Joe Buck Or Bust? These Are The Best TV Sports Analysts

Sports | 3/11/21

Love them or hate them, watching sports live from the comfort of your living room just wouldn’t be the same without the analysts in the booth. From the “A Teams” like Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to the Kevin Harlans of the world, sports broadcasting would just be less… colorful without these voices. These are the best TV analysts in sports broadcasting!

Joe Buck Is Broadcasting Royalty

joe buck
Rich Graessle/PPI/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Rich Graessle/PPI/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Joe Buck was the youngest analyst to ever be in the booth for an NFL game. The son of the legendary Jack Buck was 25-years-old. Joe didn’t rest on the family name, though, he worked hard to rise through the ranks and become of the most respected analysts in the industry.

In any given year, Buck does double broadcasting duty for Fox, calling NFL games on Sundays with Troy Aikman while also calling MLB games. The World Series just wouldn’t be the same without Buck’s distinct voice.

Kirk Herbstreit Is Synonymous With College Football

college gameday analysts
Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images
Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Kirk Herbstreit has been a college football analyst for ESPN since 1996. Not only does he anchor the desk of College Gameday Live, but he also sits in the booth for selected games.

In 2018, after Jon Gruden left ESPN to join the Raiders, Herbstreit joined NFL Draft coverage. He has also worked spot coverage for NFL games as needed, but is really known for his college football resume with the Disney-owned network.

Tony Romo Was Born For This

tony romo
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

After years of starring as the franchise QB for the Dallas Cowboys, Tony Romo transitioned seamlessly to the booth. In his first year with CBS, he was paired with Jim Nantz and instantly gained recognition for his ability to predict plays before they happen.

When Romo’s initial contract with CBS was set to expire in 2020, the network refused to let him go. They re-upped him for several years at a reported $17 million per season.

Al Michaels Has Been In The Booth Since 1968

al michaels
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Al Michaels has been a sports broadcaster since 1968 when he started calling regional games in Hawaii. In 1971, he left the sunshine to join the Cincinnati Reds broadcasting booth. Just one year later he was covering the World Series for NBC.

Since 2006, Michaels has been calling Sunday Night Football games for NBC. For the first three years of his tenure, he was teamed up with John Madden. In 2009, his current partner, Chris Collinsworth, joined him.

Jim Nantz Does Everything For CBS

jim nantz
David Cannon/Getty Images
David Cannon/Getty Images

It would be impossible to talk about TV sports analysts without bringing up Jim Nantz. Known best for working in the booth as a part of the CBS “A-Team” NFL broadcast with Tony Romo, Nantz also covers college sports and golf for the network.

If CBS has its own Joe Buck, it would be Jim Nantz. He’s versatile, has an instantly recognizable voice, and has been working with CBS since 1985.

Louis Riddick Took Advantage Of His Chance

louis riddick
Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When ESPN won the rights to Monday Night Football, the network brought in Jon Gruden to call games. When Gruden left, ESPN analyst Louis Riddick lobbied hard for the spot but was passed over for Booger McFarland.

After one year, ESPN again re-tooled the booth, this time bringing the long-tenured Riddick aboard. It wasn’t hard to see how much of a natural he was at the job, proving he should have been the network’s choice all along.

Kevin Harlan Calls The Plays Other Broadcasters Won’t

kevin harlan
D Dipasupil/Getty Images for Advertising Week New York
D Dipasupil/Getty Images for Advertising Week New York

If there is one thing that separated Kevin Harlan from his peers, it’s the plays he is willing to call that his colleagues aren’t. We’re talking about the non-scripted plays, like when fans run out onto the field.

While the action is happening, Harlan carries on, calling the moment as the fan runs, gets chased by security, and eventually gets taken down. During these scenes, the cameras pull away, so Harlan’s narrative is the only way the home crowd knows what’s going on.

Doris Burke Is A Fan Favorite

doris burke
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

It doesn’t matter what two NBA teams are competing against each other on national television when Doris Burke is calling the game. Tuning in for her insight and professional basketball knowledge is worth changing to ESPN no matter what else is on.

Starting her career out as a college commentator and analyst, Burke worked her way up the ranks. By 2003, she was named by ESPN to join their NBA “A-Team” alongside Dick Vitale.

Cris Collinsworth Has Won 16 Emmy Awards

cris collinsowrth
TM/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images
TM/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

One of the more divisive TV analysts has to be Cris Collinsworth. Thanks to social media, when Sunday Night Football airs, it’s not hard to tell how some fans feel about the former Bengals wide receiver.

Still, Collinsworth has won 16 Emmy Awards for his broadcasting career, showing that the vocal crowd isn’t in the majority. Cris’ son, Jac, is also in the broadcasting game now and is looking to follow in his incredibly successful father’s footsteps.

Troy Aikman Is Smarter Than Your Average Former QB

troy aikman
2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images
2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Troy Aikman was one of the greatest QBs of his generation, and when he retired from the NFL with three Super Bowl championships, his place in the Hall of Fame was unquestioned.

One year after retiring, Aikman began his broadcasting career with Fox. In 2002, he was promoted to the network’s “A-Team” and joined Joe Buck in the booth. The pair have been inseparable since and provide some of the best in-game analysis you are bound to hear.

Jeff Van Gundy Keeps It Real

jeff van gundy
Bob Levey/Getty Images
Bob Levey/Getty Images

Love him or hate him, it’s impossible not to at least respect the job Jeff Van Gundy does during NBA games on ABC or ESPN depending on what night of the week it is. Van Gundy “shoots from the hip” with a refreshing honesty not practiced by all announcers.

Usually paired with Mark Jackson, Van Gundy brings critical analysis to the game while his partner with ex-player knowledge. Of course, as a former head coach, Van Gundy is no slouch is in the lived experience department!

Mary Carillo Has Worked For Several Networks

mary carillo
Mike Coppola/Getty Images
Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Former WTA player Maria Carillo made a seamless transition to broadcasting when she left the world of professional tennis behind. Covering the sport instead of playing it, Carillo has seen action working for CBS, ESPN, and NBC.

Since becoming an analyst, Carillo has won several awards, including two Peabody Awards for HBO documentaries. John Wertheim of Sports Illustrated wrote that “Her bold, ‘I don’t care who might be chapped by what I’m about to say approach’ separated her from too many of her colleagues.”

Jeff Gordon Is A Natural

jeff gordon
Lyle Setter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Lyle Setter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

One of the greatest NASCAR drivers of all-time, the decision to move into broadcasting after retiring was an easy one. Effortlessly charismatic, it’s easy to tell how much passion Gordon has for the spot when he’s in the booth.

Gordon was hired by Fox Sports in 2015 and has been a staple for the network ever since. When he actually started working for the network, he wasn’t fully retired from racing, but by the end of 2015 made his commitment to Fox a full-time one.

Jessica Mendoza Has Been Making Waves On ESPN Since 2015

jessica mendoza
David Livingston/Getty Images
David Livingston/Getty Images

Watching Major League Baseball on ESPN wouldn’t feel the same without the inclusion of Jessica Mendoza in the booth. A former Olympian and softball star, Mendoza bring one of the more unique perspectives to the booth while calling games.

In 2016, she was chosen by the network to be their regular Sunday Night Baseball analyst in the booth alongside Aaron Boone. She briefly took a job as an advisor for the New York Mets but eventually resigned citing “conflict of interest” among other concerns.

Alex Rodriguez Has Proven Himself To Fans

alex rodriguez
Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Maligned by the end of his MLB career for his use of steroids, Alex Rodriguez was not a popular hire by ESPN when the network brought him in to help with MLB coverage. His first year was awkward as he adjusted to calling the game, too.

Rodriguez joined ESPN in 2018 and has been rebuilding his reputation ever since. Even though he has proved to be a valuable analyst to the network, some fans refuse to let him live down the shame he brought with him from his playing career.

Jay Bilas Has Been Calling College Basketball Since The ’90s

jay bilas
G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images
G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

In 1995, ESPN hired Jay Bilas to help with the network’s coverage of college basketball. He has been with the network ever since, providing both in-game analysis and general commentary on programs like Sportscenter.

Before joining ESPN, Bilas was a coach and served as an assistant for Coach Mike Krzyzewski at Duke for three years. During this time he also received his J.D. from Duke University. He continues to practice law to this day.

Mike Breen Sets The Standard For The NBA

mike breen
Gonzalo Marroquin/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald
Gonzalo Marroquin/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald

Pulling double duty as the lead announcer for the New York Knicks as well as calling nationally broadcast games on ESPN, not many NBA analysts do the job better than Mike Breen.

For nearly 30 years, Breen has been calling NBA games professionally, initially working for NBC before eventually settling down with ESPN. Broadcasts usually place him with Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy, although he has been known to be paired with other personalities.

Hannah Storm Took Advantage Of Her Big Chance

hannah storm
Earl Gibson III/Getty Images
Earl Gibson III/Getty Images

Hannah Storm joined ESPN in 2008 and worked as an anchor on Sportscenter for years before being offered the chance to work alongside Stuart Scott during NBA pre-game coverage. After 10 years with the network, Storm finally found her way into the booth thanks to Amazon Prime.

When Amazon bought streaming rights to Thursday Night Football games, the company paired her with Andrea Kremer to create one of the most original broadcast booths in professional sports.

Mike Tirico Is A Utility Superstar For NBC

mike tirico
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

In 2016, Mike Tirico left ESPN and joined NBC, becoming a utility superstar for his new home. Tirico has knowledge of several sports, and can be given any assignment by NBC and excel.

He’s best known for his work covering the NFL and the Olympics, but he also has taken lead on other sports broadcasts including golf. During his esteemed career, Tirico has also briefly worked on the radio side of the industry.

Mark Schlereth Is Old School

mark schlereth
Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images
Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images

A former offensive lineman in the NFL, Mark Schlereth now works for Fox Sports and has worked his way up the ranks. Known for his brash personality and love of “smash mouth” football, Schlereth has won both admirers and haters.

Not known to back down from a challenge, when Schlereth is called out by fans online, he almost always responds. The content of those responses is oftentimes just as colorful as his announcing every Sunday.