Announcing sports is a tough job- I know, I’ve done it before. There are good people at this job and there are people who aren’t as good. Regardless, they have to call games on television or the radio with people listening to their every word! The following announcers are the men and women I just don’t like to listen to or should leave the announcing business ASAP. Naturally, everyone has a different take on what his or her perfect announcer should sound like. Most of my examples revolve around football and basketball, since they’re the sports I watch the most.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not trying to make fun of any of the people on this list and I respect all of you and your chosen profession. That being said, let the list commence.
An announcer I really don’t mind, Stockton’s done a little bit of everything and certainly deserves a spot in the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame. That being said, he’s had a great career and needs to hang it up. It’s not Stockton’s voice that’s his problem, which is still good for someone his age; rather it’s his appearance. He just looks too old to be on television anymore. At one point some years ago, his face looked pinkish and flakey, not exactly TV-ready. Luckily for him, whatever the problem was it got fixed by the week afterwards. Nowadays I’m worried he’ll lose what’s left of his hair! So Stockton, leave while you’re still on top.
Before almost every NBA fan screams, let me explain. Marv Albert is a wonderful basketball announcer, has been for decades. The problem with him is he’s just sounding old. I know he signed a recent deal with TNT but is he aware of how old he is or that his voice may give out before he does? During his two-year NFL on CBS stint, whenever he moved to a higher pitch I was legitimately worried he’d lose his voice mid-call or it would crack. Although he’s still got the talent, mind and energy to keep up with the game, I just think Marv’s nearing the end of the road. TNT, get Kevin Harlan or Ian Eagle to replace him.
For the past couple years I thought Verne should hang it up. Sure, he still had the passion but his calls were starting to lack, especially in college football. Unexpectedly, the 2016 season was his last for the SEC on CBS. The accolades started flying in, with the conference naming him a SEC Legend and his election to the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2017. Verne’s not done yet as we’ll see him at March Madness and at the Masters for the foreseeable future. Judging on his football retirement I think he’ll know when to call it a career.
Mowens is on here for one reason: she calls play-by-play for college football games. Let me be clear: I’m not trying to discriminate. I think women can be great announcers at many sports. They’ve proven as much with softball, the Olympics, baseball, and women’s basketball among others. However, regardless of the sport, they match their voice with the specific sport! Mowens does not have that ability. Listening to her is like listening to someone who’s trying to call a football game but just can’t get over the wall. She’s tried play-by-play at basketball and while its a little better she still can’t get over that wall. And then she tried the NFL.
Lou Holtz and Mark May
I couldn’t resist putting these two talking heads on here. Up until a couple years ago, every fan watching a college football game on ESPN had to endure halftime with these two, along with the far more manageable yet totally-out-of-place Rece Davis. What was the big problem, you ask?
First, you couldn’t make out half of what Holtz was saying, especially during his final years. His voice was going and he was old. May, on the other hand, spoke like he was the disclaimer voice at the end of car commercials, except he went on and on! Didn’t help his mustache grew each year to the point he became nearly unbearable to look at. In addition, both of them got into arguments over one subject that lasted an entire segment when they were supposed to talk about multiple subjects!
May’s still going today, now talking even faster than before, only because he’s got Mack Brown, of all people, across from him in an actually decent pregame/halftime show for ESPN/ABC’s primetime game. Thank goodness the other two moved on, Davis to host College Gameday and Holtz to retirement.
I understand Pat’s a legend in the eyes of many and I respect that. The reason I don’t like Summerall is because he used monotone all the time, nothing more. Whenever he was just talking, he was great. When he had to call a last-second victory it didn’t work. I also perfectly understand why him and John Madden worked. They balanced each other out, the calm, natural announcer and the excited, boisterous former coach. However, as the 90’s and 2000’s came upon us and announcers started putting more enthusiasm and vocal inflections into their calls, Summerall’s monotone became outdated. In the 1960’s this style worked but by 2000 it didn’t hold up anymore. Luckily, he knew when to retire on top and did so after calling Super Bowl 36.
The only person who actually left announcing and did so under the age of at least 60, Ron Pitts was a lot like Summerall during his longer-than-it-should’ve-been tenure. He was a former football player who became a sideline reporter then color commentator and then somehow moved up to play-by-play for the NFL on FOX. One problem: he wasn’t very good. And it wasn’t because Pitts didn’t try to be; he just didn’t have the vocal range to call games the way he wanted to. Most of his calls turned out to be either bland or ok. He sounded more natural on the sidelines and doing color. Thankfully, the higher-ups at FOX finally realized this and Pitts was out before the 2013 season.
Word of advice for future announcers. After you have throat surgery, don’t go back into announcing immediately. If you want to, you might want to test your voice to see what it sounds like and get some outside opinions including with your employer. That is exactly what Dick Vitale; one of the most polarizing and popular announcers in college basketball probably did NOT do after he had surgery.
And the result we got? He sounds awful, his voice not a fraction of what it used to be, because guess what the surgery did? That’s right, it completely removed his upper register. When a color commentator uses their upper register over half the time (Vitale’s signature, more or less), taking it away is an announcing deathblow. And before he was somewhat tolerable! I guess Vitale didn’t notice, because he’s kept on calling games and won’t stop until he loses his voice mid-call. I’m waiting for that to happen.
He’s better than Phil Simms but is pro-quarterbacks and pro-Cowboys (doesn’t help the schedule always puts Cowboys games at 4:25 PM, no matter how bad they are). However, he knows how to put emotion in his calls, something his longtime play-by-play partner worked on for years. That being said, Aikman’s not the greatest, certainly no Dan Fouts, Cris Collingsworth or John Lynch. I’m not saying he’s untalented, he’s just not my personal favorite.
Simms was the master of the obvious and he didn’t exactly look better over time. How on earth did Jim Nantz, the unquestioned voice of CBS Sports, get this guy instead of Dan Fouts? Regardless of why, I think Simms’ biggest issue, besides the ones the Internet gleefully documented, was his general lack of enthusiasm. He sounded far too serious/bored and as a result made Jim sound unenthusiastic. CBS finally demoted him to the studio in 2017, with longtime Cowboys QB Tony Romo as his far more engaging replacement.
Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson
Special Mention: Kirk Herbstreit
Kirk’s one of two announcers also on the honorable mentions list for my favorite broadcasters. This has to be the only football announcer that I cannot definitively put down one way or the other. He talks too much and is sometimes an annoyance, yet over half the time I don’t mind him. So he’s officially neutral in my book, liable to swing either way.