Saturday’s SEC title game wasn’t just another chance for undefeated Alabama to display its dominance; it also served as a send-off for Verne Lundquist. The 76-year-old announcer was in his final season calling the conference’s football games for CBS.
Lundquist began his tenure as the unofficial voice of the SEC in 2000, and his calls have added a dimension to many of college football’s most dramatic moments in recent years. A few of those moments — including Tennessee’s Hail Mary to beat Georgia earlier this season — were included in a tribute video that the network aired at the end of Saturday’s game.
In the video, former Florida star Tim Tebow referred to Lundquist as “Uncle Verne,” a term the announcer earned for his appealingly folksy delivery. Even Alabama Coach Nick Saban, often taciturn, was moved to offer words of praise.
After the tribute video aired, viewers got a live shot of an emotional Lundquist in the booth with analyst Gary Danielson. “It’s been my privilege to sit by your side for 11 years. Thanks,” Lundquist told Danielson before the pair shared a tearful hug.
Earlier in the game, Lundquist received a tribute online from Jack Nicklaus, who posted a clip of his famous birdie putt on the 17th hole of the final round of his 1986 Masters triumph. The golfer described the announcer’s “Yes sir!” call as one of his “favorite memories.”
Lundquist is slated to continue calling golf events and basketball games for CBS. He will be replaced on the network’s SEC football telecasts by Brad Nessler.