Gus Johnson calls Illinois buzzer beater
by Chris Chase, USA TODAY Sports
Gus Johnson called a buzzer beater in his first game behind the microphone at the 2013 Big Ten tournament, because it’s March and this is what Gus Johnson does.
The energetic play-by-play man described the action as Illinois defeated Minnesota on a last-second shot by Brandon Paul. The rising inflection, the repeating of the ball handler’s name as he makes his decision, the suspenseful description of the final move, maxing out the microphone levels as the shot goes off and the feverish call as the winning team celebrates. It was glorious.
It may have been a more subdued call than usual, which is fine. First-round games between mediocre seeds don’t need to be called like the Super Bowl. It was just nice to have Gus back.
He’s arguably bigger than ever, calling primetime college football games for Fox and has a new, high-profile gig calling soccer games for the network. But without a presence at the NCAA tournament, he feels smaller.
This week, Johnson told USA TODAY Sports’ Michael Hiestand that he’s happy at Fox but would still like to be calling the event that made him. “I miss it,” he said. “Yes, I’d like to be a part of it.”
Now that Johnson has become so big, some of his excitement can seem affected. It’s like he’s trying too hard to give his fans what they want. Then he calls a game like this, which gives him a reason to go full Gus and we’re reminded of why we fell in love with him in the first place.
We miss you too, Gus.