INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 31: NBC host Bob Costas looks on during the Super Bowl XLVI Broadcasters Press Conference at the Super Bowl XLVI Media Canter in the J.W. Marriott Indianapolis on January 31, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
NBC has assigned 115 people to the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Here's a rundown of the ones calling sports you maybe care about.
When you think about it, the amount of time and airspace and talent it takes to broadcast an Olympic Games is truly staggering.
NBC will air a total of 5,535 hours of Olympic coverage during the London games. That's a little over 230 full days of coverage crammed into two weeks across six networks (NBC, NBC Sports Network, CNBC, MSNBC, Bravo, Telemundo), two specialty channels (for soccer and basketball), a 3D network (for cool-looking 3D stuff) and NBC's website. You need a lot of people in London to handle all of that. What follows are the names of many of those people, including where you may know them from elsewhere.
We'll lead off with the hosts and reporters, then move on to all the individual sports, based on how much I predict you care about them. Science!
Bob Costas (primetime)
Al Michaels and Dan Patrick (daytime)
Mary Carillo (late night)
Michelle Beadle (NBC Sports Network)
Liam McHugh (NBC Sports Network)
Willie Geist (NBC Sports Network)
Kelly Tilghman (MSNBC)
Rob Simmelkajer (MSNBC)
Fred Roggin (CNBC - Boxing)
Pat O'Brien (Bravo - Tennis)
Andres Cantor (Telemundo)
For some reason, NBC is denying us the BASEketball reunion we all deeply desire and splitting up Costas and Michaels in London. Costas has been the talking head honcho for the Peacock at the Olympics eight prior times. He's probably more synonymous with the Olympics now than he is with baseball or football.
Michaels and Patrick seem like an interesting tag-team during daytime. One has to wonder if Keith Olbermann would've gotten the gig with Patrick had he not recently flaked out at MSNBC. NBC continues to believe that the perfect person to translate the Olympics to the hip, young, late night audience is Mary Carillo, who's been doing this for many years now.
On NBC Sports Network, Michelle Beadle gets her first big assignment since her highly-publicized exit from Colin Cowherd's bitterness cave. Liam McHugh continues his rise to power, and Willie Geist is apparently a CNBC person transitioning to sports, and not the brother of Polter as I first suspected.
MSNBC has Golf Channel voice (and the occasionally controversial) Kelly Tilghman as their main host, as well as Rob Simmelkajer, an executive with the NBC Sports Group, which means he kind of gave himself the job. Kind of like me doing this, just without the cushy executive gig (yet!).
The legendary Andres Cantor hosts Telemundo's coverage, and hopefully finds a way to get as passionate as he is about soccer about, like, trampolines or something.
Finally, Pat O'Brien returns to the Olympics for the first time since 2004 to host tennis. I don't know what the troubled anchor's thoughts will be on the action, but hopefully they just don't let him comment on the women too much.
Dr. Nancy Snyderman
Some interesting names in this bunch. NBC News anchor Lester Holt's most recent sports experience was narrating a series of videos on the science of hockey. Apolo Ohno appears to be grooming himself for a media career by helping out at the Summer Games while preparing for Sochi in 2014. Hardcore hockey fans, I'm sure, are thrilled to see Pierre McGuire on their televisions again (what, we couldn't get Mike Milbury onto the pole vault?). Michele Tafoya gets a break from Sunday Night Football pre-season games to go to London.
Dr. Snyderman is the chief medical editor for NBC News, so I'm sure she'll be able to tell us just how horrific any horrific weightlifting injuries are this year. Stephanie Gosk is typically with NBC News, while Tamron Hall is another "non-sportsy" person, a phrase I just made up, as she has a day job working with Today and is the host of NewsNation on MSNBC.
Doc Rivers (studio)
Doug Collins (men's)
Tim Capstraw (men's)
Donny Marshall (men's)
Ann Meyers (women's)
Lisa Leslie (women's)
Carolyn Peck (women's)
Fitzgerald, Collins and Sager (with Meyers substituting for women's games) will be the main broadcast team (read: every Team USA game and the Gold Medal Game) for NBC's Olympic basketball coverage, and along with Rivers, will be the only ones on this list actually in London for the event. The rest will call games off monitors in the states. NBC's basketball team is surprisingly low-profile this time around after sending Mike Breen to Athens.
For those unfamiliar, Fitzgerald is the play-by-play voice of the Golden State Warriors (and a Comcast/NBC employee, by virtue of that). A Warriors fan, who shall remain nameless, was asked his opinion on Fitzgerald. Results were, well, not positive:
I think he's decent in terms of calling the game, but is so full of himself ... huge homer, in an elitist way rather than a homer-ish way. And gives lots of opinions, which are not credible.
Collins is the current head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, and Sager is Don Cherry's wardrobe without the xenophobia. Carrino and Capstraw call Nets games on WFAN, and were likely the easiest local voices to get. Strader is one of NBC's big hockey voices, but got his start in basketball and called a college tournament for the NBC Sports Network (with Marshall, also a Comcast employee) late last year.
Ann Meyers is is currently the GM of the Phoenix Mercury, while Peck is one of the few ESPN names (she serves as a WNBA and NCAA studio analyst) to make their way to the Olympics.
Track & Field
Tom Hammond (play-by-play)
Ato Boldon (analyst)
Dwight Stones (analyst)
Craig Masback (analyst)
Tim Hutchings (analyst)
Lewis Johnson (reporter)
NBC's track & field team is usually pretty solid, but it seems like it'd make sense to at least have one woman on the team, wouldn't it? Most of the bigger sports tend to have dedicated analysts for both the women's and men's half of the competition.
On the plus side, no Cris Collinsworth doing "gee, aw shucks, ain't this a hoot?" type reports this time around.
Dan Hicks (play-by-play)
Rowdy Gaines (color)
Andrea Kremer (reporter)
NBC's swimming team is part of what makes their coverage so great. Hicks, typically a golf announcer, always ratchets up the excitement, and Gaines is the perfect television analyst for a sport that everyone only watches every four years. He kind of knows it too, not getting too insider-y, but always teaching you something. Andrea Kremer must know way too much about Michael Phelps by now.
Al Trautwig (play-by-play)
Elfi Schlegel (analyst)
Tim Daggett (analyst)
Andrea Joyce (reporter)
Growing up in the New York-area rooting for New Jersey teams, I've honestly never been that happy to hear Al Trautwig's voice. I'm sure other people think he's good at his job, but I can never get past homer-ish, amateurish moments like this:
Tim Daggett and Elfi Schlegel are perfect in the sort of Scott Hamilton role of pumping excitement into a sport that tends to be a little on the low-key side. And thank sweet Jesus and all the cosmos and planets and stars, Bela Karolyi will not return to doing a great impression of a human being as a studio analyst.
NBC just recently picked up soccer in the form of an MLS contract, and Arlo White forms a dynamic duo with Kyle Martino for their broadcasts. Those two will be joined by Chastain and Avant in London, while everyone else you see here will be calling matches off a monitor. Martino -- Susan Sarandon's son-in-law -- is usually between the benches for MLS and U.S. national team coverage, but will likely be forced to stay inside in the booth, which is a shame, because he does the "inside the glass" thing as well as anyone on NBC's hockey or soccer coverage.
Robinson and McEnroe will only call the final, as Robinson's busy calling diving, and McEnroe is busy doing whatever the hell he pleases, I guess. He's just that awesome. SI writer Jon Wertheim makes the print-to-TV transition for the tournament. All indications are that everyone on this list will be on site, no lousy monitors for you, tennis!
Ted Robinson (play-by-play)
Cynthia Potter (analyst)
Alex Flanagan (reporter)
I'll admit, the last time I've heard any of these people was when Flanagan had her weird "studio host" role on the Madden games, and Robinson was doing play-by-play for the Mets like forever ago. I've never really understood diving as a sport in general. I always feel like if the diver doesn't break their entire body hitting that massive platform, they should get a perfect score. Right?
Chris Marlowe (play-by-play)
Kevin Wong (analyst)
Heather Cox (reporter)
Beach volleyball is one of those sports that always gets the short shift in the lead-up to the Olympics, but for some reason is hugely popular once everything gets going. Can't possibly fathom why. Wong is a former Olympian and first-time analyst. Cox is another rare ESPN-er heading to London, and a former player herself at the University of the Pacific.
Jason Knapp (play-by-play)
Rulon Gardner (analyst)
Rulon Gardner is always a good example of the type of analyst you should choose for a fairly obscure Olympic sport, because he just looks like the embodiment of wrestling when it doesn't involve funny costumes.
Mike Emrick (play-by-play)
Julie Swail (analyst)
Wolf Wigo (analyst)
That's right, Mike "Doc" Emrick, NBC's Emmy-winning lead play-by-play man for the NHL, will call water polo at the Olympics for the second time. Water polo people, is there a way to "DRIIIIVE!" something in your sport? I really hope so. Also, Wolf Wigo has to be better than any other name on this list. I have no idea if he'll be a good analyst, but I definitely want to know what someone named Wolf has to say. About anything.
Julie Swail was the color analyst for water polo at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, then skipped 2008 ... because she was competing in the triathlon. Now she's back doing water polo color commentary and triathlon color commentary in London. This is how I would do things if I had a TV job at the Olympics. I'd skip every four years to go learn a new sport, compete in it at the next Olympics, and eventually be able to call every event for the entire two weeks. Make this happen, Julie Swail!
Bob Papa (play-by-play)
Teddy Atlas (color)
Russ Thaler (reporter)
Boxing always gets shunted off to its own little corner of the Olympics (i.e. CNBC), but they usually do a really professional job. They've added the affable Russ Thaler -- NBC's MLS host -- to their team this time around, which should only make it better. Bob Papa -- who let's all remember totally got blamed for having Joe Theisman be awful by getting fired from NFL Network -- takes a break from preparing to be the radio voice of the Super Bowl champion New York Giants to call boxing again.
There you have it. I managed to cover 78 of the 115 people calling sporting events at the 2012 Olympics. I think that's enough, before this gets boring or I start to get arthritis at a far too early age.
Enjoy the 2012 Olympic Games from London, everyone. I dare you to try and watch all 5,000-plus hours of coverage on the networks of NBC. Just make sure to keep a good nurse handy for when those pesky eyes start to crawl out of your skull.