I once asked Verne Lundquist to sit in a hot tub shirtless with me for charity. He declined, but he did it nicely, or at least nicely enough so that I didn't press him: are you sure you don't want to? I think I asked this for charity, at least. The idea of Verne chilling in a hot tub shirtless and asking you for money is worth asking just to create the reality itself.
Verne Lundquist will yield the SEC on CBS spot to Brad Nessler, and that's fine because this happens. People get older, people get bored, people want to stop traveling to Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge and all of these places every week because people want to spend more time sitting in Colorado looking at the elk just laying all over the place like dogs and hanging out with family. He's been doing the SEC game of the week for 17 years, and that 17 years doesn't even cover half his broadcasting career. That's how long he's been doing this: a real, real long time.
If you've been doing any thing that long, you don't have to be nice, really, but he is. He's iconic in two or three different departments of his profession -- he called Jack Nicklaus winning The Masters in 1986 before he ever called an SEC game, just like he called Christian Laettner's jumper to beat Kentucky in 1992 a full twenty-one years and change before the Kick Six. You could just show up, and not pay attention.
But that's not what he did to me, or Holly, or any other blogger-type who fell onto his radar. He shouted out EDSBS on air back when fifty people read this site. He let us into the booth. He sent emails saying how much he liked something, or texted, or just let you know that that thing you did? That thing was good, and he laughed, probably in that avuncular, cheerfully filthy chortle.
And the reason it meant anything wasn't because he was the guy calling the game, necessarily, It's that he was the guy calling the game and he probably didn't take any of this any more seriously than you did.
And if you were us, writing about a kind of weird sport on a kind of weird platform, you didn't want to think of anything but yourself as motivation. Yet you remember a moment of kindness or recognition if it come from the right place. You may not want to admit that, but that's not how this works. That's now how any of this works, or ever will, no matter how hard you pound the robot suit you call a personality. Your mom or dad might not know what you do for a living, but: they did hear Uncle Verne shout you out on CBS, and that, dear reader, that will never, ever be anything but one hundred percent fucking incredible.
As for the final season:
Verne farewell tour gonna be lit tho— Patrick Claybon (@PatrickClaybon) May 31, 2016