The Voice of WSU Hoops & Football
FOLLOWING IN THE play-by-play footsteps of a legend holds challenges, says Bud Nameck, the new main man on Cougar football broadcasts. But the guy he succeeds offers him a straight-forward road map for success. Nameck talks about Bob Robertson's advice and more in this wide-ranging Q&A with Cougfan.com.
CF.C: Not only are you succeeding a legend as the Cougars' play-by-play man, but you're doing so with him standing right next to you? How much pressure are you feeling? Do you think this is how Tony Bennett felt when he took over for Dick?
Bud: I'm glad you used the word succeeding, because I've heard the word replacing used today. There is no way that I will replace Bob Robertson, that just can't be done. In my mind, Bob is still the "voice of the Cougars." Yes, there will be pressure, but I don't think it will be from Bob being next to me in the booth. I'm confident that I can describe the action that I see. Bob and I have talked a lot since Bill Moos informed me of the plans. Bob has been completely supportive. I'm excited, and Bob is too, that hopefully this will help Bob have the energy to stay a part of the Cougar football broadcasts for a long time. I know there will be pressure because most of us don't really like change. It is cathartic for Cougar fans to hear Bob's voice, just as it was for Mariner fans to hear Dave Niehaus, Seahawk fans to hear Pete Gross, and Sonic fans to hear Bob Blackburn. I listened to Lon Simmons doing the Giants and 49ers growing up, and Bill King doing the Warriors and the Raiders. The broadcasts weren't the same when they stepped down. That doesn't mean the broadcasts weren't good, they were just different, not what we were used to. I know many Coug fans will struggle not hearing Bob do the play-by-play, but at least he will still be in the booth with us and you will hear his voice. I never thought of the succession from Dick to Tony that way, but I'm sure there are similarities. Maybe I'll give Tony a call!
This isn't your first go-round as a Cougar football play-by-play guy, having served in that role on Fox Sports Northwest television broadcasts from 1988 to 2001. How valuable will that experience be to you in your role this season?
Bud: I think my earlier Cougar football play-by-play experience will be very valuable. I've done a few (non-Cougar) games on radio since then as well, so that experience helps. Truth be told, I've done the play-by-play of Cougs in my mind when I was on the sidelines and last year in the booth. I started doing Santa Clara football games on the radio when I was in college back in the dark ages when Santa Clara still had football.
You and Bob have worked together for many years. What's the best word of advice he's given you?
Bud: A couple of weeks ago when I was in Seattle to meet with the broadcast team, I asked Bob what advice he had for me. Wise as he is, he said "just be yourself. Don't try to be me or anyone else."
Do you have a favorite Bob Robertson call from the Cougar football glory days of 1997 and 2001-03?
Bud: In 1997 I was doing the games on TV, so I didn't hear the live broadcast of the games. I was on the sidelines for the three straight 10 win seasons, so I heard it all. I think Bob did a great job of describing the action and emotion of Jason Gesser -- on one leg -- leading the Cougars to the win over UCLA in the Rose Bowl that led to a return to the Rose Bowl against Oklahoma. There are many, but that one stands out the most.
In your many years as the voice of Cougar basketball you've developed some signature phrases like "in-and-out heartbreak." Can we expect some vintage catch-phrases like that for football?
Bud: Most of those phrases just happen, and you use them a bit until they become a signature line. I've found that if you come up with a line and try to force it on a situation, it doesn't work that well. There is one thing I have thought about that I will use on certain Cougar scoring plays. I hope I get to use it a lot this year and Cougar fans come to enjoy it! Let's hope I can try it out more than a few times Saturday at Auburn!
Bob is about as beloved a figure in Cougar sports history as there is, which means that no matter how well you perform this season there are going to be detractors. Are you mentally preparing for that in some way, or is your skin so tough after years in the business that it's not something you'll even pay attention to?
Bud: There is no doubt Bob's play-by-play will be missed, and for some Coug fans I won't measure up. Coaches always tell me they deal with doing their very public job by not reading the newspaper or the internet. I'll probably stay away from the Cougfan message boards for awhile! That being said, if there is a recurring theme to comments that I hear then I'll figure out how to change things. One thing that I hope will help is that I have done the basketball play-by-play for 20 years, so Cougar fans are used to hearing me.
When you first started out in sportscasting, who were some of the people you looked up to and why?
Bud: I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, as I mentioned above listening mainly to Lon Simmons and Bill King. They were fantastic! I introduced myself to Lon Simmons one day and that led to being able to sit in the booth during a Giants game! Talk about being in heaven! Bill King's basketball play-by-play of the Golden State Warriors was the best. I think I listened to just about every game when they won the NBA title. I would love to hear Bill King describe Klay's jumper!
What's your fondest memory from all your years following and covering Cougar football?
Bud: My first year covering Cougar football was 1981, and I was able to go to San Diego and do a sports talk show the entire week of the Holiday Bowl. I still remember Mark Rypien describing Coach Walden as “an outstanding young man." I still chuckle at that since Mark was nowhere near half the age of Coach Walden!
Rick Lukens and I had the camera and recorder heading out onto the field at the end of the (1988) Aloha Bowl win by the Cougs over Houston. There was bad blood all week between the teams, and a fight broke out. There were helmets flying and we were ducking. Even Coach Erickson was in the middle of it!
Being on the TV broadcast in Husky Stadium when Ryan Leaf led the Cougs to the win over the Dawgs that sent the Cougs to the Rose Bowl. I can still hear the sound as Chris Jackson ran over the Husky defensive back.
OK, here's the Cougfan.com question we like to ask people the most: Five seconds left in the Apple Cup, Cougars trailing by four, ball on the Husky 5-yard-line. Who do you want at quarterback: Jack Thompson, Mark Rypien, Timm Rosenbach, Drew Bledsoe, Ryan Leaf, Jason Gesser or Alex Brink?
Bud: I'll take any of them or all of them! How's that for politically correct? I'll throw a curve, and take my old broadcast partner Clete Casper. Every time the defense saw Clete run Coach Walden's rump turn option they froze, saying "No Way" as he lumbered then made the toss to Tim Harris for the score!
What would you like Cougar fans to know about your style and what they can expect from the broadcasts this season?
Bud: As I've done on the basketball broadcasts, I'll hope to capture the ebb and flow and emotion of the game. That will be tougher in football, since it is tougher to see facial expressions, but body language can show a lot. You will probably be able to tell how the game is going by the tone and inflection in my voice. My first year of basketball play-by-play the Cougs earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament. I'd love to see this football team make it to a bowl game this year, so all Coug fans can be a part of that again.
I'm excited to get the season underway, and so honored to get a chance to handle Cougar football play-by-play, in the booth with the Voice of the Cougars, Bob Robertson. Go Cougs!
Three men in a booth (left to right): Bob Robertson, Shawn McWashington and Bud Nameck.