Brad Nessler, 61, has had many high-profile stops in his broadcasting career, and this year he takes over as the lead voice for CBS on SEC football games for the legendary Verne Lundquist. Nessler, a Minnesota native who served as the radio voice of the Vikings in the late 1980s, chatted recently with the Star Tribune's Michael Rand.
Q What does this new opportunity with CBS mean to you?
A I've been in the SEC for the last seven years, so I know all the people. But I always kidded and said in those seven years, I would look to see which SEC game CBS was choosing and know that we were getting the second-best game. Now I don't have to look at that any more. I know I'm getting the best game in the conference. And the 3:30 [Eastern] time slot is just one of those games that people in the South understand as the big game to watch. … As far as taking over for Verne, you just try to fill his seat. He and I have been friends for a long time, and I think if you asked him who he would want to take his headset over, it would probably be me. From that standpoint, it's an honor. He's one of the classiest gentlemen I ever met and one of the greatest broadcasters I ever saw.
Q Can anyone in the SEC make a run at Alabama in, say, the next decade or two?
A I hope so. We were at the SEC meetings recently, and people were asking questions like, "Who's the second-best coach in the SEC?" and it stumped me. Then they asked, "Who is the second-best team in the SEC?" and that stumped me. It's time for everyone to step up.
Q I know you're a little more removed from Minnesota and the Big Ten now, but I'm curious: Do you have any impressions of new Gophers coach P.J. Fleck?
A Oh my gosh, the energy level is just off the charts. He was at a function I was at in May. We were on a radio station back to back and I was just watching him talk to the guys after I got done. I thought, "This guy is wired, man." That's good because that's what a lot of teams need to kick-start a program. I think it's great. Jerry Kill and I were good friends, and Tracy [Claeys] did a good job. I hope [Fleck] is the one who can take them to the next level.
Q What was the opportunity like to work for your home state team, the Vikings, early in your career?
A That was really cool. I had done the Falcons for six years before, and I was really young when I got that job. When I told my dad when I was 12 years old that I wanted to be a sports broadcaster, he said, "Son, there are these things called computers and you ought to get into that." Then I got into working in radio, had a full-time job during college, and I said, "Dad, I'm on the radio now, you can hear me." He said, "I don't know. Maybe you should have gotten into computers." Falcons gig, Mom was so proud and Dad was, too, but it was 1,200 miles away and they couldn't really hear me. He kept talking about computers. Then I got the Vikings job and he starts telling everyone, "My son is the voice of the Vikings." He was so excited that he could listen to me. My brother to this day thinks it was the coolest thing in the world. It was a great two years.