Thursday, December 27, 2012

The first game called by Dick Enberg and Billy Packer

38 years ago tomorrow, Dick Enberg and Billy Packer called their first game together, a matchup of UCLA at Maryland. At the time, college basketball was very much a regional sport with a minimal national TV presence. Enberg was the primary play-by-play announcer for the TVS network founded by Eddie Einhorn. Packer worked as the main analyst for ACC games on the Chesley network produced by C.D. Chesley.

The game took place on Saturday 12/28/1974 at 9 pm ET and was syndicated to much of the nation. This telecast was the first joint production between TVS (which had rights to several conferences including the Pac-8 which included UCLA) and Chesley (which had rights to the ACC and therefore Maryland).

Packer's book Hoops: Confessions of a College Basketball Analyst provides a lot of detail on the first Enberg/Packer telecast. However, Packer incorrectly describes it as "a 1975 Super Bowl Sunday game". These teams did not play on 1/12/1975 (or any other Super Bowl Sunday for that matter) and there was no national college basketball telecast on this date either. The game actually took place two weeks earlier on a Saturday night.

According to Packer's book, the question of whether this telecast would feature TVS or Chesley announcers was still undecided until the morning of the game. Eventually, Einhorn and Chesley came to a compromise agreement. Enberg opened the telecast and called play-by-play for the first half. Jim Thacker (who was Packer's regular broadcast partner on the ACC games) handled play-by-play for the second half. Packer was the analyst throughout. Thacker did sideline features while Enberg was calling the game and vice versa. Packer said that he met Enberg that morning for the first time.

In his book Oh My!, Enberg also mentions this game and raves about how impressed he was with Packer's basketball knowledge and insights on that first telecast.

Enberg and Packer became a regular tandem during the 1975-76 season when NBC in conjunction with TVS put together a weekly package of national games. NBC first hired Enberg to broadcast this package and actually considered having him call the games solo. According to Enberg's book, he had been so impressed with Packer from the 1974 game that he recommended NBC sign Packer to be the analyst. Two seasons later, the network added Al McGuire to the mix to form a legendary broadcast trio.


  1. You are "Wrong" my son! There was actually a couple of Super Bowl Sunday College Basketball Games in the 1970's leading up to the Big Game!
    For starters, in 1974 and 1976 Maryland played North Carolina before 1st, SBVIII Minnesota vs Miami and then SBX Dallas vs Pittsburgh!
    I'm not done, before Super Bowl XI(Oakland vs Minnesota) NCState played Maryland and before SBXII(Dallas vs Denver) the Soviet National Team took on UCLA! I'm guessing I'm missing a few if not a lot!!!(all on NBC and TVS)
    So as far as no College Basketball Games on SB Sunday? "Get your facts straight"!

    1. Thanks for your interest. You may want to re-read my post. I never said there were no Super Bowl Sunday games. I simply stated that UCLA and Maryland never played each other on Super Sunday in the context of pointing out an error in Billy Packer's book. I am well aware of the 1970s Super Sunday games and in fact I did a separate post on the first such game (which was in 1973, not 1974 - and which featured Maryland vs NC State, not UNC - and which was syndicated by Chesley, not an NBC/TVS production).