If you already read “Sports Announcers I Dislike/Need to Retire”, then you know what this is about. If not I recommend reading that list before proceeding on here. Anyway, I don’t believe further introductions are needed, except that honorable mentions are at the bottom.
Brennaman is an interesting case. He’s more monotone than not, and as I made clear in my least favorite announcers post, I don’t like monotone announcers. This is one exception. Brennaman’s the son of a longtime baseball announcer and he calls baseball as well as football. Again, throughout 90% of the games he calls, he does so monotone. And then on those few plays where you need to be excited, Brennaman almost always nails it. My favorite games from him are both from 2007: the App State v Michigan game and the Fiesta Bowl.
Poor Tessitore. The man’s got such a busy schedule nowadays he barely has time to call football games anymore. If there were one guy you’d want calling a last-second victory on ESPN, it would be this guy. Tessitore’s best years announcing were 2010-11, when he called two last-second overtime upsets a year apart! Of course, the Texas-Notre Dame game from 2016 deserves mention too. And calling the 2017 Clemson-Alabama national championship from the sidelines was nuts! I call him the Gus Johnson of ESPN.
Here’s a guy who had to put up with both Dick Vitale and Jay Bilas for many years during Duke-UNC basketball games. The fact he was able to do so well and still announce the game is a testament to Schuleman’s announcing ability. ESPN nailed it with Schuleman being their top basketball and baseball announcer. Heck, you can’t even hear that he’s Canadian!
McDonoungh’s called several big moments over the years. His biggest football-wise may’ve been the Michigan muffed punt against Michigan State in 2015. When an announcer voice cracks without realizing it, it actually sounds epic. Not to mention he had to endure the six-overtime shootout between UCONN and Syracuse in 2009 and the 2015 BYU Hail Mary, among others. He’s solid overall, not great but always seems to get the ‘down to the wire’ games. McDonoungh had a solid first year as the new play-by-play voice of Monday Night Football and I hope he stays around for a few more.
Remember when we thought he was a bust? Bet you don’t remember he played WR for the Bengals and went to a Super Bowl too. Collingsworth’s certainly had the career, from being the only good thing about FOX’s three-man top booth (guess who he was partnered with), color commentary on NBC in the 90’s, to going back for analyst roles on NBC over a decade later, and of course, becoming Madden’s replacement for Sunday Night football. It’s taken Cris a few years but he’s become a wonderful color analyst. He doesn’t try to copy Madden but explains things in a way everyone can understand.
So yes, I’m placing Verne on both lists. I had to because I have to talk about all the great, famous calls. These include Nickalus’ putt to win the ’86 Open, Tiger’s chip shot on the 16th green in ’05, The Prayer at Jordan-Hare, the Kick Six, George Mason’s Final Four run, and numerous golf and college championships. Perhaps his most unique game was the 1988 Fog Bowl, where he and Terry Bradshaw had to call a game virtually unable to see the field or players for quite a length of time. Talk about endurance! He had a wonderful 16-year run on the SEC on CBS, and he rightfully deserves a spot in the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch
This announcing duo, formed in 2013, was one of my favorites on the NFL on FOX. They brought energy, youthfulness, and seemed to actually have fun while calling football games. FOX gave them the well-deserved number 2 spot on the broadcasting charts a couple years back and it worked wonderfully. With Lynch becoming the General Manager of the 49ers in 2017, we’ll have to see if these two will ever share a booth again. At least Burkhardt isn’t going anywhere! Lynch’s replacement of Charles Davis has worked out well.
I’m not a huge baseball fan. That being said, I love listening to Vin Scully. Who doesn’t? No matter if it’s a dugout-clearing fight, a random story, the middle of a small earthquake, or the end of a game, Vin always delivers. It took me years to start listening to him but once I did, I knew he would forever be the voice of baseball.
FOORRR THRRREEE…OOHHHHH!!! Now that my Gus impersonation is over, let’s talk about a rarity in sports broadcasting. Gus Johnson started calling games in the 1990’s, mostly college basketball and eventually added the NFL. He developed a classic style over the years, calling the game like an average fan would. His quotes are classic and the clips of him going nuts are numerous and legendary. No one else calls the big plays quite like Gus can. What’s a shock is that his voice hasn’t died over how many times he’s screamed during those last-second plays. As of the 2016 Big Ten football Championship Game, he still remains the same. Keep on going, Gus. We need somebody like you.
Mike Trico and Jon Gruden
Trico was at ESPN for years, handling everything from football to NBA playoff games to anchoring expansion drafts to golf matches to even tennis! His longest-lasting position was with Monday Night Football, the Saints return to New Orleans in 2006 among his library of games. Trico calls games with a passion and smooth delivery, knowing when to interject with the yelling. His call of the 2012 Fail Mary (and it’s aftermath) is always a worthwhile listen. Trico’s move to NBC in 2015 means he plays a variety of roles within the network, perhaps one day replacing the legend himself in the booth. His appointments to host the Olympics and call Thursday Night Football are two steps up.
Now I used to like other color commentators besides Gruden, but Gruden’s just so funny. He uses coaching lingo that half the viewers don’t understand but who cares? Over the years, he’s only gotten better and developed a nice match with Tirico and subsequently McDonoungh. He’s excited, into the game, and is more or less the best equivalent to Madden we have today.
Know it or not, we’ve been listening to Jim for years, because seemingly from every championship ever he’s been there. Jim makes announcing so easygoing it’s like he’s calling the game in a giant living room. True, he has a very hectic schedule and he’s literally become the voice of CBS Sports, which makes him a little overused. CBS needs to find replacements for a couple of the events just to have variety. Jim’s not the best football or basketball announcer but that won’t deduct him from this list. He’s said he wants to call the 100th Masters, and it would only be fitting for him to do so. On a side note I actually met him once, and he’s got to be one of the nicest and most unassuming sports announcers ever. You wouldn’t look at him and guess that’s what he did for a living. Hey, it works!
The best color commentator for any football game, ever. Before Madden, there was no drawing all over replays with a marker diagraming blitzes, circling players, fans, Gatorade cartons, and pointing out routes. There was no Thanksgiving Day turkey or homemade cobbler for the players of the game. People didn’t use such verbs as “boom” to explain a big tackle. And there was certainly no video game that came close to matching what real football was like. Today, we have all of that, thanks (in part) to the legend himself.
Who did you think was going to be here, Dick Enberg? Michaels is my all-time favorite announcer, bar none. He’s called/hosted everything you can imagine at multiple levels: football, basketball, baseball, track and field, horse racing, and of course, hockey. He isn’t my favorite because he’s the most excited or the best known; rather he’s just unbelievably great. He published a book a couple years ago that looks back over his career and it really puts what he’s done into perspective. The Miracle on Ice is only one small part of his story. He’s also covered the famous 1988 World Series among many major and minor league baseball games, nine Super Bowls, several Olympic Games, a couple NBA Finals, many college games, and thirty-plus years of Monday and Sunday Night Football matchups. Michaels is just iconic and how he’s still able to call games with the same energy and excitement he had twenty years ago is unreal.
Honorable Mentions (sorry if I misspell names)
Special Mention: Joe Buck
Let me explain. For years I couldn’t stand this guy. I dreaded watching afternoon football games or the World Series because I knew who I’d have to listen to. Over the past year or so my opinion has changed. Maybe its because I became used to his voice, or that he put more emotion into his calls, or that he wrote a very good book about his career I recommend to anyone interested in sports announcing. Would I still listen to someone else if I had the choice? Probably. Is Joe a good announcer? Yes.