Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson have spent the past decade as broadcast partners at CBS – as the cornerstone of the network’s college football coverage – and as part of the SEC on CBS, the duo has seen some of the biggest games in the conference’s history.
The Sentinel caught up with both as they get set to broadcast this week’s Florida-Georgia game Saturday at 3:30 ET on CBS.
Q: How would you describe the past 10 years in broadcasting together?
Lundquist: “Since I’ve started network television in 1974 – I haven’t kept a list, but I have a pretty good idea that – I’ve had more than 40 partners. I’m his longest running partner and he’s mine. It’s been 10 years and we’ve established a friendship and an understanding of each other. I don’t want to irritate any of my previous partners, but I think Gary is the best that I’ve ever worked with.”
Q: What makes your partnership work?
Lundquist: “It wasn’t easy the first year. It never is for anybody. There is a feeling out process. I had worked with Todd Blackledge for the previous six. We had a sudden opening and Gary was available. … I was thrilled because I always respected his degree of preparation, the insight that he brought to a telecast – I’ve learned in the subsequent decade that he never ever makes a comment that is flippant. If he takes a stance, you can rest assured that he has thought about it, he’s researched it, and he believes it. He’s a very principled broadcaster. … It’s that kind of thing that he brings to the broadcast that I really admire.”
“On a personal level, we’ve adjusted every year. I think we’ve grown closer as the years have gone by. I think that has to do with respect. I trust Gary implicitly. I know when we show up in Jacksonville, he will be as well-prepared as he can be. He goes about it completely different than I do because he’s got a responsibility. I’m more the nuts-and-bolts guy – the storyteller – so I’m looking for anecdotes and human interest things and Gary is studying tape and trying to break down who can bring what to the encounter. So we have different roles.”
“I think over the years we’ve learned to A) trust each other – he trusts me to get my side of it done so I come in there prepared and then I think the personalities are so completely different. But that’s turned into strength. That was not true in 2006. We had our moments where we talked over each other and we had our moments where he would look at me and raise his eyes and think ‘Where are you going with this?’ And I would have my moments where I would look at him – it was never expressed – but I would think ‘Why did you just say that.’ But over time – and it began to happen in the second year. He’s so well-prepared and he such concrete opinions. He’s uncanny at his ability to anticipate. I think that’s one of his greatest strengths.”
“We’re not chit-chatting all the time and we don’t normally talk during the week. We go about it completely separately and completely differently. I’ve learned to know when he’s got something on his mind and that he wants to express it. And so I give him the space and I hope he feels that way. And he knows if it’s an anecdote about something, I’ll raise my finger in the air to let him know I have something that I think can add value. … We try to make it as much of a conversation as we can.”
Danielson: “I think first of all what made it work was that we weren’t young newlyweds. We had both gone through a few marriages and we both respected each other’s work when we came to this marriage. We knew that really there is no such thing as a utopia as a partner – everybody has their flaws. Everybody needs their space. … I think we both know that there is time to get away from each other. There is time to give each other space, but we both know that we’re better together than we are separate.
“I marvel at the way that Verne can get along with everybody from the university prior to the game. He takes a deep interest in the smallest things of people. I might not do that outwardly as much as him, but I appreciate it. I think he takes a look at me and has respect for the fact that I can shut out the outside world – almost like a player – and get down to the basics. I think we both respect that about each other.”
“It’s better for us to bring a different perspective each week and if we work too closely together we sort of get the same perspective. … I think the biggest part is that we both understand that we don’t have to be the same to like each other and we don’t have to exactly the same perspective to do a good job for the game. We can come at it from different ends and blend in the middle.”
To read the rest of the article visit the Orlando Sentinel where it was originally published
ESPN Announces Opening Weekend Slate On Conference Networks
The season is approaching and ESPN took the occasion to announce the opening weeks schedules for their the ACC Network, ACC Network and Longhorn Network.
College football begins in less than 100 days so to celebrate, ESPN announced programming for the beginning of the season for their conference-affiliated networks and the Longhorn Network.
The SEC Network is set to begin it’s ninth season on the air. Just as the network did one year ago, the network will start in Knoxville, Tennessee. Ball State is Tennessee’s opponent on September 1st and the game features a 7 p.m. ET kickoff in Neyland Stadium. The SEC Network also announced a trio of tripleheaders to kickoff 2022. Alabama (v. Utah State), LSU (v. Southern) and Florida (v. South Florida) are the respective host teams in those week’s primetime games.
The ACC Network’s season begins even sooner. Starting on Saturday August 27th, the network will feature Week 0 games for the first time. Florida State will welcome Duquesne at 5 p.m. ET in the first game of an ACC Network doubleheader, followed by Florida A&M travelling to North Carolina which is scheduled to kickoff at 8:15 p.m. ET. The ACC Network will air 14 live football games over the first four weeks of the season. In Week 1, the ACC Network will begin it’s schedule of tripleheaders of 2022 culminating with Louisville and Syracuse battling in the season’s first installment of ACC Network Primetime Football at 8 p.m. on September 3rd.
ESPN’s Longhorn Network announced that Texas will open it’s season on Saturday, September 3rd against Louisiana-Monroe exclusively on LHN at 7 p.m. CT. In addition to the season-opener, the Longhorn Network will be the home of the September 17th game at home against Texas-San Antonio. LHN also mentioned Texas GameDay presented by St. David’s HealthCare will have pre and postgame coverage throughout the season beginning with the season-opener.
This could be the final season for the Longhorn Network as it is currently constructed. Texas’ move to the SEC could mean a large change to their media rights allocation. Texas has reportedly been open to the idea of scrapping the network if necessary.
Lee Fitting: We’re Lucky Bosses Threw Rules Out For ManningCast
“This was the next step in the evolution, and one that gained a lot of recognition because of the crew and Peyton and Eli.”
ESPN’s Lee Fitting made time to talk to Sports Video Group after the ManningCast took home the award for Best Live Series at the Sports Emmys on Tuesday night. He was holding the trophy, but said it took every person that worked on the show to make it worthy of that honor.
“This was the ultimate team effort, you know, for the Monday nights that we did it and, you know, like I said out there, we were just so spoiled to have Peyton and Eli at the center of it,” the network’s SVP of Production said.
He credited the quarterback mindset Peyton and Eli Manning brought to the project, saying that players have to be allowed to make plays. It wasn’t just important that the Manning brothers could do it. The network had to be willing to stay out of the way and let the ManningCast figure out what success looked like.
“We were just super lucky that our bosses just sort of threw the rules out the window with this one,” Fitting said.
While the alternate Monday Night Football broadcast received plenty of rave reviews, Fitting pointed out that he wasn’t really breaking new ground. He was taking a formula that had been proven to work and changing it up a bit.
“The Megacast has been around for a while now, and it continues to evolve. This was the next step in the evolution, and one that gained a lot of recognition because of the crew and Peyton and Eli.”
Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions recently produced a similar alternate broadcast for the PGA Championship. It is contracted to build alternate, conversational broadcasts for UFC events and college football games next.
John Buccigross: Return Of NHL ‘Reenergized’ Me In ESPN Role
“I’m just grateful that I was able to get reenergized without leaving the company that I’ve worked for so long.”
John Buccigross is probably the most thankful out of anyone that the NHL returned to the ESPN airwaves this season.
Bucci has been at the network for 25 years and was a part of the coverage team the last time ESPN had NHL broadcast rights. He told Awful Announcing that the change after the 2003-04 season really helped change his focus at the network.
“It’s probably a good thing that it went away back in 2004, because I was able to focus on SportsCenter and kind of move up the ladder there, and maybe I never would have if hockey had stayed all these years,” he said. “Maybe that was good. And then I got involved with college hockey, I asked to do play-by-play a couple of years after we lost the NHL, so I’ve been doing college hockey for over 15 years with play-by-play, hoping we would get the NHL back and then I could do NHL play-by-play.”
Now the NHL is back, the Stanley Cup Final will air on ESPN and ABC, and John Buccigross will be a part of it in some fashion. He said having the chance to pick back up where he left off all those years ago gave him a second wind in his career.
“It’s been absolutely fantastic. It couldn’t have come at a better time for me in my career, being at ESPN over 25 years,” he said. “To kind of get reenergized, reinvigorated with your job after being in the same place for 25 years, that’s probably pretty rare. I’m just grateful that I was able to get reenergized without leaving the company that I’ve worked for so long. At this stage of my career, it was just perfect timing.”
ESPN and Turner Sports replaced NBC Sports as the U.S. broadcast rightsholders for the NHL this season.