Bill Roth is heading back inside a Lane Stadium broadcast booth.
Roth, who was the radio voice of Virginia Tech football and men’s basketball for 27 years, will once again do college football play-by-play for ESPN telecasts and Westwood One radio broadcasts this season.
This will be Roth’s fifth season doing football play-by-play for ESPN. He will make his season debut Saturday for the ESPNU telecast of Georgia Southern’s home game with Campbell.
But the following weekend, he will be back at Lane Stadium.
Roth will do the play-by-play for the Westwood One broadcast of Virginia Tech’s Sept. 19 season opener against visiting Virginia. It will be the first Hokies game he has announced since the 2015 spring football game.
“You’ve got to be neutral and call it down the middle,” Roth, 55, said in a phone interview. “I don’t have a problem with doing that. If I’m doing Oregon vs. Washington, I just want to do a great job and hope it’s a great, exciting game.
“A Tech-UVa game, I know the series and both schools and both programs inside and out. So I think I’ll be able to call it totally neutral. I want to do a great job for Westwood One. I can rattle off the great players and the great moments in this series off the top of my head for both teams.”
Although the UVa-Tech clash will be Westwood One’s national game of the week, it will be on Westwood One affiliates in only 49 states. The Westwood One broadcast will be blacked out on stations in the commonwealth in deference to the Tech and UVa radio networks. But it will be able to be streamed in Virginia on WestwoodOneSports.com and the TuneIn app.
This will be Roth’s second football season with Westwood One.
Roth left the Tech booth to become the radio voice of UCLA, but he left the UCLA broadcasts after just one year.
The Syracuse University graduate returned to Tech in 2016 to mentor future sportscasters as a professor in the communications department in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.
Last fall, the sports media and analytics concentration (which Roth helped develop) was upgraded to a major.
Last month, the communications department was upgraded to the School of Communication.
“It’s really exciting for the faculty, who have been working so hard for many, many years,” Roth said.
Roth looks at himself as being more of a coach to the students than a professor.
“They’re broadcasting, they’re cutting tapes or they’re writing stories. Then they turn it in and we work to make it better,” he said.
Roth said being in the classroom is invigorating.
“I have never had more fun,” he said.
But he would not want to stick to just teaching.
“I feel most at home calling games,” said Roth, who also does Westwood One college basketball broadcasts.
Roth does not teach on Fridays because of his announcing job.
“I get critiques [from students] every Monday morning when I get back in,” Roth said with a laugh.
Roth will team with analyst Rene Ingoglia on ESPNU on Saturday and with ex-NFL offensive lineman Ross Tucker for the UVa-Tech game.
While some announcers this season will be working from the ESPN studios in Connecticut or at their homes because of the coronavirus pandemic, Roth will be at the stadiums for both games.
Tirico talks Notre Dame
This will be a busy week for NBC’s Mike Tirico.
On Thursday night, Tirico will be the studio host for NBC’s telecast of the NFL season opener between Houston and Kansas City.
On Saturday, Tirico will be the play-by-play announcer for NBC’s telecast of Notre Dame’s opener against visiting Duke before returning to the NFL studio Sunday.
Notre Dame will be a full-fledged ACC football member this season instead of playing only a partial ACC schedule. The school is temporarily shedding its independent status in the sport because the pandemic wreaked havoc on its original schedule.
Tirico, entering his fifth season on Notre Dame telecasts, does not expect the football marriage to become permanent.
“Notre Dame really loves the independence in football because it gives them the opportunity to play Stanford and USC and … that national schedule,” Tirico said on an NBC teleconference. “It would have to be a drastic change in philosophy to see Notre Dame want to become part of a conference.
“[From] everyone I’ve spoken to on the Notre Dame side, I think that this is a one-year thing and they really enjoy having the ability to keep that national schedule and their independence.”
This will be NBC’s 30th season televising Notre Dame home football games — another reason Notre Dame likes its football independence.
Tony Dungy, one of NBC’s NFL studio commentators, replaces Doug Flutie as Tirico’s partner in the Notre Dame booth. Flutie will instead be a studio analyst on some Notre Dame games.
Tiki and Ronde
Former Cave Spring High School, Virginia and NFL standout Tiki Barber will be part of a TV network’s NFL booth this season, but his twin, Ronde Barber, will not.
Tiki will again team with play-by-play announcer Beth Mowins for NFL games on CBS. They are the No. 8 team in the CBS pecking order. They will do one or two games later in the season, according to Tiki.
Tiki was an analyst for two of CBS’ NFL telecasts last year.
Ronde, who was an NFL game analyst for Fox the past seven seasons, was not part of the NFL lineup that was announced by Fox last week.
The New York Post reported in June that Ronde’s contract was not renewed.
Play-by-play announcer Kenny Albert, who used to be Ronde’s partner, will instead work with Fox newcomer Jonathan Vilma.
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