Mike Mayock, Notre Dame Football Forge Relationship at Long Last
Last Thursday the Fighting Irish, or more accurately NBC, finally made Mayock, 52, an offer. The former defensive back for Boston College and later the New York Giants was tapped to succeed Pat Haden as the color analyst for the Peacock's Notre Dame football telecasts. Mayock, whose only previous visit to the South Bend campus was last April during Jimmy Clausen's and Golden Tate's pro day, has earned a reputation as one of the keenest evaluators of talent, inside or outside of broadcast television, while working for the NFL Network.
NBC has taken notice.
"Mike's knowledge of and passion for college football has resulted in him becoming one of the most respected voices in the game," NBC Sports executive producer Sam Flood said via a network release on Monday. "He possesses a relentless work ethic and perfect pedigree as a former player and son of a coach. We are excited to add him to our team."
The courtship between NBC and Mayock began just two days after Haden announced that he had accepted the job as athletic director at his alma mater, USC. On Friday, July 23rd, NBC reached out to Mayock's agent at IMG, Sandy Montag.
"Apparently, (NBC Sunday Night Football executive producer) Freddie Gaudelli had highly endorsed me, and I hardly even know Freddie," says Mayock. "I was told that he told the NBC executives, 'If you don't go after this guy, you're crazy'."
Flood, who was vacationing in Rhode Island, invited Mayock, who lives in Philadelphia, to meet him last Thursday outside Providence. The two spent three hours together. While Mayock was waiting out a 2 1/2 hour delay on the tarmac in Providence later that afternoon, Montag phoned to inform his client that NBC had offered him the job.
"I'm beyond thrilled," says Mayock, who has received more than 150 congratulatory texts and phone calls in the past 24 hours. "Alex Flanagan (his colleague at the NFL Network who moonlights as the sideline reporter for Notre Dame football) called to congratulate me and tell me that she'd put her two cents in on my behalf, too."
Mayock understands that at Notre Dame, football is not just a sport, it's a history lesson. "In fact, Sam and I talked about that when we met," Mayock says. "When he asked me about that, I rattled off the names of the Four Horsemen from memory. What is it -- Stuhldreher, Miller, Layden and Crowley, right?"
Umm ... correct.
"Notre Dame pioneered the forward pass with a quarterback named Gus Dorais," says Mayock. "I've known that stuff since I was twelve years old."
Mayock, who still looks to be in game shape, is better-known as a studio analyst than as a commentator. "I'm more known for draft coverage," says Mayock, "but my favorite thing is doing live games. I've done the Orange Bowl for CBS, the Cotton Bowl, did a whole bunch of games at Tennessee when Peyton Manning was there."
Certainly, there were higher-profile names that NBC might have considered. However, in Mayock NBC has selected a broadcaster with a sterling gridiron pedigree and yet someone who also comes with little ingrained viewer prejudice as to whether he is a "homer" or a "hater" (he is neither). Mayock, who will team with veteran Tom Hammond, is to the NBC booth what Dayne Crist is to Notre Dame football: highly esteemed, yet unproven on game day.
At the Haverford School in suburban Philadelphia, Mayock earned 15 varsity letters and captained the football, basketball and baseball teams. His dad, Mike, Sr., was the football coach. Four younger brothers all followed him and all four played college football: Mark also attended Boston College, Dan walked on at Virginia, Pete played at Dickinson College and Matt at Bucknell.
"Mark was a 6-4 quarterback who tore his knee as a freshman," says Mayock, "and if you get a beer or two in him, he'll tell you that had he never gotten hurt, you'd have never heard of Doug Flutie."
The NFL Network has not lost Mayock's services, either. He says that he will watch NFL tape for them on Sundays and Mondays and tape his two one-hour episodes of "Playbook" each Tuesday. On Wednesdays and Thursdays he will concentrate on Notre Dame and other college players. On Fridays he'll do game-prep in South Bend and on Saturdays he will be on the air at Notre Dame Stadium (and, on November 20th, at Yankee Stadium).
"Am I going to work seven days a week between the (Sept. 4) Purdue game and the NFL draft?" says Mayock. "Probably. But come May 1 I'll be taking a month-long vacation."
Mayock understands that as a B.C. alum he will initially draw some resistance from the more paranoid contingent of Irish alums (First USC, now B.C., it's as if the Peacock enjoys taunting its viewers), but, he says, "We're gonna have some fun with that." He also finds it funny that after all these years his path and Notre Dame's have finally intersected.
Mayock recalls how he once almost got into coaching, a fate that may have landed him at Notre Dame sooner than expected.
"I tore my ACL when I was 25 playing for the Giants and I was cut later that day," Mayock recalls. "The Giants had a special teams coach who really liked me, though. He offered me a job that same day."
The special teams coach? Bill Belichick.
"I told him that I had to take a step back," says Mayock. "Now I'm doing this, but I really love it."
Who knows? Had Mayock said yes to Belichick, he might have become Notre Dame's head coach before he became its home football color commentator.