Verne Lundquist has one of the most iconic voices in the history of sports broadcasting. He’s been a fixture of some of the greatest sports moments of the last half century, and it is a pleasure to listen to him call games every Saturday with Gary Danielson.
And, believe it or not, Lundquist has never scripted any of his big-moment calls. Not in college football, not in golf, not in anything. Yes, some broadcasters walk the tight rope between scripted and organic. Lundquist doesn’t.
“Well, I don’t have to,” the CBS Sports broadcaster said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Because everything is instinctive, and I swear to God I’ve never scripted a finish in my life. I know that there are fellows who do, and then sometimes the words do fit. They write them for the moment and in anticipation of the moment occurring, (but) if the game doesn’t follow script, you’re kind of out there in left field with these awkward words. I’ve been so fortunate over a long career to have been present when great things happen. And in most cases, I would say that what I had to say was equal to the moment, and that’s not very self-deprecating. . . . But it’s an accumulative experience and you trust yourself to react to what you see in front of you. For me, I’m a reactionary. I react to what happens right in front of us.”
Lundquist has had quite a few reactions to LSU running back Leonard Fournette – almost all of them of the jaw-drop variety. The sophomore tailback has already rushed for 1,352 yards and 15 touchdowns for the second-ranked Tigers (7-0) and is averaging 7.7 yards per carry.
Where does Fournette among the all-time greats? Is he already pretty high, or is he still working his way up the list?
“No, I think he’s already really high,” Lundquist said. “He had a good year last year. I still have trouble forgetting in his second game when he scored and he did the Desmond Howard Heisman Trophy pose, and I thought, ‘Oh, come on. You’re a freshman in college. Don’t do that.’ But I have not met him yet. We will, I’m sure. But everything I’ve read about him and heard about him – and I’ve talked with the coaches – is he’s a very humble, approachable young man. I sure hope that’s true. So that part, I think, he’s getting. And as a talent, I heard Gary say something when he bowled over the safety in our LSU/Auburn game and this kid just did a back-flip and then (Fournette) shrugged another tackler on another touchdown run. He’s going to have a lot defining moments, but those two (were incredible).”
Lundquist believes that Fournette is already in rarified air with Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson and Earl Campbell.
“I think,” Lundquist said, “that he’s in the conversation now, as a sophomore, as among potentially the top 10 or 11 running backs ever.”