Yesterday's announcement that Kent Pavelka is returning to call Husker basketball certainly raised a few eyebrows (including mine) and reopened the last great debate inside the Husker fan base. Personally, I liked Kent Pavelka as a play-by-play voice and I'm happy that he's finally back. However, I really have to wonder... why?
The old line about Pavelka was that he "priced himself out of the job" 10 years ago, but the fact that Pavelka even offered to work for free once eliminates that argument. Even the GM of the new "Husker Sports Network" seemed to acknowledge that the sale of Pinnacle Sports reopened the doors of Husker sports for Pavelka.
But why bring Pavelka back? The simple answer is that Nebraska basketball needs an infusion of interest. Over the past few years, Creighton hoops has surpassed the Huskers in fan interest, so why not bring back the announcer who called Husker hoops during their glory days in the middle 90's? Put a little more excitement into the early basketball broadcasts, and hope that people like what they hear, both from the voice behind the microphone and the game he's describing.
However, this seems to send a strange message about the existing Husker broadcasters. Randy Lee certainly didn't do anything to lose his job. And most of the reaction from fans has revolved around returning Pavelka to the job he was most known for: the voice of Husker football.
The current "voice of the Huskers" Jim Rose has been a disaster in my mind. I thought Warren Swain, while competent, never captured the essence of the job. When Rose was named to replace Swain, I thought Rose had the passion for Husker football that Swain lacked. Problem was that Rose combines the arrogance of Brent Musberger and Howard Cosell, the vocal capabilities of Pee Wee Herman and Fran Drescher, and the accuracy problems that plagued Lyell Bremser, Pat Summerall, Keith Jackson, and Harry Caray in their final years. In other words, the worst of all announcers.
Rose has one redeeming factor as a walking encyclopedia of the history of Nebraska athletics. He can name the high school mascot of nearly every player on the team, and can probably recite the depth chart for the 1981 team. Problem with that is that there is so much information in his brain, he loses any sense of perspective. During last year's College World Series, he actually thought a home run was the greatest moment for the entire athletic department in 35 years, which included 3 national championships and two Heisman trophy winners. No wonder some fans refer to him as "aunt Blabby".
I've criticized his role as the "Husker Information Minister" over the past couple of years as the chief apologist for Steve Pederson, which makes it even more surprising that the Nebraska athletic department would bring back his predecessor. Talk shows and the internet have been full of fans saying that Pavelka is replacing the wrong announcer. Why would Host Communications and Nebraska reopen this can of worms, especially when Rose has sacrificed nearly all of his credibility in defending Nebraska against any and all criticism?
Don't get me wrong. Replacing Jim Rose with Kent Pavelka would be a welcome change in my opinion. I just think it's strange that it's happening. Perhaps Steve Pederson recognizes that despite Rose's support of him, the broadcasts have been "gravitating to mediocrity."