In traveling with the Sooner Caravan on numerous stops in the offseason, new OU radio voice Toby Rowland was frequently asked what his touchdown call will be when he broadcasts his first Sooners' game as the replacement for longtime announcer Bob Barry Sr.
“I would always tell OU fans that the one word I have ruled out is ‘pistols,' Rowland said with a chuckle, referring to OSU announcer Dave Hunziker's “Pistols firing!” touchdown call. “I will not use the word pistols. Anything other than that is fair game.”
Rowland, 37, the OU sideline reporter the past two seasons, said he hasn't spent a lot of time thinking up cute phrases to use for his debut Saturday night in calling the Tulsa game on the Sooner Sports Network.
“If you sit around too much and try to think up cute things, when they come out, they usually end up sounding corny,” he said. “I'm just going to be myself and be natural. Whatever comes out comes out. If anything sticks over time, then it sticks.”
Rowland has gotten ideas from several of his play-by-play colleagues, including Eli Gold at Alabama, Gene Deckerhoff at Florida State, Steve Jones at Penn State, Mike Kelly at Missouri and Hunziker.
“All have been awesome in reaching out, not only in wishing me luck, and in offering advice and tips,” Rowland said.
Rowland worked the spring game with analyst Merv Johnson, who is entering his 13th season in the booth, and new sideline reporter Chris Plank. But this will be his first game with new sideline analyst Roy Williams, the former Sooner and NFL star safety who also is making his debut.
Occasionally during the game, Plank will get Williams' analysis.
Rowland said, “Chris will bring him in and say, ‘What did you see on this play. Was there a blown coverage or something?'”
Plank and Williams will co-host the first 45 minutes of the pregame show, and Rowland and Johnson will handle the final 45 minutes.
Rowland said he has spent numerous hours preparing for his debut, and he also hosted Bob Stoops' first radio show Tuesday night and the “Coaches Corner” assistant coaches show Thursday night on the Sooner Sports Network.
He also hosts a 6 to 9 a.m. radio show on KREF-AM 1400 from a studio in his Piedmont home, and appears on the station's “Drive Time Dream Team” with James Hale and P.J. Mills from 5:30 to 6 p.m. He left KWTV-9 in early August, although he has a freelance contract with the station.
“This week is pretty cram-packed,” Rowland said. “It's probably good because it's keeping me from getting too awfully nervous.”