NSSA: ASU win is still hard to believe
By Ronnie Gallagher
We know what Michigan fans were thinking as Appalachian State wrapped up its 34-32 win against the Wolverines in the season opener last year.
But what was the feeling in Columbus, Ohio?
Paul Keels was there, calling the Buckeyes’ game against Youngstown State ó like the Mountaineers, an FCS team playing a Big Ten power.
Keels and his wife, Debbie, are in town this week celebrating his Ohio Sportscaster of the Year award. He vividly remembers his reaction on Sept. 1, 2007.
“Ohio State was still playing,” said Keels, who was keeping tabs on the Michigan score. “I couldn’t believe it. I absolutely couldn’t believe it.”
The Buckeyes finished off its win 15-to-20 minutes before Appalachian State’s shocker. The scoreboard didn’t get the Michigan game ó broadcast by the Big Ten Network ó on right away. But it was on the TVs in the concession stands.
“We could hear people down in the bowels of the stadium watching the game,” Keels recalled. “When something good happened for Appalachian State, all the Ohio State fans started cheering.”
Eight months later, Keels is still a bit baffled by it all.
“We all had heard Appalachian State was a team that could give them a run,” he said. “But even now, almost a year later, I still can’t believe it happened.”
Ask practically anyone here this week for their thoughts and they all can certainly appreciate how the Mountaineers’ win impacted fans nationwide.
“I was happy I paid a visit to Boone,” national Sportswriter of the Year Bob Ryan said. “I could visualize the stadium. I could relate to it a little bit better had I never been there.”
Wyoming winner Frank Gambino loved the outcome.
“I thought it was so cool,” he said, “because Michigan people needed a taste of humility. Somebody had to give it to them at some point and it was these guys.”
Ryan says the thing that sets sports apart from entertainment is that you don’t know how a game is going to turn out. And what Appalachian State pulled off is a perfect example of why he’s in this business.
“It’s one of the things that makes sports worthwhile,” Ryan said.
In Columbus, THE Ohio State University is No. 1.
But No. 2?
“I know they sold a lot of Appalachian State T-shirts in Columbus,” Keels smiled.
NOTE: Keels shares his award with Marty Brennaman of the Cincinnati Reds. Brennaman’s career blossomed in Salisbury calling American Legion baseball games.
Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or firstname.lastname@example.org.