Radio Personality Landry Burdine Knows Football
The TCU Football walk-on ended up being the captain of the 1998 Sun Bowl team.
Landry Burdine ’99 suited up at Amon G. Carter Stadium on Nov. 29, 2019, but instead of wearing cleats and a helmet, he took the field in duck boots and a headset.
Since 2013, Burdine has provided insights to audiences on the Horned Frogs Sports Network. Minutes before the final game of the 2019 season, which saw the Frogs face off against the West Virginia Mountaineers on a rainy afternoon, Burdine delved into his past to frame the experience on the field.
“This is a moment these guys will never forget,” Burdine told radio listeners. “It could be the last time some of these guys will ever suit up in a football uniform, which is hard to get your head around.”
Whether on the field or in the radio booth, Burdine brings energy, knowledge and humor to his role of sideline commentator. He explains plays, interprets the team’s decisions and offers opinions rooted in his time as a student-athlete.
In 1995, the Arlington, Texas, native started as an invited walk-on to the football team. By the end of that first season, he was playing.
“As an undersized player, I had to work harder,” he said. “Perseverance has always served me well.”
The life of a college athlete also suited him.
“The rules, team meetings, the practices — they were all good for me,” Burdine said. “I always say every guy in America should be on a team or in the military. It’s that camaraderie in the locker room that I miss, even today.”
Burdine thrived as a safety, working with a then-new-to-TCU defensive coordinator named Gary Patterson. The coaches appointed Burdine a team captain his senior year.
“After four or five days of two-a-days, no one wants to be out there, but Landry was the team energizer,” said Jeff Garner ’00, who played center. “He was captain for a reason.”
“Landry always brought max effort as this high-energy guy,” said Royce Huffman ’00, a wide receiver who played 11 seasons of professional baseball after his time at TCU. “He’s a rare individual.”
In his sophomore season, which saw the Frogs finish 4-7 under Coach Pat Sullivan, Burdine emerged as a leader. Teammates including Cody Slinkard ’01 remember him doing everything from delivering group pep talks to breaking up locker room fights.
“No matter what, Landry wanted to make sure the team was successful and the people around him were successful,” Slinkard said. “That inspired everyone else.”
Burdine was a junior during the infamous 1997 season, when Sullivan’s Frogs went 1-10, losing to, among other teams, Vanderbilt and Rice.
“I loved Coach Sullivan — one of the few times I remember crying was when he gave me my scholarship — and his coaching staff was not devoid of talent, but everything changed when Coach Fran [Dennis Franchione] and Gary Patterson came on board,” Burdine said. “The new guys knew what they were doing.”
The energy during practice was different, Burdine said. Coaches and players were communicating well on and off the field and working hard.
Despite beating UNLV in the season’s final game, leaving TCU with a 6-5 record, Burdine and his teammates didn’t like their postseason chances. They figured a bowl invitation would go to Colorado State, which had defeated TCU earlier in the year.
Burdine and Slinkard spent more than a week elk hunting and smoking cigars while subsisting on bean dip and beer in an effort to decompress after the roller coaster season. When they got back to their off-campus apartment, the phone was ringing.
The captain was expected at a team meeting in 30 minutes.
“Coach Fran had left something like eight messages while we were gone,” Burdine said. “He thought I was ghosting him!”
Burdine and Slinkard, who a decade later would name a son Landry, hustled to the locker room, still in their hunting gear.
“We were stinking because we hadn’t showered,” said Burdine, who along with his teammates felt overwhelmed at the news that they were Sun Bowl-bound.
The university hadn’t won a bowl game in 41 years. For the showdown in El Paso, Texas, TCU was the 19-point underdog.
“I still get chills thinking about playing that game,” said Jeff Millican ’00, who was a guard. “Landry was a heavy contributor on special teams and a vocal leader on the field. He made a huge impact during that game.”
TCU won the Sun Bowl, 28-19. The New York Times’ headline read, “TCU’s Turnaround Complete With Victory.” The story said that the Horned Frogs had “used an outing to a Texas bowling alley to get better acquainted with their new head coach” before going on to describe the victory as the climax to the program’s turnaround.
Burdine and his teammates, who were honored at halftime during the TCU-West Virginia game in 2019, recalled seeing old men in purple jackets sobbing in the Sun Bowl Stadium following the victory.
The impact of that seismic win went beyond the field.
“Before we got here in ’98, the university was actually having conversations about dropping football,” said Patterson, whose youngest son, Blake, now a senior at TCU, was hospitalized with pneumonia in the days surrounding the Sun Bowl.
“There were a lot of ink blots on the scripts,” Patterson said, “because I kept falling asleep scripting all night.”
The Working World
Burdine rode that victory all the way to the spring athletics banquet. He’d asked a fellow TCU student to join him for the event.
But the moment they arrived, Coach Fran insisted Burdine sit at a table with a donor. There wasn’t a spot for his date so Elizabeth Sharpe ’99 (now Elizabeth Burdine) sat instead with his parents, whom she’d never met.
“I felt bad for his parents, too,” Elizabeth Burdine said with a laugh.
That dinner would prove pivotal to more than just his personal life.
Burdine had no idea what he wanted to do after TCU, something he admitted to Harold Muckleroy ’74 during that dinner. “That night he told me I didn’t have to leave Fort Worth to find a good job,” Burdine said.
Within weeks, the CEO and partner at Muckleroy & Falls hired Burdine to join his team doing planning and administration for construction projects.
“There are a lot of late nights, but the rush of the deal and working with clients is something I’ve always loved,” Burdine said.
A few years later and with the blessing of his wife, whom he married exactly two years after the awkward athletics banquet, Burdine struck out on his own. Then in 2009, Burdine Realty Co. merged with Land Advisors.
As a land broker, he specializes in master-planned communities, large-scale neighborhoods designed to include recreational components like golf courses and lakes. The projects he works on can take decades to realize in full.
Burdine has brokered parts of the land deals for the majority of the significant master-planned communities built in the last 20 years in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
He’s currently at work on the Walsh development in Parker County, about 20 miles west of TCU. The 40- to 50-year project will encompass 7,200 acres, mostly for homes, plus millions of square feet of commercial space.
The scale of the project meant it took 15 years to open, Burdine said, but eventually 50,000 people will live there.
As his business was growing, Burdine’s family thrived. He and Elizabeth built a home on 5½ acres in Aledo, also about 20 miles west of campus. His daughter, Belle, excelled in school and dance. His twin sons, Blake and Brooks, loved that their father coached their baseball team.
Burdine helped found Volunteers for Christ, a nonprofit that sends Brazilian children living in the country’s poverty-stricken favelas to camp in the countryside.
Burdine, who learned Portuguese to become a more effective advocate, helped the nondenominational charity buy buildings for the overnight camp. He has spearheaded fundraising, noting that every dollar raised goes directly to help the campers.
Family, the Brazilian mission and his work were more than filling his days. So he hesitated in 2013 when Brian Estridge called, offering Burdine a chance to become part of a new team.
Riff Ram Redux
Burdine met “The Voice of the Frogs” while playing for TCU. The two forged a friendship that has spanned the decades.
“Landry has a dynamic personality and the gift of gab,” said Estridge, director of broadcasting for TCU Athletics and play-by-play announcer for football and men’s basketball. “He’s intelligent, obviously. As a walk-on to get where you’re the captain, you have to be a student of the game as well.”
Elizabeth Burdine was sold on the idea from the outset.
“Landry’s a natural public speaker,” she said. “I told him I thought it would be a good outlet for him.”
During football season, Burdine spends four or five hours during the week looking over film and familiarizing himself with the opposing team. About an hour before kickoff, Burdine, Estridge and color analyst John Denton ’85 begin their pregame show. Burdine filled in doing color for the 2018 Cheez-It Bowl while Denton was in Hawaii with the men’s basketball team.
“If he wanted to do it full time, he could make a great living in radio,” Estridge said. “He’s got this magnetic personality and all that football expertise.”
On the air, Burdine often refers to his time as a player to explain the nuances of the game. If a player goes down with an injury, he’s right there, telling listeners what he’s hearing and seeing.
He turns data points into conversation. Before the West Virginia game in November 2019, he gave what might have sounded to listeners like an off-the-cuff comparison of the two starting quarterbacks, TCU’s Max Duggan vs. WVU’s Jarret Doege.
During game time, Burdine moves up and down the TCU sidelines, often shadowing Patterson. He briefly chats with the coach at the start of halftime, and the two sit down for an interview following each game.
Burdine focuses on pivotal plays and typically probes the coach about any regrets during the game or from the prior week. “I’ve asked him about everything,” Burdine said. “I ask him things even if I know they’re going to make him mad.”
“Landry’s been a really good friend of mine over the years,” Patterson said. “He was our best recruiter when he was a player. He’s always been a strong leader.”
“I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like him,” Estridge said. “He’s the guy who proves you can be successful and be a nice guy.”