Voices of the Game, Part II: Top 10 Analysts

We continue this series with Part II of the “Voices of the Game” series with my Top 10 Color Analysts.

1.     Kirk Herbstreit

Announcing Duties: ESPN/ABC Saturday Night Football (#1)

The former Ohio State QB started his broadcasting career on ESPN’s College Gameday pre-game show in 1996. Herbie’s progressed over the years, eventually leading to his role as ESPN/ABC’s top college football analyst on Saturday Night Football. Viewers like his work, as he knows what he’s talking about and is rarely dull or overly excited either.

2.     Steve Kerr

Announcing Duties: NBA on TNT (#1) & NCAA Basketball Tournament on CBS/Turner Sports (#3 & Final Four)

Kerr became an NBA color analyst for TNT after he ended his playing career in 2003. Undoubtedly, Kerr is the one of the best analysts in the NBA right now. Kerr’s work in the booth got him promoted to CBS/Turner Sports’ Final Four announcing team in 2011. Kerr has that likeable personality which makes him a fan favorite in the booth.

3.     Jon Gruden

Announcing Duties: ESPN Monday Night Football (#1)

As a former NFL coach, Gruden’s addition to the Monday Night Football team was an excellent move by ESPN. I was a big fan of Gruden’s coaching style and now enjoy his announcing. In addition, Gruden’s QB Camp series, where he analyzes video with QB draft prospects, has become a big hit among viewers. His smarts provide MNF viewers with more football insight than you find out of any other NFL analyst.

4.     Orel Hershiser

Announcing Duties: ESPN Sunday Night Baseball (#1)

Pitchers are arguably the smartest players on the field and Hershiser’s knowledge of the game proves it. In only his second season as an analyst on SNB, Hershiser is definitely an upgrade over Joe Morgan. I like Orel’s “old school” nature, and his knowledge for the game is hard to match.

5.     Eddie Olczyk

Announcing Duties: NHL on NBC Sports (#1)

Being from Chicago, I may have a Blackhawks bias here, but Olczyk is one of the NHL’s best analysts. Locally, Blackhawk fans are lucky to have such a great announcing duo of Olczyk and Pat Foley. On a national stage when paired with “Doc” Emrick, there are periods where Olczyk is quiet, but he does provide great analysis when he does get a word in.

6.     John Smoltz

Announcing Duties: MLB on TBS (#1)

No surprise that another pitcher-turned-analyst is on my list. Like Hershiser, Smoltz provides that “old school” nature to complement his knowledge and expertise for the game. Smoltz’s announcing has made it up TBS’s announcing ladder as he began on the number four announcing crew.

7.     Bob Brenly

Announcing Duties: MLB Playoffs on TBS (#2)

Brenly started his announcing career just before he went on to win a World Series title with the Diamondbacks in 2001. He joined FOX’s number one baseball team, Buck and McCarver, on coverage of the All-Star Game, LCS and World Series. In 2004, Brenly was hired to be the analyst for Chicago Cubs games, and recently TBS playoffs games (to no surprise Brenly wasn’t able to call Cubs playoffs games on TBS). Being a former catcher, Brenly brings his knowledge and managerial experience to the booth, providing an enjoyable experience.

8.     Jay Bilas

Announcing Duties: NCAA Basketball on ESPN (mostly ACC or Big East games)

Blue Devils know best! What a lot of viewers don’t know about Bilas is that he received a J.D. from Duke after being a four-year starter under Coach K. Bilas provides expert color commentary and is widely recognized for his thorough knowledge of the game and his professional but clever style.

9.     Gary Danielson

Announcing Duties: SEC on CBS (#1)

Danielson has the honor of calling games from the best college football conference, the SEC. His work with partner Verne Lundquist is listenable. Danielson tends to give his expertise about a play or player before the viewers even think about it. He used to work ESPN/ABC games up until his move to CBS in 2006, which was a big loss for ESPN.

10.  Brian Billick

Announcing Duties: NFL on FOX (#3)

Like Gruden, Billick, another coach-turned-commentator, is a smart guy and demonstrates that with his work on FOX’s NFL coverage. Billick’s tendency to analyze games as if he’s a head coach makes the viewers much smarter in turn. Rarely does Billick make stupid or obvious comments during his broadcasts.

Honorable Mention:

  • Mark Mayock (Notre Dame Football on NBC, NBC’s NFL Wild Card Weekend & NFL Network Thursday Night Football)
  • Clark Kellogg (NCAA Basketball on CBS/Turner Sports – #1)
  • Bob Knight (NCAA Basketball on ESPN – Big 12 Games)
  • Mark Grace (MLB on FOX – #3)

Top Announcing Pairs:

  1. Mike “Doc” Emrick and Eddie Olczyk (NHL on NBC)
  2. Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg and Steve Kerr (NCAA Final Four on CBS)
  3. Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser and Terry Francona (ESPN Sunday Night Baseball)
  4. Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstrait (ESPN/ABC Saturday Night Football)
  5. Marv Albert and Steve Kerr (NBA on TNT)


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