For the past 42 years, Verne Lundquist made his home nearly every Saturday of the college football season in a broadcast booth. It’s no surprise, then, that after calling Army’s 21-17 win over Navy this Saturday — his final college football broadcast ever — the 76-year-old got a little emotional.
Lundquist, who has held the job with CBS Sports since 2000, held it together at first, recalling the first time he saw a college football game in 1952.
“Notre Dame beat Texas, 14-3, in what is now Darrell Royal Stadium in my hometown of Austin,” he said. “I watched the game while selling soft drink in north end-zone stands — a nickel a bottle — I was 12 years old. That game instilled in me a love of a sport that has enriched my life in a multitude of ways.”
The first game Lundquist called was Ohio-Kent State in September 1974.
“A young graduate assistant for Kent State was in his first year of coaching. His name was Nick Saban,” Lundquist said, recalling the longevity of the careers of both himself and Saban, now the storied head coach at Alabama.
That’s when Lundquist became a bit tearful.
“Today, after hundreds of Saturday afternoons on the air, it’s time to step aside with a grateful nod to all of you who’ve been watching over the decades,” he said, before expressing his gratitude to CBS Sports’ staff, his broadcast colleagues and, finally, his wife.
“Here’s the tough part,” Lundquist went on. “Most of all, to my lovely and amazing wife, Nancy. We’ve shared this journey for 34 years and counting. She has been in the booth for every game this season, and our crew admirers her as much as I do.”
He continued: “This final season has been filled with nostalgia, sentiment and celebration. I’ve been overwhelmed by the expressions of warmth and the conveyance of good wishes by folks in the SEC and around the country.”
Lundquist ended his sign off by welcoming Brad Nessler, the man who will fill his position after several years at ESPN and ABC, and reminding his fans that he’s not going “into hiding.” Lundquist reiterated that he plans to continue covering college basketball and golf for the network.
“I’ll see all of you during March Madness, and I’ll yell at you from the 16 tower at the Masters,” he said. “Till then, thank you.”