Legendary CBS announcer Verne Lundquist appeared on Sports Talk 1400 out of Norman, Oklahoma last week before the East Regional.  Lundquist was calling games at the Syracuse site and the interview with Toby Rowland touched on some very interesting topics.

Lundquist has never been shy about sharing his thoughts on fellow broadcasters.  Last year he spoke openly and honestly about not being a fan of Dick Vitale.  In this radio interview, Lundquist talked about his longtime partnership with Bill Raftery coming to an end this year.  Specifically, he called out Greg Anthony over his arrest that enforced changes at CBS Sports.  He also spoke about some of his best calls being unscripted and had some parting words for an unnamed announcer for scripting those calls.  Quotes below…

On not working with Bill Raftery this year (4:15)…

“Circumstances dictated the decisions that were made.  I don’t necessarily agree with the decisions because it directly affected me.  I became collateral damage for Greg Anthony’s inability to act properly.  That’s a nice way of putting it, I guess.”

On Raftery’s promotion to work with Jim Nantz (5:30)…

“I’ve got very bittersweet emotions about it because I’m thrilled for Bill.  I think he should have had the top spot 20 years ago.  I would like to have joined him but that’s not going to happen because Jim Nantz is by contract the lead guy on this.  We all know that.  It’s not, gosh, I wish they would have promoted me.  I knew they wouldn’t.”

On scripting dramatic calls (7:30)… 

“I’ll share with you something that I find amusing.  One of those moments was Tiger’s chip shot in 2005… when the ball dropped in the cup after it sat on the hole for 1.8 seconds… I said ‘in your life have you seen anything like that.’  Well I hadn’t.  And that was just me responding to the moment.

And I had a guy call me, a newspaper man, the next day… he said, ‘did you plan it?’  You know I couldn’t go to sleep last night so I thought if Tiger comes to the 16th tee with a 1 shot lead and he pulls an 8 iron long left and he has to make a right turn 90 feet above the hole and it sits on the hole for 1.8 seconds I think I will then say, ‘in your life have you seen anything like that.’

And I know who you mean.  We all do.  And that particular person does script moments and they sound like it.”

Gosh… I wonder who Verne could be talking about with that last one.

In fairness to Jim Nantz, his final calls have gotten a lot less scripted in recent years and he even has gone on record to this website about moving away from doing that as often.  Nevertheless, the point raised by Verne on the scripted calls is one you can’t really argue with.  You can tell when an announcer is in the moment and when it’s been planned out ahead of time.  And some of Verne’s best moments have been of the impossible-to-script variety.  Regardless of the rightness of said style, it is rare that you see a fellow announcer go on record and say something like that in public, especially (we assume) about a colleague at the same network.

And as far as his partnership with Bill Raftery goes, it’s one that is certainly missed by a lot of college basketball fans.  But at least Verne can take solace in the fact that his new pairing with Jim Spanarkel was ranked the #1 broadcast booth in March by our readers and he’s still alive in our announcer movie cameo bracket.

About Matt Yoder

Award winning sportswriter at The Comeback and Awful Announcing. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.