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Verne Lundquist Originally Fought SEC on CBS Assignment

“I looked at Nancy and I said honey, pack your bags for Tuscaloosa.”

Ricky Keeler

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Verne Lundquist has not called a SEC college football game on CBS since 2016, but he is remembered by so many for his great calls of classic games over the years. He has had the chance to call so many great moments and still does every year at the 16th hole at The Masters, but the SEC holds a special place for him.

Lundquist was a guest on The Press Box podcast with Bryan Curtis and reflected on some of those classic calls and he said the assignment that he treasured the most was calling SEC games on Saturdays from 2000-2016:

“The SEC is in my view hands down the most significant, toughest conference in the country to win. In all the assignments I had throughout my career which still continues for one week a year, the one I treasured the most really of all the things I was lucky enough to do was the assignment of the SEC. I really, really treasure those moments.

“I so much buy into all the pomp and circumstance. I love the bands, I love the pom poms, I love pretending for 3.5 hours every Saturday afternoon that every student-athlete is also a student. That is a challenge at times.”

During their conversation, Lundquist told Curtis what he feels the responsibility of being a play-by-play person is and that was to give the viewer a reason to care about what they are watching.

“I believe that the responsibility of a play-by-play guy is to give the listener or the viewer a compelling reason to be invested in the game and you do that by anecdotal information, stories both good and bad about the competitors, the universities, the coaches, and give them a reason to be alert to want to care whether it is positive or negative and stay with you.

“Yes, the names and numbers are vitally important, down and distance vitally important, but anecdotal information and this is where the play-by-play guy has a responsibility much larger in this context than the analyst does.

“I find myself every Saturday afternoon watching our telecast or ESPN or NBC on Sunday night. I watch myself and pay attention to the lineups, but I don’t get anything out of them. If you get a guy dedicated to your school, he stays 4 years. Now with the possibility of transferring, you need a road map to find out where everyone is going. People are not familiar with these guys unless you are an alumnus or a loyal follower of a specific team. That’s the responsibility you have.”

Back in 1999, Lundquist went from being the number two announcer for the NFL on CBS to becoming the voice of SEC football when CBS brought in Dick Enberg to be the new number two announcer. At first, Lundquist didn’t want to do it, but he found the first SEC game he ever called to be a thrilling experience.

“I fought it. I didn’t want to do it. The rumors became so persistent that I called Sean McManus. We chatted and I told him my concerns and I said now, if you sign Dick, it wouldn’t affect me, would it? He did what executives did so well. He maneuvered sideways and he said he’s such a high-ticket item, I don’t think we would sign him…In the unlikely event that we would hire Dick Enberg, how would you feel about moving to the SEC?

“I said the appropriate things and said goodbye. We were in the kitchen in our home in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and I looked at Nancy and I said honey, pack your bags for Tuscaloosa. My first game ever in the SEC was Florida-Tennessee. I had never been to Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. It was a thrilling experience.”

While Lundquist never tried too hard to be warm on air and he likes the nickname Uncle Verne given to him by Spencer Hall, he mentioned to Curtis that that persona can’t be manufactured by anyone.

“I think it’s the product of my environment growing up. It’s not something that’s manufactured. There’s an amazing quality of television. There’s something going on between the viewer and the person on the other side of the camera. I think this so-called wall is broken down in imperceptible ways. But, the essence of the person who is looking into the camera is conveyed to the person who is viewing. I’ll bet you that if you are watching a television set and you see someone on the air and you think he is an arrogant jerk, 90% of the time he is going to be an arrogant jerk….If you think somebody is going to be nice, they will be.

“I think those of us who choose to be public people have an obligation to be accessible to people. That’s what you aspire to and that’s what comes with the territory.” 

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Bomani Jones: I’m Better At Talking About Political, Social Issues Than Most In Sports Media

“I personally am better at talking about those things than most people who work in this industry. Like I feel like I can say that fairly and then it not really be an arrogant thing.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James found himself in a few headlines last week when he questioned reporters for not asking him about the recent Washington Post story and photo surrounding Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, and ESPN commentator Bomani Jones took the opportunity to discuss the revelation.

Jones was pictured as a 14 year old among a crowd during an early stage of integration of public schools in Arkansas during the civil rights movement.

LeBron pointed out that he would field questions when there’s a controversy surrounding a Black person and spoke about the situation with former Cavaliers teammate Kyrie Irving, but he found it curious that no one had asked his opinion on the Jerry Jones story. LeBron had long considered himself a Cowboys fan, but in recent years he’s stopped supporting the team over Jones’ mandate that Dallas players stand for the National Anthem.

On his ESPN podcast The Right Time, host Bomani Jones talked about LeBron and circled it around to how he and other ESPN personalities caught a ton of flack for speaking about political or societal issues that often don’t fall within the confines of sports.

Jones said that being able to talk about political and societal issues comes easier to him than it does to most members of the sports media.

“I personally am better at talking about those things than most people who work in this industry,” Jones said. “Like I feel like I can say that fairly and then it not really be an arrogant thing.”

Jones said it comes down to the fact that there’s a bias at play. Are people going to take offense to what you’re saying because they disagree, or are they going to like what you’re going to say because they agree?

“They’re reinforcing the fact that you’re reinforcing what it is that you want to hear,” Jones said. “But the truth is that most people are not qualified to talk about these things before the world, because talking about these things before the world is very, very difficult.”

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John Jastremski Fires Back After Craig Carton Criticism

“I’m not listening to a crook. So you know what? Go take a f—ing hike. How about that.”

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Earlier this week, WFAN afternoon host Craig Carton said John Jastremski — a former WFAN host now hosting a podcast for The Ringer — “shunned” his radio career advice.

During his New York New York podcast Thursday, Jastremski strongly condemned Carton’s remarks.

“I don’t like going here with this stuff, ’cause I know this plays right into what this guy likes to do,” Jastremski said. “This is his M.O. This is what he’s done his entire career. It’s what he’s done for his entire career and he’s had success doing it. He lives for this stuff. But it really set me off. It set me off because I gotta see it on Barrett Sports Media while I’m on vacation. Like I wanna be bothered with this shit, number one. Number two, it’s just tone-deaf, insulting, and flat-out rude every which way.

“Number one: going after people who work at McDonald’s? Who the hell are you to do that? Number two: You’re insulting a multi-billion dollar company where I work. I have a great job, a great platform, a great producer. I have two great jobs, I might add. And you’re insulting both of them. By the way, you’re on that network. Five days a week. And you’re insulting that network. How stupid are you? Taking shots at people of the network you’re on, I’m on. And I could tell you, it pays well. I do ok.

“As for career advice? Guess what? I listen to legends. Bill Simmons, you ever hear of him? Worth a lot more than you. Mike Francesa? My boy Adam Schein? I listen to those guys. I’m not listening to a crook. So you know what? Go take a f—ing hike. How about that.”

Calling Carton a crook harkens back to the WFAN afternoon host’s stint in federal prison for participating in a ponzi scheme that scammed investors out of $5.6 million that he in turn used to pay off gambling debts. Carton was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison before serving just over a year in prison before being released in 2020.

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The Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz Moving To New Studio

The show continued to be recorded inside the studio at the Clevelander after it departed ESPN Radio’s national lineup in 2021.

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Dan Le Batard Show

The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz is leaving its home at the Clevelander hotel on South Beach in Miami and moving into a new studio next year, according to a report from The Big Lead.

The show continued to be recorded inside the studio at the Clevelander after it departed ESPN Radio’s national lineup in 2021. It has remained the home for the show since Le Batard and John Skipper formed Meadowlark Media.

After a $50 million distribution deal with DraftKings was secured, the Meadowlark podcast network has grown in both reach and talent, allowing for an expanded studio space.

No immediate details were given on where the new studio space would be located.

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