At the men’s NCAA Tournament subregional in Columbus, CBS/WBD Sports play-by-play man Andrew Catalon could not have had a better weekend. He was on hand Friday night for the second-ever upset of a number one seed by a sixteen as Fairleigh Dickinson defeated Purdue, then a great game that followed between Florida Atlantic and Memphis, then two more great games on Sunday with Michigan State’s win over Marquette and the Cinderella sequel between FDU and Florida Atlantic.
For Catalon, it’s been quite the career. He is no overnight star. He’s certainly paid his dues as a local television sports anchor in Albany, NY, first at WVNY and then WNYT. Catalon got the attention of the networks freelancing with NBC starting with curling in the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics and tennis in 2012 and 2016 in London and Rio de Janeiro, respectively.
It was in 2013 when Catalon joined CBS full-time first calling college football and basketball for CBS Sports Network, then in 2014, got the call to the NFL on CBS. He has been announcing the NCAA Tournament for CBS/Turner (now WBD Sports) dating back to 2014.
Ken Schott, the Sports Editor of the Daily Gazette in Schenectady, NY has covered Catalon during his time in the New York Capital Region and he said, “Andrew was always professional and well-prepared when he was reporting in the field, and his sportscasts on WNYT were sharp. When he broadcasted curling for NBC in the Winter Olympics, that was the first I had heard him doing play-by-play, and he was outstanding. You knew then that he was going places.”
Pete Dougherty, the former sports media and golf columnist at the Albany Times-Union said he noticed Catalon’s hard-working approach to whatever sport he called, “What impressed me during his 9½ years here was how prepared he was, no matter what the assignment.
“Andrew’s path to the national stage began when he was asked to do a voice-over for a curling show in nearby Saratoga Springs. He was smart enough to accept any job, no matter how small it might seem. That led to him calling curling, and later team handball and tennis, for NBC in the Olympics.”
Dougherty adds, “He remains one of the most humble broadcasters you’ll meet. I get together with him every year at the Masters, another gig we never would have believed a weekend sports anchor in Albany would get.”
Catalon has emerged as a top candidate to move to the 2nd weekend of the men’s NCAA Tournament when Jim Nantz leaves the top spot after this season and Ian Eagle takes over in 2024. Catalon has certainly earned the right to move up.
During a media conference call previewing the NCAA Tournament, CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus and Nantz both sang the praises of Catalon.
McManus said Catalon “works incredibly hard, always prepared, unselfish, doesn’t mind his analyst being the star. And he’s just a wonderful human being also. He’s the kind of person you want on your roster.”
McManus noted that Catalon is already the number two golf announcer for CBS when Nantz is not available to call certain PGA Tour events.
Nantz added “I’m a huge fan of Andrew’s, and I think every single person that’s on our production team will say the same thing. He’s a pro’s pro. I’ve loved watching his games, his broadcasts, his career. He’s fantastic.”
With the recent news that Greg Gumbel will no longer be calling NFL games in 2023, Catalon is in position to rise to take his spot. Since 2017, Catalon has partnered with James Lofton and while they placed 12th in our most recent NFL Announcer Rankings, that could be due mostly to the quality of games they’re assigned.
The Factory of Highlights YouTube Channel put together all of Catalon’s touchdown calls in the 2021 season which can be seen here.
Andrew has already had a couple of viral moments at the NCAA Tournament. He was behind the mic with partner Steve Lappas in the Portland, OR subregional in 2022 when the ball got stuck on top of the backboard during the Saint Mary’s-Indiana game. Catalon suggested that a cheerleader retrieve the ball and Indiana cheerleader Cassidy Cerny was only happy to volunteer.
“Why don’t the cheerleaders … they’re used to going up high… Let’s get a … YES! Get the cheerleader up! Get her up there! This is how you do it! Give her the nod…. NOW SHE’S GOT IT! OH!!! What a play! The cheerleader saves the day! And that’s her one shining moment! This place is on its feet!”
And we couldn’t go without mentioning the recent 16-1 upset of Purdue by Fairleigh Dickinson and the following Florida Atlantic win over Memphis on Friday. Catalon and Lappas were at courtside with two great games:
What a Friday night for our @AndrewCatalon.
Let's go inside the booth as he watches history. pic.twitter.com/KPvcVvMYzx
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 18, 2023
His “FDU believe it!” has already become one of the iconic calls of the tournament. As Catalon told our Michael Grant in Columbus, “I’m with Steve Lappas and Jamie Erdahl, and we’re trying to find the words because we know what we just saw was history and that it’s going to be played forever and ever. Then, of course, we had to quickly turn the page because the next two teams were already out on the court getting ready to start the next game. So, there wasn’t much time to reflect on it. But for me personally, that’s a call we’re going to hear for a long time. I feel honored and privileged to be a part of it.”
Throughout the weekend, Catalon sounded as if he was enjoying calling the games in Columbus and that came across to the viewers. That enthusiasm should propel Catalon as he continues his career at CBS.
[Photo courtesy Andrew Catalon Twitter]