An excerpt from my Tribune column on one of my favorite guys.
You also can access the entire column at my Twitter feed: @Sherman_Report.
If the NCAA tournament follows its usual script, it will deliver several feel-good stories on the court in the upcoming three weeks. However, a heart-warmer also will occur at the broadcast table.
After more than three decades as one of college basketball’s most popular analysts, Bill Raftery finally will get his chance on the game’s biggest stage. He will join Jim Nantz and Grant Hill on CBS and TBS’ No. 1 team for the tournament and will be spotlighted in their coverage of the Final Four in Indianapolis.
Admittedly, the circumstances of how Raftery landed the role aren’t the best. CBS and Turner needed to find a replacement for its lead analyst Greg Anthony, who was suspended after being arrested for solicitation of a prostitute in January.
Nevertheless, CBS and Turner turned a negative into a positive with its decision to tab Raftery for the premium assignment in creating a new three-man team with Hill, a two-time national champion at Duke. Regarding “Raft”, the response seemed to be a collective “it’s about time” from the college basketball community.
“He’s so beloved,” Nantz said. “Everyone in the game truly embraces him. This is a very popular choice.”
Raftery said he has been overwhelmed by the avalanche of well-wishes from friends, colleagues and fans. It all began when he received a surprising phone call from CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus.
“I joked to Sean that I must have been the last man standing, or that he must have felt sorry for me,” Raftery said.
Seriously, Raftery said he never hungered for the assignment.
“I’m honored by the opportunity,” Raftery said. “However, I never felt that I was unfulfilled. I always enjoyed what I’m doing at the time and never have been concerned with what’s next.”