One of the biggest questions when broadcast coverage of the NCAA tournament expanded to four networks was the matter of just what to do with Turner Sports’ Charles Barkley. Already it’s apparent what works — Barkley’s commentary — and what doesn’t — Barkley on Selection Sunday.
His role next year may be changing.
"I would work with [CBS Sports president] Sean [McManus] and make sure we both agree on it, but from my quick perspective, I don't think we need six guys on the Selection Show," Turner Sports David Levy told SI.com’s Richard Dietsch. "Charles was wrong for the show in the sense that there is so much information that we are trying to get out.
"What Charles is really good at is talking about the action of plays, what happened in the game, and the coaching. We didn't get to that because it's an hour show. If we made it a two-hour show, it might be different. But I think if it [the Selection Show] stays in that format as an hour show, I don't think it is free flowing enough for both Charles and Kenny [Smith]. I thought it was too many people trying to get too much in."
Barkley is broadcasting’s wide body and needs room to maneuver. The selection show screams out for informationaand quick analysis, not Barkley’s barbs. David Letterman asked Barkley, accustomed to NBA commentary, about his qualifications for college telecasts earlier this week. “Basketball is basketball. I mean, it's no different ... it's all basketball,” Barkley said. “The toughest thing is trying to learn all the players, which I don't think I'm going to be able to do that anyway. I mean, there's 68 teams. Some of these guys think that because they know the players' names, they know something about basketball. They don't know anything about basketball, they just know the players' names.”
Letterman pointed out one obvious difference: two 20-minute halves. “... You know it's really weird you say that 'cause the other day me and Kenny [Smith], every time we did a show, we went and sat down and within 30 seconds it was already halftime. It wasn't like two long quarters. It was driving us nuts. We had to rush through our meals because this comes around very quickly.”