I liked Clark Kellogg’s line: “His clock was parked.” He was referencing someone not moving quickly enough. Clark is glib, particularly in the studio. When he’s on the call with a play-by-player, he’s contained. But he’s rarely assertively animated. Getting a little more insightful. That explains his endurance.
I still consider Tim Brando among the best college basketball play-by-players. He hops behind the Fox mic fluidly, very well prepared, game after game. He then shares his skill; humor, history, personality and strategy. In the old days, Brando was a basketball steady on both ESPN and CBS. Over the last few years, Fox’ hoops coverage has broadened. With more TV alliances coming down the road, NBC will have Todd Blackledge at the helm on football. Good move and an accepted, fresh voice available to the American public. He also moderates his words. He doesn’t stuff the mic. Brando is most natural – never contrived and always shares a warm smile that millions of viewers enjoy. Like Bob Murphy, Mel Allen, Bob Murphy or Keith Jackson. They’re not hard not to enjoy.
We saw potential end-game tournament thrillers last weekend. Why late-season, invariable and impossible? It’s the magic. These finishes are part of this late-season yearly tapestry? It happened three times this past weekend alone, once, twice in one game. Rich Waltz worked the Arizona State shimmering upset over Arizona over the Wildcats in Tucson. He impressed me.
I’ve watched Andy Katz, former writer and ESPNer. I’ve always liked him. But for whatever reason, he hasn’t stuck on in a prominent fashion since. I do think that he did well with Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley on TNT’s college tourney show but he wasn’t renewed the following year.
ESPN essentially gave birth to college basketball. The network’s strongest personality was Dick Vitale, who took the color job in 1979. Dickie V is still there, 43 years later. Vitale coached at the University of Detroit successfully, before landing with the Pistons in the NBA. It didn’t work out too well there. Hope he makes a complete recovery from his health battles.
I’d say that the two best rules-experts are Fox’ Mike Pereira and CBS’ Gene Steratore. You might wonder why Gene puts his eyes of judgment on basketball and football too? The answer is that he officiated lots of college hoops in Pennsylvania and elsewhere too. Before working in the NFL, starting in 1993, Pereira spent 14 years as a college football ref out west. Both are pretty perfect when they weigh in once seeing the play. Rarely are either wrong
It won’t matter how I think, but CBS decided on Ian Eagle to succeed Jim Nantz on hoops. God bless him. Talking with well informed colleagues who knew that Kevin Harlan had little chance of getting the gig. Eagle vs. Harlan was New York against America.
Ian can be funny. His deceased dad Jack Eagle was a comedian who did Fleischmann’s commercials and more. Ian does lean on the dramatics many love. Others don’t.
Hubie Brown of ESPN and Al McCoy of the Phoenix Suns are still working. The diplomat Al, still sounds in command, and Brown still likes coaching. Both are nearing, 90, Al on April 26th and Hubie the junior of the two on September 26th. Let the duo bless the generations down the road.
Jim Spanarkel has always been good work. He was always excellent on the Nets telecasts but for some inexplicable reason was dismissed. His day-to-day income is with Merrill Lynch as an executive. In other words, I doubt that Jim is hurting. He worked with Rich Waltz, a former baseball announcer with the Marlins.
Trio of Announcers
Best trio of basketball:
College: Dick Enberg, Billy Packer and Al McGuire (NBC)
College: Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery and Grant Hill (CBS)
NBA: Mike Breen, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy (ABC)
Last year, 2022, Doris Burke was taken off the TV sidelines and put on radio.