By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – The new soundtrack for Mississippi State sports is going to sound very familiar.
Jim Ellis, the longtime color analyst for MSU football and basketball games, has been promoted to play-by-play announcer in both sports, the school announced Tuesday. By his side as color analyst will be Matt Wyatt, the former Bulldog quarterback who has co-hosted the pregame and postgame shows for football games the past two years.
The moves were necessitated by the retirement of broadcasting legend Jack Cristil, who was the voice of the Bulldogs for 58 years before health issues forced him to retire near the end of the 2010-11 basketball season. While Ellis hated to see Cristil’s run end, it allowed him and Wyatt both to fulfill long-held dreams.
“From a professional standpoint, I’ve always wanted to be the Mississippi State guy,” said the 63-year-old Ellis, who will still call MSU baseball games as he has for the past 32 years.
Play-by-play work is nothing new to Ellis, who called MSU women’s basketball games as well as Starkville High School football games for 28 years. Following Cristil is no easy task, but he feels prepared.
“I can’t emulate Jack Cristil – he was a one-of-a-kind, he was an icon,” Ellis said. “But I think that we can hopefully as a team put a product out that Mississippi State people will be proud of, that will be informative and maybe bring to fore some things around the game that they will like to hear about.”
Wyatt, 34, played at MSU from 1996-99 and then entered the television field. He was a sports anchor for WTVA in Tupelo, has been a color analyst on television, and hosts the First Call radio show five days a week.
His new role is one he’s had an eye on for a while, and Wyatt called it “a dream come true.” He’ll now work with a man in Ellis who he first heard while taking recruiting visits to Starkville in the mid-1990s.
“Getting to know him over the years, it really is an unbelievable honor to get to sit up there with him,” Wyatt said. “I can’t wait.”
MSU said it’s still finalizing details regarding a men’s basketball analyst. Ellis will remain the host of the three major sports’ weekly call-in shows and will add the duties of hosting the coaches’ television shows.
Bart Gregory, the play-by-play announcer for women’s basketball, will join Ellis in the baseball booth next season.
Longtime football sideline reporter John Correro will continue in his role. The new football radio team will debut April 9 at MSU’s annual Maroon-White spring game. The Bulldogs open the season Sept. 3 at Memphis.
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or firstname.lastname@example.org.