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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The voice of SEC football on CBS for the last 17 years, Verne Lundquist is preparing to call his final college football game on Saturday between Army and Navy.
“We’ve had a heck of a run,” Lundquist said during an interview earlier this week.
Before the nation got to know the man affectionately known as “Uncle Verne”, he got his big break in Dallas as Sports Director at WFAA in 1967, at the age of 27.
“I learned a lot of the fundamental skills of how to be a professional broadcaster and it has served me well, very well, over the years,” said Lundquist.
He may be recognized more for a show he hosted outside of his sportscasts. “Bowling For Dollars” was a popular show in the 1970’s. It’s something he was reminded of earlier this week far from North Texas.
“Every time I hear someone say, ‘Are you Verne?’ Yes, I am. I grew up watching you in Dallas. And I know what’s coming next. I used to watch you on “Bowling For Dollars.” It’s happened three times in three days that I’ve been in New York City,” Lundquist proclaimed.
However, it wasn’t bowling that helped Verne make it big on the national stage. It was America’s Team.
Verne reflected, “Professionally, the big, big, big deal was when I got the Dallas Cowboys play-by-play job”.
He had an offer in 1972 to take a sports job in Los Angeles. Then he had a lunch meeting with the Dallas Cowboys General Manager at the time, Tex Schramm.
This is how Lundquist recounts the meeting. “And Tex said, ‘I want you to stay in Dallas and we’ll make you the play-by-play guy.’ And he said, ‘what do you want to do in 10 years?’ I said, ‘I would love to be a network play-by-play guy.’ And then he said, ‘stay here. Turn Los Angeles down. The networks will find you because we’re going to be pretty good.’ ”
The rest, they say, is history. After leaving Dallas in 1983 he worked for ABC Sports and then CBS Sports.
His final year of calling SEC football started, appropriately, in Texas at the UCLA and Texas A&M game.
“With over 105,000 at A&M saying ‘thank you’, collectively, when the PA announcer said it was my last game, last season,” said Lundquist.
On this season-long journey, there have been honors and accolades from SEC schools and coaches. At the Alabama and Auburn Iron Bowl game, former pro quarterback Joe Namath joined Lundquist in the broadcast booth.
As Verne looks back on his football broadcasting career, he believes North Texas helped shaped his reputation.
“It’s probably as a storyteller. And I learned to tell stories on the air in Dallas back then,” proclaimed Lundquist,
He won’t be turning off the microphone after Saturday. Verne Lundquist plans to return next March to help call some major sporting events for CBS Sports including college basketball and golf.
And with a little more time away from the broadcast booth, Lundquist plans to write a memoir about his experience as a sports broadcaster.