An Open Letter To NBC: Let's Talk About College Football Announcers

Jim MiesleCorrespondent IJuly 30, 2009

12 Sep 1992:  Fullback Jerome Bettis of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish tries to break through the Michigan Wolverines line during a game at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana.  Notre Dame won the game 17-17. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel  /Allsport

Dear Powers That Be at NBC:

First, thank you for allowing your network to serve as the Notre Dame network during autumn Saturday afternoons for the home games. I know that all ND fans appreciate this—after all, what other college football program can say that basically every game they play is nationally televised?

But there is something I wanted to talk to you about. You see, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why you hired the announcers for the game that you did. I have been trying to figure this out for years, and must admit it is a complete mystery to me.

For starters, let’s talk about Pat Haden. Who on earth thought it was a good idea to hire a former USC quarterback to do the color commentating for Notre Dame home games? Seriously. Is this someone’s idea of a joke? Really? Hiring a former QB at a school that is arguably Notre Dame's biggest rival doesn't make much sense to me.

Not to be outdone, you pair him with a Tom Hammond, a play-by-play guy a bit better known for announcing another sport (if you can call it that)—horse racing.

Perhaps you are trying to maintain some sort of neutrality in order to gain viewership from the ND haters out there. I don’t know. What I do know is this—when watching this tandem, it is painfully obvious and extremely frustrating to listen to them talk up the opposing team while undermining ND. I think they both secretly want the Irish to lose every Saturday, which I find unacceptable.

One thing I do know is this—Notre Dame fans would love to have a couple of homers announcing the game. It would be great to hear them get into it and convey some of the excitement from the crowd in order to make the home viewer feel a bit more like they made the pilgrimage to northern Indiana.

I will even go as far as to give you a list of guys that, in my opinion, would make suitable replacements. For your review I submit the following:

The Color Guy/Analyst

Jerome Bettis – he is an obvious choice because (a) he played for Notre Dame, and (b) he is already on your payroll. Trust me, I think the guy could handle Saturday afternoons and Sunday evenings.

Steve Beuerlein–another former player who covered the ND-Navy game last year on one of your rival networks (CBS) and did a more than respectable job.

Aaron Taylor–another former ND guy, I think it would be funny to see him dwarf over anyone you could pair with him.

Kirk Herbstreit–I know, this is a little bit of an unconventional choice, given the fact that the guy played at Ohio State. But one thing I have to say is this—during his coverage on ESPN’s College Game Day, he always seems to lean a bit towards Notre Dame.

Cris Collinsworth–hey, here is another guy already on your payroll. I have to admit, I didn’t like this guy much until I started watching Thursday night games on the NFL network and discovered that he had about a million times more insight to add to the game than any other analyst out there. Given that, I will give him a pass on being a former Florida guy.

The Play-by-Play Guy

Don Criqui–seeing as how he already does the radio play-by-play, why can’t he just do the television as well? He too is a Notre Dame guy and I would probably mute the TV and listen to the radio call if it weren’t for Allen Pinkett (no offense, but he is awful).

Bob Costas–after covering every sport known to man, he has settled into more of a studio role as of late. I’m not sure if he would fit the pro-ND mold and I am quite sure that a few people will disagree with me on this one, but I think he needs to get back into the booth once in a while. Did I mention that you already pay this guy?

Al Michaels–only because I am curious how this would play out. After the Madden retirement (thank goodness), shouldn’t the guy be given a clean slate?

Keith Jackson–mostly because this guy is timeless and college football could use a few announcers like him. Enough said.

Well, looking at this list tells me one thing—football lacks serious depth at the play by play announcing position. Maybe you should just ink Gus Johnson to a long term deal.

I conclude in saying this—frankly, you can do better. Nothing personal against these guys, but I would rather listen to some guys who actually care a little about the team and university. You already have a ton of money invested in the contract, so why not improve it a bit with some better (read: biased, in a positive sense) coverage from the booth.


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