Darned right I'm partial -- nothing I like better than watching SEC football on CBS. And nothing is better than the 2:30 p.m. (Central time) game on Saturdays (or the occasional night-game/holiday feature).
|Gary Danielson and Verne Lundquist: No college football broadcast|
team is better than they are, not on my television.
What is wrong with those people?
I will come back to this, but remember this phrase: lunatic fringe.
More than a week ago, I happened upon a web site discussing the announcing teams for that week's SEC games, and the CBS feature that Saturday -- with Verne and Gary -- was Florida-at-Alabama. Fine with me.
Except then I saw a storm of rejoicing from LSU fans (and I use the term loosely) that Lundquist and Danielson were not doing the LSU-Mississippi State game that night. If I saw one comment belittling Verne and Gary, I saw 25 ... or 50.
Man, I thought LSU fans were smarter than that. I was wrong. They're just as biased and slanted -- and misguided -- as any other school's fans.
Gosh, I never realized how much Lundquist and Danielson hated LSU, how prejudiced they are toward LSU.
What a bunch of crap. What they are is ... flat-out honest. Verne Lundquist, who does the play-by-play, is a reporter; Gary Danielson, the analyst, sums up what's happening.
My view: When LSU (or any team) does well, they say so. When LSU (or any team) deserves criticism, they say so.
I was willing to let this subject pass until this past Saturday when I watched the Arkansas-Texas A&M game from Cowboys Stadium (that's what I'm going to call the place, thank you), with Verne and Gary at the mikes. That was an old Southwest Conference rivalry -- now in the SEC -- revisited and, just before the second half began, in the weekly SEC feature, the CBS crew did a short tribute to Mr. Lundquist.
It recapped his career, building on his ties to Texas, the Southwest Conference, and the Dallas-Fort Worth market. It was well done, and Verne was surprised -- and emotional -- as he thanked his co-workers.
It made me realize how much I appreciate his place in sports announcing, and that I wanted to write this piece.
I've never met Verne Lundquist, but do have a couple of personal favorites that he was associated with -- Terry Bradshaw and the Dallas Cowboys (yeah, that's a heck of a combination.)
Through much of the 1970s and through 1983, Verne was the sports anchor at WFAA-TV (Channel 8) in Dallas and -- maybe even more prominently -- the play-by-play announcer for the Dallas Cowboys. Beginning in 1976, he teamed with Brad Sham, who succeeded him as "Voice of the Cowboys" and still holds the job.
I spent many a day listening to them doing Cowboys' games on radio, much preferring their broadcast over whatever TV announcing crew was there.
When Bradshaw retired from the NFL after the 1983 season, he began his broadcasting career in '84 doing NFL games on CBS as an analyst alongside the play-by-play guy, Verne Lundquist.
They became good friends, close enough that -- as someone remembered -- Lundquist was one of the first people at the hospital when Bradshaw's first daughter was born. Close enough that when Terry was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, in 1989, his presenter was not someone tied to the Pittsburgh Steelers; Terry chose Verne.
I know from my journalism career that discussing TV sports announcers is always a popular -- and controversial -- subject. We could do ratings or take polls, and any story our staff did drew lots of attention. Everyone has their opinion.
I don't profess to be an expert; I'll leave that to others. I do have my likes and dislikes.
As I've written previously, I don't watch or listen to pregame, halftime or postgame shows, or any of the talk shows and, more often than not, I will "mute" the sound on live sports events. Just can't, or won't, deal with the announcers any more.
I do make exceptions. On college football, in addition to Lundquist-Danielson, I like the Chris Fowler-Kirk Herbstreit and Brad Nessler-Todd Blackledge teams on ABC/ESPN. On NFL games, I can take Joe Buck and Troy Aikman (only because I love Aikman's honesty, and how diplomatic he is with criticism on the Cowboys). I think Al Michaels is one of the great play-by-play announcers of our time; his partner, Cris Collinsworth, is sharp, but won't shut up.
Another who won't shut up: Brent Musberger. He wants to be bigger than the game itself. Enough already.
On the few times I watch the NBA -- only the Dallas Mavericks -- I like their TV announcing team of Mark Followill and Derek Harper (and the pre- and postgame comments by Coach Bob Ortegel). But my wife is the Mavericks' expert at our place.
I do listen to Jim Nantz on CBS' golf coverage, partly because Verne Lundquiest is usually part of the announcing team. But the pompous, know-it-all Johnny Miller is a complete turnoff on NBC.
Miller is right there with -- here we go -- Lou Holtz, Mark May, Lee Corso, Dick Vitale. Cannot listen to any of them. I know they're good people, knowledgeable, and lots of people are entertained by them, but they're not what I want.
If I happen upon Bradshaw on Fox's NFL coverage, I will listen to what he has to say, crazy as he can be.
And speaking of crazy ... Charles Barkley. He's wild and unpredictable on NBA coverage -- mostly on TNT -- but he can be so funny, and as "out there" as he is sometimes, he's often correct.
Back to the original topic: Lundquist and Danielson. In addition to the critical comments from LSU fans, I found criticism of them from other SEC schools and -- in my usual 5 minutes of research for this piece -- I found them linked to web sites entitled awfulannouncing.com and Uncle Verne/Aunt Gary. How stupid.
Lundquist is a Hall of Fame announcer, several Halls of Fame. He's been doing this for 40-plus years, he's wonderful at football, basketball, golf; he's done figure skating and bowling and the Olympics.
He does it with accuracy -- sure, he has some bobbles ... who doesn't -- and with humor, with self-deprecation and, as I said before, with honesty. He doesn't scream or go out of control at big moments; with a minimum of words, he knows how to let the moment carry itself (such as Auburn's game-ending return of the short field-goal try against Alabama last year).
He's been at the mike for some of the great moments in NCAA men's basketball tournament history and at the Masters (Jack Nicklaus, 1986; Tiger Woods several times). Look 'em up on YouTube or elsewhere.
He's modest about all his honors and his success, and this year he received the Vin Scully Award for lifetime achievement in sports broadcasting. My opinion (and that of many others): Vin Scully is the best ever in the business, for more than 60 years.
I keep seeing that people think Verne is too old, has been around too long. That's called age discrimination, and it's not right.
Danielson has been Verne's partner on SEC football since 2006. He was a very good quarterback at Purdue and a pro QB -- not a great one, but decent -- for 14 seasons, but he's a much better TV analyst than he was QB.
He obviously does his homework, he studies the teams he's covering -- the personnel, the formations, the strength and weaknesses, the trends. He's bluntly honest and he's right on top of the game. He spots what's going on almost immediately, often calls penalties before the referee announces them.
If fans don't like his bluntness, that's their problem.
And let's revisit the lunatic fringe phrase. I had two Shreveport-media friends use that term Monday -- one in a phone conversation, one on Twitter -- in reference to all these people being critical of anything and everything, on Facebook and Twitter and the Internet.
It applies to politics -- I don't even want to start on that -- and to sports. There's no reasoning with these people. They believe they're right, and there's no dissuading them. There's no "gray" area for them.
These are the people who booed LSU sophomore QB Anthony Jennings on Saturday night at Tiger Stadium; it is, in my view, just inappropriate to boo college kids. These are the people criticizing Cowboys' cornerback Morris Claiborne, belittling his play and his career even after his season ended with a knee injury Sunday night. Cheap shots. It's not enough that the young man faces surgery and rehab.
These are the people who criticize the offensive and defensive coordinators, no matter how successful they've been, and the QBs -- and, of course, the head coach -- for every little thing that goes wrong with their football team.
I wish they'd go away, or shut up. Or maybe I just should stop doing social media. Not a bad idea. One of these days ...
Look, I'm not all that happy with CBS Sports. They let an old Shreveport buddy, Tim Brando, go from the host role in the SEC studio desk show after last season, and I thought -- think -- that was a mistake.
But as long as Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson are doing the SEC games on CBS, I will tune in ... with the sound on. Even if people (LSU fans, too) don't agree or don't understand, those guys know what they're doing.