during the 2014 Vizio BCS National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl on January 6, 2014 in Pasadena, California.

Legendary College Football commentator John Saunders has passed away

Absolutely tragic.

At the age of 61, ESPN commentator John Saunders has passed away.

Saunders had been with ESPN since 1986 and established himself as a prominent voice on ESPN's college football Saturdays. Most recently a studio host during coverage of the College Football Playoff, Saunders started with ESPN as a SportsCenter anchor.

Here's a statement, via ESPN:

"John was an extraordinary talent and his friendly, informative style has been a warm welcome to sports fans for decades," said John Skipper, president of ESPN and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks, in a statement. "His wide range of accomplishments across numerous sports and championship events is among the most impressive this industry has ever seen. More importantly, John was a beloved and devoted family man who cared deeply about people and causes, as evidenced by his long-standing efforts as a passionate board member for The V Foundation for Cancer Research.

"He was one of the most significant and influential members of the ESPN family, as a colleague and mentor, and he will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this extremely difficult time."

Over his near 30 years with the network, Saunders was an in-studio host and did play-by-play, covering college football, basketball and the NHL. Saunders covered some of the biggest sports events, including the Stanley Cup Playoffs, World Series, Major League Baseball All-Star Game and the College Football Playoffs.

Saunders also helped found The V Foundation for Cancer Research.

He was born in Canada, played hockey growing up and played at Western Michigan before launching into the broadcasting field.

Saunders is survived by his wife and two children.