Eli Gold speaks at CCB Monday night
Eli Gold, the voice of the Crimson Tide— a job he has been at since 1988, although he never officially applied for the job—was the guest speaker at the 2014 Escambia County University of Alabama Alumni and Friends annual spring meeting and membership drive Monday night at the Country Club of Brewton.
“I never talked to a soul about it and never actually applied for the job,” Gold said.
In a roughly hour-long talk to a full house at the Country Club of Brewton, the voice of the Tide shared some of his favorite stories while spending time behind the microphone for the Crimson Tide. Following a talk, Gold took questions from those in attendance.
Gold told stories of the Alabama basketball team playing a preseason game against a team from the former Soviet Union, Gene Stallings and the change of the Crimson Tide’s game apparel from Russell Athletics to Nike, working with current coach Nick Saban, thoughts about new Alabama Athletic Director Bill Battle, and the status of Alabama’s new quarterback for the 2014 season.
“It was about 5 p.m. and I was at my courtside seat and we were about to play a team from Belarus, Russia,” Gold told those in attendance. “They had a guy in a once-white shirt with a thin black tie as their liaison and traveling secretary. He came over to help go over pronunciations of all his team’s players. Most of the last names were long and either had all vowels or all consonants. He went over the whole team, but forgot No. 5. When he got done, I asked him about No. 5. He told me it was pronounced the way it looked. The guy’s last name was spelled Y-O-U-R-I-N. He scored 36 points that night. During my call, I kept saying things like ‘Yourin is hot tonight’ and we laughed the whole broadcast.”
As for the story of coach Gene Stallings, Gold told of how Nike had outbid Russell to be Alabama’s jersey sponsors. During the coaches call in show, callers were calling in and talking to Stallings and saying how angry they were that the University did not have the company located in the state of Alabama as the sponsor. Coach Stallings started getting angry and started rubbing the area where Nike’s swoosh logo would be on the jersey and he could not remember what the logo was called and he called it a swastika.
“I looked at our producer with big eyes and he knew by my eyes that I was asking him if I had heard coach right or not,” Gold said. “He looked back at me with those same eyes and basically said ‘yes he did and you are going to have to find a way to get it right’ so when he got done I went to a break. I told coach that with his comment we may have just lost all of our Jewish listeners. He told me, ‘Aw heck, I didn’t mean anything like that.’”
As for working with coach Saban, Gold’s one way of describing it was “it is different.”
“There is nothing wrong with it, it is just different,” he said. “I have worked with every coach since Bill Curry. I have never seen a man like coach Saban. He can relate to 18, 19, and 20-year-olds. He knows what they are thinking.”
Gold told of how Saban differed from every coach when it came to an event before the start of school called “Bama Blast.”
“Every coach before coach Saban never attended the event because it was always during practice,” Gold said. “They would record a segment and it would be played at the event. Well, I went to coach and asked him when we would record his segment and he told me he would show up in person. He wanted to know what time it started and I told him 3 p.m. and he said he would be there at 3:01 p.m. Well at 3:00.58 seconds, he walks out the tunnel and grabs the mic and talks to the kids. I wanted to go out and hit someone when he got done he had me so fired up.”
Another way Gold said Saban was different is how he deals with the pregame show on the radio before games.
“I would usually go to other coaches homes on Friday or record it from the hotel where we would be staying,” Gold said. “Coach Saban wants his done two hours before kickoff. Now if we play on CBS, we kickoff at 2:37 p.m. Coach does not want it done at 12:30 p.m., he wants it at 12:37 p.m.”
As far as new athletic director Bill Battle, Gold said he is an “outstanding man.”
“I feel to be a successful AD at a school, you need three elements, and coach Battle has all three,” Gold said. “I feel you need to have played at a given university, coached at the college level and been a CEO of a given corporation. He meets all those and was hand-picked by former director Mal Moore.”
As for the 2014 quarterback position, Gold said the job is anyone’s at this point.
“No one is saying,” he said. “It will be a spirited competition. Jacob Coker is coming from Florida State. Coach has not given him the job, but has told him he would compete for it like the others. If you went to A-Day, you saw nothing. We don’t want to give West Virginia anything to stat preparing for for their game with us on August 30.”
Questions from the audience centered around Alabama’s recent picks in the NFL Draft, friendliest visitor’s stadium, AJ McCarron and the media, relationship with radio partner Chris Stewart, and how he found his way to Alabama from New York.
Gold will be inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame Saturday night in Birmingham.
Gold works with the Crimson Tide Sports Network (CTSN) — a network with more than 50 radio stations in Alabama and around the south. Gold is now in his third decade as the voice of the Tide.
Gold has called the action of every Crimson Tide game since 1989. A nationally known sportscaster, Eli is also the host of ‘NASCAR Live’, a weekly, nationally syndicated radio call-in show. His broadcasting career includes play-by-play for NFL, Arena Football League and NHL games on radio and television.
According to his bio on his website eligold.com, Gold was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He started his sports broadcasting career in 1972 working as a weekend sports reporter with the Mutual Broadcasting System.
Gold has handled various play-by-play assignments over the years. Included are 12 years as a professional hockey announcer in the Eastern, North American, Southern, American
and Central Hockey Leagues as well as the World Hockey Association (Birmingham Bulls) and the National Hockey League (St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators).
Gold was the first play-by-play announcer for the UAB Blazers basketball team and remained part of that broadcast crew for six years.
Gold spent four years as the “voice” of the Birmingham Barons baseball team (AA Southern League) and was named the Southern League’s Broadcaster Of The Year in 1983.
Since 1976, Eli has been a member of NASCAR’s Motor Racing Network (MRN), which broadcasts NASCAR racing events over a 600-station radio network. Over the years, Eli has served the network as a co-anchor, turn announcer and pit reporter. In addition, since 1982, Gold has hosted a weekly, nationally syndicated, radio call-in show about NASCAR racing. “NASCAR Live” is now heard on over 450 of MRN’s radio affiliates each and every Tuesday night. Many companies with ties to racing continue to call upon Eli to narrate their corporate videos and speak at their special functions and dinner banquets.
Effective with the 1996 NASCAR racing season, Eli began serving as the anchorman for The Nashville Network’s (TNN) televised coverage of NASCAR racing. Eli has also worked in a play-by-play role with ESPN, CBS Sports and NBC Sports in their coverage of NASCAR racing.
Starting with the 1988 season, Eli became the radio play-by-play voice of the University Of Alabama Crimson Tide football and basketball teams. His responsibilities with “The Tide” also included hosting “Hey Coach”, the weekly football and basketball coach’s radio call-in show. To this day, Gold continues as the football “voice” of the Tide. In the past, Gold was called upon by CBS Sports to handle the play-by-play on a college basketball regional telecast featuring the Universities of Georgia and South Carolina.
Starting with the 2000 season, Eli became TNN’s “voice” of the Arena Football League handling the play-by-play for the network’s live coverage of the AFL. Eli continued as the play-by-play announcer for the entire 3-year run of the AFL on TNN. In 2003, NBC Sports hired Eli to join the network as a play-by-play announcer for their coverage of the Arena Football League. In addition to his work on NBC, Eli has also been an Arena Football League play-by-play announcer for both FOX Sports Net (FSN) and Comcast Sports.
Starting in the Fall of 2003, Eli became part of SportsUSA Radio Network’s coverage of the National Football League. SportsUSA Radio is one of two national networks to offer live, syndicated coverage of the NFL. Eli handles the play-by-play of one NFL game each weekend. In addition, Eli continues to “call” post-season college football bowl and all-star games for SportsUSA Radio.
Looking back, Gold has served as the host of “Thursday Night Thunder” which was part of ESPN’s auto racing coverage. He has handled college baseball broadcasts for SportsChannel America and was the radio network play-by-play voice of the Florida Citrus Bowl in both 1989 and 1990. For 7 years, Gold also hosted “This Week In NASCAR”, a live televised call-in show that over the years aired both on “Prime Network” and TNN.
Outside of his play-by-play duties, Eli was the Sports Director for WERC Radio in Birmingham, Alabama and for six years hosted a nightly sports call-in show entitled “Calling All Sports”. He resigned his position with WERC to accept a job as Sports Director with WBRC-TV Channel 6, which at that time was Birmingham’s ABC affiliate. At WBRC, Eli anchored three sportscasts each evening and also hosted a weekly call-in show “Sports Talk With Eli”. Eli elected to leave WBRC-TV at the expiration of his contract to further expand his play-by-play duties.
Gold is a 4-time Alabama Sportscaster Of The Year as voted by his peers in the National Sportscasters And Sportswriters Association. He was twice named Alabama Sportscaster Of The Year by the Associated Press and once earned the same honor from United Press International.
Born in December 1953 in Brooklyn, New York, Gold now resides in Birmingham, Alabama and Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina with his wife Claudette and their daughter Elise.