Rowland, who has been the OU sideline reporter the past two seasons, said Tuesday he was honored to land his dream job.
“From an early age, this has been the job,” said Rowland, a KWTV-9 sports reporter and KREF-AM talk show host. “It has been the job. I thought it would be the pinnacle beyond all else. To follow in footsteps of Bob Barry, who I think the world of, and before him John Brooks, Walter Cronkite and Curt Gowdy. It’s just an amazing legacy. I’m extremely humbled. I am really excited at the chance to make Sooner fans proud.”
Growing up in Mustang, Rowland said he used to listen to the OU football games on a transistor radio with his father, Terry Rowland, who then was pastor of Mustang First Church of the Nazarene.
“We didn’t get to go to many games because my dad was a pastor,” he said. “We listened to John Brooks most of the time and I would act out plays in the backyard as he would call them. When the game was over, I would spend the rest of the night being the play-by-play guy myself and acting them out.”
Rowland has play-by-play experience in covering basketball, baseball and football at his alma mater, Southern Nazarene University, Norman High School football for two years and a variety of sports at OU. He said he started the SNU sports information department his senior year after giving up his spot on the basketball team.
“I feel like I am going to do the very best I can possibly do to bring an entertaining and prideful broadcast to the University of Oklahoma, and I feel confident of that. Oklahoma is such a great job. I’m not naive. I know there were a lot of bigger names that wanted this job. That’s why I am so humbled and appreciative that they have trusted me with such a big responsibility.”
Among the big names interested in the job were Kansas City Chiefs radio voice Mitch Holthus, whom sources said was offered the job, and Washington Nationals TV announcer Bob Carpenter. In an email, Holthus complimented the Sooners on “a great hire. This is a hire for an entire generation of Sooner fans.”
Carpenter, a Tulsa resident who handles Sooners men’s basketball telecasts, said he was not contacted by OU officials.
Among other candidates were Nebraska play-by-play announcer Greg Sharpe, OU baseball announcer Chuck Kelly and OU women’s basketball announcer Brian Brinkley.
Rowland’s versatility was an asset as OU develops plans to launch its own television network. Rowland is expected to have a role with the network.
“We know the tremendous work ethic he will expend carrying out the play-by-play duties,” OU athletic director Joe Castiglione said. “Outside our department, it has been encouraging to watch his expanding role in the marketplace. He is a talented broadcaster with a creative flare, and he has flourished in multiple media settings.” Rowland said he is undecided about continuing to work for KWTV-9 and KREF. His five-year contract with KWTV expires in August.
“I need to talk to both of them and my wife and then decide,” he said. “They have been both great to me.”