Football Play-By-Play Job Still Undecided

FAYETTEVILLE -- The University of Arkansas and KATV, the ABC affiliate in Little Rock, haven't yet held formal discussions in regard to the future voice of Arkansas football games.

Mike Nail, Arkansas' basketball play-by-play announcer of 26 years, filled in for football on an interim basis after longtime announcer Paul Eells died July 31.

KATV holds the contract for the radio and television broadcasts of Arkansas athletics.

The university has a long-standing relationship with KATV and, in 1994, the station created the Arkansas Razorbacks Sports Network, which has 48 radio and four television affiliates.

"(Arkansas athletic director Frank) Broyles has made an attempt to initiate formal discussions with KATV regarding the football play-by-play position," Arkansas sports information director Kevin Trainor said. "It would be inappropriate to comment publicly until those discussions have taken place."

Trainor said Broyles' attempt took place in "recent weeks." Dale Nicholson, KATV's general manager, didn't return calls Thursday.

Sources close to the situation consider Nail, Chuck Barrett and Scott Inman to be among the top candidates for the position. The eventual "voice of the Razorbacks" would likely also be selected as the host for The Houston Nutt Show.

Hawgs Illustrated reported on its Web site that sources close to the situation said the university favored Barrett and KATV favored Inman.

Barrett and Inman both said Thursday that they hadn't officially interviewed for the position.

Barrett began broadcasting Arkansas athletics in 1992, when he started the baseball play-by-play job he still performs. He joined the football broadcast in 1994, and Barrett now hosts the broadcast's pregame and postgame shows, in addition to serving as executive producer.

He also hosts the radio talk show "Sports Rap," which airs during the week on 96.3 FM and 1030 AM.

Barrett said he didn't feel too comfortable talking about the position, knowing he was probably up against a mentor (Nail) and a respected colleague (Inman).

"If there's a short list, and I'm on it, then I'm honored to be on it," said Barrett, a Clarksville native. "Beyond that, I just don't know. There's been no formal interview, and I've had very limited conversation about any of this with anyone."

Inman, a news anchor for all three of KATV's nightly newscasts, was just as unclear on his prospects. Inman, a Stuttgart native, was hired by KATV in 1999 as a weekend sports anchor and moved over to news in 2003. He subbed in as the play-by-play voice for six Arkansas basketball games this season.

For the last seven years, Inman has been a part of ARSN's football broadcast on game days. He does segments during the pregame, halftime and postgame shows.

Inman said the possibility of him broadcasting football games had been discussed at KATV, but that no formal discussions had taken place with the university. Besides, he said, "that would all be handled over my head."

"I have no idea what's going to happen, to be honest," Inman said. "I'm flattered to be considered, especially with names like Mike Nail and Chuck Barrett. Some kids dream of playing for the Razorbacks. My dream was to broadcast them."

What remains to be seen is whether the two parties involved -- the university and KATV -- will agree on who should serve as play-by-play man for football. And, if they don't agree, it's not entirely clear who would win out in a power struggle.

KATV's contract with the university states "the broadcaster (KATV) shall select, subject to the approval of the university (which approval shall not be unreasonably withheld)."

In an Aug. 10 report in The Morning News, Broyles said KATV officials would ultimately make the decision on whether to bring back Nail for the upcoming season or hire someone else.

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