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.
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! ESPN finally gave Tessitore a long-deserved promotion to calling Monday Night Football in 2018.
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 (for many years) 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. McDonoungh also had a decent couple years as the voice of Monday Night Football. He’s solid overall, not great but always seems to get the ‘down to the wire’ games.
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, Charles Davis, has worked out well.
I’m not a huge baseball fan, although I love my Durham Bulls. That being said, I also 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. There’s something about the way he talks that sweeps you in and before you know it an hour’s passed. It took me years to start listening to him. 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 might. His quotes are classic and the clips of him going nuts are numerous and legendary. No one else calls 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.
For many years I couldn’t stand Joe Buck. I dreaded watching afternoon football games or the World Series because I knew who I’d have to listen to. The most monotone announcer since Summerall who didn’t put any emotion into his calls. Over the past couple years my opinion changed. Maybe its because I became used to his voice, or because he put more emotion into his calls, or because he wrote a very good book about his career I recommend. I think its a combination of all three. Would I still listen to someone else if I had the choice? Maybe. Is Joe a good announcer? Yes. If you don’t believe me, listen to his calls of the 2016 and 2017 World Series or The Minneapolis Miracle.
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 was just so funny. He used coaching lingo that half the viewers didn’t understand but who cared? Over the years, he only got better and developed nice chemistry with Tirico and subsequently McDonoungh. And then he left to coach the Raiders. I think we all knew he was bound to return to the sidelines at some point. Nevertheless, Gruden was a great broadcaster.
When CBS announced Romo would be their new top color commentator, it left people divided. I was optimistic only because I knew Romo wouldn’t be Phil Simms. What nobody knew was what Romo would be. What he’s turned out to be is fun, energetic, exciting, and able to read some plays before they happen. He’s like a young John Madden in that way. I’m not saying he is Madden, nobody will be, but he’s the closest anyone’s come to emulating Madden’s style. And like Madden, his enthusiasm is natural. Here’s to hoping he stays in the booth for many years to come.
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” or “whack” 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, Brent Musberger? 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, ten 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)