The University of Minnesota's decision to move their football radio broadcasts from WCCO to KFAN means the end of Dave Lee's 10-year tenure as the play-by-play man, as I mentioned in my story yesterday. Lee is the host of the Morning News on WCCO five days a week, a contractual connection that wouldn't make either station comfortable with him continuing on with the Gophers.
His partners, Dave Mona and Darrell Thompson, don't know yet whether they will be retained by Learfield Sports, the university's broadcast-rights syndicator.
Lee was philosophical about the change, saying it's just part of the business, and that "it was never about me. Our egos probably don't want to admit that, but the game is the important part, never the announcer."
But I sensed he will miss the Gophers games more than he was willing to say. "I've got a passion for the place," partly because he has a daughter who attends Minnesota, he said at one point, "so it'll be a hard goodbye."
His favorite part of the job? Lee said it was just arriving at the Metrodome and TCF Bank Stadium with anticipation in the air, and "talking to the ushers, the ticket-takers, the concessionaires you come to know over the years. The people around you, the players and coaches and especially the people behind the scenes, that's the magic of doing the broadcasts. That's the thrill."
Oh, there were a few on the field, too, though the Gophers went only 59-65 during Lee's decade. The Sun Bowl victory over Oregon to wrap up a 10-3 season in 2003 was Lee's favorite, and several Marion Barber or Laurence Maroney runs come to mind as his favorite plays.
Not a bad gig, he said, considering he never even sought the job. "They asked me to do it when Ray (Christensen) retired," Lee said. "I was doing the morning show. I never applied for the job, but they came to me. I never did it for the money, because there wasn't much."