by Nicholas King
When I watch any kind of sporting event, there’s one thing I pay close attention to that a lot of people probably do not; the announcers. The description of the action has so much of an impact on my viewing experience. Now, don’t get me wrong, I can get into a game at a bar, where I can’t hear the announcers. Still, in the heat of the moment, at the end of a big game, I find myself wishing I could hear the dialogue between the play-by-play and color men. In fact, a moment that comes to mind is from last spring’s NBA playoffs. My pops was in town to visit, and we went to Ham’s restaurant on Franklin Street to grab a bite to eat while we watched the Bulls-Celtics Game Six. You might remember that series as the best first round series ever, and that particular game as the 3 OT thriller. Well, it’s a blast to watch that kind of back-and-forth game in a bar, with a crowd of people with no real rooting interest cheering loudly for every great play, from either team. Yet, I distinctively remember Kevin Harlan and Doug Collins calling the game, and Kevin Harlan is one of my favorites as a play-by-play man. The next morning, the first thing I did was track down highlights from the game that had Harlan’s calls.
Anyway, with that introduction, I’d like to nominate the best announcers in each sport. It’s not easy, there are a whole lot of people who are good in this profession, and a whole lot of people I enjoy listening to. But, there are certain people who make me watch regardless of the teams. Pam Ward is not one of them.
Here I’ve listed the best play-by-play guys for college and professional football and basketball, as well as golf. Plus, a few extra special picks. I don’t care about soccer; I enjoy hockey but don’t know the announcers well enough, and I believe baseball’s best calls are on the radio, or local television. The network announcers don’t stand out for me the way they do in football and basketball. So, without further ado.
Gold – Brent Musberger. Works well no matter who his color man is.
Silver – Chris Fowler. Not in the booth often, but doesn’t miss a beat when he is.
Bronze – Verne Lundquist. Love listening to Verne and Gary Danielson call an SEC game.
College Football Color
Gold – Kirk Herbstreit. Herbie is a natural up in the booth. Love him and Brent on Saturday night.
Gold – Al Michaels. Classic. Can’t wait to hear him with Cris Collinsworth every week.
Silver – Mike Tirico. Not real flashy, but just very solid. Has a great rapport with Jaws, and early signs point to working well with Coach Gruden as well.
Bronze – Kevin Harlan. Harlan just has the perfect voice for play-by-play.
Gold (tie) – Cris Collinsworth/Ron Jaworski. I know Collinsworth is new to Sunday night, but if you’ve listened to him on NFL Network, he’s great. Jaws talking X’s and O’s is a treat.
Gold – Gus Johnson. Nobody matches GuJo’s enthusiasm. He makes any game exciting.
Silver – Verne Lundquist. Ageless.
Bronze – Ian Eagle. Never talked about, but very knowledgeable, very solid.
College Basketball Color
Gold – Bill Raftery. Send it in Jerome! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqSwZgpOad8)
Gold – Marv Albert. So many legendary calls. Yes!
Silver – Kevin Harlan. In my mind, on the same tier as Marv, but Marv has a bit more history. Still, this is as great a call as you can have. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tag9UmmFfY8)
Bronze – Mike Breen. Continues to get better every year. And he is responsible for keeping Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson under control on most nights.
Gold – Hubie Brown. I love Hubie’s analysis. And he’s been doing it forever, he knows the game as well as anyone.
Gold - David Feherty. At least half the words he uses make me laugh.
Silver – Gary McCord. Almost as funny as Feherty.
Bronze – Verne Lundquist. Oh..my..goodness. Oh wow! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEndn1QAqeE)
College Football/Basketball Radio
Gold – Woody Durham. A homer pick, but what Tar Heel fan doesn’t love listening to Woody?
Gold – Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and occasionally Chris Webber. No contest here. Just a fantastic grouping.
Gold – Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery. May they both live forever.
Gold (tie) – Sean McDonough, Jay Bilas and Bill Raftery/Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson. Both groups do an amazing job of balancing three people trying to speak.
Luckiest man on the planet
Gold – Jim Nantz. I didn’t mention him for any medals, but he’s just consistently solid at everything he does. Calling the NFL season, the NCAA Tournament, and the Masters makes him the luckiest man on the planet in my opinion.
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