The television screen darkens. Low music begins to drone as colorful lights flicker in a
hypnotizing dance. Football players yell and gesture at the camera, pumping up the fan at home
for what is to come. The music comes to a crescendo- and fades into darkness yet again.
Suddenly, the camera cuts to an aerial shot of a college football stadium, packed to the brim
with energetic fans all yelling, clapping, and waving various objects and articles of clothing. The
iconic theme plays. It’s 2:30 pm CT on a crisp fall Saturday, and the SEC on CBS game of the
week is set to kickoff.
CBS Sports Announces 2023 “SEC On CBS” College Football Games And Windows
— CBS Sports PR (@CBSSportsGang) May 30, 2023
For nearly a quarter of a century, the SEC on CBS has set the bar for college football
broadcasts, featuring the best teams from the best conference weekly in the mid afternoon slot.
From legendary broadcaster Verne Lundquist to current play by play man Brad Nessler to
polarizing color analyst Gary Danielson, the SEC on CBS has featured some of the best of the
best in the broadcasting business over its tenure.
CBS Sports delivers the most-watched Alabama-Ole Miss game on record, and the most-watched game of the week on any network: pic.twitter.com/mjTOfSxDvX
— CBS Sports PR (@CBSSportsGang) November 15, 2022
However, the long and successful run as the television home of the best football conference in
the nation is coming to a close for CBS.
In 2019, it was announced that CBS had declined to renew their contract with the SEC, walking
away from negotiations as the SEC demanded a heavy increase in pay for SEC rights. Quickly
ESPN, who held the rights to SEC games that CBS did not choose to televise in the “Game of
the Week” slot, leaped into the picture and agreed to televise all SEC games starting in 2024 for
around 3 billion dollars over the course of 10 years.
CBS’s SEC football deal, I believe, was the greatest sports TV rights deal in history. But when CBS had the chance to extend it for a decade at $65 million a year post Mizzou & A&M, they said no. Now they are paying $350 million a year for Big Ten. All time screw up too. pic.twitter.com/rqd35fAtDT
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) August 18, 2022
As such, the SEC on CBS is set for one last hoorah in 2023 before the network loses its most
iconic college sports program for good.
While it may be nostalgia speaking, in my opinion the clean look of the CBS broadcast, the
camera work and the storytelling are unmatched in college football. The men in blue blazers
will be difficult to supplant.
CBS got years and years of one of the most lopsided TV deals in sports history with the SEC and then walked when the SEC said show us the money. I’ll miss the opening theme music, and they had great production. But the commentating fell off. Somewhere Gary is still blaming Tank.
— Aaron Suttles (@AaronSuttles) August 18, 2022
The iconic moments in college football history that have occurred in front of our very eyes on the
SEC on CBS are numerous and difficult to even count. The rise and eventual triumph of Tim
Tebow and the Florida Gators. The dynasty of Nick Saban and all 6 of his national
championship seasons with the Alabama Crimson Tide. Johnny Manziel and his Aggies
downing Saban’s mighty juggernaut. Chris Davis of Auburn running a missed field goal back as
time expired, punching an SEC championship berth for the Tigers and knocking off hated rival
Alabama in the “Kick Six”, one of the single most iconic finishes of all time.
All of these and countless iconic players, plays and moments have made the SEC on CBS so
special and successful.
current CBS rights deal=4m per SEC team, new deal ups to 21.5m per SEC team. 85 schollys at 25k each = 2.125 m= players get F.ed, that is not counting ticket revenue, ESPN money, licensing, etc. #math
— Robert Hawthorne (@mediarecruiter) July 1, 2021
While football fans love to hate on broadcasters (particularly Gary Danielson, who may be
talked about more on Twitter than the actual game when he broadcasts) one thing the SEC on
CBS has done remarkably well is to stay out of the way when historic moments occur.
“Let the crowd erupt. Don’t interrupt,” longtime SEC on CBS play-by-play man Verne Lundquist
told the sportsbroadcastjournal. “After Chris Davis’ implausible runback of a missed field goal
gave Auburn a heart throbbing win over Alabama in the Iron Bowl, Gary Danielson and I shut
our mouths for 1:21. My first words thereafter were, ‘It might be worth another look!’”
CBS Sports Network Unveils College Football Schedule For 2023 Season
Full Release: https://t.co/oq8JdsCVY7
— CBS Sports PR (@CBSSportsGang) May 31, 2023
The important thing to the since-retired Lundquist, which is reflected in all of the SEC on CBS
broadcasts, is to inform the viewer about the main event, and not to be the main event itself.
“I have always seen myself as a teller of stories and not the story itself,” Lundquist wrote in his
auto-biography, Play by Play. “I was never on the scene to make headlines or have my calls of
a game go down in history. I leave the history-making to the athletes and coaches.”
“I suppose, like the old adage that a baseball umpire has done his job if nobody notices his
presence, then that has been my life’s ambition, Lundquist continued. “To tell the story but not
be the story.”
Some college football moments make you wonder what was going on up in the booth pic.twitter.com/yx5uJ3n0fo
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) June 26, 2023
While the iconic players and plays will undoubtedly still be present on ESPN, there’s simply a
special something about the entire package that the SEC on CBS presents to the viewer that
sends chills up and down fans spines. Whether it’s the camera work, the graphics work, the
iconic theme song composed by Lloyd Landesman, or even the broadcasters behind and in
front of the camera, the SEC on CBS has presented nothing but the best to their viewers for
many years. So, fans enjoy the last season of the SEC on CBS this fall, because the likes of it
may never be seen in sports again.
By Adam Roseberry