Tim Brando remembers Howie Schwab; The best dozen versatile national play-by-players

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Tim Brando

The man worked like a horse and often drew get praise. He unfortunately died, born on September 7, 1960 and passed last week on April 20, 2024

Howie Schwab was both an old soul souls but a very young man. The researcher that morphed into an early 2000’s cult sports figure as “StumpTheSchwab,” the brainchild show of former ESPN SportsCenter editor and later talent coordinator Al Jaffe, was universally loved and leaves a legacy, far and wide. I’m but one of the beneficiaries of Howie’s greatness!

Producer Terry Lingner (one of only two at the time, Steve Anderson was the other) introduced me to Howie and said, “Timmy B here’s your guy.” I prided myself on my wealth of knowledge on CFB’s history but I quickly learned what I didn’t know or could possibly remember upon meeting Schwab.

I was only 30, but this guy was only 25! He was an absolute walking encyclopedia of sports knowledge. The ESPN College Gameday opening was only the start of a much larger plan, conceived by Howie. People like Beano Cook, Lee Corso, Karie Ross and I were the first to taste and appreciate his vast knowledge, charm and demeanor. Howie was smart, funny.  As Terry Lingner said to me the morning of his death, “a sweet and a caring man.”

The salt of any sportscaster’s value is worth it when driven endlessly. It’s inner-power that makes a difference. It didn’t take long for everyone on the campus (albeit much smaller then) to know Howie was needed in every area with all sports. In within a year there were new guys assigned to be card carriers on Saturdays because Howie had created his own department, and as such he became any part of their production team and it was a vital role!

He transformed sports televisions responsibly to get all graphics RIGHT! If they didn’t? He was on the phone and in large measure structured the position of Network “Watchdog.

Al Jaffe associated himself with ESPN in late 1986. Long after I left Bristol he was transferred from Managing Editor of SportsCenter at ESPN and evolved, into “Talent Coordinator” for the Network. Al was a bit peculiar, still very personable, one who appreciated the value of Howie Schwab.

The relationship helped move Howie into a position where his gifts could be shared in a more entertaining way. Hence, “Stump The Schwab,” hosted by the late, great Stuart Scott.

Identifying the top dozen network announcers who can neatly do play-by-play sports

Sean McDonough is among the best. He’s done World Series, Monday Night Football, College football, College Basketball, the Stanley Cup Finals – all on top networks from CBS, ABC, ESPN plus others. He’s perfectly prepared on all events.

Others versatile and national voices:

Alphabetically ordered: Kenny Albert, Marv Albert, Jack Buck, Curt Gowdy, Sean McDonough, Al Michaels, Jim Nantz, Tim Ryan, Dick Stockton, Dan Shulman, Jim Simpson and Mike Tirico.

I quivered when Doris Burke joined the ESPN/NBA playoff broadcast team, intended to be, Mike Breen, Doc Rivers and JJ Redick, Goodness!

Last season, Breen, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy told it as it was, the trio was quick and spontaneous. After the season, Jeff and Mark were dumped inexplicably by ESPN. Why? Got me.

So on January 29th 2024, Rivers dumped ESPN as an NBA national broadcaster. The dough teams pay coaches is a lot richer. Coaches also have egos, so why not?


Tim Brando

Tim Brando has covered college football and basketball nationally for 37 years. He began his network career at ESPN, before moving to CBS and is now at Fox Sports.. Brando is completely comfortable, be it on play-by-play or in the studio.

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14 days ago

Timmy B….On your list of versatile national voices, where is Dick Enberg? MLB, NFL, College FB/BB, Horse Racing, Tennis at NBC, CBS and locally out here in So California at KTLA Channel 5(where I had a chance to work in sports) he called Angels, UCLA BB.