Since the news broke two days ago that Billy Packer will no longer be behind the microphone for college basketball telecasts on CBS, I have read several columns/blogs/message boards about the man.
I'd say 90 percent were celebrating the sacking of a guy who's been as much a face of college basketball the last 30 years as any coach.
For the most part, those celebrating are saying they hated Packer because he acted and talked like he knew more about the game than most people.
Well, here's some news for those of you who didn't like him.
He did know more than you.
He knew more than me.
He knew more than most of the players and could probably hold his own with many of the coaches.
It's funny. I love Dick Vitale; believe he represents the heart and soul of college basketball. But I don't pretend to believe that Dickie V tells me a lot about the game I'm watching. He's more personality and entertainment than information.
Packer was the opposite. He wasn't going to tell you that 6-foot-9 Johnny Jumpball played for the Look-at-Me AAU team and won a national championship when he was 4.
Packer was going to tell you he can't handle the ball going to his left and needs to use his size to get on the glass. Packer didn't tell you what kids were, but rather what they should be.
And, unlike Vitale, Packer shunned the spotlight away from the games. He didn't schmooze with the beat writers in the press room, didn't spend time with the fans. That wasn't his job.
And that's why he lasted as long as he did.
You don't do one job for as long as Packer without knowing your subject. Television didn't keep him around because he was just another pretty face hiding under that cue ball of a head. They kept him around because he knew more than most about the games he was trying to explain.
What you Packer haters really disliked was that he wasn't a homer for your team, didn't claim your coach was the greatest thing since Naismith, didn't care which AAU team your star player came from or how high he was rated on thisorthatrecruitingscam.com.
Packer talked about the game in front of him and prepared for it more meticulously than perhaps anyone who has ever called himself a color analyst. In the week leading up to the first round of the NCAA tournament, Packer often would come to Winthrop, find himself a room, surround himself with every bit of information he could absorb on every team in the field and then head off to his first assignment ready to tell things like they were.
He was honest, almost to a fault, to the point he was perceived as being negative.
And, yeah, he said some stupid stuff. Calling Allen Iverson one "tough little monkey" was a blunder. Getting into that tiff with two young ladies at Duke who didn't recognize him at the door and asked for a credential wasn't smart. But in both cases, Packer was speaking his mind.
He got into it with coaches. In 2004, he blasted the NCAA tournament selection committee for making St. Joseph's a No. 1 seed. He argued with St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli on TV. And, of course, Packer turned out to be wrong. St. Joe's came within a win of the Final Four.
Most of all, Packer didn't mind taking the committee to task for their choices. But once the games began, he called the game that was in front of him with insight and honesty.
So, next season we trade Packer for Clark "Squeeze the Orange" Kellogg. Kellogg was an outstanding player at Ohio State and should know more than most about basketball. To me, he's the master of the obvious. I've never heard him say one thing during his time as a studio analyst or on the sideline that made me say, "Yeah, never thought of that."
Give me Jay Bilas or Bill Raftery any time.
In reading those items about Packer the last couple of days, it's as though everyone thought Packer was pulling against their team.
Maybe that means his objectivity was pretty darn good.
I know this much.
Packer was good, he'll be missed and college basketball won't be the same.
Because bucko, he did know more than you.