It was early in this basketball season and Mick Hubert’s mind was whirling, a hodgepodge of dates streaking through his head as he mentally prepared for what was ahead.
Florida, at the time, didn’t know where it would go bowling in football, and he was trying to figure out what he would miss in basketball.
And he agonizes when he has to miss anything.
The Florida play-by-play announcer for the last 30 years still has that love for the prep work, a virtue that makes him one of the best. But to be prepared, he has to know what to pencil in on the calendar he keeps on his desk.
“I hate to miss a game,” he said. “I like preparing for games. I like the grunt work so when I get to the game, I enjoy the game — I’m prepared for it.”
As it turned out, Florida would play in the Peach Bowl, which meant Hubert would miss Florida-Butler in basketball twice. He had to leave the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas one game early (the Butler loss) to broadcast the Florida-Florida State football game and then had to miss the Butler rematch in Gainesville on the day of the Peach Bowl.
“November and February can be tough because of the overlap,” he said. “I get worn out thinking about it. But, hey, we get paid to watch sporting events. That’s not a bad deal.”
No, it isn’t.
But when you prepare like he does, it can get a little overwhelming at times.
“I’m just not one to go into something unprepared,” he said. “It bugs me if I’m in a position where I should know something and I don’t know it. If someone says they don’t know something on a broadcast, I say, ‘Really? That’s what you’re paid to do.’ ”
So already he’s thinking about the first week in March where there are baseball and basketball games he will be broadcasting on five of six days. And he thinks back to the 2007 trilogy when he had to do a Florida basketball game against Georgia in Gainesville, hop on a charter an hour later to go to the national championship football game against Ohio State and was the MC for the pep rally the next day, do the game, fly home and take a shower at the stadium and walk across the street to go broadcast Florida-Arkansas basketball.
But he remembers that experience fondly.
“There wasn’t any celebration,” he said of Florida’s wins in all three of those games. “Just getting prepared. On the day of the national championship, the weather was beautiful and I’m in my room doing my charts for the Arkansas game.”
The overlap of football and basketball has meant he has missed a few games, but never one because of illness. The overlap of basketball and baseball is the same deal, especially because he switches from TV to radio depending on the situation.
But he is always prepared. Take a gander at the laminated sheet with meticulously written stats and tendencies in different colors if you don’t believe me.
“I just have to be organized,” he said.
He told me that comes from his late mother, Vernadeen.
“She was very thorough, sharp mind,” he said. “My dad was where my sports interest was from. He was a great athlete. I didn’t get those athletic skills from him but I got my love of sports from him. Dad was laid back and my mom was not.
“I know where everything is on my chart, right where to find it. It’s like I told (baseball sidekick) Jeff Cardozo: Don’t be a wall builder. Don’t tape a lot of stuff on the wall. You have to look at the glass to find something and you’ve taken your eye off the pitcher on the mound. The pitcher controls the game.”
Hubert’s attention to detail has paid off with a long career and his recent induction to the Florida Sports Hall of Fame.
And it’s a career that doesn’t have a set end date.
He loves it too much.
“I don’t have any plans to quit. The last two or three years is the first time anyone ever started asking me that question” about retiring, he said. “I must have aged pretty badly. As long as I have the eyes to see. I say a prayer before every game, ‘Give me the eyes to see and the words to say.’ If you don’t have your vision, you’re not going to be very good.
“What am I going to retire to? I love preparing and doing these games. I gotta think I have at least 10 more years.”
He probably wasn’t thinking about that long career when he started in 1989. His first game at UF was a football loss to Ole Miss.
“I was listening to Dial-a-score on WRUF and they were ripping everybody,” he said. “One guy calls in and says, ‘Yeah, the new announcer, he sucks too.’ I thought, ‘This is going to be a tough crowd.’ One game and they are already ripping on me.”
Hubert turns 65 in February and has become synonymous with Florida sports. Is there anything better than finding a big play on Twitter set to his broadcast rather than the TV announcers?
Or going back and listening to the radio broadcast of Florida’s national championships in any of the three major sports?
None of them happened by accident. Sometimes you wonder if the Boy Scouts took their motto from Mick.
He always is.