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Ellis named MSU's play-by-play voice

March 29, 2011

Jim Ellis will take over play-by-play duties for all MSU sports. (Photo submitted by MSU media relations)

By MATTHEW STEVENS
sdnsports@bellsouth.net

Mississippi State athletics is ready to embark on a new era of radio broadcasting with a pair of familiar voices behind the microphone.
For the first time in 58 years, a new play-by-play broadcaster was introduced Tuesday afternoon as veteran broadcaster Jim Ellis will have those duties for the Mississippi State football, men's basketball team, while continuing his responsibility of calling Bulldogs baseball games.
A native of West Point, and a 1969 graduate of Mississippi State, Ellis has been a part of the football broadcast for 32 seasons. He has hosted the post-game locker room interviews and scoreboard radio shows in addition to his duties as color analyst. Perhaps most widely recognized as the play-by-play voice of the baseball team on one of the nation’s largest college baseball radio networks, Ellis was named the “Outstanding Broadcaster in Mississippi” in 1999 and 2002.
"It's what I always wanted to do," Ellis said. "It's a really sweet moment for me from a professional standpoint."
Ellis will continue his role as weekly call-in show host for all three sports, and will add hosting duties of weekly coaches’ television shows.
“This was a no-brainer for Learfield Sports in terms of having somebody in place that is already instantly recognizable and well-liked by the fan base at Mississippi State,” Bulldogs Sports Properties general manager Don Williams said. “Jim is a consummate professional and will do a great job in the play-by-play role for all three sports.”
Ellis takes over the play-by-play duties from the legendary Jack Cristil, who called more than 2,000 MSU games.
“Jim is a tremendous, experienced broadcaster and has already established a recognizable presence on the airwaves with Mississippi State athletics,” Mississippi State athletics director Scott Stricklin said.
Cristil announced his retirement after the men’s basketball broadcast at Humphrey Coliseum in which State lost 84-82 to LSU on Feb. 23.
"(Jack) really has been a good friend of mine for a long, long way," Ellis said. "Jack was an icon and you can't replace a man like Jack Cristil - no way. Hopefully we as a group.....as a whole package and be a team that delivers a good product for Mississippi State fans."
Part of that group will be a former player in the color analyst role with the hiring of former Mississippi State quarterback Matt Wyatt to fill the seat next to Ellis starting in the 2011 season.
"I just don't have a way to put it into words what an honor it is from getting to work with Jim and getting to work in a booth that Jack sat in for 58 years," Wyatt said. "The first time I ever heard a broadcast (as a sophomore in high school on a recruiting trip) was Jim doing a baseball game."
Wyatt played in 10 games for the Bulldogs in 1996 as a redshirt freshman, earning two starts from former head coach Jackie Sherrill against South Carolina and Auburn. During his sophomore season at quarterback, Wyatt earned a starting position and helped MSU to a seven-win season. Wyatt, who also hosts the First Call radio show out of Tupelo, played in the 1998 Southeastern Conference Championship Game, the 1999 Cotton Bowl and led the largest fourth quarter comeback in MSU football history (a 18-16 victory at Auburn in 1999).
"I had two major dreams with football and they both have come true at Mississippi State and that pretty much sums it up," Wyatt said.
Ellis said Tuesday that one of the first advantages that State fans will notice very early on about the new broadcast team will be the amount of knowledge sprinkled in by finally having a former player's perspective in the color analyst role.
"We had a situation before of having a play-by-play guy and a second play-by-play guy," Ellis said. "I, as a color analyst, tried to stay away from x's and o's. Matt can understand that part and brings that to the table."
For the last two seasons, Wyatt was a voice on the Cellular South pre-game and post-game shows with MSU assistant athletic director and women's basketball play-by-play voice Bart Gregory. The 34-year-old Wyatt previously worked as a sports reporter for WTVA Television in Tupelo, from 2001-2003 and has done television color commentary for college football games on CSS.
"It was two years ago, we had coach Sherrill in at The Veranda Restaurant for post-game and he was blown away at how I could speak," Wyatt joked. "He did comment that if I could've played as well then as you speak now, you'd been a much better player."
Ellis and Wyatt will be as always be joined by John Correro as the sideline reporter sidelines. The Greenwood native is a three-year football letterman (1959-61) at Mississippi State and has been a part of the radio broadcasts since 1979.
Ellis will continue his role as weekly call-in show host for all three sports, and will add hosting duties of weekly coaches’ television shows.
Ellis, Wyatt and Correro will have their broadcast debut at Mississippi State's Maroon-White Spring Game on April 9 at 5 p.m.
For the third season, Wyatt and Gregory will continue to host the pre-game and post-game shows.
Gregory, 34, will join Ellis in the baseball booth at Dudy Noble Field at the start of 2012 season while continuing to serve as the play-by-play voice of the Lady Bulldog basketball team.
Since taking over the play-by-play duties of MSU baseball 31 years ago, the broadcast has been primarily a one-man duty and the addition of a second voice is something he'll welcome next spring.
"There's no question Bart and I can work together well," Ellis said. "There's been times when I wonder 'is anybody paying attention to this?' I think it'll be fun (and) Bart and I will have a good time with it."
Mississippi State officials said they hadn't finalized an agreement with a second broadcaster for men's basketball radio broadcasts as that person will replace Ellis' 28-year tenure as color analyst work in that capacity.

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