or early next week, but we've got some big breaking news tonight:
The Miami Herald is reporting that Billy Packer is out at CBS.
CBS has decided to replace Packer, 68, with studio analyst Clark Kellogg on its lead announcing team.
An announcement is expected Monday, but CBS representative Leslie Anne Wade confirmed the story Sunday night.
I remember talking about Packer with Mike Jensen at some point on the College HoopsCast though I forget which show. We generally agreed that Packer is a great analyst of what happens on the floor in the game, but his record in discussing things other than tactics is well-known.
A big part of that record is Packer's history with St. Joe's, and his putdowns of the Hawks during their unbeaten regular season in 2003-04. Though he may have softened his tone over the last year or so, there's no question he favored the BCS-conference teams over the mid-majors.
Having said that, I'm not willing to say the news of Packer's departure merits a big celebration - though Awful Announcing got the party horns out of the drawer pretty quickly.
I'd rather not say good riddance to a guy who has called more Final Fours than anyone else. Packer knows a heck of a lot about the game no matter what filters his knowledge has come through over the years.
So I hope you don't mind me leaning more towards the respectful side of things for now. There will be plenty of time later for me to tell you why I won't miss his rants about the state of the game.
(By the way, send a click to ACC Now after leaving your thoughts here, as that's where I found out about the story.)
UPDATE: It's official now; here's the AP story. Some quotes from the press release:
With his unquestioned popularity and performance over the years, Clark Kellogg earned all rights to this top spot,” said [CBS News and Sports President Sean] McManus. “Like Billy Packer, Al McGuire or any of the most highly regarded broadcasters, Clark is an original voice with his own style and perspective. We have been proud to have him lead our studio presence for many years and look forward to his fresh impact on CBS Sports’ coverage of college basketball for years to come.”
"Billy Packer has set the standard of excellence for over 30 years," added McManus. "I can’t express how important he has been, not only to CBS Sports and it’s coverage of college basketball, but also to the growth of this great sport. It is almost impossible to over-estimate his passion, knowledge and commitment to the game."