Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sports Analysts-The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Football Edition

I will admit that I listen to an insane amount of sports talk. While I am in Chicago, my friends and family will tell you that my car radio is always dialed to 670 The Score. I love talking sports, I love listening to sports, I love listening to people talking about sports. Over the years, I've grown accustomed to certain voices calling and analyzing the games I love, and as I've gotten older, I've grown to respect these voices that I grew up with.  There are also those that I just can't stand, those that I actually argue with even though they can't even hear me. In high school, my mom would actually have to mute the TV because she couldn't listen to me yell at the mindless banter that was coming out of these so-called sports experts.

I find myself quite often talking with my good friend Andrew Seid at length about a wide variety of sports topics. Besides my dad, he is my favorite person to talk sports with, and it's amazing how many times we agree on things. Some readers maybe remember that Andrew and I did sports talk radio together for WBCN at Michigan.  A common theme of our conversation is providing each other lists of our favorite (or least favorite) things and constantly trying to one up each other.

So, lets put these last 2 things together. I am going to give you my favorite and least favorite sports announcers and analysts. I'll break it down by sport, and then give ESPN its own category (there is a lot more hate toward ESPN than love). I know there are plenty of lists like this out there, but obviously not from me, and I know how much you want to know my love/hate list, since many of you have had the pleasure (or misfortune) of watching a game with me.  Since there are so many on my list, I will break this into a couple of separate posts. This will let you all have a few days worth of procrastination via reading.

NFL/NCAA Football - Best
  • Kirk Herbstreit: This may seem like an odd choice coming from a Michigan fan, but the former tOSU quarterback has an excellent feel for college football. It may be hard to forgive him for the whole Les Miles fiasco, but in the end he may have done us a favor. He does a good job of explaining the game, but doesn't talk down or get excited about menial things. Also, his reaction to Lee Corso's F-bomb was priceless. (PS-Mute the video if swearing upsets you)
  • Troy Aikman:  One of the smartest QB's ever to play the game is now one of its smartest color guys. He brings great insight into the game and breaks down what players are looking to do on each play, even with the boring play call of Joe Buck.  Some accuse him of being a homer for his former team, the Cowboys, but I don't see it.  I think it's just because everyone hates the Cowboys.
  • Verne Lundquist/Gary Danielson:  This is the best duo calling a college football game.  There SEC love does get a little old, but it is the best conference in the NCAA.  Verne has a smooth delivery and sets Danielson up well, plus has an outstanding laugh that puts a smile on your face.  Gary has the uncanny ability to spot something in real time before everyone else does during instant replay, and can break it down very well. 
  • Al Michaels:  I saved my favorite for last.  Al is one of the greatest play-by-play men of my life, and I'm sure many would agree it extends beyond this.  He has a magical ability to keep you engrossed in the game, and has a plethora of stories to share.  Of course, his greatest moment wasn't even calling a football game, but the 1980 Miracle on Ice.  Of course, I wasn't alive for this, but of all the sporting moments I would want to live, the USA's victory would be it (yes, I'd take it over the 1908 Cubs World Series).  His call, "Do you believe in miracles? YES!", gives me chills to this day, and I wasn't even there to live it. 
NFL/NCAA Football - Worst
  • Jon Gruden: While he well-liked by many others, I'm going to go hipster here and share my dislike of the former coach.  My problem with him is that he makes everything vanilla.  Every player he see's is the latest and greatest, which he shares with a " Now this guy here, boy."  Guys do things wrong, Jon, and a guy like  John Beck is not the next Hall of Famer.  
  • Ron Jaworski: Let's move to Gruden's MNF partner, who is lovingly referred to as Jaws. There is just a way he talks, they way he inflects his tones, that makes me feel like like he is talking down to me.  He was probably once skilled as an analyst, but these days it seems like he gets in analyzing matches with Gruden (and the other ESPN NFL guys). He tries to break down every single thing, but instead states points that are obvious even to casual fans. 
  • Tom Hammond:  I may be biased here, since he is the Notre Dame play-by-play man, but I simply cannot listen to him call a game.  He is a huge ND homer, but that isn't the problem, since NBC is basically the Irish's own network.  My problem is that he spends the entire time bending over backward for ND instead of calling the game.  This causes him to mess up multiple times during the game, which is a problem on TV when everyone can see what is happening.
    You're welcome for the nightmares you will now have
    due to this picture
  • Craig James: What more can you say about a guy who was part of the SMU shenanigans that got them the death penalty?  James spews some serious ignorance when analyzing college football.  He gets caught up in his own misstatements, and then tries to defend them using zero common sense instead of realizing he was wrong.  He also was responsible for getting Mike Leach fired from Texas Tech when he completely falsified reports that Leach was mistreating James' son.  The site Awful Announcing says it best-"James represents the idea of using power and privilege to corrupt and mislead."
  • Mike Patrick/Joe Theismann/Paul Maguire: Thankfully, this former Sunday Night Football crew is no longer on the air.  When they were, however, my least favorite booth when they actually were calling games.  Theismann and Maguire would focus on one meaningless or completely wrong topic for the whole broadcast, never providing any real analysis on what was actually happening on the field.  The Texans inaugural game comes to mind, when Joe and Paul spent the whole time gushing about David Carr and what a promising career he would have (we know how that turned out).  Patrick wasn't awful, but his play-by-play got dragged down the the crappy commentary, and he wasn't good enough to save us from the idiocy happening next to him.


  1. I really couldn't agree more. Cant stand the Monday Night team at all. 670 the Score is the God of sports talk radio. Never touch AM 1000

  2. Make sure you come back later this week. Chicago sports talk will be part of my "mixed bag" list, because yes, 670 is king.

  3. Kevin...can't believe you didn't castigate Joe Buck. He should thank his lucky stars that he is in the booth with Aikman. Oh, and you are dead on about the Miracle on Ice is the "where were you?" moment for my generation. (dorm room at ISU).