MORGANTOWN – You may not know Bill Nevin’s name and you may not know his face but there aren’t any sports fans who attend West Virginia football and basketball games that don’t know his voice.

If Tony Caridi is “The Voice of the Mountaineers” throughout the state, Bill Nevin is “the voice of the Mountaineers” within the facilities in which they play, for he is the school’s public address announcer.

His position is defined, really, by one phrase that rings throughout the Coliseum during basketball season:

“Now let’s roll out the carpet and bring on the Mountaineers!”

“That tradition has lived on for years,” he said late this week as he finished up readying to call his next game. “Doing those introductions for a big game, there’s just nothing like it. You can have a lot of fun with that.”

Saturday afternoon, they won’t be rolling out the carpet, but Nevin will be the man behind the microphone bringing on the Mountaineers when Texas comes calling at Milan Puskar Stadium in a crucial Big 12 football encounter.

And this game will be a little bit different, for Nevin will call the game as the winner of the college 2018-19 Bob Sheppard P.A. Announcer of the Year Award, named after the legendary voice of Yankee Stadium.

To hear Sheppard do the starting lineups was like listening in to the voice of God, deep, rich tones echoing throughout the stadium, perfect enunciation, perfect inflection.

I never was there to hear it but ...

   “The Yankees were always on national television and often times the national coverage will take the starting lineups from the PA announcer. What a distinct delivery he had. It was iconic,” he said.

“I remember he would announce it “Derek GEE-ter ... GEE-ter.” He always repeated the last name. He had his own, unique style. To win an award named after him is quite an honor and humbling,” Nevin said.

Nevin is a Midwesterner who graduated from Southern Illinois University with a degree in broadcasting and who came to Morgantown to work for West Virginia radio.

He recalls well how he got his start as a public address announcer for it was in one of WVU’s most memorable games, the 1992 game with Syracuse that included a riotous sideline brawl initiated by the Orange’s quarterback, Marvin Graves. That all ended with two WVU players ejected while Graves played and won the game for Syracuse.

Even the The New York Times knew what happened. Its headline on the game that day read: “Graves Starts a Brawl But Wins the Game.”

The legendary Doc Stephens was the long time PA announcer at the time.   

“Doc hardly ever missed a game but he had a dental conference down in Florida so they asked me if I wanted to fill in for him,” Nevin said. “That was my first stint doing public address here at West Virginia University. After that I did some basketball games for him, but he didn’t miss many.”

It was 2004 when Stephens died and Nevin replaced him as the voice of the “The Pride of West Virginia” marching band.

“At the same time they held auditions for football and basketball and I got basketball and Travis Jones got football,” Nevin said.

Jones later would leave to do Fairmont State radio and that produced too many conflicts, so Nevin also took over football.

Nevin takes the job seriously, so his homework is extensive.

“As soon as the depth chart comes out that week I’ll start working on it. Then the notes comes out and they have pronunciation guide, so I’ll get a handle on that early in the week, especially the skill players,” Nevin said.

“Typically I’ll spend a good amount of time on the opponents. On game day, I get there two and a half hours before the game and sit down with the opposing teams public relations people and get changes and pronunciations,” he said.

“I’ve always felt the most important thing in my job as a public address announcer was to get things right, especially the names. I know I’ve been in situations where someone pronounced my name wrong and I took it personally.”

And doing basketball and football is almost like having two different jobs.

“I look at basketball as a little bit easier to call because you are closer to the action and you are really only dealing with 10 players at a time and you can see their faces and their numbers,” he said, trying to explain how he prepares.    

“Football you really need to stay focused because you are far removed from the playing action, the players have helmets on, the uniforms these days it’s hard to pick up the numbers sometimes.”

So he works with a spotter and they have created good chemistry.

“The offense has become so high powered and from one play to the next you only have a short time to figure out what happened before they are at the line of scrimmage to snap the ball again,” he said.

“You have to be concise with your words and be able to decipher what just happened in a short period of time. A lot of PA announcers think they are play by play announcers, and that’s not what we are. We have a duty to keep the crowd informed in a short amount of time.”

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel

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