Men's Basketball |
Dec. 15, 2010
By Jeff Gentil
You know him as the "Voice of the Bearcats." For the last 14 years, Dan Hoard has been the play-by-play man for Bearcat football and basketball. We all took the "Bearcat Bounce" with him on Fox 19 the first four years, then Hoard moved over to the radio side to WLW-AM, teaming with former UC coach Chuck Machock and has been entrenched courtside ever since.
When Hoard was hired by Fox 19 in 1996 to do sports for the 10 p.m. newscast, they also held the local rights to broadcast Bearcats basketball. Unfortunately for Dan, the play-by-play role at that time was taken by another recognizable name - Thom Brennaman. As luck would have it, the '96-'97 season would be the last year Brennaman's schedule would allow him to do UC telecasts, leaving an opening for Hoard.
"Talk about great timing," Hoard said. "I did the games on TV for four years which happened to be Kenyon Martin's four years at Cincinnati, so I was behind the mic during one of the most dominant stretches in UC history." (And answering the question everyone asks): "Yes, the 'Cats would have won the National Championship if he (Martin) didn't break his leg."
In spring of 2006, after a 10-year stint at Fox 19, Hoard decided it was time to move on. He and wife Peg had been living in separate cities for years and, wanting a normal marriage, he moved back east (to Boston). Logistically, this presented a problem for the UC-Hoard-WLW relationship.
"I got a call from WLW's Daryl Parks saying that as much as he and the station would like me to continue doing UC games, it would no longer be feasible," Hoard said. "It was devastating news, but I wasn't shocked. I had just moved to Boston for family reasons and retaining me as the UC announcer would mean increased travel costs."
So that was the end of the Dan Hoard era, right?
"Fortunately, (former Senior Associate AD) Mike Waddell wanted me to remain behind the mic and found a way to offset the added costs that made sense to the university and the radio station," Hoard said. "I'll always be grateful to Mike for finding a way to make it work and I hope to continue broadcasting UC games for many years to come."
While doing UC games is great, Hoard's dream job is one day to be the play-by-play man for a Major League Baseball team. In 2006, he was hired by the Pawtucket Red Sox (the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox) to be their lead announcer, bringing him closer to his ultimate goal.
Should that come to fruition, it could once again jeopardize the ability for Hoard to continue doing UC games, but it's not an impossible task.
"I would love to try and do both," he said. "For the past several years, my pal Josh Lewin has been the TV voice of the Texas Rangers and the San Diego Chargers, so strange combinations are possible."
This is all assuming he is lucky enough to secure one of those jobs. Hoard describes himself as the "Susan Lucci (18 years of nominations, but not winning) of baseball broadcasting positions." Whether or not Hoard has to wait 18 years to fulfill his dream, he has a few nice fall back options and a loving family at home.
"Being away from my wife Peg and 4-year-old son Sam is the one part of the job that is really difficult," he said. "When I am home, I try to make up for lost time by spending as much time with my family as I possibly can."
During football season, Hoard typically is away from home no more than three days a week. But, basketball season finds him away four or five days, which means he sees his UC family more than his own. Some broadcasters succumb to the pressures of personal relationships and the fans' desire to have a "homer" as part of the announcing team. But, Hoard has a different spin.
"I honestly don't find that to be difficult," he said. "When you listen to our broadcasts I think it's obvious that I want UC to win, but I try to describe things as honestly as I can and that means being critical at times. Having said that, I have tremendous respect for any athlete that can compete at the Division I level so I try not to belittle anyone that's having a bad game or season."
Although he no longer resides in Cincinnati, there are plenty of things he misses about the area.
"I miss seeing some of my closest friends year-round," he said. "I miss sneaking out of the press box to watch a few innings from the right field seats at Great American Ball Park. I miss covering the Bengals every week. I miss Graeters' peach ice cream and/or the banana chip at Aglamesis Brothers in Oakley. I miss Saturday morning at Finley Market. I miss going for a run that starts at Sawyer Point, crosses the Central Bridge into Kentucky, returns to Ohio on the Suspension Bridge and finishes past Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ball Park. I'm glad I still spend much of my year in Cincinnati because it is truly a great place to live and raise a family."
Many remember the old joke about UC meaning "Under Construction" during the Varsity Village upgrades. Being on campus as much as he has been over the last 14 years, Hoard certainly knows all about those days and marvels at the overall transition of the University.
"It's phenomenal," he said. "I think about that every September when I return to campus to begin the football season because there's always something new that catches my eye. I can also tell you that nearly every visiting announcer that comes to UC every year or two makes a point of saying how great it looks. It's a spectacular-looking place."
While the campus may be spectacular, that hasn't been enough to attract as many fans as the University would hope. The attendance for this year's football and basketball games has been disappointing. Despite back-to-back BCS appearances, attendance dwindled at Nippert Stadium this fall. Even a 9-0 start for the men's basketball team has received a lukewarm response. But Hoard believes it's not permanent.
"I'm confident the fans will be back," he said. "For years, people said the city of Cincinnati would never support the UC football team. Well last New Year's Eve, I got to serve as master of ceremonies at a Bearcats pep rally in New Orleans on the day before the Sugar Bowl. I have no idea how many people were there, but there had to be thousands. Having 20,000-plus travel to New Orleans showed everybody that this city will support a winner. Hopefully, this is the year UC basketball fans return in big numbers to Fifth Third Arena."
The partnership between Hoard and UC began with a little luck, almost fizzled out, but today is as strong as ever. Perhaps one day he will see his dream come true of broadcasting Major League Baseball, but for now we all get to enjoy UC's own version of "Marty and Joe" with Dan and Chuck.