Jim Nantz says he found out Tony Romo was replacing Phil Simms as his NFL broadcast partner one hour before calling last April’s national college basketball championship game between North Carolina and Gonzaga.
“I’ll say this for the first time publicly: I found out that this was going to happen about an hour before the national championship game,” Nantz said this week as a guest on the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast. “I was at the table with Grant (Hill) and Raf (Bill Raftery), and Sean [McManus, the chairman of CBS Sports] and [CBS Sports president] David Berson came over and said, “Can we talk to you for a moment?” I said sure and pulled back my seat and then they said let's go backstage a little bit. We went to a makeshift grandstand at the stadium in Glendale. Of course I knew they were talking but I did not know where it stood. They were looking to make an announcement the next day, before the Masters tournament was in full swing, and they broke the news to me. Then I had to do the broadcast.
“I am appreciative of everything they do, they are great to work for, and they knew I would be able to compartmentalize that. But there was a side of me that wanted to pick up the phone and call Phil. But I had to do the game. I went back to the table and ran through rehearsals of starting lineups and peaks at the graphics and things like that. Of course I immediately called Phil the next morning.”
In this 84-minute podcast, Nantz discussed the impact Romo has had on him; why Romo had such a successful first season in the booth; Romo’s nerd-like reverence for golf broadcasting; how Nantz prepares to call postseason NFL games; the challenge of preparing for the Final Four and the Masters given how close they are too each other; his current relationship with Phil Simms and learning about Romo replacing Simms; the contention that the Masters does not offer enough live coverage of the event; why he has thought about calling golf through 2036; the famed lark about him loving burnt toast; how he navigates personal relationships with calling the events of people he considers friends; traveling on the road as much as he does; why calling the U.S. Open and Wimbledon are bucket list items; the time when famed sports television executive Roone Arledge considered him for Good Morning America; hosting corporate executives in the booth; how one prepares for a trophy presentation, and much more.
To listen to the podcast in full, check it out on Apple Podcasts and Stitcher.
1:00: Has Romo made calling games more enjoyable this year for Nantz?
5:00: Why Romo has had success in his rookie season as a broadcaster?
10:00: Romo, the golf broadcasting nerd.
14:00: On following around golf announcers at Winged Foot in 1974 and knowing he wanted to be a sports broadcaster very early.
17:00: How he prepares for postseason games.
23:00: The preparation that takes place for the trophy ceremony and his most memorable trophy celebration in football.
27:00: How Romo approaches production meetings with players and coaches versus Simms?
31:30: CBS management’s decision to change Romo for Simms.
35:30: The transition of going from the NCAA Tournament final to The Masters.
43:00: Nantz’s thoughts on how The Masters views its broadcast regarding live coverage.
47:30: Working until the 2036 Masters.
53:30: How he views criticism of being too close or favorable to certain people in sports.
57:00: The truth behind people thinking Nantz loves burnt toast.
1:01:20: Former ABC News exec Roone Arledge recruiting him to host Good Morning America.
1:12:00 What non-CBS event he would love to call as a one-off.
1:18:00: His thoughts on how he ultimately wants to walk away from the booth.