In praise of Uncle Verne

Verne Lundquist stopped by Athens this week on his way back from the Masters, which gave Tony Barnhart the opportunity to retell a couple of stories.

Two stories best sum up the love affair Verne Lundquist has with SEC football.

* His first SEC game for CBS was Florida at Tennessee in 2000. In that contest, Florida trailed 23-17 with the ball at its 9-yard line with only 2:14 left to play. Jesse Palmer drove the Gators down the field, and with 14 seconds left, he hit Jabar Gaffney on a short pass in the end zone for a touchdown. The ball quickly popped out of Gaffney’s hands but line judge Allama Matthews (a Vanderbilt grad) ruled it was a touchdown and the Gators won 24-23.

When the game was over Lundquist took off his head set and turned to then-broadcast partner Todd Blackledge.

“Are all of them like this?” Lundquist asked.

“Enough of them,” Blackledge said.

* Later that season, Lundquist did his first Alabama-Auburn game, in Tuscaloosa. Understand that Lundquist had been a veteran NFL broadcaster and had been all over the world when he agreed to become the voice of the SEC for CBS. But on this day, Bryant-Denny Stadium was unlike anything he had ever seen.

“The band was playing. The jets had flown over. It was just an incredible scene,” Lundquist says. “I put my arm around (my wife) Nancy and said, ‘Be honest with me. Would you rather be doing this or Detroit at Tampa Bay?’ ”

This is what people who don’t share my love for Uncle Verne fail to get about him.  At heart, he’s a sports fan who appreciates the settings he’s cast in.  Throw in that he’s not an incessant yakker like the majority of people ESPN shoves in our faces, and he’s a rare bird.

You can bitch all you like about him missing a name here and there, but just think about what we’re likely to get in his place when he retires.  Whoever it is may earn a nickname from the audience, but it probably won’t be a fond one.

49 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

49 responses to “In praise of Uncle Verne

  1. Gurkha Dawg

    I hadn’t heard those stories before. I love those kind of stories about SEC football and they are 100% correct. Being at games like those has no equal. I am now an Uncle Verne fan.

    Like

  2. PTC DAWG

    Good stuff, I have always liked him.

    Like

  3. HVL Dawg

    I so remember that Florida touchdown non-catch. I think of it all the time when the NFL watches a replay for 5 minutes and rules no catch.

    Like

  4. AIKENDAWG

    You nailed it! Love Uncle Verne and he loves the SEC. Also his call at the 86 Masters when Jack birdied 17 to take the lead still gives me chills! Awesome post!

    Like

  5. ClydeBoogieq

    In full agreement my brother gonna miss the old timer when he’s gone.

    Like

  6. 3rdandGrantham

    And let’s not forget that he has said that Athens is his favorite college town, and Sanford Stadium is his favorite stadium in all of football. I believe there is even a youtube interview of him stating all of this. The dude had great taste, no doubt.

    He also met his wife while at a bar in Dallas. He saw a pretty young lady with another guy, and when he went to the restroom, he quickly swooned in, told her he’d like to have dinner with her sometime, and slipped her his number. Straight up boss move.

    Like

  7. Agree totally. I thought he and Blackledge together were about a good as it’s ever gonna get.

    Like

    • Yeah. I’ve never minded Verne but think that Blackledge was far superior to that no talent ass clown Danielson.

      Like

      • I think Blackledge is the best college color guy in the business now and seems to have fun doing it. He’s so good at his craft now that I forgave him years ago for that game against Penn State.

        Like

      • Russ

        Blackledge is good, but I don’t mind Danielson, either. He does like to make the point of calling the play sometimes, but he also strikes me as a fan of the SEC.

        Nessler and Blackledge are so good, they make me forget that I’m listening to a Tech man and the guy that broke my heart in the 83 Sugar Bowl.

        Like

  8. I love Uncle Verne even when he doesn’t get it 100% right but can’t stand Gary Danielson. The SEC on CBS telecast won’t be the same without him when the time comes. He and Blackledge in the early 2000s were great together.

    I would love to see The Eye go after Brad Nessler when Verne retires. He’s another one of the play by play guys that doesn’t need to listen to himself talk. He would be great on the national SEC game every week. He has a voice that would be great in the 16th tower at Augusta National and is a good college hoops guy as well for March Madness. He’s just a professional.

    If you get a chance, watch the ’86 documentary on Golf Channel. The part about Verne’s call on 17 is one of the best parts of the whole slow.

    Like

  9. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    Totally love Verne. Okay, he’s not Munson (who also occasionally had trouble with names) but who is? It’s like saying TGIII is no HW. When he hangs up his mike we’ll definitely miss him.

    Like

  10. OhioDawg

    As a youngin’, my early days when I was really falling in love with the Dawgs were spent listening to Uncle Verne drool over the Davids while he and Blackledge called the games. Those two were definitely better than anything I’ve heard since. Gonna miss him when he’s gone for sure.

    Like

  11. Bulldog Joe

    SEC football every week, courtside for March Madness, and a prime seat in the tower at 6 and 16 every year.

    What a great life. He’s earned it.

    Like

  12. mg4life0331

    We are going to be in a bad place in a few years with all the shitheads coming up in the ranks now. Hopefully some new people get on the scene soon.

    Like

  13. Rusty

    I’ve never had a problem withe Uncle Verne. I don’t pay that much attention to the announcer details anyway. I feed off of his enthusiasm. Seems like a fun guy.

    Like

  14. 69Dawg

    The thing that makes you know he doesn’t carry anybody’s water is that most SEC fans think he is against them. I have Alabama and Auburn fans that are convinced that he is pulling for the other team. I think it just means he is trying not to be a homer. The fact that he sometimes forgets which city they are in on the broadcast just makes me miss Munson and his “Whatchamacallit”.

    Like

    • Dog in Fla

      “The thing that makes you know he doesn’t carry anybody’s water” is that he can’t remember whose water he’s supposed to be carrying 🙂

      Like

  15. ApalachDawg

    I will never forget or forgive Verne and Danielson on their calls of the $cam/Fairley cheap shot game.

    Like

  16. Debby Balcer

    I enjoy Verne. The footage of him dancing to Soldier Boy was fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Class A

    So i attended the Monday session in person. It was very interesting with a who’s who of UGA folks. It was very well done. Emceed by Loren, it went into a history of UGA athletics and the effect on campus planning and expansion over the years. Coach Dooley provided a lot of insight, Tony Barnhart added a lot and Uncle Verne came across as a very personable and knowledgeable fan of SEC Football and UGA Football. He invoked Larry Munson, and is really tuned into UGA and Kirby and all the current issues. It was a lot of fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. 92 grad

    I love Verne too. His only problem is Gary. I wish he’d tell Gary “cmon man, the more you try to convince everyone that you’re a genius, the more you make the broadcast suck”

    Like

  19. Macallanlover

    So many good comments about Verne here, starting with the Senator. I don’t care if he mispronounces a name, or gets the down/yard line wrong. He is a classic voice that lives within many SEC football and Masters’ calls that I am sad to watch his days wind down. As for Danielson, his biggest issue is he followed Blackledge, who is the best color guy I have seen in CFB. Danielson is very knowledgeable, really does his homework and might be the best at predicting the play before it happens. Excellent analyst, style isn’t to every one’s taste but if you listen to his insight, and forget the hate/bias on delivery, he is one of the best.

    Like

    • Macallanlover

      Meant to include, Danielson does a nice job of covering for Verne when he missteps, and is gentle with the corrections.

      Like

      • 79Dawg

        Not sure why so many give a crap about whether he gets a name right or not – I can tell #3 just ripped off a huge run. What old school guys like Verne and Larry were able to do was set the table, tell the stories and histories, and at the right time, let the pictures, crowd noise, reactions tell the story. Most play by play guys these days think there job is to just talk constantly (ie the incipient verbal diarrhea mentioned above).

        Like

        • Macallanlover

          Yes, that “silent pause” following a huge play is a favorite of mine. The new breed are screaming so loudly to tell you the obvious that it could be done from a studio away from the venue. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Larrys, Vernes, or Keith Jacksons can make it past the opening audition these days. Hard to develop a unique style when the guys at the top want a packaged deal.

          Like

  20. Athens Dog

    If you don’t love Verne, somethings amiss.

    Like

  21. Pingback: How Misfiring Barcelona Can Get Lionel Messi Back to His Best | MizzTigers Today