When Jamestown native Dan Hoard graduated from Syracuse University in the mid-1980s, he wanted to get into sports broadcasting so badly that he would have gladly returned home and begun his career doing the Game of the Week on WJTN Radio.
Imagine, then, how he feels today?
Because when Cincinnati squares off against Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinal at 3:30 p.m. at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Hoard will be providing the radio play-by-play on 700 WLW in Cincinnati.
“It’s such a privilege to have an opportunity to broadcast the Cotton Bowl,” he said earlier this week. “It’s the biggest football game in University of Cincinnati history. Honestly, when you get into sports broadcasting, it’s the type of game you dream of doing, but most people never get to. … You don’t know if the breaks will fall your way. The fact they did, and I get to do this game, exceeds my dream, it really does.”
Hoard, a Southwestern Central School graduate, has been living the dream for the entirety of his decorated career. Also the radio play-by-play voice of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals and the University of Cincinnati men’s basketball team, his bulging resume includes being named the Ohio Sportscaster of the Year four times. He was also inducted into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.
“Honestly, growing up in Jamestown and listening to Van Miller (another CSHOF inductee) this does not seem all that unusual to me,” Hoard said of his crazy on-air schedule. “Van did that. Back in the day he did the Bills, did the (NBA) Braves when they existed, he was on the TV news at 6 and 11 and he hosted ‘It’s Academic,’ so I certainly had a role model to watch and listen to as a kid. … Honestly, it doesn’t seem like anything that unusual or exceptional to me, except for the fact I’m getting to call these great teams this year, which is really lucky.”
Hoard arrived in Arlington on Wednesday, will broadcast today’s Cincinnati-Alabama semifinal, will fly back to Cincinnati on Saturday morning so he can broadcast the Bearcats’ basketball game against Tulane that night, and will then provide the play-by-play for Sunday’s NFL game between the Bengals and the Kansas City Chiefs.
“This stretch — when all three are going on at the same time — is the absolute best. It’s so much fun. It’s fantastic,” Hoard said. “I’m so lucky. I’m Lou Gehrig. I’m the luckiest man on the face of the earth.
“There have been years when all of my teams have been good,” Hoard continued, “but considering that the University of Cincinnati football team just made history by becoming the first team outside the Power 5 to qualify for the four-team playoff, that takes it up a big level for me.”
The Bengals have taken their game up a notch this season, too.
“They’re a year ahead of schedule from my vantage point,” Hoard said, “(but) never underestimate Joe Burrow in anything. I think he has lifted the entire organization with his personality, his leadership and, obviously, his play, so it’s thrilling, honestly. It’s thrilling for any Cincinnati Bengals’ fan to not only watch the game this year, but watch it with the knowledge that this guy is likely to be their quarterback for the next 10 years, maybe longer. When you have a player at that position of his caliber, you have a chance to win Super Bowls and, honestly, there’s a good chance I’ll have the opportunity to call one sometime in the next five to 10 years, maybe more than one.”
Hoard describes Cincinnati’s college football team as a “Cinderella story, but not a Cinderella team.”
“They’re likely to have eight NFL draft picks this year. They have one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Desmond Ridder. He’s played in 49 college games. Cincinnati has won 44 of them. They have one of the best coaches in the country in Luke Fickell, and they’ve lost one game in the last two years and that game was against Georgia in the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Day last year. They lost on a 53-yard field goal with less than five seconds to go.”
In between assignments that have allowed him to crisscross the country, Hoard has had to carve out time to do his “homework” for each broadcast, which he describes as “part of the fun.”
“My dad was an upholsterer, my stepfather was a wholesale florist. Those guys worked for a living,” Hoard said. “Reading about sporting teams and watching their previous games is hardly digging a ditch. I do put a lot of time into it, I consider it an important part of the job and I’ve learned how to budget my time to make sure I can prepare for the game I’m doing, but I do enjoy it. I kind of look at it as I’m preparing for two final exams every week. I’ve got the college game on Saturday and the NFL game on Sunday, so I’m trying to be as prepared as I can be for each.”
For further confirmation of how much he enjoys his work, Hoard posted the following Tweet on Thursday morning:
“The Gaylord Texan Resort is quiet at the moment with a red and green Christmas vibe,” he wrote with an accompanying photo. “It will be noisy with a red and black #Bearcats vibe tonight for our special radio show in the Texan Station Beer Garden area. Starts at 7:00 Dallas time (8:00 in Cincinnati on @700wlw).”
Hoard is hoping he’ll be hosting another pregame radio show next week in Indianapolis, the site of the national championship game.
“If Cincinnati pulls off the upset (today) … that could not be more convenient for Cincinnati fans,” he said. “If they somehow advance, it’s an easy drive over to Indy, which is less than two hours away.
“Fingers crossed I get to call a national championship game. That, obviously, would be an unbelievable thrill.”