Andrew Catalon has been a play-by-play announcer for CBS’s coverage of the Men’s NCAA Tournament for nine years but he may not have a bigger broadcasting night than the one he experienced Friday in Columbus, Ohio.
Catalon perfectly punctuated Fairleigh Dickinson’s shocking upset of Purdue, just the second time in history that a No. 16 seed defeated a No. 1 seed, with the call “FDU BELIEVE IT?”
Awful Announcing caught up with Catalon on Saturday to discuss how he came up with that memorable call and what it was like for a Jersey guy to capture that moment for a New Jersey school.
Awful Announcing: When did you start to think that something special might happen?
“I have a tendency to get over-excited at times. So I was trying to tell myself to stay measured because, look, it’s a 16 against a 1. At halftime, even though it was a close game, I was thinking maybe this will turn back the other way at some point. But then at the under-8 (minutes) media timeout, I think that’s when I said the ‘Knights of Columbus’ thing. I decided then that it’s okay to be excited now. This is a great moment. Who knows if FDU is going to win but now it’s okay (to think) that this might happen. Then at the under-4 media timeout is when I started thinking about the historical perspective, and what this win, if it happens, might mean.”
How did you come up with “FDU BELIEVE IT?”
“It’s funny. At halftime, I texted three of my close friends on a text chain. I just texted FDU BELIEVE IT? Not trying to get ahead of myself, but there’s a game going on here. This 16-seed is in it. They wrote back and said ‘Hey, that’s pretty good.’ I didn’t think about a final call because I was just trying to stay in the moment.
Then with about four minutes left, that’s when I thought ‘This game could be a part of NCAA Tournament history. What am I going to say if FDU wins this?’ I circled back to that text that I sent to my buddies. I thought ‘You know what? Maybe that’s what I’ll go with.’ In the last minute, I scribbled that down and said ‘Why not?’ and ran with it.”
As a Jersey guy, what did it mean to make that memorable call?
“I am from New Jersey and proud of it. My father went to FDU. But growing up, I was a Syracuse fan. That’s where I ended up going to college. The neat thing about it is that Saint Peter’s was the Cinderella last year, and now maybe it’s FDU. I know in that area it’s hard for a school like FDU or Saint Peter’s to get media attention. You’re competing against big teams. So, it was important to me to do them justice.
“It’s a historical moment, but it’s a big moment for the college, the alums. I just thought they deserved the stage because it’s something they don’t get a lot of in that area because of all the professional teams.”
Where does this rank for you in terms of broadcasting?
“Moments after the game, we’re sitting there. 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.”
What kind of feedback have you received?
“The messages and calls—not just from friends, but people in the business—have been overwhelming. I feel lucky. It could have been anybody. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, and then you try to match the moment. The messages have been really nice. There’s already another tee shirt that one company has made with my call. I had one last year (“The cheerleader saves the day!”). They made a tee shirt into that one, and now “FDU BELIEVE IT?” has a tee shirt. I’m glad someone else is smart enough to come up with these ideas.”
How did you develop a love for the NCAA Tournament?
“I think back to high school. You would always try to find the cool teacher at noon Thursday that would be able to turn the games on. You could sneak in between classes. That’s my first fond memory of the NCAA Tournament. So, now to think about calling these games is beyond my wildest dreams. I feel lucky every day for the opportunities CBS has given me, and (Friday) is certainly at the top of the list.”