One man who always keeps his eye on the ball is Bob Behler, the "voice" of the Boise State Broncos football and basketball broadcasts. With football season just beginning, Behler is deep into the X's and O's of one of the most unpredictable football programs in the nation. Before long, he'll be gearing up for a new basketball season too.
Born and bred in Stockton, California, the son of a pharmacist and teacher, Behler said there was only one true love in his formative years: sports.
Was there any question of what you wanted to do for a living?
I played little league baseball, but by the time you're 12, you realize if you're not really good, you've got to find some other way to be in sports. I started in high school at a cable TV station. By the time I was a junior, I was broadcasting high school football games on the local radio station.
Is it fair to ask you which you love more: football or basketball?
Right now, I'm so excited about football, but in three or four months, it'll all be about Boise State basketball. And I'm really looking forward to Boise State getting baseball. I'm hoping I have the opportunity to call some baseball next year.
Your own play-by-play contract is with...
Learfield Sports, the group that contracts with Boise State for the play-by-play broadcasts.
Did Boise State interview you for the job?
So, can you speak to the balance of being a broadcast journalist rather than a cheerleader for the home team?
First of all, you have to be yourself. I think people can tell that I want Boise State to win, but I'm not going to be screaming about the officiating or a penalty against Boise State. I just don't think that's my place.
I'm sure I'm not the first to tell you that many fans, myself included, turn down the audio of the network TV broadcast and use your radio broadcast for the play-by-play when we watch the game at home.
Thanks. That's flattering. But keep in mind, the radio broadcast is a few seconds sooner, because of a delay in most television broadcasts.
I know that working in the sports world can be a bit of a nomadic experience, and some broadcasters move from town to town to take another job. Are you in a position to listen to other job offers from bigger broadcast markets?
I've been very fortunate. Each of the two times I moved, it was tremendous. I was at Bucknell for 13 years and then I had the opportunity to take a job at UMass; it was a nice step up. I came here in 2008, the right place and the right time. I really enjoy living in Boise; I have a great home and recently got married.
How many seasons have you been broadcasting college football?
Thirty-one years in all.
Do you have an idea of how many games you've called play by play?
No, but I can tell I've called exactly 100 wins in the nine years here at Boise State.
Some people would have to work decades to call that many wins for one school.
My first game was Kellen Moore's first game [as BSU quarterback].
That began a lot of wins for Boise State.
Fifty wins of the first 53 games. It's a lot more fun when your team is doing well.
What games this season should we be paying particular attention to?
I think it's the Broncos' toughest schedule, at least in the nine years that I've been here. We won two really tight home games last year against BYU and the University of Washington. Well this year, we have to turn around and play them again, but we'll be the visitors. But then you look at two other crucial games that we lost last year on the road, at Air Force and Wyoming. And this year, they have to come here. I think we're looking at four games that could go either way.
If there was such a thing as the perfect schedule...
I would have us play at Colorado Springs and Laramie, Wyoming in the early fall when the weather was really nice, and make sure we were playing in San Diego and Hawaii by the end of the season.
This never gets old, does it?
I've got the best seat in the house.