One of the most often used and truest clichés in sports is that is hard to follow a legend. Bob Fulton was the voice of the Gamecocks for 43 years, covering football, basketball and baseball at the University of South Carolina from 1952-1994. At the time of his retirement in 1995, his tenure with USC was the 4th longest among NCAA broadcasters with one school, and he became the first non-coach or athlete to be inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990. I still remember as a youngster listening to him call football games, back before every game was on TV or the internet. Having grown up just before the recent technological boom that now allows instant access to everything, especially sporting events; I have a great appreciation for the radio broadcasts and the ability to paint a picture with words. Since Fulton retired as the Gamecocks radio voice, the filling of his shoes has been done more by committee than one man. Luckily the lineage of great announcers that began with him did not end with him as well. We have been fortunate to have some very talented people man the microphone over the past two decades. I recently had had a chance to catch up with a few of these men ask them a few questions, and they were kind enough to share some insight into their experiences announcing Gamecock sports.
1)What was your favorite Call, or moment while broadcasting a Gamecock Sporting event?
Andy Demetra (current voice for Gamecock hoops, and Baseball) – “For obvious reasons, I’ll always remember the national championship versus UCLA in 2010. It was humbling to call a moment that meant so much too so many people. Truthfully, Bob Fulton deserved to have that call – I just hope I did him justice. As far as sheer drama, nothing will top Game 1 of the 2011 CWS championship series versus Florida. Sometimes when you’re calling a game, you’re aware it’s crossed over into the surreal. That was definitely one of those nights. I felt privileged to be a part of it.
For basketball, I like to think my favorite moment is still ahead of me. I’m really excited for the future of the program under Frank Martin. If I had to choose, though, I’ll always look back fondly on the wins over Kentucky at Colonial Life Arena in 2010 and 2014. You could sense something special in the air those nights. Plus I avoided major bodily harm during the court storms, which was a bonus.”
Tommy Moody (Former Player & current analyst for Gamecock Baseball) – “My favorite baseball moment, other than Whit Merrifield’s base hit that won the long-awaited national title in 2010 which is the automatic response, it would be Christian Walker’s home run at Coastal Carolina just a couple of weeks earlier. This propelled the Gamecocks to the win that got us back to Omaha. I think my favorite call when I personally was doing play-by-play came on Sunday, April 30, 2006 at Sarge Frye Field. In one of the greatest games ever played at that historic venue…senior Michael Campbell, the” Winchester Rifle”, blasted a walk-off home run to the railroad tracks that stunned Mississippi State, 9-7 in 11 innings.”
Todd Ellis (former QB, current Football Play by Play)- “My favorite call was the Ace Sanders 70 yard punt return against Georgia in 2012 that put Carolina up 21-0 in the first quarter.”
Mike Morgan (Former Play by Play for both Gamecock Hoops and Baseball) – “So many great moments behind the mic, it’s hard to pick one. I would say the one I still get people tell me about is the 2002 “Miami Miracle”. People still remember the call of “Pack your bags Columbia, for the first time in 17 years, the Gamecocks are going to Omaha. It was the game that set the wheels in motion for the program to become elite. It was a remarkable 9th inning comeback with some crazy circumstances surrounding it. The Tarrence Kinsey buzzer beater in New York to win the first NIT championship would also rank up there. A sleeper pick would be the Mike Rathe/Troy Williamson last-second TD pass to win in 2004. We called that on PPV on a cold Saturday night in Lexington.”
2) Has there been a performance, individual or team, gamecock or opponent, that you were truly wowed by and felt privileged to witness?
AD- “Game 1 of the 2011 CWS championship series will always set the standard of excellence for me. Wingo’s dive, Beary’s pick, Jake Williams’ throw, Walker’s steal – those moments will be burned in my memory forever. Last summer I tried to calculate the odds that the Gamecocks overcame in the late innings to win it, and it blew my mind. I doubt I’ll ever see a game like that again. South Carolina won 22 straight NCAA Tournament games from 2010 to 2012 – that record will never be touched. Tommy and I still smile over our good fortune that we were able to witness it.”
TM- “Having never done Gamecock basketball, my favorite radio moment from that sport came from Bob Fulton in March of 1971. With just five seconds to play and the Gamecocks trailing North Carolina, 51-50, Six-foot three inch Hall of Famer Kevin Joyce outjumped 6’10” Lee Dedmon of UNC, tapping the jump ball to Tom Owens, who laid it in the basket. This gave USC its only ACC basketball championship, and helped erase the memory a stunning defeat to NC State in the title game a year earlier. As for my witnessing a special performance, I was sitting on the fourth row near courtside the night that John Roche pumped in a record 56 points in Carolina’s 118-83 rout of Furman on Feb. 4th of 1971.”
TE- “There have been a few. Jadeveon Clowney’s five sacks against Clemson in 2012; Melvin Ingram’s fake punt for a touchdown and his scoop and score in 2011 at Georgia; Pharoh Cooper’s 233 receiving yards against Tennessee in 2014.”
MM- “2000 and 2002 baseball teams. 2000 team was so special and full of characters. I could write a book on that gang. 2002 team because of the remarkable path to Omaha, and run the team made once it got there. The 2004-2006 basketball teams. They are overlooked on how talented they were because they didn’t have a run in the NCAA tournament. The ’04 team made it to the Big Dance. The nucleus of that team won the NIT the next and nearly won the SEC tournament in ’06. Balkman and Kinsey were NBA players. Tre Kelly was a special player and leader. Carlos Powell had NBA ability. That team could have done so much more, but make no mistake about it, it was very talented.”
3) Where/what was the best atmosphere you can recall being at for a Gamecock game?
AD- “ The Georgia game at Williams-Brice Stadium in 2012 will always stand out. I was doing the play-by-play that night for SportSouth. The noise inside the stadium was indescribable. The way the Gamecocks dominated a rival, in prime time, in a matchup of top-6 teams, with so much hype leading into the game; it created an alchemy you rarely see in sports. I’d also have to go with the following week, when the Gamecocks played LSU in a night game at Tiger Stadium. Imagine putting a 50-gallon drum over your head and having a half-dozen people pound it with baseball bats for four hours. That’s what it felt like.
In baseball, the first NCAA Regional game versus Clemson in 2012 was so unbelievably intense. You rarely feel a baseball crowd like that, where there’s edginess from the opening pitch that never dies down. I’d also throw in Rosenblatt in 2010, simply because it was the last year of the ballpark and you felt that weight of history. Honorable mention goes to the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu for the Diamond Head Classic in basketball. Come on, it’s Hawaii.”
TM- “It would be hard to top the night of Nov. 10th, 1984. The undefeated Gamecocks whipped top-10 Florida State, 38-26 on national tv, having roared out to a 38-7 lead. Williams-Brice Stadium was literally swaying when Raynard Brown returned the second half kickoff for a touchdown. This win propelled Carolina into the number 2 spot in the national rankings the following week. Actually, the next night the Gamecocks were indeed ranked number one by the fledgling news network, CNN on their 11:30pm weekend sports recap.”
TE-“Williams-Brice versus Georgia in 2012, Sanford Stadium in 2009 and LSU in 1993.”
MM- “I always loved calling football games in The Swamp, basketball games at Rupp Arena, and baseball games in Baton Rouge. I was privileged to call several games at those venues. Also, calling a basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse in Kansas was incredible. I’m Not sure if there is a better place to call a basketball game. I’ve since been able to call games in other great venues for ESPN such as Cameron Indoor Arena.”
I was also able to ask Todd Ellis what it was like to take over the football broadcasting from the legendary Bob Fulton, and he responded, “Bob and I met and he watched me call games on tape. He was very helpful and supportive telling me to be my own man.”
I would like to thank these gentlemen, not only for being kind enough to share some memories with me, but also for being a part of many of my Gamecock memories as the voices behind some very special moments. I also want to give a nod to Charlie McAlexander, a former basketball announcer for in the late 90’s and a favorite of mine, plus Brad Muller who does play by play for USC’s women’s basketball team. We have been blessed at our school with some extremely talented and gracious men being in position to bring their view of University of South Carolina Athletics.