After more than a half century in broadcasting, Verne Lundquist remains one of the best in the business. In fact, Brandon Tierney believes Lundquist has absolutely achieved superstar-legend-icon status.
He asked Lundquist which of those descriptors he prefers.
“None of the above,” Lundquist said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney, laughing. “This whole last-season thing has been overwhelming. The reaction in each stadium, the mementos that Nancy and I have been given – it’s something we never expected and that we’re treasuring. But I’ll stay away from icon and legend. Those are guys like Tiki Barber.”
Lundquist, 76, decided in May that this would be his final year in the booth.
“Sean McManus and I had talked about it for a couple of years,” Lundquist said, referring to the CBS executive. “When would it be appropriate (to leave)? I got this amazing award in New York in May, the Lifetime Achievement Award. Sean and I talked after that night. He presented me that night. It was just one of (the most) memorable nights that I’ve ever, ever had. I thought, ‘That might be a nice way to begin (my final year).’ And this is not a victory lap, but (it’s a way) to bring all of this to a terrific close.”
Brad Nessler will replace Lundquist in 2017.
“I’ll do this season and hand it off to Brad, and he’ll take Gary (Danielson) and the rest of the crew and keep going,” Lundquist said. “But it’s become much more emotional than I thought it would. I grew up in Texas. Our first game was Texas A&M/UCLA, and Kevin Sumlin gave me a framed jersey with . . . the No. 12 and my name on the back of the jersey. Well, if you grow up in Texas, you know the legend of the 12th Man and what it means to Texas A&M. It was a wow moment for me – and it’s continued every week. The affection is something that Nancy and I both so much appreciate. But it does make it emotional. . . . And then fans have been so great. We’ll never forget it, and we’re getting to share it, and that’s great.”
Lundquist said that his broadcasting career, while challenging, never felt like work. He simply loved what he was doing.
“Now, that’s not to say it hasn’t been a roller coaster,” Lundquist said. “It certainly has been. I got the job in Dallas at WFAA on my third time. You guys have been through it. You know it’s a (matter of) perceptions and judgment. I can’t go into the boss and say, ‘I filled my quota and sold 300 cars this month.’ It’s their assessment of me and the fans. We have all these rating systems and so on, but it’s not heavy lifting. There’s so much immense pleasure in preparation and getting ready for it. I’m taking the time – I think I am – in this final year to soak it all in. And then I think holy cow, how blessed are you to have had this long run? Unless something tragic happens like I curse on the air, I’m going to be able to finish on top. I’m in my 54th year, and that’s ridiculous. It really is. I never thought I’d get to work for a network for as long as I have, and then to be the happy recipient of this relationship with this very prominent college football conference and to be the conduit by which we help people enjoy that every Saturday – it’s an extraordinary position that I’ve worked hard to get into and I’m enjoying it.”