Earlier this week NBC announced Dan Hicks would be taking over for Tom Hammond as the play by play man for Notre Dame football. The ND job is one of the most glamorous at NBC outside Sunday Night Football and the Olympics. I's quite a rare occurance in this day and age in broadcasting to see a switch made in such a high profile job, especially when the broadcaster exiting the booth is staying with the network. Hammond signed a multi-year contract extension with NBC that will take him through the next Summer Olympics in 2016.
It could represent an awkward situation at NBC with the 50 year old Hicks replacing the 69 year old Hammond, but the old voice of Notre Dame football says he wanted cut back his workload while continuing to broadcast the potpourri of NBC's other properties. Hammond told the Kansas City Star it was a mutual decision…
“I was trying to cut back a little bit,” he said. “We came to the decision that it was easier to let somebody else do football than have someone try to pick up horse racing, track and field or figure skating.”
“I’ll miss doing Notre Dame games, for sure,” he said. “But I just felt like it was time for me to cut back, and NBC was on board with that. I’ve got a new four-year contract, and I’m excited to do two more Olympics. So I’m good.”
Broadcast booths around the country are filled with announcers and networks who hang on to the status quo too long and treat the spot at the top of the announcing hierarchy like it's some kind of lifetime appointment. If it truly was a mutual decision for Hammond to leave the ND broadcast booth, then credit must go to him and NBC for making a decision plenty of other networks wouldn't make with one of their top franchises. Even the slightest change in the ranking system can cause a stir (see Kenny Albert and Moose Johnston getting replaced by Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick for the NFL Playoffs). Now with this setup, Hammond can still put together a couple solid performances where he is really at his best at the Summer and Winter Olympics and Hicks will get the long overdue chance to take a more prominent role at NBC.