NEW YORK (AP) — Verne Lundquist recently returned from a Scandinavian summer vacation to find an email with 309 pages of stories on Texas A&M and UCLA. As the 76-year-old play-by-play man gets set for his 17th and final season as the voice of Southeastern Conference football on CBS, he is happily diving into one of his favorite parts of the job.
“I’m going to miss the preparation as much as anything,” Lundquist said Thursday during a conference call with reporters. “You can’t short-cut it. If you do you’ll get found out.”
Lundquist announced early this year that this would be his last doing SEC games on CBS. The first assignment of his farewell season will be Bruins at Aggies on Sept. 3.
“There’s a symmetry to all this. We’re going to open the season in College Station (Texas), which is 100 miles due east of where I began my broadcasting career, four days shy of 53 years ago,” said Lundquist, whose first job was in Austin, Texas. “I first looked into a camera and got paid for it when I spoke on Aug. 31, 1963.”
From 1970–74 Lundquist was on Dallas’ WFAA, an ABC affiliate where he did sports as well as the weekday Bowling for Dollars program.
Lundquist has become an adored figure by many college football fans, a fixture on Saturday afternoons at the Deep South’s biggest games. He has teamed with former NFL quarterback and analyst Gary Danielson since 2006 and helped narrate the SEC’s rise to being the most powerful conference in college football. SEC teams have won eight national titles in the last 10 seasons.
Brad Nessler will replace Lundquist next season.
Sean McManus, the president of CBS sports, said the plan is to acknowledge and honor Lundquist on the broadcasts without taking away from the games.
“I think throughout the year we will be doing certain moments that have been very important to Verne and very important to CBS throughout his career calling the SEC,” McManus said. “Whether they’re vignettes, whether they are little features at halftime, we’re still working that out. But there will be, for the audience, there will be a regular supply of some of Verne’s greatest moments.”
McManus said if and when Lundquist is honored by hosting schools before games those ceremonies will likely be part of the coverage.
“But having talked to Verne about this, he doesn’t want this to be a formalized farewell tour,” McManus said. “We’re not going to dwell on it.”
Lundquist and Danielson will also work the Army-Navy on Dec. 10 to end college football’s regular season. McManus said there are plans being discussed to commemorate Lundquist’s career during that broadcast.
“I don’t want a victory lap,” Lundquist said.
Lundquist called his relationship with the SEC “the greatest professional association of my career.”
He said he plans to stick to his weekly routine to make this season as normal as possible.
“It will be emotional I know that,” Lundquist said, “but I’m going to do the best to bite my lip and enjoy every weekend we get to spend.”