While everyone was obsessing over Phil Jurkovec’s incompletions and trying to figure out what the heck Notre Dame is going to do at linebacker, one very important and underrated development took place during last weekend’s Notre Dame Blue Gold Game. Doug Flutie was out of the booth and on the sidelines and Chris Simms was in his place doing the color commentary. Dear NBC, please make this permanent.
I tend to think that Notre Dame fans overreact to the announcers NBC uses. Hell, even I may have overreacted when they put Michigan fan Mike Tirico in the booth for the play by play. Tirico’s been fantastic. I was an idiot. That said, Doug Flutie is abjectly awful as the color commentator for Notre Dame games.
For the record, I thought Mike Mayock was fantastic in his role as color commentator a few years ago. Some Irish fans didn’t like him because he’s a Boston College alum, but he was great. Pat Haden? Wasn’t my favorite, but it wasn’t because he was a former USC quarterback. He was just okay in the role. Despite what some Notre Dame fans felt, I thought Haden did convey a sense of respect for the Notre Dame program in his work though.
As for Mayock, he described a game better than almost any other color commentator out there in my opinion. You learned about the game of football when Mayock called a game.
You don’t learn much from Flutie during a game other than that he probably doesn’t like Notre Dame very much.
Chris Simms shouldn’t replace Flutie just because Flutie is awful though. Simms was actually pretty good in his debut as a commentator for a Notre Dame. He was articulate and reserved. He was objective in his analysis of Notre Dame players and where the program is. And when Notre Dame made mistakes, you couldn’t sense the joy emanating from the booth like you can when Flutie is calling games.
New header Monday! (Maybe I'll make this a thing.) pic.twitter.com/YLVLtWpe3k
— Bridget (@bridgetgoirish) September 17, 2018
There was even a change.org petition to remove Flutie from the NBC Booth during Notre Dame games a couple years ago.
Let’s just go ahead and make this change a permanent thing shall we? Chris Simms appears to be an up and coming broadcaster, following in the footsteps of his father, Phil Simms, whose been on CBS’s “A Team” for their NFL broadcasts for years.
Will the younger Simms reach those heights as a broadcaster someday? Who knows. I do know, however, that after one attempt at calling a Notre Dame, most Notre Dame fans didn’t feel like screaming, “Shut up, Simms.” That’s progress.
NBC’s Other Experiments
Taking Flutie out of the booth wasn’t the only experimenting that NBC did with the Blue Gold Game last weekend. NBC used the glorified scrimmage to try out a bunch of things during the telecast – some of which could stick and some of which never will.
They used a new camera angle that while not drastically different did give fans a different look. The change in perspective was meant to give a better angle highlight how a play develops than the traditional view that every football telecast on every network has used for decades.
Flutie was still involved in the broadcast as well, he was just on the field behind the play with a roaming cameraman. The idea sounded gimmicky and it ended up being gimmicky. There’s no way that would ever fly in a real game since it required Flutie and cameraman to be on the field of play during live action, but at least NBC was trying something new.
NBC telecasts over the year have become stale. The high production value intros like the glorious intro to the 1993 Game of Century with Bob Costas talking to us about a game, just around the corner, on Main St.; have gone away.
Credit Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick with getting NBC to change it up for the Blue – Gold game. Swarbrick reportedly challenged NBC to think out of the box so that Notre Dame games on NBC stop being just another football game broadcast. Whether or not any of the experiments stick long-term remains to be seen, but credit where it’s due to Savvy Jack.