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CougCenter roundtable: who are the best (and worst) play-by-play and color announcers in college football?

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We've got more offseason #content for you as Michael Preston, Brian Anderson, Jeff Nusser and Craig Powers (briefly) discuss who the best play-by-play and color announcers are in college football.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

College football season is right around the corner which means college football broadcasts are also lurking nearby. That got us to thinking: who are the best play-by-play and color announcers in the game today? For that matter, who are the worst (as you'll get right off the top)?

For that, we turned to a Slack chat.

*********

brian_anderson:
Rod Gilmore is the worst announcer employed by a major cable company

goldenthroat:
Hahaha, STRONG (and correct)

So, we wanna start with color announcers because I've got one in mind for who the best would probably be and it'll make some people mad: Brock Huard

brian_anderson:
I like starting with the good, I just had to get hating Rod Gilmore off my chest. He is awful. Brock Huard is excellent. He's consistently insightful, and correctly identifies things going on in defensive coverage, or offensive scheme that a lot of people wouldn't pick up on. He, Yogi Roth, and Jesse Palmer are probably my favorites for those reasons

jeffnusser:
I just like guys who say things that aren't dumb and don't yell at me for three hours. That eliminates like 97 percent of color analysts, sadly.

goldenthroat:
Herbstreit's up there for me as well, I always feel like I learned a little something when I listened to him, same thing with the guys BA mentioned

I don't know who ESPN had on the game against Colorado last year but...woof

brian_anderson:
Herbie's great too, forgot about him cause he's so integral to big games. He's THE color guy, really.

jeffnusser:
I also like Herbstreit. Doesn't hurt that he tends to give WSU love when it seems as if practically nobody else is paying attention.

brian_anderson:
Problem with color guys is when they get over their skis explaining football stuff. Gary Danielson and Glenn Parker immediately come to mind. There was a stretch in the Sun Bowl -- that ended with a TD to Marks (on not 4-verts) -- where Danielson mis-identified every single play and coverage in the series

granted, not a lot of people care or pick up on that stuff, but it drives me nuts

jeffnusser:
To be fair, Danielson only realized the forward pass existed three years ago. He's got some catching up to do.

goldenthroat:
Danielson should be picking up on it though, he works for CBS and airs (what should be anyway) the biggest game in the SEC every week

Which explains why, as Nuss said, he has no idea what a forward pass is

brian_anderson:
SEC has quarterbacks?

goldenthroat:
Slabs of meat that hand the ball to the running back, yes

jeffnusser:
That conference has gotten more pass heavy in recent years, and Danielson has been forced to begrudgingly acknowledge it

brian_anderson:
So...Parker. One thing, I love how much love he gives to lineman. When talking about the run game, you aren't gonna get better insight on line blocking than Parker, but it sorta ends there. You can sense his disdain for the Air Raid in every broadcast

goldenthroat:
I'm legitimately having a hard time thinking of other color announcers because...I just don't pay too much attention to them

Well, he was a lineman so I think that fits naturally for him

Older guys tend to not be as in love with the Air Raid, I'm finding

I rewatched the Wyoming game the other day (don't ask why) and even the young color guy was "pleased" with the balance WSU had on a particular drive where Wyoming was begging Falk to check into a run

brian_anderson:
I could go on a tirade about how annoying it is to hear color guys talk about "balance" or pull up a rush yards per game chyron. They (everyone, even our own fans) praised WSU's run game last year for more attempts, greater balance, when neither of those things changed much from the year before. They'll do it again this year when James Williams shows up and balls out with Earth, Wind, and Fire.

goldenthroat:
I like Roth on the broadcast because of that, he's generally just going to analyze what's in front of him and either praise it or not

jeffnusser;
That's honestly my baseline for an announcer: Just don't be blatantly uninformed. I realize that seems like a pretty low bar, but it's amazing how often I listen to broadcasters who simply rely on regurgitating Stuff They Heard Once.

I also realize that doesn't apply to the vast majority of viewers, who are no better informed.

But I think it's entirely possible to know what you're talking about and communicate interesting things without talking above the heads of most of your audience - Herbstreit, Huard, etc. do that well.

That said, I've also become completely open to the idea that the reason so many broadcasters aren't good is because broadcasting is actually quite hard and there are way more games being broadcasted than qualified broadcasters.

brian_anderson:
That's an interesting way to think about it. What about Play By Play guys? I'll start with controversy; Gus Johnson is awesome.

goldenthroat:
That last point is probably a biggie

BOOOOOOOOOOOO

jeffnusser:
TEAM GUS OVER HERE

goldenthroat:
Lets stack the color guys we mentioned, say, 1-3 first?

We're gunna rate the color guys and then I'm gunna tell you both why you're wrong

jeffnusser:
Before we do that - Preston, you've done it. Tell me I'm right, and that it's hard.

goldenthroat:
It's hard. Really, really hard.

To know everything and to not sound like an idiot at some point for 3 hours is nearly impossible

brian_anderson:
Yeah, I hadn't ever thought of it like that but it's probably true. That's a skill only a handful of people have really perfected and there's dozens of games every week.

goldenthroat:
Alright, 1-3, I'd go 1. Huard 2. Herbie 3. Palmer

brian_anderson:
1. Herbie
2. Huard
3. Palmer
4. Roth
5. Blackledge
#. Kanell
#################. Danielson
############################################. Gilmore

jeffnusser:
1. Herbie 2. Huard 3. Roth

brian_anderson:
If Yogi did it full time and put all his energy into it, I think he could be at the top of the list, easy. He's still a little rough around the edges and super rah rah enthusiastic (which I love -- #HowGreatIsBall -- but realize it's not for everybody). (edited)

goldenthroat:
Someone ask Kanell is we can pay for a masters degree instead of his ESPN slary for the next 4 years

brian_anderson:
I really don't mind Kanell on the call. Actually just watched the Miami Beach Brawl game between Memphis and BYU, he was color and I enjoyed it.

goldenthroat:
He's not too bad there, just get SVP back with Russeilo

brian_anderson:
Yeah, that was the best thing on sports talk radio for years.

Now, tell Nuss and I why we're dumb for liking Gus

goldenthroat:
I didn't say dumb! Yous guys are smart! Just wrong.

Here's what I do like about Gus

No one prepares better than him, you'll rarely hear him trip up in a game, he's excellent between the 20s, really superb.

....but get him anywhere into the redzone or close to what could be an above average play, and it has to be Isaiah Tomas's game winner in the Pac-10 Tourney all over again

He's constantly trying to recreate or force these YUGE moments and they just aren't there, frequently

The other issue is the difference in his volume, the audio tech has to pot him low so you can baaaaaarely hear him during games because they can't ride the fader when he gets into OH HOLY POO mode

brian_anderson:
But when your team DOES have a huge play....you want that dude calling it. That energy is one-of-a-kind. I don't think anyone could get in there and scream at an open post route, but he's not just anyone.

jeffnusser:
Exactly. You're right about everything you described, Michael, but I don't for a second feel as if any of it is inauthentic.

The best part about Gus is that he doesn't feel the need to babble for 3 hours.

goldenthroat:
Oh, I don't think it's inauthentic, I know he DOES get that excite...I think he just needs to reign it in sometimes

jeffnusser:
Gus will let the game breath before having one of those orgastic moments. It's fantastic.

goldenthroat:
The best "let the game breathe guy", for my money, is Brad Nessler

jeffnusser:
If we're making a list of PBP guys, he's at the top of mine.

brian_anderson:
*current

goldenthroat:
Oh yeah, current.

brian_anderson:
cause we all know the GOAT

jeffnusser:
Well, yes. Of course.

goldenthroat;
If it wasn't current, I could spend hours on THE MAN

jeffnusser:

goldenthroat:
Nessler, Tessitore

brian_anderson:
I like Musberger for the same "let it breathe" style

goldenthroat:
Chris Fowler is growing on me, hes definitely got work to do

brian_anderson:
Tess is real high for me

goldenthroat:
I still hate the ESPN shoved Musburger onto the SEC Network

STILL GETS THE VEGAS BOWL THO

jeffnusser:
Musberger gets a bonus for being a degenerate gambler

goldenthroat:
Youuuuuu are looking LIVE at the Mirage Sports Book

brian_anderson:
I think liking Tessitore so much might be a product of him calling insane Friday Nighters though, too

goldenthroat:
God, Facebook Live with Musberger in Vegas

Tess got the benefit of a lot of really, really bonkers games. He did brilliantly with them though

jeffnusser:
I also like Tessatore.

goldenthroat:
UNCLE VERNE. GOTTA HAVE UNCLE VERNE ON THERE

jeffnusser:
Underrated: JB Long

goldenthroat:
JB is really, really solid.

brian_anderson:
Ooh, yeah, JB does really good work

goldenthroat:
Rece Davis has been doing a nice job on Thursdays for ESPN

jeffnusser:
Yes. And I also like Dave Pasch

Aaron Goldsmith will immediately jump onto my list when he starts doing national games more frequently.

brian_anderson:
Let's Power Rank

who's number 1?

jeffnusser:
Nessler

goldenthroat:
One more that I really like: Beth Mowins

Yeah, I'd give Nessler the nod for 1

Either him or Tessitore

brian_anderson:
I can go with that. Nostalgia makes me want to say Brent or Uncle Verne though (edited)

jeffnusser:
I'd still go Musberger No. 2.

Verne is part of the poisoned well, working with Danielson. Sorry, not sorry.

goldenthroat:
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

YOU TALK NICE ABOUT UNCLE VERNE

jeffnusser:
He's still awesome. And to listen to him, I have to listen to Danielson, ergo .....

goldenthroat:
I wanted him to call the Sun Bowl so bad

Day after Christmas nixed that possibility

brian_anderson:
He sent in a photo of him drinking wine by a fireplace, so that counts for something

goldenthroat:
I'll lobby for Tess at 2, Musberger at 3

jeffnusser:
I'd flip those

But I wouldn't quibble too much

brian_anderson:
I'm with Nuss

goldenthroat:
I'm not so committed to it I'll drag it through the mud,that works

Musberger's intro might be what sets him apart

His voice is perfect for it too

brian_anderson:
1. Nessler
2. Musberger
3. Tessitore

who we got at 4?

jeffnusser:
There's just something to be said for being associated with something for so long. It matters.

goldenthroat:
That's tough

brian_anderson:
it's called gravitas

Musberger has it....and the over

goldenthroat:
/bikini emoji

brian_anderson:
I think 4 might be between Fowler, Rece Davis, and Gus Johnson

jeffnusser:
I'd probably even take Gus over Tess

But that's just me

I like variety

brian_anderson:
I would too, but out of respect for Michael, he gets a one spot demerit

goldenthroat:
I'm fine with Gus at 4, like I said, he's soooooo solid between the 20s, lots of PBP guys could learn from him there

brian_anderson:
Guys I just realized we left Tim Tebow off our color analyst list. Should we start over?

goldenthroat:
DELETE EVERYTHING

brian_anderson:
I hate Rod Gilmore

goldenthroat:
Tebow or Gilmore? YCOHO

jeffnusser:
We gonna cover worst real quick?

goldenthroat:
Gus at 4, I'd call it a tie between Fowler and Davis at 5 to wrap that up

jeffnusser:
If I had to choose one of those for a game, I'd choose Tebow - at least he has the excuse of being young and inexperienced.

brian_anderson:
I'm good with the Top 5 and I'd rather have a barking dog in the booth than Rod Gilmore. (edited)

goldenthroat:
Sooooooo...Rod Gilmore is king turd of crap mountain

jeffnusser:
Emperor.

brian_anderson:
He's probably a nice guy. His color style/ability is just really challenging to sit through without getting annoyed.

So we have a Top 5, and our honorable mention is JB Long.

jeffnusser:
He literally spews nonsense for hours and gets paid to do it.

It's incredible

goldenthroat:
So do I, Nuss

jeffnusser:
But ESPN doesn't employ you and me!

brian_anderson;
*yet

(got high aspirations for the Golden Throat)

goldenthroat:
I'm still waiting for John Skipper to come out of the dugout and touch my mic

brian_anderson:
Who's a terrible play by play guy?

Feel like it's harder to be bad at that and good enough to get on air

jeffnusser:
Dave Sims on baseball, but he probably doesn't count here

brian_anderson:
But he wears hats!

goldenthroat:
I...I like Dave on the radio

I will avoid any of this talk, BA still has high aspirations for me and I'm not a fighter in the press box

brian_anderson:
Rick Rizz and Ron Fairly or GTFO

jeffnusser:
that's because you can't actually see what Sims is describing, so you can't see how wrong he is

brian_anderson:
Should we get back to football?

jeffnusser:
Tim Brando is terrible

brian_anderson:
Oh, yikes, that's a whopper right out the gate

jeffnusser:
although, he's paired with Spencer Tillman, who is a guy I should have mentioned as a guy I really like

goldenthroat:
I listened to the ASU game again this week and Tillman was, uh, not prepared

brian_anderson:
I'm honestly struggling to come up with Play By Play guys I know I don't like. Certain unknowns can be terrible, I know there are some PAC-12 Network guys that weren't real great, but I can't think of who it was off the top of my head.

goldenthroat:
Is there an ESPN guy that we hear and just go "NOOOOOOOOPE"

I can remember not being thrilled with some but I can't remember who they because it was a Tuesday MAC game in November

jeffnusser:
Mark Jones. Because Gilmore comes with him.

POISONED WELL

brian_anderson:
Dave Flemming and Mack Brown is pretty funny/bad

"Cull-uh-RAD-uh" does keep me entertained when they call a Buffs' game (edited)

jeffnusser:
By the way, can I get a late nomination in for Joey Harrington as worst analyst?

goldenthroat:
AGREED

brian_anderson:
We've spent a lot of digital ink on Gilmore. That mantle is set.

jeffnusser:
Nobody tops Gilmore, but with some effort and determination, Harrington and his vapid breathless yelling could one day get there.

brian_anderson:
"Vapid" is a low-key knockout punch of an insult

jeffnusser:
English teacher vocabulary checking in

goldenthroat:
Hey, I knew vapid too!

jeffnusser:
Yes, but can you use it in a sentence?

brian_anderson:
Say it to your wife

then run

goldenthroat:
LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL, I AIN'T DUMB

jeffnusser:
fast

run fast

goldenthroat:
"Kim Kardashian is hella vapid."

jeffnusser:
also, your wife is faster than you

A+

brian_anderson:
So we can't think of terrible Play By Play guys outside of Brando?

goldenthroat:
Not off the top of my head, no

brian_anderson:
Probably a good thing if the bad ones aren't memorable

goldenthroat:
I know they exist, I just don't hear them enough to know who they are

jeffnusser:
That's probably a good thing

goldenthroat:
I could do a 100 meter dash holding a full beer and have the most still in the glass at the end between me and her

brian_anderson:
Sure you couldn't

goldenthroat:
MOOBERRY TRACK, 9/16, 10:00PM, I PROVE IT

brian_anderson:
CougCenter Facebook Live will be too

(no take-backs)

goldenthroat:
This only ends with me face planting like 60 meters in and we get more hits than EVER

It's gunna be a glorious 60 meters though

jeffnusser:
Ending these things is the hardest part, by the way.

goldenthroat:
You know what they say....always end on a high note....or a track skidmark

brian_anderson:

preston slip

goldenthroat:

LAAAAAAAADIES

craigpowers:
Hey guys you did a great job. Here's my list:

1. barking dogs

goldenthroat:
"WOW" /best Gus Johnson voice

brian_anderson:
RISE AND FIRE

craigpowers:
HA-HA

***********

So, who'd we miss from either the best or the worst? Do you agree with our rankings?