Keels: Voice of the Buckeyes says Michigan is road favorite

By Jim Naveau - [email protected]

VAN WERT – After 28 seasons as the play-by-play person for the Ohio State’s radio network, Paul Keels is literally and figuratively the voice of OSU football and men’s basketball.

C.J. Stroud and Ryan Day might be more recognizable walking down the street but no one connected with OSU athletics has a more identifiable voice.

The long-time Buckeyes broadcaster brought his splendid vocal chords here to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center Sunday, when he entertained a crowd of around 300 people with stories from his career, OSU games of the past, present and future and a half-hour question and answer session.

Maybe the person least impressed with that legendary voice, though, is Keels himself.

“It’s always flattering when people say things like, ‘You have a nice voice.’ But you know what it’s like when you hear your own voice? That’s how I feel, too. To me, it sounds high, scratchy and whiny,” he said.

Keels got his start in radio at Xavier University’s student radio station. Before being hired by Columbus radio station WBNS in 1998 he built a resume that included doing play by play of Detroit Pistons games, University of Michigan football and a year of Cincinnati Bengals games.

Some more thoughts from Keels from his time on stage on Sunday and from a pre-program interview with The Lima News:

• His most memorable games: “The championship game against Miami (in the 2002 season), the Michigan game that year to clinch the chance to play Miami and the Georgetown (basketball) game in the Final Four that got them to the national championship game in 2007. “Those would probably be the first three I would mention. And the Michigan games are always kind of special just because of that rivalry.”

• What fans ask him most often: “Football, that’s what gets people excited. Most of them want to know what the football team is looking like – who are players to watch, what did you think about the past season. They want to hear about your dealings with the coaches, what it’s like being in these different stadiums.”

• What he expects from Ohio State this football season: “One thing we know going into this season is that the offense is incredible. What you saw in the Rose Bowl is hopefully a sign of what is to come. The big question will be the defense. The defenses the last two years were not up to the level most people expected. Jim Knowles is coming in (as defensive coordinator) and bringing some new looks that haven’t really been defined yet.”

• His favorite venues on the road: “Basketball, it’s Indiana. Football, and this might rankle some people, but I would say Michigan.” The asterisk on those rankings, though, is that Kiels ranked them on sight lines and other broadcast factors, not atmosphere and ambience.

• If he speaks a memorable line on the air, like “And the Buckeyes are going to the desert,” when they beat Michigan in 2002 to qualify for the national championship Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., it was improvised in the moment, not pre-planned. “I don’t pre-plan things like that. I think if you do that it comes off as canned and rehearsed. I don’t do that,” he said.

• He would like an expanded College Football Playoff. “I think it would be a great thing. If they’re going to do that they possibly should eliminate conference championship games. I would love to see it happen. I think we will see it in our lifetimes. I don’t know how soon but it will happen,” he said. “I would love to see opening round games at home sites. Who wouldn’t want to see Alabama play in Columbus in December or Georgia play in Iowa City in December?”

• Like coaches and players, he watches a lot of film on OSU’s upcoming opponent. “I’ll probably watch that team’s previous game three or four times during the week,” he said. “Compare it to when you were in school and had to take a test. Most of the work is done before you take the test.”

• The transfer portal. “It’s good and bad. I think it’s good especially if you have a coaching change. There is a place for it, there are some good things about it. It’s here, it’s reality. It’s something that might help Ohio State next year in basketball,” he said, referring to Wright State’s leading scorer Tanner Holden transferring to OSU.

By Jim Naveau

[email protected]

Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau

Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau