On Saturday, Missouri truly takes the plunge into the world of the SEC when they play at South Carolina. It's not just because they are playing away from Faurot and in the South for the first time in this first SEC season. It's not just because they are going up against the ol' Ballcoach, SEC fixture Steve Spurrier. It is partly due to these, but it's also in large part because Verne is calling their game.
Verne Lundquist, 72, is the play-by-play broadcaster for CBS' weekly SEC showcase game. When he's calling your game, the eyes of the SEC, and more broadly the college football nation, are upon you. When he's calling your game, you've arrived as an SEC member.
The life of Verne seems to be pretty cool. He lives in Steamboat Springs, Colo., with his wife. He gets to call March Madness games, usually with the good time that is Bill Raftery. He also gets to work the Masters each April, linked to some many moments of drama at the gorgeous, risk-reward par-3 16th at Augusta. Then in the fall, he calls those SEC games, which include some of the great showdowns in any given college football season. (Bama-LSU, anyone?)
He's had some pretty great, famous calls through the years, including two of the most famous golf shots ever. Some of the highlights, with links to all but the first:
* The dropped would-be touchdown reception in Super Bowl XIII by Dallas Cowboys tight end Jackie Smith that would have tied the game at 21 and proved to be a turning point in the Cowboys' loss to the Steelers: "Bless his heart, he's got to be the sickest man in America!"
* Jack Nicklaus' birdie putt at 17 that shook old Augusta during the final round of the 1986 Masters, as the Golden Bear made one more charge to win a major at 46: "Maybe... YES, SIR!!"
* Christian Laettner's shot to beat Kentucky in the 1992 East Regional Final and put Duke in the Final Four, one of the most famous buzzer-beaters in NCAA Tournament history: "Here's the pass to Laettner... puts it up... YES!!"
* Tiger Woods' seemingly miraculous chip-in birdie at 16 during the 2005 Masters, where the ball appeared to stop ever so briefly, then tumble in. Still one of the more astounding things I've seen in sports: "Here it comes... Oh, my goodness... OH WOW! In your life have you ever seen anything like that?!?"
* George Mason's stunning overtime win against UConn to advance to the 2006 Final Four (quote at the 2:50 mark): "By George, the dream is still alive!"
Quite a sports hits list. For sure, it'll feel fun and big-time hearing him and analyst Gary Danielson talking about the Tigers. Who can make a play to cause Uncle Verne to say, "How do you do?" (I'd put a wager on Jadeveon Clowney.) When the Kansas State blog Bring On The Cats wrote a ditty about Mizzou's efforts to join the SEC, written for the tune of "You Never Even Called Me By My Name," the tag line at the end of the chorus was, "Just promise you'll let ol' Verne call our games."
On Saturday at 2:30 p.m. central, he'll do just that.