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Anatomy of a Broadcaster

Anatomy of a Broadcaster: Kevin Kugler

“I wouldn’t trade the journey for anyone else’s path, but I wasn’t exactly a child prodigy!”

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Kevin Kugler, Anatomy of a Broadcaster

Everywhere a sports fan turns these days, you’re bound to see or hear Kevin Kugler on the call. The versatile broadcaster is knee deep into the college basketball season, which will culminate with him calling the National Championship Game on Westwood One. He’s come a long way from his days as a co-host on 1620 “The Zone” in Nebraska.

Kugler holds a number of high-profile jobs these days, not just with Westwood One. Kugler calls basketball and football on the Big Ten Network and is a regular voice of the NFL on Fox. It’s a demanding schedule at times, but Kugler manages to handle it just fine.

“This time of year, isn’t really as crazy as the crossover season when I’ve got both football and basketball on my schedule.” Kugler told me.  “There’s a lot of hoops games to call, but when I’m not juggling football and basketball, it’s certainly a little more manageable.”

Kugler has certainly made a name for himself and become one of the best in the business.

Road to Today

Kugler’s career began at 1620, “The Zone” in Omaha, Nebraska.

“I was there for nearly 12 years.  We started the afternoon drive show “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” in September of 2000 and I left the station in July of 2012.” Kugler says.

From that job, he got to do some play-by-play at the College Baseball World Series, which is based in Omaha. It led to him being “discovered” if you will, on the national stage.

“So, the Westwood One opportunity came from the CWS.  Our station, 1620 The Zone, acquired the rights to produce the preliminary games.” Kugler explained. “As part of the deal, Westwood One agreed to use a 1620 The Zone person on the sidelines.  Thanks to my terrific boss, Neil Nelkin, that person was me.”  

That particular assignment helped beyond Kugler’s wildest expectations.

“As it turned out, Howard Deneroff (now the EVP, Executive Producer at WWO) was the producer of those games.” he told me. “So, I met him (Deneroff) through that.  Every year, he asked me to send him my tape.  I was doing Division II football and basketball for the University of Nebraska-Omaha at the time.  Sent him tapes each year after the CWS.” Kugler remembered. 

“Then, prior to the CWS in 2006, he asked to hear stuff again.  Then asked for more stuff.  By this point, I’m digging into some of the clunkiest cassette tapes that I had, but that didn’t seem to faze him.  He called in the summer of 2006, after the CWS, and offered me the chance to do college football and basketball for the network starting that fall.  It was one of the best phone calls I’ve ever received!”

That is an understatement.

National Work, Big Ten, Westwood One, Fox

The Westwood One gig started to open doors for Kugler. But, one that previously opened to allow his success, closed.

“I only do the Championship series (of the CWS) these days for Westwood One.  My good friend John Bishop handles the preliminary games and does a tremendous job.” Kugler told me. “I had the opportunity a few years back to expand my role with Fox and do some MLB and spring football coverage, so I had to give those games up.” 

Kugler is happy to still be a part of the festivities, because that tournament means a lot to him. “The CWS is Omaha’s calling card!” Kugler proudly proclaimed.  “And as someone who still calls Omaha home, it’s always an amazing thrill to walk into the booth at the CWS.  I hope I get the chance to remain involved in that in some way for years to come.”

He now has three national jobs. At WWO, he’s been the voice of the Final Four and Championship Game since 2008. For a time Kugler was the voice of Sunday Night Football on the radio, but had to give that up for a bigger role too. More on that in a second.

In 2011, Kugler added the Big Ten Network to his portfolio, calling college football and basketball, among other sports. Since BTN was owned by Fox, Kugler also called some national games in both sports as well.

Kugler is also a play-by-play announcer for FOX Sports’ NFL broadcasts. He assumed that role in 2020. In addition to the NFL, he calls select college basketball and MLB telecasts.

What Makes Him Good?

Full disclosure, Kugler is one of my favorite people in the industry. I worked with him for a brief time at BTN doing baseball and softball broadcasts.

That being said, in all objectivity, he’s one of the best around right now for a number of reasons.

First off, he’s developed into one of the more versatile broadcasters in the industry. In a given week, he could be calling the NFL, College Football and College Basketball. That’s not as easy as it might sound. I mean how do you prep for a week like that?

“I’ve always been kind of a prep junkie.  I enjoy telling stories, and getting lost down those ridiculous little rabbit holes where you start following a thread and a half hour later, you realize you finally found what you were looking for.” Kugler says.  “To balance that with limited time takes a certain amount of discipline…I can’t chase those as much as I’d like sometimes, but I make sure I work ahead as much as I can, and I’m always grateful for a repeat team here and there!”

Yeah, I’ll bet.

But the amount of prep he does comes shining through in his broadcasts. There’s an ease about him that is a very comfortable listen. By that I don’t mean generic or vanilla. Kugler easily raises his energy to match the action and dials it down when needed as well. He creates anticipation in his voice in the way he builds up to the moment. I find this especially true when he’s calling basketball on the radio. The ability to use his voice to generate that hope for a listener is only something the best of the best can do. 

The more he’s able to call games on the biggest stage, the more Kugler is able to earn that “you know it’s a big game when you hear him” badge. Young broadcasters tend to get too hyped for a championship type game, but Kugler has mastered his pacing, bringing the moment to his viewers and listeners in a manner that is just right.

There is a humbleness about Kugler as well. When I asked him, “what was the ‘ride’ like early in your career to get to this point?” 

“My journey is probably no different than how it starts for so many of us in the business.  I went to a small market, called high school sports, made a ton of mistakes, and tried to find my voice.  I’ve been fortunate to have some terrific advice and opportunities along the way to where I am today.” Kugler said.  “I’ve struggled to make it as a freelance broadcaster.  I wrestled with the idea that it wasn’t going to happen for me, and what in the world would I do for a living if it didn’t?  (I have no real discernable skills beyond talking).”

As for his successes? “I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a path to doing play-by-play now at the highest level, whether it be the NFL for FOX Sports and Westwood One, college basketball for Fox, BTN and Westwood, the Final Four, etc.  I wouldn’t trade the journey for anyone else’s path, but I wasn’t exactly a child prodigy!” He said. “Ian Eagle told me one time that the more people that can take credit for your career, the better your career has gone.  I feel like a lot of people have played a role in this and I hope that they are happy that they were able to push me forward each step along the road.”

Did You Know?

Kugler hosted the Masters golf tournament for Westwood One in 2009 and 2010. He filed radio reports for the network from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

Kugler has been accused, as have most broadcasters that do national games, of hating YOUR team. He’s steering into the skid, so to speak, by putting that in his “X” bio. It’s legendary enough that there has been a parody account created, @KuglerH8sUrTeam.

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Anatomy of a Broadcaster

Anatomy of an Insider: Jeff Passan

The life of an insider takes no breaks, probably causes internal consternation and means you’re on your phone constantly, all in the name of being first to report on a story.

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Report: Jeff Passan is a tremendous ‘insider’ when it comes to baseball. Ok, this is actually a fact, but you get the picture. Usually that first word “report” is followed by Jeff Passan says according to his sources, and there’s usually some big news after that. Correct news, more often than not. The life of an insider takes no breaks, probably causes internal consternation and means you’re on your phone constantly, all in the name of being first to report on a story.

Passan grew up near Cleveland, Ohio and that’s where Passan’s love for baseball began. In his bio at ESPN, he says, “Getting to watch the 1990s Indians, with Albert Belle and Kenny Lofton and Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez and Omar Vizquel and Carlos Baerga and Eddie Murray, made a baseball fan of me forever.” Passan said he always had a passion for writing and sports and now has a career in both.

“The ability to marry the two seemed too convenient to work a real job.” Passan said on ESPN.

“Somehow, for upward of 20 years now, I’ve managed to make it happen. And for all the late nights, the days away from the family, the clacking away on the keyboard: Yeah, it really is the best job in the world.”

ROAD TO ESPN

Passan attended Syracuse and wrote for The Daily Orange while at school. He began covering baseball in 2004 while at The Kansas City Star before he moved on to Yahoo! a couple of years later. Passan worked at the internet site for 13 years.

Passan announced that he was joining ESPN’s Baseball team in January 2019. While working at ESPN, he makes guest appearances on SportsCenterGet UpThe Rich Eisen ShowBaseball Tonight, The Pat McAfee Show and other ESPN studio shows.

He is also a frequent guest on such ESPN podcasts as ESPN Daily and Baseball Tonight with Buster Olney. He has also contributed as an on-field reporter, including for Monday Night Baseball and Wednesday Night Baseball.

DESIRE, PASSION AND PITFALLS

“Insider” work knows no offseason. News is constantly breaking in baseball. Whether it be during the season, at the trade deadline or after the season, he’s on the scene. This kind of work can be extremely demanding and requires a passion and dedication to be among the best.

In 2022 Passan spoke to the New York Post and was asked where his passion came from. He credited his wife for sparking his career growth. As he recalled, he told his wife he wasn’t looking forward to attending baseball’s Winter Meetings in 2012. After his wife asked him what was wrong, he basically told her that this was the time (Winter Meetings) where he felt terrible at his job. The conversation continued.

“Why’s that?” she asked.

Passan said, “Because I don’t really break news.”

“Why is that?” she said.

“I didn’t have a great answer. I think the thing I said was, “It’s really hard.”

Her response was, “Well, then stop being a p***y and go do it.”

Blunt.

“That sort of emasculation hits hard!” Passan admitted to The Post. “I listened to her. I focused on it. I prioritized it. I’m really glad I did, not just because it helped me land at ESPN, but I truly believe that being in the daily news grind the way you are required to be if you are in this job, opens up so many stories you wouldn’t have gotten by just not talking to the people it forces you to talk with.”

There are drawbacks to being the best at your particular livelihood. The job requires being tethered to his phone. He expanded upon the notion when he joined Andrew Marchand and John Ourand on their sports media podcast back in 2022.

“I’m a slave to it. That’s the reality,” Passan said. “I look at my screen time numbers every week, and seriously I will ask myself, ‘What are you doing? Is this worth it? What are you doing with your life?’”

“My kids are gonna be out of the house in three and seven years and I’m not present too often,” Passan continued. “I will hear them ask a question and I can’t tell you the number of times where I’ve answered, ‘hold on a second, let me finish this text.’ That may be the most oft said thing in my house. Is that how I want my kids remembering me?”

His kids are probably very proud of the excellent work their dad does in the industry. I can see though, how tough this has to be on a father. Being away from the house and always having to work.

USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Passan was one of the first in the field to start using platforms other than Twitter, now named X.  A Tweet in 2022 explained:

“I have no idea if Twitter is going to be around today, tomorrow, next week, next year. I love everyone here and want them to know that there’s a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency plan.”

Social media is an important part of an “Insider’s” job. It’s a great way to share information to a large audience at lightning speed. Many accused Passan of grandstanding, and “virtue signaling” for “boycotting” a platform now owned by Elon Musk. Now with other platforms available, like Threads and Blue Sky many of those ‘breaking news’ are doing so on multiple social sites.

It’s also dangerous sometimes.

Passan attempted to note in a post on X that Ron Washington was getting another shot as an MLB manager after nearly a decade. But, Passan accidentally wrote that Washington was getting another “s**t” instead of “shot”. No matter that he quickly edited the original post, because screenshots were taken of the post and now live in the dark corners of the internet.

WHY IS HE A ‘GO TO’ INSIDER?

It’s evident that Passan does a ton of work and is very careful about ‘breaking’ things before he has the confirmation he needs. There are those out there that just for the sake of being first, will throw something up against the wall to see if it sticks. That doesn’t seem to be Passan’s style. The guys he competes with may beat him from time to time, but that’s part of the gig. It’s comforting to know that if Passan is on social media with a ‘scoop,’ you can go with it.

In an interview with The Big Lead in 2020, he was asked about the feeling of getting the ‘scoop.’

“It is simultaneously exhilarating and nauseating. It’s a privilege to know that people are coming to me for information.” Passan said.  “I am extremely judicious about it because the one thing I can’t ever do is get something wrong. That is where the nerves and exhilaration come into play. I may know something, but do I know it? I may believe with 99.9 percent certainty that I know something is going to happen but that’s not enough. I need that extra .001 percent and that’s where the extra phone call always makes the difference.”

He admitted to losing scoops because he wasn’t completely certain about a piece to the story. That is the kind of thing that separates the greats from the internet detectives that think they have it right.

Getting the story isn’t just a matter of talking to sources the day of, say the trade deadline in baseball. Passan does the work and cultivates relationships weeks and months before that event even takes place. You can tell that Passan is plugged in and has a style that is easy to respect.

Fans hang on his words. Many feel that if the post isn’t from Passan, they don’t believe it. Creating that trust with the fans and fellow media members is vital. Passan has that trust and continues to earn it every day.

DID YOU KNOW?

Passan has a great sense of humor. A Cubs’ fan named Lisa, took to X on February 22, 2024 announcing:

I heard that they (Cubs) signed (Cody) Bellinger just now from a good friend who’s in AZ right now, but can’t find anything online about it. Have you heard anything?

Several days later, Passan reported on the Cubs signing of Bellinger. He had the details of the contract and all the pertinent information. Then in a post that followed, he simply stated:

Lisa was right

Very cool to acknowledge her and the statement of “Lisa was right” took on a life of its own in Chicago.

Prior to ESPN, Passan was the author of New York Times bestseller The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports, and co-authored Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series.

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Anatomy of a Broadcaster

Anatomy of an Analyst: Kurt Warner

Warner has shown the ability to be versatile as well. He’s been in the studio, in the booth on television and also on radio. That’s not an easy trifecta to pull off by anyone.

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Kurt Warner was the engineer of the “Greatest Show on Turf” in their glory days in St. Louis. He became a Superbowl MVP and two-time NFL Most Valuable Player. He took the Walter Payton “Man of the Year” honors as well. Oh, and he was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017. Not bad for a guy that was stocking shelves at a local Hy-Vee grocery store in Iowa while waiting for an NFL opportunity. Warner is the living embodiment of the rags to riches cliché.

Warner was born in Burlington, Iowa. He played football at Regis High School in Cedar Rapids, graduating in 1989. From there, Warner attended the University of Northern Iowa, where he was third on the Panthers’ depth chart until his senior year. When Warner was finally given the chance to start, he was named the Gateway Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year and first-team all-conference.

But Warner’s story almost never happened. After Northern Iowa, he was cut by two teams in the mid-’90’s. He then left the grocery store business in 1995, when the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena Football league, signed him to a contract. Warner led the Barnstormers to two Arena Bowl berths and was named to the first team All-Arena in 1996 and 1997.

The story of perseverance was going to be tested again after he was given another shot at the NFL in 1998 with the Rams. But the rest, as they say, is history.

NFL CAREER

In 1994, Warner went undrafted and was invited to try out for the Green Bay Packers in training camp. He was released before the regular season began. Warner returned to UNI as a graduate assistant, still hoping to get another tryout in the NFL.

In 1998 the Rams signed Warner as a free agent. They allocated him to the European Football League where he played for the Amsterdam Admirals. Warner led the EFL in passing yards and touchdowns in 1998.

Still nothing was guaranteed for him. In 1999 the Rams left him unprotected for the Expansion Draft to stock the Cleveland Browns. He went unclaimed. So, he stayed with the Rams and began the ’99 season as the team’s second-string quarterback. Following an injury to veteran quarterback Trent Green, who would miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL, Warner was named the starter. Then Rams coach Dick Vermeil said in a press conference following the injury, “We will rally around Kurt Warner, and we’ll play good football.” Truer words may have never been spoken.

Warner made the most of the opportunity and became THE story in the NFL. With Warner at QB, the Rams explosive offense scored 526 points. Warner passed for a league-leading 41 TDs and was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player that year as the Rams posted a 13-3 record. The team capped the improbable season with a 23-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV. Warner set a Super Bowl record with 414 passing yards and threw a pair of touchdowns to lead the Rams to their first Super Bowl title and was named the game’s MVP.

He recorded another MVP season two years later when he brought the Rams back to the Super Bowl. This time they came up short 20-17 to the Patriots.

In the offseason of 2004, the Rams released Warner. 2 days later he signed a deal to play for the Giants. He started that season as the number one quarterback, but following a two-game losing streak, he lost the job to rookie Eli Manning.

Warner would then sign a one-year deal with the Cardinals and became the starter. After an up and down couple of years, Warner once again was the starting quarterback and made a third trip to the Super Bowl, the first ever appearance in Cardinals history. Warner threw for 377 yards and 3 TDs in a tough loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII.

A couple of years later, in January of 2010, Warner announced his retirement from the NFL.

BROADCASTING CAREER

Immediately after his retirement, Warner already had two offers from television networks. Warner said he’d basically had conversations with every network before making his choices. He joined both the NFL Network and Fox Sports in 2010. He worked as an analyst for the NFL Network and was in a booth for Fox as a game analyst with either Chris Rose or Chris Myers to call regional games.

In 2011 Warner signed an exclusive deal with NFLN, leaving his other part-time gig with Fox.

During the football season, Warner joins Rich Eisen, Steve Mariucci, and Michael Irvin on NFL GameDay Morning, the network’s Sunday Morning pregame show. He can also be seen as a regular contributor throughout the week on NFL Total Access.

Warner is also given the opportunity to work from the booth multiple times a year. He’s mainly paired with Eisen on these telecasts.

He added another gig a few years ago. After many attempts to lure Warner to Westwood One’s broadcast booth full-time, the network landed him and made him the new lead color analyst for Monday Night Football and the Super Bowl, starting with the 2018-19 NFL season.

While Warner loves his studio work immensely, there’s something about being at the game that excites the former player.

“I love being on the field before the game, talking to the players, taking in the atmosphere and the energy of the fans,” Warner told NFL.com in 2018. “I love the story of the Xs and Os. On radio, I’m sharing what I’m seeing and how I view the game.”

He’ll continue in his dual role and will be on the call for Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas.

AS AN ANALYST

I really enjoy Kurt Warner’s work. He presents a no nonsense, authoritative ,yet friendly demeanor on air. Warner has the credentials in the league to be a guy that could be someone that talks down to the audience, but he’s quite the opposite. He has the ability to talk. By that I mean he’s smooth when it comes to making a point, or analyzing a play. Warner’s thoughts come across energetically in a manner that is extremely clear and on point. He’s smart, comfortable on camera and has that ability to break down the game in a way that’s understandable for die-hard and casual football fans.

You can tell that there’s a chemistry on NFL GameDay Morning. These guys, Rich Eisen, Steve Mariucci, Michael Irvin and Warner present themselves as guys that actually like each other.

“When you watch us, you feel like you’re hanging with a bunch of guys in a living room who are talking football and having a good time,” Warner told NFL.com in 2018.

Warner has shown the ability to be versatile as well. He’s been in the studio, in the booth on television and also on radio. That’s not an easy trifecta to pull off by anyone. The constant reps he gets on the Monday Night radio broadcasts certainly go a long way in building confidence in his other roles along the way.

He doesn’t take himself too seriously at times either. Warner isn’t afraid to poke a little fun at himself.  Warner recently went viral for a response to a Steelers fan proclaiming the James Harrison interception return for a touchdown of Warner in Super Bowl XLIII as the best play in Super Bowl history. Warner saw that post on social media and politely disagreed with that fan’s opinion. With a repost, simply saying “Kind of depends on who you ask!!!!”

DID YOU KNOW?

Kurt Warner had a movie made about his life called “American Underdog”.

On August 30, 2010, it was announced on live television that Warner would be appearing as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars. His professional dance partner was Anna Trebunskaya; the couple was eliminated in week 8.

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Anatomy of a Broadcaster

Anatomy of a Broadcaster: Rece Davis

“There’s a likeability factor, his words, his information and his general comfort on the air lends itself to being a fan of Davis’”

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Chances are good if you turned on a TV during College Bowl season, Rece Davis appeared on your screen. Davis has been a mainstay on ESPN for over 25 years working in various roles for the network. He has done everything from hosting FIFA World Cup shows, to horse racing. From Auto Racing to College Football and basketball.

Davis raised his profile in 2015, when he signed a big extension to stay at the World Wide Leader. His portfolio added College GameDay, taking over as the host of the crazy road show for Chris Fowler, with Kirk Herbstreit, Pat McAfee and Lee Corso. He also took over hosting duties for premier events on both ESPN and ABC, like the College Football Playoff National Championship, the NFL Draft on ABC, the NBA Draft on ESPN and the NCAA Men’s Final Four. As if those assignments weren’t enough, he also does some play-by-play for college football and basketball.

“I don’t think of my job as being hard. I know I’m the luckiest guy around. When you never feel as if you go to work, it’s really easy and fun to do the homework.” Davis recently signed a new extension to remain in the spotlight.

Davis was born in Chicago, but grew up in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and calls it home. He attended and graduated from the University of Alabama in 1988.

ROAD TO ESPN/GAMEDAY

Davis worked as a freelance television play-by-play announcer, studio host, and radio personality in select media outlets throughout the state, while a student at Alabama. In 1987, Davis began working as a general assignment reporter for WCFT-TV in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

After graduating from Alabama, Davis served until 1993 in various positions at WRBL in Columbus, Georgia. There he worked as a sports reporter, the lead weekend news anchor, and later as WRBL’s sports director.

Davis left Georgia for Flint, Michigan, to begin working as a sports anchor and reporter at WJRT-TV. In March he left Flint for Bristol and began working for ESPN2 and the program SportSmash, where he provided five-minute reports on sports news and scores.

Davis hosted ESPN2’s NBA 2Night in 1996 and 1997. From 1997 through 1999, he served as studio host of ESPN2’s weekend RPM 2Night and Sunday morning RPM 2Day programs. He went on to anchor the program SportsCenter and frequently gave the “Extra Point” report on The Dan Patrick Show on ESPN Radio. He also sat in occasionally for Patrick as a guest host.

WHY IS HE GOOD

Davis is extremely smooth. I know a lot of studio hosts are, but many of them never leave the studio. He’s out on the road with GameDay every week, amongst huge throngs of somewhat sober college students and fans. The scene is wild and filled with clever signs and loud cheers and boos.

To a broadcaster, things never sound as good out of the studio as they do inside the four walls of the broadcast facility. To be able to be that composed, smooth and polished as Davis is, it’s not easy to accomplish. Things tend to go wrong during live ‘remote’ shows and it takes a real pro to be able to both cover these up and make it appear seamless to the viewer.

There is an ease about him on the air. Don’t misconstrue this as being soft or boring. Davis is a very comfortable watch, and by this, I mean, he’s not in your face, but he’s not making you drift off into space. It’s down the middle, with energy and that’s a great thing to have. There’s a likeability factor, his words, his information and his general comfort on the air lends itself to being a fan of Davis’.

No matter who he’s working with, it always seems like Davis and that individual have a great rapport. Like a manager in baseball, the host of the show needs to know what makes each of their analyst’s great. Trying to get the best out of each of them makes the studio show work well and reflects kindly on the host. There is a great sense of comradery on the set, that feeling really allows everyone to be themselves, knowing each has the other’s back. 

The people on the set become like family when a show is really working. Davis was visibly saddened when David Pollack became one of the network’s budget cut casualties. Pollack tweeted a video about his exit. Davis then ‘quote-tweeted’ with some of his own thoughts.

“Class personified,” Davis wrote. “I’ve joked for years that @davidpollack47 is the little brother I never wanted. Truth is, he’s as good a man & as good a friend as I could’ve ever hoped for. 

“He’s a brother to me for life. He’s a man of God. A selfless teammate, an exemplary family man,” with Davis also adding in a reply to the tweet that it was a “tough day.” Those sentiments were heartfelt and honest. No fluff here, showing exactly why people enjoy working with him at ESPN.

What is also not underrated, is Davis’ sense of humor is also not underrated. Keeping things light without intruding on the broadcast is a skill most don’t possess. Some hosts may be funnier, but not too many have that sense of timing. When to go for the laugh and when to let it go is an art form. The laughter on set is natural, because you never really know when Davis will spring the one liner on the audience and panel. 

For example, last weekend, the GameDay crew threw it to Ryan Seacrest in New York, to promote his Dick Clark’s Rockin New Year’s Eve with Ryan Seacrest on New Year’s Eve. Seacrest, a Georgia alum, said he was, “stoked that my ‘Dawgs are facing the undefeated ‘Noles.”

When Seacrest threw it back to Davis in the studio, Davis used it as a “booking” opportunity to get Seacrest on College GameDay next season. Davis said, “Happy New Year, Ryan. If you really love the ‘Dawgs, you’ll accept an invitation to be the celebrity guest picker on College GameDay one week.” Well played. Davis wouldn’t give up. A few moments later, while chatting with Desmond Howard, Davis said, “Ryan Seacrest, noted Georgia fan. Desmond, it would be great to have him as a guest picker sometime, wouldn’t it?” To which Howard replied, “Absolutely. One hundred percent. We need to get him.”

Good stuff.

DID YOU KNOW?

Davis was named as an outstanding alumnus of the University of Alabama’s School of Communication and Information Sciences in 2001.

Davis told the ACC Network recently about the conversation he had with former ESPN VP of talent Al Jaffe in 1994 and where Davis was when he had that first chat. He relayed the story he was in Columbus, Ohio, interviewing for a job at the ABC affiliate there. He said he talked to Jaffe from a pay phone in the parking lot of a Wendy’s.

“Al said if you want this job, don’t take that one. Put them off,” Davis said. Rece added that he was able to delay the process in Columbus for a little bit after that conversation, long enough to eventually get offered the position with ESPN. “It was a really great moment,” he said. “It was remarkable.”

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