The truth is college football announcers are a lot like college football uniforms: Nobody really cares about them unless they’re really good or horribly bad.
The following slideshow celebrates the best of the best in TV’s current crop of on-air personalities and power ranks the seven best announcers in the college game.
These are the guys who we like to listen more than others and they represent the elite among the game-callers who are a huge part of every game day whether we like it or not.
Indeed, for better or for worse, the play-by-play guy and his color companion have an immediate and immeasurable impact on how we interpret the games we so love to watch.
One of the most successful football players to currently grace the college broadcasting booth, Todd Blackledge is currently coupled with play-by-play guru Brad Nessler for ESPN.
Blackledge played QB at Penn State where he was a part of the 1982 national championship team and won the ’82 Davey O’Brien Award.
He went No. 7 overall in the 1983 NFL draft and spent seven underwhelming seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Blackledge got his start as an on-air college football personality in 1994 on ABC and moved to CBS in 1999.
He landed at ESPN in 2006 where he is also known for his “Taste of Town” segments highlighting local eateries from around college football towns.
Blackledge is plenty knowledgeable, and though he isn’t quite as effective as Herbstreit or Danielson at CBS, he’s easily one of the better color guys currently in the game.
Given that Tom Hammond’s current college football job means that he only calls games for one program, Notre Dame, it’s difficult to say where he ranks on this list.
Honestly, when you’ve got the guys at CBS covering all 14 SEC teams and then the boys over at FOX and ESPN covering virtually the entire country, it’s not necessarily an apples to apples comparison.
But, no matter how you slice it, Hammond is as professional and polished a play-by-play announcer as you’re going to find in college football.
Hammond’s been with NBC since 1984 and he covers or has covered almost every conceivable sport including the Olympics, horse racing, the NFL and the NBA.
Really, Hammond’s pro-style, along with that of his current booth partner Mike Maycock, fits well with the one-and-only Irish, but wouldn’t it be awesome to see Hammond freed from Peacock bondage to call an Alabama game?
Verne Lundquist’s current partner on the SEC on CBS, Gary Danielson provides excellent color work for what is one of the best packages currently in college football.
Danielson got his start in college football as a QB at Purdue in the early 1970s and went on to a pro career with stops in the WFL (World Football League) and then at the NFL’s Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns.
Danielson began his career in broadcasting at ESPN and hooked up with CBS in 2006.
Though Danielson sometimes gets beat on for not knowing his stuff, he’s a great complement to Lundquist and is a big part of what makes the SEC on CBS such a huge success.
Danielson shares Lundquist’s reverence for the game of college football and treats the weekly blockbuster SEC game with the respect due.
Overall, the program, and its announcers, is a welcome relief from an ESPN-saturated sport.
If you’ve ever wondered who the college football announcer on FOX is that goes crazy during every game, that man is Gus Johnson.
Johnson is easily the most fired-up guy currently on air from a national perspective and adds quite a bit of “BAM” to FOX’s coverage of the Big 12, Pac-12, etc.
Johnson actually got started in the big time on ESPN back in 1991 and has also been featured in NBA, college basketball, college hockey and NFL coverage.
Gus Johnson has been at FOX since 2011 where he’s currently teamed up with Charles Davis, and whether you like what he has to say or not, it’s hard to argue that he’s not 100 percent electrifying to listen to.
Though Johnson is a good fit for FOX, it would be fun to see him take a crack at livening up ESPN’s somewhat predictable college football coverage.
ESPN’s No. 2 college football play-by-play man, Brad Nessler got his start in broadcasting in 1980 doing radio coverage for Georgia Tech basketball.
After scoring a role at CBS from 1990-91, Nessler signed on with ESPN in 1992 where he officially began his stint as a college football play-by-play fixture in 1997.
The great thing about Nessler is that he doesn’t let his obvious love for the game or his own personality supersede his responsibility to the viewer, a trait that is becoming rarer in TV sports personalities.
While you may have a hard time pinpointing what makes Nessler such a great college football announcer, it’s also difficult to highlight why or if he’s offensive in any way.
The bottom line is the only thing that’s really flashy about Nessler, who is currently paired well with Todd Blackledge, is the festive handkerchief in his suit pocket.
Though we didn’t include ESPN’s Brent Musburger on our list, we did count his Saturday night partner, Kirk Herbstreit, as one of the very best announcers in college football.
Not only does Herbstreit do a great job of breaking down plays during huge college football games, he also is tasked with reining in and generally dealing with Musburger, no small job especially as time goes on.
Herbstreit is also admirable for the way he speaks his mind, especially during his role on GameDay and via appearances on SportsCenter, etc., on a number of controversial topics.
Herbstreit, a native of Centerville, Ohio, played QB at Ohio State from 1989-93 and got his start in broadcasting in 1993 in radio.
Other than Brent Musburger, who didn’t make our list, Verne Lundquist is the most experienced announcer currently working college football.
Lundquist got his start in broadcasting on a local TV show in Dallas back in 1970 and served as the radio voice for the Dallas Cowboys from 1967-84.
He’s enjoyed stints over the long span of his career with ABC, CBS and TNT and began his current run with CBS (his second) in 1998.
What’s great about Lundquist as far as recently is that he, along with color partner Gary Danielson, has the great fortune of broadcasting a blockbuster SEC game every Saturday.
Lundquist is obviously a smooth operator who knows exactly what he’s doing and what I like about him personally is that he “gets” how big of a deal college football is and he treats his subject accordingly.
When you hear Lundquist make big calls in big games, it frankly adds to the weightiness of the whole affair.