Calabro happy for fans

Kevin Calabro is not just a sports broadcaster. He is also a fan.

And for a guy who has spent much of his adult life in the Pacific Northwest, he can’t wait for the launch of the Pac-12 Networks.

Calabro was hired last week as one of the play-by-play voices for the upcoming football season. He’s excited to be doing the games, but just as thrilled that what the networks will provide.

“As a fan living in Seattle, there were a number of times last year that frankly I couldn’t see the (Washington) Huskies and (Washington State) Cougars play,” Calabro said. “I think I speak for all Pac-12 fans that I can’t wait to see my team play every Saturday. And not just football, but for basketball and a number of Olympic sports as well — it’s certaily unique to sports fans on the West Coast.”

Calabro is well-known for his work as an NBA announcer — he was the voice of the Seattle SuperSonics for 21 seasons before the franchise moved to Oklahoma City. He also has done numerous games on a national level on both radio and television. But Calabro also has extensive college experience. He logged stints as the football and basketball voice for both Purdue and Missouri and has done several Washington football and basketball games for TV in recent years.

“Rather than complain, they’re doing something about it,”Calabro said about the networks and the conference’s response to underexposure nationally. “It’s a real innovative approach. Obviously, the revenue they will realize will be second to none, but they’ve also created a vehicle to promote themselves. It’s an extremely bright idea.”

Calabro will be teamed with former Arizona State standout safety Adam Archuleta in the booth with former USC assistant coach Yogi Roth on the sideline.


Networks meaningful to Robinson

Ted Robinson has done just about all you can in sports broadcasting, but he realizes there is something special about the college game.

As an example, Robinson was in Tucson last year to do the men’s basketball game between Stanford and Arizona when U.S. Rep Gabrielle Giffords was shot outside a grocery store. The game was postponed a day and Robinson said he was struck by the connection the Arizona campus had with its community.

“I was blown away by the reverence the community had for the university,” said Robinson, hired earlier this week to be the lead football play-by-play broadcaster for the Pac-12 Networks. “There was an incredible bond. It showed the role a university has in bonding people together. I didn’t understand that and it took a horrible thing to hammer it home. I learned something that day.”

Robinson is a perfect fit to call Pac-12 football games. He has served stints as the voice of Stanford and Cal and has done endless college games on network television.

“I’ve been around a lot,” Robinson said. “The conference is clearly moving in the right direction. I think we would all agree it needed a boost in terms of exposure. It’s great to be with the conference.

Robinson will call football games every week and be paired with color analyst Glenn Parker. Robinson is also the current radio voice of the San Francisco 49ers so wil be catching a lot of flights after Pac-12 games on Saturday to be at a 49ers game the next day.

Flemming excited to join networks

Like so many others involved with the conference, Dave Flemming acknowledges the Pac-12 may have been on the short end of media exposure over the years. That’s one of the reasons he is looking forward to joining the Pac-12 Networks as one of the play-by-play voices for the upcoming football season.

“Those of us out West have maybe spent some time over the years thinking the Pac-10, now the Pac-12, has gotten the short shrift,” Flemming said. “It’s a chance for us to do our own thing out here now.”

Flemming is no stranger to the Pac-12. He is a Stanford alum who later went on to become the Cardinal’s radio voice for both football and basketball. He also has extensive experience doing play-by-play for ESPN and has been a radio voice of the San Francisco Giants for nine years. Flemming called the Pac-12 championship game for ESPN radio last season.

“I’m really excited about it,” Flemming said. “As an alum and a longtime fan, I’m really happy that the league seems to be in such a good place right now. Once you go to one of these schools and are part of so many great moments, you have a deeper appreciation for what the whole thing means. I’ve really grown to love the conference.”

Flemming’s first assignment will be the Nevada-Cal game on Sept. 1. He will work analyst Coy Wire and sideline reporter Brooke Olzendam.

Faces of the Pac-12 Networks: Rick Neuheisel

By Jonathan Okanes

FULL NAME: Richard Gerald Neuheisel
AGE: 51
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Head coach at three Pac-12 institutions – Colorado, Washington and UCLA. … Won Rose Bowl with Washington in 2000. … Walk-on quarterback at UCLA was named Rose Bowl MVP in 1983.

Rick Neuheisel’s expertise is in football, but he will wear a variety of hats in his new role with the Pac-12 Network.

You know, like facilities management.

Neuheisel joked that he will be “sweeping up” at the end of the day at the Pac-12 Network offices in San Francisco. While Neuheisel can probably leave the broom in the closet, the network plans to tap into his experience with the conference and engaging personality to be one of the conference’s top storytellers in more than just football.

Neuheisel , who has served as the head coach at three Pac-12 universities, was hired last week as one of three faces of the Pac-12 Network, along with former Stanford swimming star and Olympic gold medalist Summer Sanders and former USC All-American defensive back and Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Ronnie Lott. Neuheisel will serve as both a game analyst and studio analyst for football but will delve into other sports as well.

“It’s a magnificent place,” Neuheisel said. “I’ve been in every arena. I know all the nuances in each of the places. I’ve spent a lot of time in this conference. I think there are a lot of untold stories that people will be fascinated by.”

Neuheisel walked on to UCLA’s football team in the early 1980s and became the team’s starting quarterback as a senior. He led the Bruins to a win in the Rose Bowl and was named the game’s most valuable player. Since, he’s gone on to head coaching jobs at Colorado, Washington and UCLA.
“This is a great opportunity for me to tell stories about the conference that I think is the first and foremost among all of them in terms of creating great student-athletes and great people after their playing days are done,” Neuheisel said. “Having been in this conference almost all of my life, I can’t think of anything else that sounded more fun and more challenging and more inspiring. I am so gung-ho about this that I am happy to do whatever the powers-that-be feel I am capable of doing.”

Neuheisel gained on-air experience with College Sports Television in the mid-90s between his head coaching stint at Washington and is time as an assistant coach with the Baltimore Ravens of the NFL. He’s always demonstrated a presence in front of a microphone or camera, making him an exciting hire for the Pac-12 Network.

“We’ve all gone out and bragged about our conference,” Neuheisel said. “We always talk about the Left Coast. We’ve all planted our flag that ours is the best. Now we get to be the faces of the conference and tell the stories – not just about football and basketball but all the great athletes that have done so many wonderful things in this conference. This is an exciting thing for all of us and can’t wait to get started.”

Face of the Pac-12 Networks: Summer Sanders

By Jonathan Okanes


FULL NAME: Summer Elisabeth Sanders
AGE: 39
ALMA MATER: Stanford
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:  Two-time NCAA Swimmer of the Year. … Helped Stanford win 1992 national championship. … Won six medals at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, including two golds. … Long broadcasting career with all four major networks.

Summer Sanders became an American hero in 1992 when she won four medals – including two gold – at the Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. But she said that doesn’t come close to topping the greatest moment of her decorated swimming career.

That came a few months earlier, when she helped Stanford win the 1992 NCAA national championship.

It’s that kind of affinity for her days as an NCAA student-athlete that will translate into passion and enthusiasm as a Pac-12 Network broadcaster. Sanders was part of the initial trio of on-air talent hired by the network last week, along with former USC All-American football player Ronnie Lott and former Washington, Colorado and UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel.

“Most people think it would be my Olympic gold medals, but it was winning an NCAA championship as a team in 1992 at Stanford, by far,” Sanders said. “I don’t think I’m alone when I say that. When you’re apart of such an incredible university and conference, it stands out.”

In two years competing at Stanford, Sanders won six NCAA individual championships and four relay titles. She was the NCAA Swimmer of the Year in 1991 and 1992.

“I’m grateful and excited to see these student-athletes, these 12 awesome universities competing at their very best,” Sanders said. “I love the fact that we’ll get to know them. We’ll get to bring them to light. It’s a joy and a privilege.”

Sanders said being part of a new venture from the very beginning has stirred up her competitive juices again.

“This is a unique opportunity,” Sanders said. “I’m almost calling it an adventure. We are all still very competitive people. It’s so unique to be put in a position where you can feel that competitive drive again, to be part of a network at the very beginning, to help people see how wonderful it is and how much it has to offer. For that, I am grateful.”

Sanders still feels a strong connection to Stanford and the Pac-12. Current Stanford swim coach Lea Maurer was Sanders’ teammate on The Farm. Stanford football coach David Shaw was a classmate of Sanders’.

“We can still relate so well to the student-athlete,” Sanders said. “It’s a huge part of our life, the growth of our life. It’s very near and dear to our heart. The fact that we can still relate to what the student-athlete is going through, I think adds so much to what the network wants to bring to life.”

Sanders has a wealth of broadcasting experience. She has worked for all four of the major networks covering a variety of sports in a variety of roles. She will demonstrate that diversity for the Pac-12 Network, whether it be as a studio host, reporter or analyst.

“When I first heard such a thing as the Pac-12 Network, I reached out and wanted to be a part of it,” Sanders said. “For me, it’s coming home.”

Faces of the Pac-12 Networks: Ronnie Lott

By Jonathan OkanesRonnie Lott

FULL NAME: Ronald Mandel Lott
AGE: 53

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Two-time All-American defensive back at USC. …Helped Trojans win 1978 national championship. … Won four Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers. … Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000. … FOX Sports NFL analyst from 1996-98.

Just like he used to when an opposing wide receiver came across the middle, former USC All-American Ronnie Lott took the opportunity to get involved with the Pac-12 Network head on.

On the same airplane as Larry Scott two years ago, Lott overheard the Pac-12 commissioner discussing the idea of beginning a new television network for the conference. Lott launched a preemptive strike.

“I approached him with the idea that if it ever comes to fruition, I would have the opportunity to possibly work for him,” Lott said. “Just knowing Larry and his intention of building something that would allow fans to feel what it’s like to be part of the conference of champions, I was excited at that moment. That was two years ago. Here we are sitting here talking about it.”

Lott was one of three on-air personalities signed by the Pac-12 Network last week, the initial trio of talent brought in by the network. Lott joins former Stanford swimmer Summer Sanders and former UCLA quarterback and coach Rick Neuheisel as the three faces of the Pac-12 Network. Neuheisel also coached at Washington and Colorado.

Lott’s connection to the Pac-12 runs deep. He played defensive back for the Trojans from 1977-80 and was an All-American after his junior and senior season. Lott helped USC win two Rose Bowls and the 1978 national championship. He also played basketball for the Trojans. Lott’s son, Ryan Nece, went on to become a linebacker at UCLA.

Lott went on to have a Hall-of-Fame career in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers. Lott has remained in the Bay Area since he finished playing and has followed the Pac-12 closely.

“I’m grateful that I have this opportunity because I get to stay connected to something that I know a lot about,” Lott said. “I love all the sports.”

While football is Lott’s obvious expertise, he said he is looking forward to learning about the student-athletes from all over the Pac-12 – both as a broadcaster and a fan himself.

“We want to connect to those athletes and be a part of their lives and know what they are thinking about and how they are thinking about the future,” Lott said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to convey that to the audience.”

In his new role, Lott will serve as a studio analyst for the network’s football broadcasts. The Pac-12 Network is scheduled to televise 35 football games during the 2012 season.