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.
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.
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.
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.
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.