It was one thing for Eli Gold to get the job as the play-by-play announcer for Alabama in 1988 but another was getting a diehard fan base to accept a New York native calling the games.
“Now I’m accepted,” Gold told Phil Elson, Matt Jenkins and Matt Travis (Halftime) Monday afternoon on ESPN Arkansas. “It was a difficult start.”
He started doing men’s basketball in 1988-89 because then-coach Wimp Sanderson had noticed his work in Birmingham. Gold added football in 1989 after John Forney retired after three decades,
Forney and Gold are the only two football announcers for the Crimson Tide since Paul “Bear” Bryant got the job there in 1958.
And that is where most of the complaints came from with a Brooklyn guy who came to Birmingham to do ice hockey taking over a job as high profile in Alabama as any elected official.
“It took awhile,”. It probably took 10-12 years and for some people longer than that. I was a pro sports guy with no ties to the university. It was a difficult time.
“There were people that thought it was terrible I was selected to do the football and basketball games. It was not pleasant. Thankfully, the university stuck with me and here we are 32 years later.”
With Arkansas joining the Southeastern Conference in 1992, Gold started coming to the state every other year since then but it was his only trip to War Memorial Stadium that sticks out in his mind.
“Then-Gov. Bill Clinton attended,” Gold said of the game in 1992 during his first initial presidential campaign. “It showed me how impactful college football is when he took time out of a presidential campaign to get the eyeballs college football brought to him. No pun intended, but it was an eye opener for me.”
He hasn’t had to call many Crimson Tide losses since the Razorbacks came into the league, either. Alabama holds a 21-7 record over that time frame and the last win by the Hogs was in 2006.
“Bama has done pretty well against the Razorbacks over the years,” Gold said.