Media Power List (cont.)
6. Larry Collmus, Triple Crown announcer: With iconic race caller Tom Durkin opting not to renew his contract with NBC, the network tapped Collmus for the plum assignment of announcing the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. He has been the full-time track announcer at Monmouth Park since 1994 and was previously best known for this memorable call of a race last year.
"I really thought I would be more nervous than I was," Collmus told SI.com of calling the Derby. "But one thing I think I did notice was when the horses were going around the turn, my legs were shaking. But my binoculars were staying steady so that was all that mattered."
The Derby proved to be memorable given the long-shot odds of Animal Kingdom. Collmus said he was pleased with his call. He listened to it for the first time the following day when he arrived back at his home in New Jersey.
"I was happy with it, but you really can't be completely happy with it because you have to think there is a chance to do better," Collmus said. "But I was pleased considering it was my first one."
Collmus said he hopes this becomes a long-term relationship with NBC.
"I want to do as good a job as I can this year to make everyone happy," he said.
7. Woody Durham, University of North Carolina radio announcer: Giving voice to Michael Jordan before he was Air Jordan, Durham called his first Carolina game in 1971 and last month announced his retirement after more than 1,800 football and men's basketball games. He broadcast 23 bowl games and 13 Final Fours during his career. Most impressively, he knew when to say goodbye to his audience. The 69-year-old Durham (his son Wes is the play-by-play voice for Georgia Tech) told the Winston-Salem Journal that he thought his performance was slipping last year.
"A lot of times, I thought my accuracy was lacking," Durham said. "Maybe two or three years ago, I started trying to say things in a different way rather than the same, old way that a lot of people do them. I just wanted to say it a different way. I realized that wasn't a good decision, because I was little slow saying what I wanted to say. I just wasn't as accurate or as timely as I thought I needed to be, and as I thought I had been through the years."
Click here for some of Durham's most memorable calls.
8. David White, Porterville Church of God, senior pastor: After a 17-year career as a sports writer, including the past five years covering the 49ers for the San Francisco Chronicle, White exchanged his keyboard for a pulpit, becoming a pastor for the Porterville Church of God in Porterville, a central California town between Fresno and Bakersfield.
"I've done part-time ministry during football offseasons since 2004, always wondering if there was something more full time to it for me," White said in an email. "Last year, I spent four months as an interim pastor leading right up to the start of Niners training camp. When it ended, I didn't want it to end. That's when I knew God was calling me to full-time ministry. I got to answer the call when the church's pastor recently retired. Besides, the Raiders and Niners went 21-59 and fired four coaches during my stay. I'm not sayin' God told me enough already; I'm just sayin'."
I asked White if he considered sports writers a spiritual lot.
"Well, former Chronicle comrade Ray Ratto says that I've been a sports writer far too long to think I can save my soul now," White said. "We can be a bit cynical, and a tad sarcastic, as a whole, but given the overwhelming words of support I've gotten from colleagues everywhere -- not a single one has called me an idiot wrapped up in a moron for this move -- I'd like to think Jesus holds out hope for even the crustiest of my peers."
9. Gus Johnson, Fox Sports: ESPN's Tony Reali called it the news that broke the Internet. We'll give the blog Awful Announcing, which covers Gus news with the same fervor The Washington Post details the White House, the last word on his move from CBS to Fox.
10. Jay Mariotti, former columnist and TV personality: Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported that Mariotti was charged with felony stalking and assault (he pleaded not guilty to the charges and his attorney called them "complete fabrications.") The news comes eight months after a domestic incident in which Mariotti was sentenced to three years' probation and ordered to perform 40 days of community service.
Mariotti's first arrest produced a torrent of schadenfreude from his colleagues. The relative disinterest over this latest incident (which does not take away from the seriousness of the charges) is an example of how quickly a so-called sports television personality can fade from the landscape. Deadspin wrote a smart piece on the narcotic of sports television fame, and the loss of self for those who start to believe what fans and enabling public relations people tell them.
One thing is for certain: Mariotti's career as a major sports commentator is over.