It’s been years since Verne Lundquist called an SEC college football game for CBS, but he’ll always be synonymous with the iconic broadcast. And yet, the longtime announcer says that when he was initially offered the role, he fought against it.
Lundquist appeared on The Press Box podcast with Bryan Curtis on Thursday and shared some anecdotes and reflections from the SEC Saturday calls he made between 2000 and 2016. Uncle Verne says that looking back, of all the events and sports he’s called, it’s his favorite one.
Until he was almost 60 years old, Verne Lundquist was a classic No. 2 announcer (like Ian Eagle before last week) who'd always missed out on the big job.
Calling SEC games changed his life. https://t.co/D8mer16kw7
— Bryan Curtis (@bryancurtis) November 4, 2022
“The SEC is in my view hands down the most significant, toughest conference in the country to win. In all the assignments I had throughout my career which still continues for one week a year, the one I treasured the most really of all the things I was lucky enough to do was the assignment of the SEC. I really, really treasure those moments, said Lundquist. “I so much buy into all the pomp and circumstance. I love the bands, I love the pom poms, I love pretending for 3.5 hours every Saturday afternoon that every student-athlete is also a student. That is a challenge at times.”
However, back in 1999 when he was CBS’s No. 2 NFL announcer and rumors swirled that he might be reassigned to take over the SEC gig, Lundquist says he fought against it. That said, it didn’t take very long to see the benefits of the assignment.
“I fought it. I didn’t want to do it,” said Lundquist. “The rumors became so persistent that I called Sean McManus. We chatted and I told him my concerns and I said now, if you sign Dick, it wouldn’t affect me, would it? He did what executives did so well. He maneuvered sideways and he said he’s such a high-ticket item, I don’t think we would sign him…In the unlikely event that we would hire Dick Enberg, how would you feel about moving to the SEC?
“I said the appropriate things and said goodbye. We were in the kitchen in our home in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and I looked at Nancy and I said honey, pack your bags for Tuscaloosa. My first game ever in the SEC was Florida-Tennessee. I had never been to Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. It was a thrilling experience.”
Just imagine how many iconic SEC football moments might have sounded had Uncle Verne said no.
— SEC on CBS ? (@SEConCBS) December 4, 2016