February Media Power Rankings
Honoring a CBS legend and a frank football Web site
Posted: Friday February 23, 2007 12:42AM; Updated: Friday February 23, 2007 1:43AM
1. Verne Lundquist, CBS: In the history of Vernes, he'd rank below both Jules Verne and Verne Troyer but it's a good time to recognize the veteran CBS sportscaster after his election this month to the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame. His five-decade résumé is remarkable. Lundquist has called among other notable events: Jack Nicklaus winning the 1986 Masters; the 1992 Regional Final between Kentucky and Duke (a.k.a. the first time Christian Laettner really annoyed you); Tiger Woods' fourth Masters victory in 2005 and George Mason's upset over Connecticut last year. Lundquist has long been the voice of CBS's Southeastern Conference football coverage and he's one of a handful of broadcasters you can honestly call underrated. "One of the reasons the [Hall of Fame] hit me like a bolt is because I'm not one of the lead guys even at our network," Lundquist told SI.com this week. "But I have a versatility to our network and I think CBS values me as an employee. So I suppose the candid answer is yes [about being underrated]. That just emphasizes how much this induction means to me." Lundquist is signed with CBS through 2009. He has no plans on retiring. "I told Keith Jackson as long he kept climbing into an elevator he was my hero because I loved having him there," said Lundquist, 66. "Now the guy that I keep encouraging back into the elevator is [72-year-old] Dick Enberg."
2. Beth Mowins (ESPN and Fox Sports Net) and Debbie Antonelli (FSN and CSTV): If you're a fan of women's basketball, there's a good chance you've seen one of these women working a Top 20 game in the past week. Antonelli averaged 80 games last year and Mowins has earned plaudits for her work in college football. The two often work together and were on the call of Fox Sports Net's broadcast of Duke-Maryland on Feb. 18. That day, women's hoops fans were given what they deserved: a professional broadcast by a pair of announcers who do their homework. One of the unwritten truths about women's basketball is that many of its announcers (including these two) are also de facto supporters of the game. Relationships between broadcasters and coaches are often Dick Vitale-chummy. There's a good discussion (Mark Jones, you are hereby forewarned) on the women's basketball-heavy RebKell's Junkie boards about the sport's commentators that hits this topic. For the most part, this team gets it right.
3. John Amaechi, talk-show guest: Others on this site have weighed in on Amaechi becoming the first NBA player to publicly come out. I come in praise of Amaechi as a talk-show guest. I've heard him on NPR and sports-talk stations around the country this month and he is astonishingly bright and well-spoken, a fabulous communicator. If only he had interest in something as mundane as sports broadcasting. Of course with his English accent, he'd never be hired by an American network. Unless the sport was golf.
4. ProFootballTalk.com, provocateurs: Founder Mike Florio and his cheeky band of football antagonists (The Washington Times once described PFT as "part sports blog, part Drudge Report") stand out both for the speed and tonnage with which they post nuggets and rumors about all things NFL. They're not always right but they're almost always fun. While it's a long list, PFT may be at the front of the line among bloggers and Web sites when it comes to piling on ESPN's Sean Salisbury. To wit, a recent posting on why the broadcaster could leave ESPN: "Sooner or later, ESPN will have an opportunity to hire someone who is: (1) younger; (2) better; (3) prettier; (4) more articulate; (5) not an aimless loudmouth blowhard (in our opinion); (6) actually played NFL football in the past decade; and (7) actually played in more than a few NFL football games." Now tell us how you really feel, PFT.
5. Dick Ebersol, NBC: Simply for uttering these magical words: Vaya con dios, Sterling Sharpe.
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