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SoonerTimes Home > SoonerTimes > OU Sports > Good read on Toby Rowland


Good read on Toby Rowland
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47Straight
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 Posted: Wed Jun 17th, 2020 01:15 pm

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“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.” — Sigmund Freud”

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” — Stephen Covey

:coffeecup::whorns::whorns::whorns::burningwhorns::burningwhorns::burningwhorns::osu::osu::osu::toast::toast::toast::coffeecup:


The challenges of replacing a legend in the radio booth
Toby Rowland recalls a winter night in the late 1980s when an ice storm knocked out electricity to his house. He held a Sony Walkman against the window. Held it at just such an angle. Held it there for more than two hours, in fact, just to listen to an Oklahoma-Missouri basketball game.

“I didn’t dare move it,” he said, “because I was afraid I was going to lose the signal.”

Most broadcasters can trace back to similar memories of static and dials, of games heard but not seen, of voices steering and informing their imagination. Rowland was among the last generation of children to grow up without cable TV offering wall-to-wall college sports coverage. Raised in Mustang, Okla., he recalled seeing only a few Sooners football games televised each season — “the Nebraska game and maybe a couple others.”

So the kid became enamored with sportscasters such as Bob Barry, whose career spanned a half-century and earned the nickname “The Legend” from Sooners fans. When Barry retired in 2011 at 80, he left a job that many coveted. None more so than Rowland, who was then 37 and had two years of experience as a sideline reporter for the OU network.

“It’s kinda always been the No. 1 job on my dream list, but in reality, it was pretty unlikely that it would happen,” Rowland told himself at the time. “I knew there was going to be a lot of people with more experience and bigger names.”

When Oklahoma chose five finalists for phone interviews, Rowland made the cut. When the candidate list was trimmed to three for face-to-face interviews, Rowland was still alive.

“That’s when our hopes started getting higher,” he said.

Rowland had known AD Joe Castiglione for years and said their meeting “went great,” but he was anxious about making a first impression on the other decision-maker, Oklahoma president David Boren.

“I thought it might be a 10-minute conversation, but President Boren knew all about my family, my education and even some professors I had in college,” Rowland said. “We talked about the history of the OU position, and it was so free-flowing and easy that we went on for an hour and a half.”

Time got away from them until Boren checked his watch and said, “Oops, I’ve gotta let you go because Henry Kissinger’s coming over to the house.”

Two days later, Rowland received the job offer. He wept upon phoning his wife, Jennifer, to share the news.

“She put her career to the side so that we could chase this, so it’s always been a ‘we’ thing. Other than the birth of our children and our marriage, it is probably the most exciting thing that has ever happened to us,” Rowland said. “Somehow, some way, I had been selected for my dream job, and I couldn’t believe it.”

Winning the job was the first obstacle. Winning over Sooners fans came next. Though Barry endorsed Rowland publicly and privately, the new hire prepared for a deluge of critics. He decided early on that he would never wade into those toxic message boards in search of opinions.

“It would have been weird for me to hear anybody else other than Bob calling OU games, so I accepted it would be weird for fans, too,” he said. “And to this day, I’m never offended by someone who says they prefer Bob over me, because I’d prefer Bob over me. That’s not insulting to me. I have no problem with that.”

Nine years since becoming the voice of the Sooners, there’s strong evidence Rowland’s appeal is growing. His weekly scene-setter videos fuel the pregame fire, and his call of “Unhitch the wagon!” rings out every time OU secures another win. Even his spotter boards have even become treasured mementos of postgame giveaways.

“I don’t know that I fully understand that spotter boards,” he said. “But I guess it’s kinda cool if maybe someone wants to hang them up in their man cave or whatever.”

Rowland hasn’t allowed his dream job to lighten the workload. He still hosts a radio talk show from 6-9 a.m. on weekdays, operating from an in-home studio. There’s the weekly “Lincoln Riley Show” during football season, preceded by an hour-long show “The Huddle” with former Sooners linebacker Teddy Lehman. There are several shows on SoonerSports TV, including a sports debate format and a soon-to-launch program in which Rowland and guests add fresh commentary to vintage games. Then basketball season brings coaches shows for Lon Kruger and Sherri Coale.

His only regret is not getting more time with Barry, who succumbed to a heart attack midway through the 2011 season when Rowland was new to the job.

“He was a man I dearly loved and grew up listening to, so I wished I had gotten more time with him,” Rowland said. “There was something about his voice and his personality, where as soon as he started talking you wanted to hug the guy and hang out with him. That explains why people listened to him for 50 years.

“I think we get caught up in executing a call properly, which is important, but the staying power in this profession has to do with personality and likability.”

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 Posted: Wed Jun 17th, 2020 04:52 pm

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Thanks for posting this. That Stephen Covey comment at the top hits a little to close to home.

Although I rarely listen to a game on the radio anymore, I really like Toby. I always watch The Huddle and The Lincoln Riley show on FSSW during football season, and he is a really good host in addition to his excellence in the play by play booth.

I know that a lot of people may have grown up listening to Bob Barry, but in my formative years John Brooks/Mike Treps were the voices of Sooner football, and since so few games were televised, they were my main connection. At that time BB was the voice of the Cowboys, so it never really seemed right to me when he came back again as the voice of the Sooners.

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 Posted: Wed Jun 17th, 2020 05:04 pm

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For those that don't listen to Toby and Merv with the TV muted, you are missing a lot of the color commentary. I'm not real fond of hearing the play, then seeing the play.....but I'd rather do that than listen to the TV announcers version.....which I deem to be unflattering to the Sooners most of the time.  I just wish there was an easy (read that as cheap) way of get the two aligned.
Does anyone know if Merv will be back this season?  He has so many memories and back stories to tell, that it makes missing the TV commercials even that much more enjoyable.

47Straight
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 Posted: Wed Jun 17th, 2020 06:01 pm

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AllSooner wrote: For those that don't listen to Toby and Merv with the TV muted, you are missing a lot of the color commentary. I'm not real fond of hearing the play, then seeing the play.....but I'd rather do that than listen to the TV announcers version.....which I deem to be unflattering to the Sooners most of the time.  I just wish there was an easy (read that as cheap) way of get the two aligned.
Does anyone know if Merv will be back this season?  He has so many memories and back stories to tell, that it makes missing the TV commercials even that much more enjoyable.
I listen to the radio on the Tune in app on my ipad.  It is delayed about 20 seconds from real time. Then I can pause the TV (from Directv on the DVR to sync up with the Tune in audio.

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 Posted: Wed Jun 17th, 2020 06:31 pm

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Thanks 47, I'll give that a try this season!

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 Posted: Wed Jun 17th, 2020 08:18 pm

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My first experience with the Sooner Football Network was during the 47 game winning streak when Hal O'Halloran called the games.I loved O'Halloran. His pregame vignettes were tremendous. Barry was great the first time around but not so much the second. Snyder and TREPS were the best team. Toby has kind of grown on me but Merv, as much as I respect Him, is really hard to listen to.

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 Posted: Wed Jun 17th, 2020 10:47 pm

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For those of you who enjoy the OU radio broadcast you can sync up the TV and radio with a sports sync radio.

I have one...it’s one of the best OU related things I have done.

This is what I have...Total cost was around $100

https://www.scannermaster.com/SportSync_Radio_SR_404_p/58-561973.htm?gclid=EAIaIQobChMImLeHlvaJ6gIViYbACh1Q8AKdEAQYASABEgJuE_D_BwE&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cse

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 Posted: Wed Jun 17th, 2020 11:02 pm

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AllSooner wrote:
For those that don't listen to Toby and Merv with the TV muted, you are missing a lot of the color commentary. I'm not real fond of hearing the play, then seeing the play.....but I'd rather do that than listen to the TV announcers version.....which I deem to be unflattering to the Sooners most of the time.  I just wish there was an easy (read that as cheap) way of get the two aligned.
Does anyone know if Merv will be back this season?  He has so many memories and back stories to tell, that it makes missing the TV commercials even that much more enjoyable.


My wife bought me a radio that has a delay feature that allows me to sync it up to the TV broadcast. Works great.

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 Posted: Wed Jun 17th, 2020 11:03 pm

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Soonerheart1 wrote:
For those of you who enjoy the OU radio broadcast you can sync up the TV and radio with a sports sync radio.

I have one...it’s one of the best OU related things I have done.

This is what I have...Total cost was around $100

https://www.scannermaster.com/SportSync_Radio_SR_404_p/58-561973.htm?gclid=EAIaIQobChMImLeHlvaJ6gIViYbACh1Q8AKdEAQYASABEgJuE_D_BwE&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cse


You beat me to it!

AllSooner
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 Posted: Wed Jun 17th, 2020 11:26 pm

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Yep, $100.......got 'er ordered!  Thanks

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 Posted: Thu Jun 18th, 2020 07:03 pm

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Soonerheart1 wrote:
For those of you who enjoy the OU radio broadcast you can sync up the TV and radio with a sports sync radio.

I have one...it’s one of the best OU related things I have done.

This is what I have...Total cost was around $100

https://www.scannermaster.com/SportSync_Radio_SR_404_p/58-561973.htm?gclid=EAIaIQobChMImLeHlvaJ6gIViYbACh1Q8AKdEAQYASABEgJuE_D_BwE&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cse


That’s cool. Glad I’m not the only one that sees the benefit to being able to watch the game and listen on the radio at the same time... in sync.

The fact that someone is making that means there’s enough interest that someone will eventually offer a streaming version that automatically syncs to what your watching, even when paused, skipped back, skipped forward. Which is the way it should be.

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 Posted: Sat Jun 20th, 2020 08:47 am

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Lots of memories listening to Brooks/Treps call the games. Brooks is my all time favorite. Toby is very good, one of the best in my opinion. But does anybody remember when Treps did the play by play instead of the color? He was really good also.

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 Posted: Sat Jun 20th, 2020 11:46 am

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I still remember Little Joe Washington breaking loose on a run that helped OU win a game (OSU or Missouri?) and Mike Trepps doing the play call. In the middle of the run, he let loose with a "go Joe go". He was absolutely as good as anyone who has called the games.

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 Posted: Sat Jun 20th, 2020 11:46 am

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What TREPS did is not easy. He was very versatile. He and Brooks were by far the best team. I wonder who did color for Cronkite and GOWDY during their stints as the voices of the Sooner Football Network.

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 Posted: Sun Jun 21st, 2020 11:32 am

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Absolutely love Toby. Brooks Treps combo will always be my favorite. "Jiminy Christmas". Mikes great side stories. Miss those days. Toby is the best at doing the basketball, Patient with Kevin when he gets wordy.

Last edited on Sun Jun 21st, 2020 12:01 pm by IfallOU2

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 Posted: Tue Jun 30th, 2020 03:47 pm

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I thought Jack Ogle was a really good color guy. Funny and dry witted. And that was back when we had to listen to the radio for almost all the games.

Treps was passionate but listening to him was sort of like listening to a Maxwell Smart bit. He sounded just like Don Adams and would say stuff that was was really hard to follow. Especially when he was doing color. But I just loved the guy.

Funny thing is that OU decided to get a different play by play because Mike would get so carried away. They brought in some guy from Texas for the '77 season. Compared to Mike he was dry and had no passion at all. Polar opposite of Mike. That's where they got rid of that guy and brought in John Brooks. Mike was back as color man.

But nobody loved OU sports more than Mike Treps. Mike was a very nice fellow and he had two daughters that were star tennis players at KU. I think the older one (Tracy) was Big 8 champion.

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 Posted: Tue Jun 30th, 2020 05:20 pm

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Brooks was my favorite. I was so glade when Bob Barry left. He got to ole & made mistake after mistake in his
latter years. He was constancy being corrected. People forget that.

Fly :ou:


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