Tonight, I caught the back end of the Southern Mississippi-Troy bowl game. I was delighted I saw it for three reasons. The first reason is my discovery that Southern Mississippi’s kicker’s last name is “Barefoot.” I enjoyed that.
The second reason is the near-discovery of the play-by-play announcer. To my knowledge, ESPN did not reveal his name during my viewing window, but I found him delightful for the same reasons I find CBS’ Gus Johnson delightful. Like Johnson, this man was clearly living and dying with each play, or doing an awfully good imitation of it. He greeted pathetic offensive (OFF-en-sive, not off-EN-sive) plays with guttural grunts of dismay. Wonderful athletic feats earned enthusiastic crescendos. Once, the color-commentator offered a particularly long-winded and incomprehensible explanation. Our hero replied with an “all right” that fit comfortably between appropriate respectfulness and apologetic incredulity. I enjoyed this man’s work very much, and I hope he emerges later in the bowl season.
The third reason is the utterance of one of the more endearing announcing gaffes I have heard in some time. The game was in overtime. Southern Mississippi led 30-27. Troy had the ball inside the 15-yard line, needing a field goal to force a second overtime and a touchdown to win. It was 3rd and 6. The color-commentator said:
“If I’m Southern Miss, I play conservative defense here. You have to know that a field goal doesn’t end it. You can afford to give up some yards and play a second overtime.”
Troy calls a timeout to discuss strategy. The offense then returns to the field. The color-commentator:
“If I’m Southern Miss on defense here, I bring everyone but the kitchen sink. You can’t afford to let [the quarterback] sit back in the pocket and make a sideline-to-sideline read.”
I am not exactly sure what changed during the timeout. Regardless, I found this endearing.