Interview: ESPN's Chris Fowler excited to be back in Nebraska after 12 years away
LINCOLN - ESPN's Chris Fowler is returning to Nebraska for the first time since 2007. He is very familiar with the Cornhusker state and the football team even had a helping hand in his 30-year broadcasting career.
Chris Fowler's grandparents were from Kimball, Neb. and they would frequently make the drive east on Interstate 80 to watch the Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium. It was his grandmother's passion for sports, especially the Huskers and Chicago Cubs, that nudged Fowler onto the path of sportscasting.
"Weekends spent with them, absorbing sports and seeing, in particular, my grandmother's passion was what kind of sparked an interest in this career for me," Fowler said. "I had a huge affection for them. I loved visiting them in Lincoln. I spent a lot of time as kid in Nebraska."
He first heard about Nebraska football and talked about the NFL with his grandmother. For every Cubs game, with a transistor radio and folding chair in her backyard, she taught Fowler how to score a baseball game.
The lessons he learned from his grandma blossomed into a degree from the University of Colorado and a 24-year run (1990-2014) on ESPN's College GameDay. In 2014, he replaced Brent Musburger as the play-by-play announcer for the primetime Saturday night college football game on ABC each week.
College GameDay returns to Lincoln on Saturday for the sixth time in the show's history and for the first time since 2007. That year, the Huskers lost to USC, 49-31.
Fowler hosted GameDay for each of the first six stops. He says he had to check out the Husker weight room, because of the "Pipeline" legacy. He also made stops at Memorial Stadium and it wasn't uncommon for him to grab a beverage with a few of the Huskers after the game on O Street.
His fondest memory of hosting the college football pregame show in the Capitol City was when Nebraska dominated Colorado in an 11 a.m. game. He says he's never seen so much energy for a kickoff before noon.
"The goalposts were ripped down and taken out of the stadium," he said. "We had a postgame show with our desk out there and all of the sudden here comes this upright. This yellow piece of medal in this huge crowd that was swarming the set and I thought, 'Someone's going to get killed if we don't get this piece of medal out of the crowd.' We had the idea to lay it right across the desk. It was like they won this trophy, presented it to us and we laid this goalpost along the top of the desk while we did this postgame show. It was just pandemonium and they knew I'd gone to Colorado, so I was getting the business from them."
Fowler feels like he was able to see some of the greatest teams to ever play college football by being around those Nebraska teams in the mid-90s to 2001.
College Football Live will originate from Lincoln on Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. from the same location.
Nebraska (3-1) hosts No. 5 Ohio State (4-0) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Maria Taylor will have the call on ABC. Fans will also be able to listen to the game with the Husker Sports Network on Today's Best Country, B103 (103.1 FM and b103.fm).
Chris Fowler joined News Channel Nebraska's Hunter Arterburn on The Burn this week on Today's Best Country, B103 (103.1 FM, b103.fm). Listen to their full conversation about the history of College GameDay, Fowler's thoughts on the matchup between Nebraska and Ohio State and the debate of the greatest college football team of all-time below.
Follow Hunter on Twitter: @TheBurnRadio