Which announcers reigned supreme in 2013? Which play-by-play callers, analysts, hosts and reporters were head and shoulders above the rest this year? Let's take a look at the announcers who rose to the top of the field in 2013 and made our list for Best of the Year. This list is in alphabetical order.
In his first season on the NFL on Fox, Kevin Burkhardt made quite the impression with fans, media observers and most importantly, his bosses. Forging one of the stronger announcing teams this season with John Lynch, Burkhardt showed he could call a very good game. And his work was rewarded with a plum NFL Divisional Playoff assignment in January. It's rare for a first-year network announcer to call a playoff game so you know Burkhardt was highly regarded this season. Here's hoping it's the first of many playoff assignments.
2013 got off to a rather inauspicious start for Cox when she tried to interview Stanford coach David Shaw after the Rose Bowl and he got pulled away. It's not how you start, but rather how you finish and 2013 is ending strong for Cox. Her postgame interview with Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston at the ACC Championship put her into the spotlight for some tough questioning that led him to walk away. Some criticized Cox for bringing up the sexual assault case that plagued the Heisman Trophy winning-QB, but she was doing her job and asked the right questions. She also did some stellar work on the NBA sidelines this past season. Heather deserves to be on this list for 2013.
Ever since he left ESPN, Patrick has syndicated his radio talk show and worked for NBC as an NFL pregame and Olympic host. He's done rather well since leaving the Mothership. In addition, his show is distributed nationwide on both DirecTV and NBCSN. The Dan Patrick Show is the destination for many athletes who want to get their message out no matter the subject. Dan also has the uncanny knack for getting guests to re-enact great broadcasting calls. Patrick's show does not depend on the host yelling or screaming or creating controversy to generate calls. He allows for discussion and discourse without resorting to feigned debate. He'll be an Olympic host in Sochi on NBCSN in February. Expect more good work from DP in 2014.
Ian continues to make good play-by-play calls whether it be on the NFL on CBS, NCAA Tournament on CBS/Turner, the French Open on Tennis Channel, NBA on NBA TV, Thursday Night Football on Westwood One or the Brooklyn Nets on YES. Eagle provided one of our favorite moments this year when he "interrupted" Mike Fratello before the Nets' first preseason game. And who knew Ian was a historian of 1980's TV sitcoms? Even with the humor on his broadcasts, Ian can get serious and rise to the moment which he has done time and time again. With Dan Dierdorf retiring after this season, there's hope that Ian and his partner Dan Fouts will get that much deserved promotion to the "B" team for the NFL on CBS and finally get a playoff assignment in 2014.
He may not get the publicity as his College GameDay partners, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, David Pollack or Samantha Ponder, but there's one man who holds the show together to keep it running and that's Chris Fowler. Consistently one of the best pregame hosts every year, Fowler goes with the traveling circus that is College GameDay and plays the straight man to Corso's headgear picks. In addition to college football, Fowler is one of the few people who has called a Tennis Grand Slam on television, the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open. He does his role well and is one of the people who could succeed Brent Musburger as ESPN's top college football announcer. It's hard to believe that he's been at ESPN since 1986.
Hicks' profile increased this year with two glamor assignments for NBC. First, he was assigned to a Wild Card Playoff game back in January replacing the venerable Tom Hammond. Then he replaced Hammond again as the play-by-play man on Notre Dame football games this past fall. Hicks will get another glamor assignment at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi when he calls skiing. While 2014 will mark the last year Hicks will call the U.S. Open golf tournament, he'll continue to have plenty of big assignments for the Peacock. And one could surmise that NBC is grooming him to take over Sunday Night when Al Michaels retires. Speaking of Michaels…
Yes, it's easy to put Al on this list, but he's very good. He and Cris Collinsworth have forged one of the strongest announcing teams on NBC's Sunday Night Football. Al loves to make his hackneyed gambling references, but that's one of the things we love about him.In 2014, Michaels will turn 70, but he shows no sign of slowing down and he'll be in Sochi on the Olympics for NBC. And he'll call his 9th Super Bowl in 2015. The man continues to bring high quality to the booth and expect him to do so for a few more years at least.
Nessler is one of those consistent play-by-play men who allow their partners to shine. He's been that way with Dick Vitale and Jimmy Dykes on college basketball, Todd Blackledge on college football and Mike Mayock on Thursday Night Football. An ESPN veteran dating back to 1992, Nessler doesn't get national love because he's not a self-promoter, but he calls a good game and he should get some recognition for his work. We'll give it to him here. And he does a mean Dick Vitale impression.
Ok, we at Awful Announcing admit that we've been more amused with Shannon Sharpe over the years. More often than not, he's been fodder not just for this site, but also for late night TV comedy shows. However, we can admit when he's been good and this year has been his best on The NFL Today. It started early when he called out New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick for being an ungracious loser in last season's playoffs. And this season, he took on the Richie Incognito bullying story with the strongest comments of all of the NFL pregame shows that week. Sharpe's suits on the set can sometimes come off as a cartoon character, but there are times when he can be serious and give some good food for thought.
The second sideline reporter on this list and the best. Michele proved the worth of sideline reporters on the opening game of the 2013 NFL season when she reported on the weather delays in Denver for the Ravens-Broncos. Then she was on the field in Houston when Texans coach Gary Kubiak collapsed on the sidelines. And she was able to show a different side of her personality as the co-host of this season's Big Break NFL on Golf Channel. A solid journalist, Tafoya often defends the use of sideline reporters in interviews, but she doesn't have to defend herself to us. And you'll likely see Michele in Sochi in February.
So that completes our list of the Top Ten Announcers of 2013. Agree? Disagree? Did we omit someone? Who do you think should have been in the list? Feel free to fire away in the comments.