The “SEC on CBS” will have a new voice following the 2016 football season.
Verne Lundquist, who has been the network’s play-by-play man since 2000, will step down after the coming season to make way for former ESPN broadcaster Brad Nessler, according to a news release from CBS.
Nessler will begin working with lead analyst Gary Danielson and sideline reporter Allie LaForce at the start of the 2017 season.
“Verne has set the standard for college football broadcasting,” CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus said in a news release. “Together with Gary Danielson he has played a key role in making the SEC ON CBS the highest-rated college football package in America. After an incredible 17 years, he will be handing the reigns off to Brad, who in his own right is highly acclaimed and respected as one of the premier play-by-play broadcasters in the business.
“I am very pleased that Verne will still have a prominent role in our college basketball and major championship golf coverage. We are fortunate to have one more football season to appreciate Verne’s one-of-a-kind storytelling as we pave the way for a seamless and smooth transition to Brad.”
Lundquist has broadcast more than 20 different sports during his legendary career at CBS. In 2000, he was named lead play-by-play announcer for the “SEC ON CBS.” Since then, he’s served as the play-by-play announcer for the network’s coverage of NCAA basketball, including the men’s basketball championship. Lunquist also called figured skating in the Olympic Winter Games (1992, ’94, ’98), NFL games for 13 years and was involved in NBA coverage.
“Being a part of the SEC ON CBS since 2000 has been the most significant assignment I’ve been given in my more than five decades in this business,” Lundquist said in a news release. “Now, it’s time to step back and take in the aroma of those tulips, those roses, and those daffodils that friends have been telling me about for years. In 2017, I’ll happily step aside from college football and welcome Brad to the booth.
“I’ve known Brad for more than 30 years and have always admired his work ethic and his on-air presence. He shares the same passion for college football that I do. The SEC ON CBS is in great hands. Brad and Gary will form a great partnership in the years ahead.”
The more than 20 different sports he has called for CBS include track and field, swimming and diving, boxing, volleyball, gymnastics, soccer, weightlifting, freestyle skiing, archery, horse racing and horse jumping, and he was a regular member of the network’s golf team (1983-95). In May, Lundquist was honored with the Sports Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement; in 2007, he was inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame.
“Verne is a legend in this business,” Danielson said in a news release. “I am extremely thankful to have had the opportunity to sit next to him for the past decade calling SEC games and so grateful that Verne gets to finish his football career calling the last play the way he wanted. I am thrilled with the news that my former partner will join us in 2017. I look forward to picking up right where we left off.”
Nessler joins CBS after a 24-year career at ESPN. He began with ESPN in 1992, and added ABC assignments in 1997 while continuing to handle college football and basketball games for both ABC and ESPN. Nessler most recently called the ESPN College Football Primetime game on Saturday nights and the College Football Playoff semifinals. From 1992-97, Nessler called college basketball games, and also Big Ten and Thursday night football for ESPN. In 1997, he began calling college football for ABC; including the Bowl Championship Series title game, as well as college basketball. He also served as play-by-play announcer for the NFL’s Thursday Night Football package on NFL Network from 2011-13.
“Verne has been a friend for over 30 years and someone I’ve always looked up to in this business,” Nessler said in a news release. “I’m not replacing him as it would be impossible to replace Verne. I am truly honored to carry on where he leaves off and work to maintain the standard of excellence he has set calling the SEC ON CBS. I am excited to rejoin the CBS Sports team this season and look forward to working alongside Gary again in 2017.”