The college football world got a little bit worse today, as longtime ABC and ESPN studio host John Saunders passed away at age 61.
A native Canadian and hockey standout, Saunders spent a lifetime at ESPN -- this December would've marked his 30th anniversary -- covering a myriad of beats. College basketball, hockey, SportsCenter, the WNBA, the World Series, The Sports Reporters, everything was in his wheelhouse. But I, and I presume you, knew him best as the host of ABC's college football studio coverage for many, many years.
In college football, speaking to Saunders meant you'd accomplished something. As one of the Worldwide Leader's top studio hosts, it was Saunders who so often placed the crowd on the new king's head.
Saunders seemed like a warm, caring, decent person, and the flood of tributes that have followed his passing today confirm it. By all accounts, he cared about helping those around them get better at their crafts almost as much as he loved his two daughters. He was, in every sense of the word, a pro. "He was all about family and helping people," Dick Vitale said today. "He was as good as it gets and he had deep loyalty and love for others. His work with The V Foundation was so special -- he loved Jimmy V and poured his heart and soul into the cause. He was always willing to share and give, and he played a vital role in the success of helping so many. I can't believe this stunning and horrible news. He will be forever in our thoughts." Here Saunders is remembered by one of the few at ESPN who could hold a candle to him -- Bob Ley.