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Verne Lundquist Originally Fought SEC on CBS Assignment

“I looked at Nancy and I said honey, pack your bags for Tuscaloosa.”

Ricky Keeler

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Verne Lundquist has not called a SEC college football game on CBS since 2016, but he is remembered by so many for his great calls of classic games over the years. He has had the chance to call so many great moments and still does every year at the 16th hole at The Masters, but the SEC holds a special place for him.

Lundquist was a guest on The Press Box podcast with Bryan Curtis and reflected on some of those classic calls and he said the assignment that he treasured the most was calling SEC games on Saturdays from 2000-2016:

“The SEC is in my view hands down the most significant, toughest conference in the country to win. In all the assignments I had throughout my career which still continues for one week a year, the one I treasured the most really of all the things I was lucky enough to do was the assignment of the SEC. I really, really treasure those moments.

“I so much buy into all the pomp and circumstance. I love the bands, I love the pom poms, I love pretending for 3.5 hours every Saturday afternoon that every student-athlete is also a student. That is a challenge at times.”

During their conversation, Lundquist told Curtis what he feels the responsibility of being a play-by-play person is and that was to give the viewer a reason to care about what they are watching.

“I believe that the responsibility of a play-by-play guy is to give the listener or the viewer a compelling reason to be invested in the game and you do that by anecdotal information, stories both good and bad about the competitors, the universities, the coaches, and give them a reason to be alert to want to care whether it is positive or negative and stay with you.

“Yes, the names and numbers are vitally important, down and distance vitally important, but anecdotal information and this is where the play-by-play guy has a responsibility much larger in this context than the analyst does.

“I find myself every Saturday afternoon watching our telecast or ESPN or NBC on Sunday night. I watch myself and pay attention to the lineups, but I don’t get anything out of them. If you get a guy dedicated to your school, he stays 4 years. Now with the possibility of transferring, you need a road map to find out where everyone is going. People are not familiar with these guys unless you are an alumnus or a loyal follower of a specific team. That’s the responsibility you have.”

Back in 1999, Lundquist went from being the number two announcer for the NFL on CBS to becoming the voice of SEC football when CBS brought in Dick Enberg to be the new number two announcer. At first, Lundquist didn’t want to do it, but he found the first SEC game he ever called to be a thrilling experience.

“I fought it. I didn’t want to do it. The rumors became so persistent that I called Sean McManus. We chatted and I told him my concerns and I said now, if you sign Dick, it wouldn’t affect me, would it? He did what executives did so well. He maneuvered sideways and he said he’s such a high-ticket item, I don’t think we would sign him…In the unlikely event that we would hire Dick Enberg, how would you feel about moving to the SEC?

“I said the appropriate things and said goodbye. We were in the kitchen in our home in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and I looked at Nancy and I said honey, pack your bags for Tuscaloosa. My first game ever in the SEC was Florida-Tennessee. I had never been to Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. It was a thrilling experience.”

While Lundquist never tried too hard to be warm on air and he likes the nickname Uncle Verne given to him by Spencer Hall, he mentioned to Curtis that that persona can’t be manufactured by anyone.

“I think it’s the product of my environment growing up. It’s not something that’s manufactured. There’s an amazing quality of television. There’s something going on between the viewer and the person on the other side of the camera. I think this so-called wall is broken down in imperceptible ways. But, the essence of the person who is looking into the camera is conveyed to the person who is viewing. I’ll bet you that if you are watching a television set and you see someone on the air and you think he is an arrogant jerk, 90% of the time he is going to be an arrogant jerk….If you think somebody is going to be nice, they will be.

“I think those of us who choose to be public people have an obligation to be accessible to people. That’s what you aspire to and that’s what comes with the territory.” 

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Sports Online

Mike Francesa: George Steinbrenner’s Idea to Put Mike and The Mad Dog On YES Network

“It was George’s idea. So give him credit for it. He wanted Mike and The Mad Dog as part of the CBS Radio contract, and we were.”

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Mike and The Mad Dog is often cited as one of, if not the, best sports radio shows of all time. The show saw an expanded reach with its partnership with the YES Network beginning in 2002. During his podcast Tuesday, Mike Francesa gave all the credit to the simulcast hitting the air on YES Network to the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

“It was George Steinbrenner that came up with the idea of Mike and The Mad Dog being on the YES Network. No one else,” Francesa said.

“They came to us when they were negotiating a new radio deal with him and they said ‘Hey, we need a quick answer on this. Would you guys want to be on the YES Network every day, simulcasting? You know what Imus is doing with MSNBC? We wanna do it with you guys, but we need a very quick answer’.”

Francesa said the show airing on YES Network was a sticking point for the Yankees in negotiations with CBS Radio to continue airing the franchise’s broadcasts.

“Our first deal with them were not for a lot of money. Our later deals with them were for a very significant amount of money. But it was George’s idea. So give him credit for it. He wanted Mike and The Mad Dog as part of the CBS Radio contract, and we were. Our joining the YES Network was part of the CBS Radio contract.”

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Dave Portnoy Reveals Back-And-Forth With New York Times Reporter Who Claimed He ‘Did Not Provide Answers’

“You waited till (sic) your hit piece was done and now you just need to say you gave me a fair chance to speak even though you have no interest in the truth and your article is already written”.

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A story from The New York Times centered around “aging casino company” — Penn National Gaming — and its relationship with “degenerate gambler” — Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy — caught the eye of the face of the online outlet after the claim that he “didn’t provide answers”.

In the story, Steel claims “Penn and Barstool executives did not respond to repeated messages. Mr. Portnoy did not provide answers.” Portnoy brought the receipts to Twitter with a video of all of the correspondence he had with Times writer Emily Steel.

The alleged conversation takes place sporadically from May through November, with Portnoy offering to meet face-to-face with Steel for an interview that is mutually audio and video recorded, which Steel declines. She offered to meet Portnoy in New York for an audio recorded interview, which he declined, saying the interview needed to take place in Miami, because “I’m not running around to accommodate you at the 11th hour.”

He added “You waited till (sic) your hit piece was done and now you just need to say you gave me a fair chance to speak even though you have no interest in the truth and your article is already written”.

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Kareem Daniel Leaving Disney After Bob Iger Reassumes Role as Company CEO

“This is a time of enormous change and challenges in our industry, and our work will also focus on creating a more efficient and cost-effective structure.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Bob Iger is back as the CEO of Disney, and one of the first moves he made was to announce a company restructure. Part of that restructure includes the departure of Kareem Daniel, the chair of Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution (DMED).

DMED was formed under now-previous CEO Bob Chapek. The division manages Disney’s streaming services which includes ESPN+.

Daniel was considered one of those closest to Chapek. Iger announced Daniel’s departure in a memo to employees at DMED.

“It is my intention to restructure things in a way that honors and respects creativity as the heart and soul of who we are,” Iger said in the memo. “As you know, this is a time of enormous change and challenges in our industry, and our work will also focus on creating a more efficient and cost-effective structure.”

ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro will join other company leaders in coming up with a new company structure that Iger hopes “puts more decision-making back in the hands of our creative teams and rationalizes costs.”

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