Dan Hoard is probably one of the nicest play by play commentators in America. He is also one of the better ones. You have heard him call Bearcats games for years. You heard him call Bengals preseason games. You've heard him call Reds games. He should have been the play by play guy for TV instead of Thom Brennaman. He probably wouldn't have talked to Jeff Brantley about ribs and make me beat myself over the head with my controller. He was also on Fox19 forever. If you live in the northeast, you've heard him call Paw Sox games. There is really nothing he can't do. Which is why it's surprising that he would take the time to answer many questions from some guy who asked him on twitter. The wilder thing is that he let me interview him before on the old blog. Link. Thanks to Dan Hoard, and without further ado, here is what he had to say. It's pretty great.
How did you get into announcing?
I was lucky to know at a very early age (the womb) that I wanted to be a sportscaster, so I did everything I could think of to get into the profession -- from joining the debate club in high school (public speaking practice) to reading scripture on a show called "The Radio Chapel" to gain professional broadcasting experience. I also spent much of my childhood calling games into a tape recorder while I watched them on TV (I REALLY hope my mother destroyed the cassettes). After high school, I attended the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University. It's earned the reputation as "Sportscaster U" and my classmates included Sean McDonough (ESPN/ABC), Mike Tirico (ESPN/ABC), Greg Papa (Oakland Raiders), Tony Caridi (West Virginia University), Bill Roth (Virgnia Tech), Jim Jackson (Philadelphia Flyers), Todd Kalas (Tampa Bay Rays host), Craig Minervini (Florida Marlins host), and others. I got my first job as a minor league baseball announcer, and I've been working in the business in some way, shape, or form ever since.
To follow up, how did you get involved with the Bearcats?
I began looking for a job in Cincinnati when my then-girlfriend, now-wife Peg was working as a news reporter at Local 12. I was eventually hired to replace Kevin Frazier -- of Entertainment Tonight fame -- as a sports anchor/reporter at Fox 19 when the station was still the home of UC basketball telecasts. When Thom Brennaman's busy schedule no longer allowed him to do UC games, I took over as the play-by-play announcer on the TV package. A few years after that, I moved to the radio side in order to do every game instead of 10 to 15 (best decision I ever made...along with not getting a toupee).
What was your favorite basketball game to cover? It doesn't have to be a UC game.
"Favorite" is probably the wrong word since the Bearcats lost, but the first game that comes to mind was actually UC's loss to Kentucky in the 2005 NCAA Tournament. The intensity level on the court was incredible and 40,000 fans turned out at the RCA Dome for the long-awaited battle between UC and UK. I was exhausted when the game was over ... and all I did was talk.
What about football?
That's easy -- last year's win at Pitt. Easily the best sporting event I've ever had the privledge to cover. The 'Cats rally from a 21-point deficit to complete a perfect regular season and earn a trip to the Sugar Bowl by beating Pitt 45-44. I wish Al Michaels hadn't coined the phrase, "Do you believe in miracles?"... I could have used it.
This season has been rocky to say the least for UC football. What's been the biggest difference you've noticed between this year and the past couple?
Turnovers and takeaways. Last year, UC only committed 10 turnovers during the regular season (a school record and the 2nd fewest in the country) and forced 19 (+9 margin). This year they've commited 15 and only forced 8 (-7 margin). You can't consistently win if you don't protect the ball.
If Mardy Gilyard was in your answer, skip this question. UC special teams have gotten nothing in returns. Was Mardy Gilyard just that special a player to make big things happen in the return game?
Yes, I do think that Mardy was that special. In his career he had kick return touchdowns against Oklahoma, West Virginia, Pitt, and Illinois -- all teams with great athletes. Vidal Hazelton might have been capable of doing similar things -- his injury was a huge loss in the return game.
It looks to me that the team is a lot more uptight this season. When things get bad, they get down and press. Does that seem true to you?
To a certain extent, but I also think that has improved as the season has gone along. They showed great resiliancy against Oklahoma, ralled from a halftime deficit to win at Louisville, and almost pulled off a great comeback against USF (and might have if Zach didn't get hurt). To me, that's one area that's directly tied to experience. When you've rallied in those situations, you gain the confidence to do it again.
Do you think the team has what it takes to become bowl eligible?
If Zach is at quarterback, they're capable of winning their final four games. But they have to take care of the ball and give up fewer big plays on defense.
You are a Syracuse grad. You get to see the Orange at least once a year. How impressed have you been with the rebuilding job Doug Marrone has pulled off? Do you think they could win the Big East?
Doug Marrone has done a tremendous job and is a shoo-in for Big East Coach of the Year. SU is probably going to take a step backward next year when it loses 26 seniors, but I think Marrone is building a program that will be one of the best in the Big East. I don't think they'll win the league title this year because Pitt would have to lose twice, but Syracuse could go 10-2. Pretty impressive after winning 4-or-fewer games in each of the last 5 years.
Don't know if you got the chance to catch the basketball game last night, but any first impressions? How excited should we be for Justin Jackson? He seems like a player.
I was not at the game, but Dion Dixon and Justin Jackson were the two players that impressed me the most when I went to practice last week. Dixon is vastly improved and is taking shots that he can make instead of settling for threes. Jackson is going to provide a huge spark off of the bench with his athleticism, energy level, and physical style of play.
I don't know if you can answer this. Last season, I think Lance Stephenson and Deonta Vaughn either didn't like each other, and/or they didn't like playing with each other and that killed the team. Did you see that as well, or is it crazy talk?
I don't think they were buddies, but how they felt about each other didn't kill the team. Kenyon Martin and Pete Mickeal didn't adore each other, but the 'Cats were the best team in the country when they were seniors. Last year's team simply wasn't good enough offensively.
As some people know, you announce for the Paw Sox. Who was the best player you saw come through the system this year, Sox player or otherwise?
The best player I saw was Tampa Bay Rays pitching prospect Jeremy Hellickson (and yes, the PawSox faced Aroldis Chapman twice). If he's available in your fantasy league, grab him.
The Big East is going to 10 teams for football. Do you think this is a good idea? And who do you see getting the invite?
I think it would be a great idea if they could convince Notre Dame to join the league for football (which appears to be a long shot at best). It sounds like Villanova and TCU are at the top of the list. Good idea/bad idea is immaterial -- it's a matter of survival.
200,000 thanks to Dan Hoard. He killed it. He even included the 10 teams question with the rest, even though I sent it to him in another email. If there was one thing that I could change, it would be to follow up on the Stephenson/Vaughn question. I think they weren't good enough on offense because Stephenson didn't play the style Vaughn was best at, and Vaughn didn't play the style Stephenson was best at, and everything bogged down. Wish I could have said that to see what he had to say, but I asked him enough questions. This really goes to show that if you are interested in what people have to say, you should ask them. The worst that could happen is that they throw eggs at your face. The best case scenario happened here. Thanks one last time to the great Dan Hoard.