After the Mountaineers were eliminated from the Big 12 Baseball Tournament, IMG WVU play-by-play announcer Jeff Culhane stepped away from the microphone for the Mountaineers for the last time as he gets ready for his new job as play-by-play announcer for the North Dakota State Bison.
Jeff has been a friend to the Musket over the years, taking time out of his busy schedule to answer questions about the team, even after he arrived in town only days before the William & Mary game. He spoke with our own Abpriddy before the Mountaineers faced the Alabama Crimson Tide.
I reached out to Jeff for one last Q&A about his time in Morgantown. Jeff was gracious enough to take time away from his new bride-to-be and answer one last set of questions.
Jeff, you came to WVU from Lincoln, Nebraska where you were a part of the Cornhuskers Network. What did you know about WVU & Morgantown before you joined the WVU IMG partnership?
Jeff Culhane: I certainly had an understanding of Mountaineer Athletics prior to my arrival in Morgantown. I was well aware of the success that West Virginia had under Rich Rodriguez and their run through the BCS. The win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl sticks out in my mind as one of the great wins of the BCS era. The beat down of Clemson was one that jumps off the page at you as well. Obviously Don Nehlen had some great teams and there were some great battles with Pitt, Penn State, and Virginia Tech that as a college football fan from the Midwest you paid attention to year in and year out. The Flying WV is one of the most recognized brands in college athletics, not matter where you live.
What were your favorite traditions with WVU?
Jeff: You can’t beat Country Roads. I’m not sure if there’s a better tradition in college sports than 60,000 fans singing that song in unison following a big time win at Mountaineer Field. I remember my first memorable postgame experiencing that was the win in 2013 over #11 Oklahoma State. It’s without a doubt a special tradition that resonates nationwide.
I loved the Mountaineer Insider and used to listen to it every day when I would drive to and from work. Do you have a specific favorite memory of your time with WVU or a favorite podcast you remember?
Jeff: Being able to attend Big 12 Media Days in Dallas every year and get the feel of the conference and be able to interview the big names in our league and around college football was always a fun way to start the season for the Mountaineer Insider. But my favorite podcast was the week of the TCU game in 2014, the same week that College Gameday was in town. I had Scott Van Pelt, Bruce Feldman, Gary Patterson, and Joel Klatt all on the same podcast. Interviewing SVP face to face was exactly what you’d expect it to be. He’s a laid back guy that who was extremely fun to talk to.
Tony Caridi is known as the Voice of Morgantown but you carved out a great niche with the baseball play by play. Which was more exciting: The Men’s basketball tournament run this year or the baseball tournament run this year?
Jeff: Hard question to answer, I can’t speak to what is what like to be around the Men’s team this past season but they certainly had a special year in Kansas City. I can tell you on the baseball side the improvement this team showed fromApril 1 to the end of the season, they truly were playing some of the best baseball in the country. It was a shame that they were left out of a Regional because they deserved to be there. The future is bright for Randy Mazey and West Virginia Baseball.
Speaking of baseball, we witnessed a fantastic turnaround with the baseball team this year after two down years. Given that you watched this team day after day, did you see this kind of run coming or were you shocked by how improved the team was over the past month?
Jeff: You knew this team had the talent to make a run, but you didn’t know if there were too many young players playing at once. That obviously wasn’t the case. Everything came together all at once at the right time.
The upperclassmen started playing up to their capabilities while the pitching staff really formed their roles and filled those roles to perfection. The sweep of Texas coupled with the way this group went toe to toe with a Top 8 National Seed in Texas Tech to me proved how good this baseball team was at the end of the season.
Any final parting words for WVU fans who will miss hearing you during the week?
Jeff: Coming to West Virginia at the time I did in 2013 there were a lot of questions about the new radio network and how everything would come together. Arriving on the Monday of the William & Mary game that season, I knew we had a lot of work to do to provide a great product for Mountaineer Nation. I think we’ve definitely done that. My time at West Virginia has been an important one that’s allowed me to spread my wings as a broadcaster and grow into the opportunity that is in front of me at North Dakota State. I’ve made life long friends along the way and will always try to get back every year. Once a Mountaineer, Always a Mountaineer!!
I want to thank Jeff for taking the time to answer questions for us. Jeff was an asset for the Mountaineers and provided countless hours of information and entertainment for WVU fans. You can follow Jeff on Twitter here. Thanks again Jeff, stay warm in Fargo!