While the Southeastern United States has had to focus on a 12:30 Jefferson-Pilot game, a 3:30 CBS game, or a 7:45 ESPN game over the past several years, Gary Danielson has toiled on ABC in the noon, 3:30, and (occasionally) 8 p.m. time slots. Now, the former Purdue quarterback will finally leave the confines of the Big Ten (where he normally did games with Brent Musburger) and come to the SEC in tandem with Verne Lundquist, while Todd Blackledge goes to ESPN to join Mike Patrick in a two-man booth for primetime broadcasts.
The surpassing strength of Danielson as an analyst is that he knows football concepts and philosophies, not just the individual permutations of isolated plays (though he can dissect those with particular skill as well). Danielson's ABC broadcasts with Musburger in recent years became miniature football clinics ---Danielson's knowledge of football is that thorough. In the past two years, Danielson's football IQ enabled ABC production trucks to provide graphics (in 2004) on the styles of offense employed by teams, and (in 2005) on the keys for coordinators in trying to establish (or, for the defensive coordinator, to combat) a given offensive attack. Danielson takes large concepts and themes at the beginning of a game and breaks them down as the game continues. With each play, and each read by the quarterback or middle linebacker --- be it successful or not --- Danielson's mastery of the subject matter clearly emerges.
Danielson does his homework in observing practices and film reels, and this translates to the broadcast booth on Saturdays. By blending his knowledge of systems with an eye for the details of on-field action, Danielson enables the viewer at home to see how individual plays or series fit into the larger mosaic of a game. Danielson provides a more thorough and accurate representation of football success than any other analyst alive (and this naturally includes the pro game, whose crop of analysts is astonishingly bland and prone to overgeneralizations and redundancies of the worst order). In other words, Danielson will tell you why a four-yard gain was or wasn't a "win" for a given unit. By telling you about the progression in the quarterback's reads or the misalignment of a defender, Danielson will explain why a given play was a success or a failure. He accounts for ALL the circumstances that surround the unfolding of a single play.
Those are some of Danielson's unique strengths, and SEC fans will profit immensely from that kind of analysis.
But beyond Danielson himself, there's another reason why Danielson's presence on the main SEC football network (in terms of signature games, not the overall number of telecasts) is a benefit to SEC fans.
Last year, one of the raging debates throughout the college football community touched on these seemingly eternal questions: "How good are SEC defenses?" and "How bad are SEC offenses?"
Since Danielson hasn't been able to view SEC football over the past decade, the fact that he'll now get a taste of America's most cutthroat conference --- and moreover, on an exclusive basis --- means that America's premier college football analyst will get to see Southern football up-close and personal. Danielson will be continuously exposed to the SEC and its member coaching staffs, and precisely at a time when Urban Meyer is creating tension points between old-school and new-age football philosophies in the hot and humid corner of the United States. How Danielson sees SEC football will be worth more than a little consideration in determining just how good the conference's defensive coordinators are ... and how justified head coaches and offensive coordinators are in playing close-to-the-vest, anti-Pete Carroll, NFL-style, shorten-the-game football. Danielson has enough street cred in the world of football analysis to affect a debate with his opinion. He's earned that rare right with his body of work over the past nine years with ABC. Now, SEC fans get him exclusively on CBS.
It's great to be a Florida Gator, and it's great to be an SEC football fan. Gary Danielson will make Autumnal Saturdays that much more rewarding.