The TCU Sports Network by IMG College has earned the honor of best live sports play-by-play call from the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters for the third consecutive year.
The TCU trio of play-by-play voice Brian Estridge, color analyst John Denton and sideline reporter Jeff Williams earned the award for their call of TCU football's 20-13 Thanksgiving victory at Texas on November 22, 2012. It is the fourth time in the last five seasons the TAPB has recognized the broadcast trio.
"I think the key component is that we get along very well, and that comes across on the air," Denton said. "We all understand how our roles impact the broadcast and what components we need to include in our commentary."
Denton, a 1985 TCU graduate who is entering his 25th year with the network, said the group's first appearance on the air together was during the 2000 football season. He began working as a spotter and an assister in the press booth who pointed out players to the broadcasters before beginning his on-air career in the early 1990s as an analyst.
As the color analyst, Denton said his role consists of being clear and concise in explaining how the previous play developed and how it fits into the flow of the game.
"Before plays, I'm looking at formations and alignment of both the offenses and defenses," Denton said. "I rarely watch the ball as I'm looking at blocking schemes and reading flow to [identify] the point of attack. From there, I'm looking for individual efforts that make the play work. If you watch the ball, you miss those things."
Estridge, Denton's partner in the booth during football games, said his play-by-play career began at the age of 14 before attending and calling games for Appalachian State University. He had a stint at Miami University in Ohio before landing the lead announcer job in the early 1990s at WBAP 820 AM and 96.7 FM in Dallas.
According to Estridge, game day should be the easiest day of the week for the play-by-play announcer. He said his prep work and studying of the opponent is done earlier in the week before the game, making the day of the match up his primary focus.
"I am in a zone during the game," Estridge said. "My number one objective is to be conversational and a fun listen."
The trio was also recognized for their calls of TCU's 36-35 win over the No. 5-ranked Boise State Broncos in 2011, the 2010 call of TCU's 45-10 victory versus Baylor that propelled TCU to the Rose Bowl and the Horned Frogs' 32-7 win in 2008 over BYU.
Williams, the sideline reporter, emerged on the TCU broadcasting scene in 1995 as the play-by-play caller for women's basketball. Williams’s journey to the metroplex began at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine where he received a degree in radio, television and film.
After a short stay in Weatherford, Texas, he became the sports director in 1993 at WMAJ Radio in State College, Pa., where, according to Williams, they broadcasted over 500 high school and Penn State University sporting events per year. In 1996, Williams made his debut appearance on the sidelines of Amon G. Carter Stadium.
"It's key that we like each other off the air, too," Williams said. "To me, it's a group of friends getting to hang out on a Saturday afternoon and watch [and] comment on a game that we would be interested in attending even if we weren't fulfilling a job requirement."
Williams said the entire operation would not function properly without engineer Josiah Miller, spotter Wayne Gossard and statistician Brian Sperry. In addition to Estridge constantly looking for ways to improve the broadcast, Williams said the behinds-the-scenes work and TCU's commitment to spending money to provide adequate equipment and technology makes the experience better for the listeners.
The trio of friends were presented with their third consecutive award at the Headliners Club on April 13 in Austin.