Tony Dungy did not last long as the color commentator for Notre Dame football games on NBC. After just one season of serving as Mike Tirico’s sidekick, Dungy is getting replaced by NBC’s newest superstar analyst, recently retired NFL legend and former Purdue Boilermaker, Drew Bress.
Bress made his NFL retirement official on Sunday. A day later, he announced that he will be working Notre Dame games already this fall in addition to working as a studio analyst for Football Night in America on Sunday nights for the network.
The last time Drew Brees stepped foot in Notre Dame Stadium as a player, he left the field a loser at the hands of converted tight end turned quarterback, Gary Godsey in 2000. Notre Dame beat the Boilermakers 23-21 that afternoon. Brees was 1-2 against Notre Dame as a starter at Purdue with an 0-2 mark inside Notre Dame Stadium (losses in 1998 and 2000).
Tyler James of the South Bend Tribune was the first to report that Brees was replacing Dungy and not just being added to the broadcast team.
The NBC booth has seen some turnover in recent years for Notre Dame coverage. Dungy replaced Doug Flutie last year in a move that had the majority of Notre Dame fans rejoicing. Amazingly though, there are some fans who would email me every single time I said that Flutie needed to be replaced on the broadcast team.
Dungy was a solid replacement for Flutie in terms of his knowledge of the game and just his general overall personality. He could have been better from a preparation standpoint in terms of his knowledge of the roster, but the restrictions of covering sports during a pandemic likely made it difficult for him to interact with the players like he otherwise would have. Still, hearing Dungy gush over Tommy Tremble‘s blocking instead of hearing Flutie gush about an opponent’s backup safety was refreshing.
It will be interesting to see how Brees does in the booth. He has always come across as someone who would shine in such a role in his media appearances, but he’s going to be a rookie all over again this fall. I’ll try to keep that in mind in my weekly “5 things I didn’t like column.” As long as Brees doesn’t seem to get overly excited every time a Notre Dame opponent does something positive like Flutie, he’ll be just fine.
NBC won a bidding war with ESPN last year for Brees’s future services as the network is hoping that they have their “Tony Romo” after the former Dallas Cowboy star made a seamless transition from the field to the booth for CBS years ago.
I will particularly be interested to hear Brees’s take on the Notre Dame quarterbacks this fall. Dungy did not breakdown Ian Book‘s game in too much detail during the 2000 season and spoke more in generalities. As a former quarterback, it’ll be interesting to hear if Brees gets technical and critical of the quarterbacks he analyzes or if he sympathizes with them more. Either way, it’ll be interesting to hear his take on whoever ends up starting for the Irish this year.