With the anticipation of college football building, now’s the time to revisit a topic we addressed a few years ago: Who are the top college football media personalities? Outside of the players, coaches and pageantry, the on-air personalities shape our Saturday’s more than anything else.
Who are your favorites? Below is my Top 10 along with some honorable mentions. Feel free to share your list with us. It’s all subjective. In fact, several who made my list of worst personalities two years ago, now find themselves among the best. Here goes…
1. Kirk Herbstreit (ESPN) - The Ohio State alum has built something of a love/hate relationship with Southern football fans. Sure he’s a little full of himself and something of a pretty-boy, but it’s hard to argue with his success. He’s arguably the top opinion maker in the sport and has the best seat in the house each Saturday, serving as Brent Musburger’s analyst on ABC Sportsprime-time games. Give him credit; he picked Auburn to go undefeated last season heading into the Iron Bowl. He caught a lot of crap for it; but in the end, proved he knew his stuff.
2. Chris Fowler (ESPN) - Widely considered the voice of college football, fans know their program has made the big-time when Fowler rolls into town. As quarterback of the top-rated College GameDay program, Fowler is as smooth as they get. He’s also the most likeable guy in the game.
3. Tony Barnhart (CBS Sports) - Barnhart’s standing is a regional one, but if you are a fan of the SEC, you want to know Barnhart’s take on the story. As a writer for The Atlanta Constitution, studio analyst for CBS Sports and host of The Tony Barnhart Show, he’s the top authority on southern football.
4. Gary Danielson (CBS Sports) - When CBS Sports tapped Danielson to be the network’s SEC analyst, most fans thought the suits in New York had lost their minds. The former Purdue quarterback faced a lot of skeptics in the early days, including myself. Fast-forward to now and he’s arguably the best in the game. He’s won over legions of SEC fans and there’s no one more prepared for a game each week than Danielson.
5. Bill King (Sirius/XM Radio) - If you’re not a subscriber to satellite radio, Bill King is reason enough to sign up. Host of the hugely popular morning radio show, On Campus with Bill King, the program is a must for those who need their daily college football fix 365 days a year. King is the voice of college recruiting.
6. Brent Musburger (ABC Sports) - For years the voice of the NFL, Musburger has stepped in for the retired Keith Jackson as the top play-by-play man in college football. His trademark, “You are looking live,” sends chills down the spines of fans everywhere. While this year’s BCS Championship Game was not his best work, he’s still at the top of his game. Heck, he’s even inspired his own drinking game.
7. Rece Davis (ESPN) - Sure he’s an Alabama graduate, but there are few better in the studio than Davis. Plus he’s married to an Auburn graduate, so that evens things out somewhat. His midnight program, GameDay Final is must see television for fans. His one-liners are the best in the business. The best thing about Davis: He’s fair when it comes to Auburn.
8. Lee Corso (ESPN) - Love him or not, Corso has become a college football institution. He’s the Joe Paterno of college football personalities. Waiting to see what mascot head he’ll don at show’s end each Saturday has become appointment TV for fans. With likely only a few years left on College GameDay, he’s a talent to treasure.
9. Verne Lunquist (CBS Sports) - Old Verne. Say what you want, there’s few things better in life than listening to his voice on a fall Saturday afternoon. He connects with SEC fans in a way few others can.
10. Erin Andrews (ESPN) - The reigning beauty of college football, she’s become the main attraction on College GameDay. The best part about Andrews is that she’s not only beautiful, but knows the game better than us. In other words, she’s the perfect woman.
Honorable Mentions (in no particular order): Todd Blackledge (ESPN); Wendi Nix (ESPN); Craig James (ESPN); Jack Arute (Sirius/XM Radio); Dave Neal (ESPN); Mike Leach (Sirius/XM Radio); Brad Nessler (ESPN); Tracy Wolfson (CBS Sports); Robert Smith (ESPN); Mark May (ESPN); Phil Steele (Publisher); Desmond Howard (ESPN); Jenn Brown (ESPN)