NCAA Tournament 2024: The charge begins today; Jim Nantz succeeded by Ian Eagle

In 1927 NBC Radio secured the rights to the Rose Bowl, called by pioneer Graham McNamee.

To comprehend the importance of the “granddaddy of ’em’all,” bear in mind that the other bowls were not born yet.

The next wave, the Cotton, Sugar, and Orange Bowls would be founded in the mid- 1930s.

There was no Super Bowl in 1927. The giant sporting events were big heavyweight championship fights, the World Series and the Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl then was the equivalent of today’s Super Bowl. The Rose was first on TV in 1952 on NBC.

When Graham McNamee ventured to California, it was the first-ever coast-to-coast radio hookup. Broadcast history was in the making. More than 20,000 miles of wire were used to transmit nationally. It was an historic football broadcast. McNamee did the play-by-play again in 1928.

In 1952, NBC TV ran the first-ever nationally televised game.

Two specific comments made by McNamee would cause his eventual banishment from the Rose Bowl broadcast booth. He would often digress, “Ah… the sun is shining on those California hills, it is a wonderful sight, I tell you!”

That’s fine but the proud citizenry of Pasadena were slighted when the esteemed McNamee misidentified the neighboring San Gabriel Mountains for the Sierra Madre Range. Worse, as part of the rights agreement with NBC, the Rose Bowl Committee insisted that Pasadena be portrayed glowingly.

The Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, as sponsors of the game itself, prepared copy for McNamee to read.

It prepared copy that painted the elements and atmosphere for a gorgeous sunlit day. McNamee was ordered to read it verbatim. He did. There was only one problem. He did so on a day when it was raining hard and coming down steadily. McNamee was disparaged for it by newspaper writers all around America.

The Rose Bowl asked for changes. After just two broadcasts, McNamee was relegated to color in 1929. Carl Haverlin and Bill Munday were brought in to share the play-by-play. Thereafter, Graham wasn’t assigned another Rose Bowl game again. For that matter Eastern announcers were not approved by the committee at all. McNamee did return to the Rose Bowl in 1941, but simply to receive a plaque commemorating NBC’s 15th Rose Bowl broadcast.

Southerner Bill Munday exploded onto the national scene in 1929, doing so to almost immediate stardom. But in a matter of a few years, the bottle got the better of him and he slipped to near anonymity.

Future stars such as Red Barber, Keith Jackson, Ernie Harwell and Lindsey Nelson would never forget him. To these three Southerners, Munday, a Georgian, was somewhat of a hero.

In 1918 at the age of 15, he began reporting sports for the Atlanta Journal. He then

became an accomplished athlete at the University of Georgia, an ace southpaw pitcher, who also played football and basketball. Then he graduated from law school. In 1930 the New York World reported that he was the youngest person ever admitted to the bar in the state of Georgia.

It wasn’t uncommon then for stations to recruit announcers from the sports desks of the metropolitan newspapers. Sam Taub, Clem McCarthy, Don Dunphy, Stan Lomax, and others all started on the print side.

Now journalists like Tony Kornheiser, Michael Wilbon, Dan LeBatard and Stephen A. Smith, prospered on TV and Radio.


Furman Bisher, an accomplished Atlanta columnist referred to basketball back then “as a marathon of dribbling and center jumping.” Back then, when he started writing, there was a center jump after every made field goal. Bisher, a well known Southerner, died in 2012 at age 93.

NIT was turned down by these teams

Schools that declined to play in the NIT: Indiana, Memphis, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Pittsburgh, St. John’s and Washington.

NIT Wednesday, March 20

7 PM- St. Joseph’s at Seton Hall

ESPN2: Mike Corey, Fran Fraschilla 

7 PM- SMU at Indiana State

ESPN+: David Saltzman, Kevin Lehman

7 PM- Loyola Chicago at Bradley

ESPN+: Jordan Bernfield, Scott Williams

8 PM- UNLV at Princeton

ESPN+: Derek Jones, Noah Savage 

8 PM- Appalachian State at Wake Forest

ESPN+: Wes Durham, Paul Biancardi 

9 PM- VCU at Villanova

ESPN2: Dave Leno, Mark Adams

9 PM- San Francisco at Cincinnati

ESPN+: Eric Rothman, Mike O’Donnell 


David J. Halberstam

David is a 40-year + industry veteran who served as play-by-play announcer for St. John's University basketball in New York and as radio play-by-play voice of the Miami Heat in South Florida. He is the author of Sports on New York Radio: A Play-by-Play History and The Fundamentals of Sports Media and Sponsorship Sales: Developing New Accounts.

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Barry Kipnis
1 month ago

With reference to the list of teams that declined to play in the NIT, how many declined to play in the NCAAs?! All I can think of is Marquette in 1970. Al McGuire, Marquette’s coach was unhappy with the seeding the NCAA awarded his team so he refused to play in the NCAAs and took the NIT bid instead, a tournament that Marquette eventually won. The NCAA was so embarrassed that they made a rule that if a team turned down the NCAA bid, they couldn’t play in any other tournament. BTW, that NIT featured Army (West Point) coached by… Read more »