Ranking college football’s best commentators with an SEC emphasis


Sometimes, the call is just as memorable as the play.

Admit it. You’ve scoured the internet during game week trying to find which network’s broadcast team will bash or pump up your team during a featured matchup the following weekend. The A-Team excites you enough to respond during pre-game chatter while a sideline report from Holly Rowe elicits an eye roll.

Here’s a list of press box heroes and where they fit amongst college football’s current greats:

1. Verne Lundquist — Love him or hate him, Verne’s had a sparkling 47-year career in broadcast journalism and last season, at the ripe age of 73, was the beneficiary of two of the most memorable plays in college football history involving the Auburn Tigers. The ‘Golden Throat’ has taken us through decades of top football games, witnessed some of Tiger’s most dramatic putts and had a courtside view of Christian Laettner’s dramatic turnaround that sank Kentucky in the 1992 Final Four. We as viewers can overlook a name screw-up every quarter because Verne’s an icon.

He’s the Jim Ross of SEC football without the ego. Go enjoy another ‘Vernegasm’ for us all Mr. Lundquist, the gem of CBS Sports.

Related: Fan launches petition over CBS Sports’ broadcasters

2. Kirk Herbstreit — The former Ohio State quarterback is a ratings sensation behind the mic on College GameDay and has been a living room staple on fall Saturday mornings for more than a decade. Herbie, not Lee Corso, is the reason we all remain glued to the familiar pre-game time slot. Corso and Desmond Howard give us laughter and pizzaz while Herbie provides scoop, an inside look at college football’s elite. The consummate professional, Herbie never predicts a winner for the Saturday Night Game of the Week he’s calling and is partial to ranked teams — just not his native Buckeyes. When he puts someone on upset alert, it’s usually a legitimate selection.

The only major gaffe of his broadcasting career was reporting that Les Miles had accepted an offer to become Michigan’s next head coach in 2007. SEC fans everywhere forgive you Herbie, and with a little more flair, you could move into the top spot down the road.

Related: Herbie told SEC fans to claim an SEC loss to Pac-12 team in 2013

3. Gus Johnson — God bless late-night football on the East Coast and the opportunity to witness Johnson’s magical talent in the booth. America’s most excitable commentator is a pick-six away from picking you up off the couch into a realm of pandemonium. Imagine yourself calling your favorite team’s game anticipating the next touchdown or momentum-changing defensive stop. That’s Gus to a T.

It’s a shame the SEC Network hasn’t bribed Gus to part ways with Fox Sports 1 for its inaugural season. Can you say ratings gold? This month’s Cotton Bowl featuring Missouri and Oklahoma State was a welcomed preview of perhaps a future partnership.

Related: Brent Musburger getting replaced on Saturday Night Football?

4. Brent Musburger — Katherine Webb. Brent Musburger. Ring a bell? The ESPN/ABC behemoth synonymous with the Bowl Championship Series now jokingly fits the ‘creeper’ mold after he went over-the-top during the 2013 BCS Championship Game when cameras panned toward the girlfriend of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron. Amidst the glitz and glamour of Ms. Webb, Musburger got ahead of himself and a little too excited while co-host Herbie didn’t take the bait. The announcer became the post-game story, something none of us in sports media wishes upon anyone.

Musburger has added the soundtrack to various professional and college sports since 1973 and his personable way of speaking is welcomed by millions. He has reportedly been offered the SEC Network’s lead commentator position.

Related: What Brent Musburger really said about Katherine Webb (uncensored)

5. Chris Fowler/Rece Davis — There’s a tie in the No. 5 spot between ESPN’s best remote/in-studio hosts on College GameDay and deservedly so. Fowler excels when the red light’s on while Rece is a pro on ESPN Thursday Night Football. And he’s exceptionally good at deciphering the jumbled words and mystifying thought processes of Lou Holtz and Mark May in Bristol.

Fowler would be higher on this list but those Heisman ceremony interviews before the favorite’s name is called in New York are just so awkward.

Missed the cut, but should be noted: Gary Danielson, Dave Neal, Andre Ware, Desmond Howard, Jesse Palmer, Todd Blackledge and Erin Andrews, among several others.



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  • So happy that Brent Musberger got the AXE

  • I think we sometimes forget we are tuning in to watch a football game, not the announcers. The really really good ones will make you feel like you are at the game, and the egotistical ones will actually get in the way of the game. The good ones will give great commentary but the great ones will broadcast an unbiased game, which is very hard to do. I have to admit, I like Vern too……but they could throw Gary out at any time and it wouldn’t hurt my feelings.

  • Lundquist/ Danielson duo are the worst. They are bias and Danielson is just arrogant. Gus Johnson is great. I liek Rece Davis and Herbstreit also. Please get Danielson off the SEC games !

  • Vern is not anyone’s favorite I wouldn’t miss him at all. I still miss Keith Jackson who was the great voice of ABC CFA College football for so many years. There was none better than Keith, now if Vern is on tv I turn the sound down and listen to Eli Gold on the Alabama football network instead. I can only hear so many names mispronounced and Vern always seems to be three steps behind in his call of the game. “looks like he may be short of the first down, not sure he made it.” But the camera clearly shows the runner is 2 yards past the yard marker for a first down and the referee has already signaled first down when Vern says this. Or there will be a flag on the play and no one in the booth sees it laying on the field. Usually Vern and Gary also have a clear favorite for each game and they express it. There is no objectivity in calling plays when they are calling a game. I just hate them both calling any game.

  • I lpve Herbstreit’s work.

  • Although some do not like Verne I personally enjoy his commentary. My only thing I do not like as an LSU fan when he calls us “Louisiana State” for example “Touchdown, Louisiana State!” It just bothers me for some reason, because that has never been my school’s name and no one ever calls us that, but other than that he is a baller and shot caller.

    • Did you just say “That has never been my school’s name”?? Actually, it is. It always has been. LSU is just the way YOU say it…..But on subject, I like Verne because he is old and senile. I don’t always pay close attention to the commentators when I watch a game, because I am too busy trying to listen for audibles and watching movements……so when Verne makes his classic screw ups, wrong names,. and just out of left field comments (Ref: AJ’s gorlfriend), it makes you stop and say WHAT?? What did he just say?? Makes me laugh every time. I like Verne. Gary….not so much. Verne and Rece. That’d be a good crew.

  • IMHO Brad Nessler and Todd Blackledge are the most enjoyable announcers in college football. They are knowledgeable, impartial, not ego driven, and don’t have a bone to pick.

  • You know, SDS has raised an eyebrow or two with me over the years, but this article makes the first time you’ve made me utter the following:


    I seriously question the bona fides of any allegedly pro-SEC website that trumpets Verne Lundquist as the best SEC football commentator out there. Y’all aren’t serious, are you?

    God bless Keith Jackson.

  • Really? The best out of all of them is Todd Blackledge by far

  • Gary/Verne combo certainly has become the “go to” team for SEC on CBS. Verne just makes too many mistakes. Time to move him to the 2nd team. I do like the trio of David Polack/Jesee Palmer/Rece Davis. They all bring a different perspective (Off vs Def) and set each other up well on the air. Brock Huard is another one I think does a good job. If Musburger ends up on the SEC Network they will never get a dime of my money……

  • Gus Johnson? Really? He has got to be the MOST ANNOYING commentator in sports. His over the top style makes me run for the remote. I can’t change the channel fast enough. Thank God for the mute button!

  • Wow, do we miss football or what?

  • I always liked, Ron Franklin but he’ll never be in a booth again.

  • What about Joe Tessitore, or Tessnado as he is usually called?

  • He isn’t a commentator, but I love listening to Bobby Joe Edmonds’ radio show.

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