Dotting the “i” in The Horseshoe.
Running through the “T” in Knoxville.
The Auburn Walk down on “The Plains.”
The entire crowd at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown singing John Denver’s “Country Roads.”
FSU’s Seminole pregame with Chief Osceola and Renegade.
“We may not win every game, but we ain’t never lost a party!” Is the long standing mantra overheard on The Grove in Oxford.
All of these long standing traditions—all a part of the fabric that makes Saturday’s and college football an integral part of our lives in the fall.
This fall, due to the new television contracts negotiated by the SEC, one tradition of our autumn Saturdays falls by the wayside. No longer will SEC football fans see football through the eyes of “The Three Daves”—Dave Neal, Dave Archer, and Dave Baker.
Often criticized, and in some cases rightfully so, they’ve become a part of SEC football as much as some of the other traditions. Their weekly reports from different venues around the SEC are just as much a part of our lives as famed ESPN’s GameDay has become a must see for most college football fans.
Was the criticism justified? Or, was this just a case of “homerism” at its finest?
Memphis radio host and columnist Clay Travis pulled no punches with his assessment of their talents last fall commenting,
"How bad are the three Daves? Picture the A-10 basketball television network games, then cut the quality in half. Come on, someone else out there is also an A-10 basketball fan, right? (Crickets.) Okay, they’re so bad Emmitt Smith chuckles at the ineptitude while he watches."
What prompted Travis’ critique was a suggestion by Mr. College Football himself, Tony Barnhart, when he opined that ESPN should consider keeping the trio.
"This is just one man’s opinion, but if ESPN is smart, they’ll keep the same broadcast team of Dave Neal, Dave Archer, and Dave Baker to do the early SEC games. In fact, the SEC should insist on it. Continuity is important, especially in the over the air package of games, which has played an important role in the growth of the conference on TV. It’s just something to think about."
With the announcements this week of ESPN’s GameDay crew, it appears the folks in Bristol may have listened to Barnhart; in part at least.
Lost are the voices of Dave Archer and Dave Baker.
However, despite his unfettered and loudly voiced love affair with all things SEC, ESPN has decided to retain the services of Dave Neal. (He’ll be joined by Andre Ware in the booth and Cara Capuano on the sidelines.)
I have to side with Tony on this one, although I can’t completely disagree with the thoughts of Clay Travis.
As one Alabama fan said when the ESPN broadcast teams where announced, “I’m glad we’re keeping one of the Daves. Jefferson Pilot truly feels like the 1970′s furniture in your attic…for whatever reason you just can’t part with it.”
One simply can’t deny the passion that Dave Neal demonstrated week in and week out despite being saddled with covering a game far from considered a “must see.”
“Nashville is the place to be this weekend. There won’t be another game of this magnitude on the slate today as we come to you from Vanderbilt where the Commodores host…”
The last thing I want to do is sit back and criticize a man for his delivery—even if it does rival William Shatner for overly dramatic.
But, one thing I can’t bring myself to consider is his love for the conference is unique or unjustified. After all, it’s a passion for a tradition we are all guilty of loving a little too much.