Verne Lundquist has had a wonderful broadcasting life. The veteran CBS play-by-play man has been fortunate enough to call some of the most iconic moments of the past 30 years.
There was Jack Nicklaus’ “Yes sir!” birdie putt on the 17th hole at the 1986 Masters … Christian Laettner’s last-second turnaround jumper to stun Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA Tournament … Tiger Woods’ circuitous chip-in on the 16th at the ’05 Masters … and now this:
“Fifty-seven yards. … On the way … No. Returned by Chris Davis. Davis goes left! Davis gets a block! Davis has another block! Chris Davis! No flags! Touchdown … Auburn! An answered prayer!”
For the second time in three weeks, Lundquist and broadcast partner Gary Danielson presided over the miraculous at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium. Some are calling Davis’ 100-yard missed field-goal return to defeat undefeated, top-ranked Alabama last week the greatest ending in sports history. Where does it rank on Lundquist’s list of greatest hits?
“I was asked that within an hour after that game,” Lundquist, 73, said on a conference call this week to preview Saturday’s SEC Championship Game between Auburn and Missouri.
“I’ve consistently said since 1986 that Jack Nicklaus winning the Masters at the age of 46 was my all-time favorite sporting event I’d ever been a part of. Initially, I said the Iron Bowl ties with Duke-Kentucky basketball in ’92 for second.
“Then … I woke up Sunday morning and thought: ‘You know what? The Iron Bowl was better.’ I just think for the impact that it had; the stakes were so high.
“I’m stubborn, so I’m going to say for me it ties with Jack’s victory in 1986. The farther I get away from it, the higher the estimation may go.”
The ending was epic. Lundquist’s call was perfect.
‘STATE OF PLAY’
I’m not going to tell you how to coach your children. Neither does “State of Play: Trophy Kids,” the debut episode of a new HBO documentary series.
But therein lies its power. The storytelling isn’t interrupted by preachy expert commentary. We simply see disturbing footage of overzealous parents interacting with the kids they hope will one day earn college scholarships or become professional athletes.
And make no mistake: It is disturbing to watch parents chastise their kids and even bring them to tears. An argument between overbearing dad Josh and high school football player Justus during which the dad relentlessly berates his son is flat-out hard to watch.
The documentary follows four sets of parents and kids covering a full range of socioeconomic backgrounds. Each episode also includes a post-film roundtable discussion moderated by filmmaker Peter Berg, one of the series’ executive producers. This one features the perfect panelist: Todd Marinovich, perhaps the highest-profile victim out of an out-of-control Little League Dad.
Each “State of Play” will explore a different sports topic or person. “Trophy Kids” debuted Wednesday and re-airs multiple times throughout December.
And so it begins: The New York Post reported that “several pay-TV providers” already are balking at the expected asking price of SportsNet LA, the new Time Warner Cable-run Dodgers network set to launch next year.
According to the report, TWC is expected to ask for an initial subscriber fee of $5 per month that would escalate to $8 over a five-year period.
As with most carriage negotiations, it’s inevitable that this one will get ugly. It also wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if non-TWC customers missed a handful of Dodgers game at the start of the season.
The Bulls, Nets and Knicks entered Thursday’s TNT doubleheader with a combined record of 15-35. And there’s plenty more where that came from.
Derrick Rose-less Chicago and the slow-starting New York teams are scheduled to make between 15 and 20 appearances apiece on TNT, ESPN and ABC the rest of the season. ESPN has some ability to alter its schedule as the season goes on; TNT, because its games are exclusive, has next to none.
The upside: Charles Barkley will have no shortage of comedic material with which to work.
The Iron Bowl was the most-watched college football game of the season, averaging 13.8 million viewers. CBS boasts the three highest-rated games of the season, all featuring Alabama. …
When it comes to ratings, the Denver Broncos are the Alabama of the NFL. Sunday’s Denver-Kansas City game on CBS tied the Oct. 6 Denver-Dallas game for the highest-rated NFL telecast on any network this season. …
Steve Mason, co-host of “Mason & Ireland” on KSPN/710, told San Diego’s Mighty 1090 that he declined the opportunity to anchor a show with Lane Kiffin on 710, USC’s flagship station. Mason also called the fired Trojans coach a “jerk.” …
The Big Lead reports that ESPN, CBS and Fox are in a bidding war for unemployed quarterback Tim Tebow to serve as a college football analyst. …
Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe will serve as the announcers for ESPN’s coverage of the Pac-12 Championship Game between Stanford and Arizona State. Kickoff is at 4:45 p.m. Saturday. …
Fox announced that it has sold out its in-game commercial inventory for the Feb. 2 Super Bowl. …
Still don’t believe ESPN’s denials about separating itself from “League of Denial”? The network’s news director, Vince Doria, reiterates them in a quality Q&A with the Sherman Report. …
MLB Network and ESPN will have extensive, on-site coverage of next week’s MLB winter meetings in Orlando, Fla. MLBN’s coverage begins Sunday, ESPN’s Monday. …
NBC announced that Rick Allen and Jeff Burton will be the lead broadcasters for its multiplatform NASCAR coverage, which begins in 2015. …
TWC customers now can access SoCal 101 programming on their computers and laptops. SoCal 101 will live-stream the CIF girls volleyball championships throughout the day Saturday. …
SiriusXM is launching an NBA channel Monday. NBA Radio on channel 217 will feature several exclusive interviews throughout its first day, including Commissioner David Stern and Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni. …
Former league executive Stu Jackson is joining NBA TV to discuss rules, discipline and other issues, according to the Associated Press.
Upon learning that an announcement was imminent in the Jameis Winston sexual-assault case, ESPN did the right thing by canceling Will Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy guest appearance on Thursday’s 3 p.m. “SportsCenter.” There’s a time and a place for that sort of light-heartedness on ESPN. Thursday after the resolution of a rape case wasn’t it.
Speaking of potential “SportsCenter” guest hosts, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that President Barack Obama recently told Disney honcho Robert Iger that he’d like to serve as host for the “SportsCenter Top 10” after his term ends. The report implied that Obama was joking. I wouldn’t be so sure. There’s a reason they call him the “First Fan.”
Now we know one of the NFL’s ulterior motives in staging games in London: the ability to create an additional TV window. The good news: bonus football on Fox when the Lions and Falcons play next Oct. 26. The bad: Kickoff is at 6:30 a.m. PST. I’ve always liked how early football starts on the West Coast. But 6:30? That’s pushing it.