On Sunday, the voice of the Crimson Tide, Eli Gold, granted me an interview for gridirongirl. I have to admit, I have met a lot of people over the years, but I get nervous every time I talk to Eli. I guess I am just a true fan who is in awe of someone who has done so much for the football program I love so dearly. He is the man, the voice of the Crimson Tide; the voice that can sends chills down your back… and usually does… on Saturdays in the fall at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Eli has been calling the play by play for Alabama Crimson Tide games since 1988. One thing I have always wondered about Eli is how he grew up in New York but made his way down to Alabama. He told me that he was always a huge sports fan and that he originally came to Birmingham to announce for the Birmingham Bulls who were a part of the World Hockey Association. From there, it sounds as though Alabama really stole his heart.
Right now, Eli is in full preparation mode getting ready for the season. There are many things to do before the season even starts he explains. He learns the players, their names, their numbers and even their body styles he tries to memorize, just in case he can’t see a number on a play. He kind of sounds like Santa Claus on Christmas Eve!
Eli does other announcing like NASCAR, the NFL and even tennis. It is very obvious however that Alabama football is where his true passion lies. One thing he repeated throughout our conversation was “through it all, I would never give up the Alabama games, that is absolutely an untouchable.”
When I asked him about some of his most memorable moments while announcing for the Tide, he said that outside announcing the National Championships, that the Terrence Cody (Mount Cody as he was nicknamed) 2nd field goal block against Tennessee for the win was definitely a standout, because without that play there would not have been a trip to the National Championship. He does admit that best call he ever had, was at the end of the 2009 Rose Bowl title game against Texas where proclaimed, “The roses in this grand ole stadium are once again Crimson” Amen.
One can tell that Eli is not full of ego and doesn’t particularly like being called “the Voice”, he describes himself much simpler than that, he says, “I’m a professional describer.” He admits that while his family has enjoyed it, he has never tailgated. But he often tells people that they have not experienced college football until they have experienced the University of Alabama on Game Day.
Eli is married with a daughter, so I couldn’t help but ask what they think about football. “My daughter loves sports, in particular college football. I would go up to her bedroom on a Thursday night and she may be watching Louisville versus Toledo. She graduated from the University and is a huge Crimson Tide fan.” Sounds like a gridirongirl to me!
As I started to wind down our conversation and let him get back to his preparations, the most revealing part of our talk unfolded. I had to ask the three most important questions I knew all gridirongirls would want the answers to:
TM: What are your thoughts on Coach Saban and The Process?
EG: “Well obviously, it works! I have never seen… and it is wonderful to watch a… 61 year old man…relate to 18, 19 and 20 year old kids. It’s a science, it’s an art, the way he does it. The process is obviously one that wins. It wins for him, it’s won for Bill Belichick. It’s a proven entity. You have to buy in to it. The guy (Saban) is just so good with people” he goes on to explain “a lot of folks have no idea what the true Nick Saban is about. Generally they see him on the news, standing behind his podium, usually glaring at a media member for some reason or other. I’m lucky, I get to travel a lot with him…to watch him work the room and deal with people. I’m lucky to see that part of the man. Obviously whatever the “it” factor is Trace…he’s got a bushel full of it. Because his resume is just pock marked with Championships, so the process works!
Did you read that?? He called me Trace!!! 🙂
TM: What are your predictions for this season?
EG: “My prediction for this season is that at 5:30 Eastern time on Saturday we will kick off for game number one. I am not in the predicting business.”
TM: Finish this sentence for me: Game day would not be game day without…
EG: “Game day would not be game day without my seat in the radio booth! I would not know what to do!”
So there you have it ladies! In just 4 short days we will see how well Coach Saban has worked his magic process on this year’s team. Watching this all while listening to Eli put his crimson and platinum description on every moment from the position of the sun in the sky at kick off to the smell of victory or defeat in the hot Atlanta night air when the game clock reads 00:00.
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