Did anyone watch the SEC on CBS national broadcasts last fall and wonder what old Uncle Verne was doing?
As it turns out, former SEC play-by-play man Verne Lundquist was glued to the television set watching Gary Danielson and Allie LaForce work with new play-by-play man Brad Nessler right along with the rest of us. During a recent interview with The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch, Lundquist detailed how he spent his first fall without SEC football in his life in 17 years. He retired from the college football grind following the 2016 season, which was his 53rd year in the media business.
“I was glued to the games,” Lundquist said. “Nancy and I live in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. We’ve been there since 1984. It was appointment television for us to watch Brad, Gary and Allie. I don’t think we missed a week.”
He didn’t miss a week? Did that mean he missed all of us? Lundquist tiptoed around the idea while being very careful not to be disrespectful to Nessler. He said there were moments that were “very poignant” and that he “got nostalgic” at times through the season.
“There were moments during our viewing of the SEC games that were very poignant,” Lundquist said. “Let me say upfront that I think Brad and Gary clicked right away, and Allie contributes in her own wonderful fashion. Our hope was, when [CBS executives] and I discussed my exit, that we made a smooth transition. It was important to CBS, it was important to Gary, it was important to Craig Silver that the right man be picked [as a replaacement]. It wasn’t hasty. They picked Brad, who had worked at CBS … and I’d known him since he came on the air in Atlanta with the Falcons as their radio voice.
“We have a great relationship. But I will tell you — I got nostalgic at times. I mean, I spent 17 years of my life” calling SEC games.
Lundquist went on to spin quite the yarn about how it was not his choice to become the voice of the SEC in the first place, and that his good friend Dick Enberg actually bumped him out of the No. 2 NFL play-by-play spot with CBS. That forced the veteran NFL announcer over to SEC football broadcasts on Saturdays beginning in 1999.
If you need a little Uncle Verne in your life, you missed your chance for the year. The 77-year-old just concluded his annual contribution to CBS’ broadcast of The Masters in Augusta, Ga. The golf gig is a role he does not yet plan to give up.