Jeff Agrest: NBC’s Notre Dame broadcasts have become ‘training ground’

·3 min read

As Notre Dame is on the road at North Carolina this week, NBC will not be covering the game. That means the new Irish broadcast team of Jac Collinsworth and Jason Garrett will get a week off. Actually, the team will get two weeks off as the Irish have their bye week after they leave Chapel Hill. The next time we hear them will be for the Shamrock Series game against BYU in Las Vegas.

The long layoff provides an opportunity for observers to critique Collinsworth and Garrett’s performances for the loss to Marshall and the win against California. Those merely are the first two of what could be many Irish games they’ll call together. Most people seem to agree that there’s a lot of room for growth and improvement.

Among them is Chicago Sun-Times sports media columnist Jeff Agrest. In his weekly column, which mainly is available to subscribers, Agrest analyzes what he’s observed so far. He joins a chorus that has reminded people of broadcasters like the late Dick Enberg, Tom Hammond and Mike Tirico who used to call the action from South Bend. While he likes Collinsworth’s Notre Dame ties, he can’t help but wonder this:

“(Collinsworth) doesn’t carry on the tradition, which makes me wonder just what NBC thinks of Notre Dame these days. The Irish still were basking in the golden glow of their 1988 national title when they agreed to a five-year, $38 million deal with NBC. They don’t carry the same heft they used to, but Notre Dame maintains a national following. Its games are a big deal and deserve a broadcast team worthy of them.”

Here are Agrest’s current impressions of the new broadcast team:

“In both games, Collinsworth sounded knowledgeable talking about the teams. But all of his interviewing and studying couldn’t prepare him for live action. The USFL was supposed to be his training ground, not Notre Dame football in front of 2.5 million viewers for the Marshall game and 2.9 million for Cal.

Incidentally, Garrett impressed me. He brought emotion and valuable insight to the broadcast. The former Cowboys coach clearly understood his role. He got in and out with his commentary and didn’t talk over Collinsworth. It likely helped they worked together on USFL games.

Both will have to grow into their jobs on a national stage, but Collinsworth has more to do. He needs to command the broadcast and provide context for viewers. The Marshall game was a missed opportunity for him. Garrett understood, calling it one of the biggest upsets in recent college football history.”

Will the broadcasts eventually improve? We’ll find out as Collinsworth and Garrett continue to call games. If they continue to not impress, maybe they’ll be bumped down on NBC’s depth chart when the network picks up Big Ten games next year. Still, there’s a lot of season left, and they have time to change people’s minds.

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Story originally appeared on Fighting Irish Wire