Not sure which is worse news for the Kansas State amateur football program - QB Collin Klein (concussion, we think) is not necessarily a sure thing to play on Saturday at TCU, or that Fox is using Gus Johnson to call the game.
Johnson is scheduled to arrive in Fort Worth sometime today, which should please Horned Frog nation greatly. The dude does nothing but call upsets, up to but not including the Washington Generals win against the Harlem Globetrotters.
This is a major get - there may not be a better TV play by play in the biz right now than Gus. The guy bubbles enthusiasm.
I spoke with Gus on Wednesday for a bit for his thoughts on why he is Mr. Upset.
The Big Mac Blog: Are you aware of your reptuation as the voice of upsets?
Gus Johnson: I have nothing to do with it. That’s the football and basketball gods. Over the years you do start to notice you are a part of a lot of great games and great finishes. I'm not going to turn it down and run away from it. That’s been my path so far. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to see a great game on Saturday.
The Big Mac Blog: When did you become aware of it?
Gus Johnson: I didn't pay any attention to it until Vegas had a whole thing on it. They looked at all the games I called and they did some mathematical thing that the underdog was winning, like, 70 percent of the time. I was like, 'I wish I was a bettor - I'd bet on me.'
The Big Mac Blog: Your 'Rise and Fire' is rather popular; what is the origin of that line?
Gus Johnson: When I started broadcasting, we all look for something that makes us stand out. When I played little league baseball we would tell our pitchers, 'Rock and fire'. That was a team mantra. When I became a broadcaster I was trying to figure out how to describe how certain players. One day I saw a guy pull up and he was rising and he fired a jump shot and it went in. That stuck in my mind.
I said it casually to myself I started to add it and it worked it. People liked it. I liked it because it helped me with my rhythm.
The Big Mac Blog: Do you try to avoid using it too much?
Gus Johnson: Yeah, I don’t want to use it too much beause it can come across as corny. It’s a feel thing. I like to use that when I see a player get into a good rhythm. Shooting the ball is a lost art especially in college.
Mac Engel: Do fans come up to you and mention your call from this or that game?
Gus Johnson: Yeah, but I've called so many games I don't even remember. I don't remember what I said because I'm so in the moment and when it's one I'm wrenched. When it's over, it just leaves.
The Big Mac Blog: Of the upsets you have called, which one stands out the most?
Gus Johnson: To me it was Princeton beating UCLA in the first round of the NCAA tournament in 1996. It was in Indianapolis, and UCLA was the defending champions. That was my first year doing those games. You had Pete Carrill pulling out his hair, and guys hitting shots they would never hit again, and that backdoor play.
The Big Mac Blog: Have a good game and enjoy your trip here.
Gus Johnson: Thanks. Hopefully I'll get to meet J.R. Ewing.
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