At pretty much the exact moment I started saying to myself that Tom Hammond is actually a pretty damn good play by play guy, this awkward moment happened...
Matt Schoob? Matt Schoop?
While that didn't take away too much from an overall strong day from NBC yesterday, it was a pretty considerable gaffe as Hammond mispronounced a well known NFL player's name three times. I actually think the third time his spotter may have freaked out right before and Hammond just kind of echoed what he was hearing in his ear.
When you're primarily a college football announcer doing one NFL game a year, it's a bit of a tell that you're not really that plugged into the NFL when you butcher a well known player's name three times in a row.
That said, despite the momentary incident of being tongue tied or having amnesia, Hammond was pretty sharp the rest of the game. Even though Twitter commentary wasn't kind to Hammond yesterday, I think he is definitely solid and gets to really shine during events like the Olympics and the Kentucky Derby. But, the periodic nature of those events seem to keep him on the back burner for many fans. I'm not sure he would be in the top 100 identifiable sports broadcasting personalities given the scope of assignments and the fact that ESPN is the dominant force in sports media.
To me and to probably a lot of college football fans, Hammond is the guy who always seems to be selling you/overselling you Notre Dame football. That's not him, that's his job and so I've automatically dinged him a couple of points because he's pulling a hamstring trying to convey to me that Notre Dame is the most heroic team since Hickory High, facing impossible challenges that will test their will and unity as a team. Each and every year a new leader has emerged, looking to steer the Fighting Irish back to glory in what will be an epic and historic showdown between Notre Dame and ......... Air Force.
Meanwhile, there are other much better games out there you would much rather watch. Essentially he's the guy trying to get you to go to the salad bar while there is an all you can eat buffet of college football with a carver station and personal omelet chef.
Today was a nice glimpse of what Hammond can do away from the role of shilling Notre Dame. NBC and NBC Sports Network are believed to be aggressive suitors when the Big East's television contract goes up for bid later this year. Big East football, while still not the cream of the crop, would give NBC and Hammond some freedom to branch out to other more meaningful games.
Until then he's an announcer who doesn't know Matt Schaub and is apparently a drag queen per Wikpedia.