IRVING, Texas (July 18, 2019) – The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced today that University of Alabama broadcaster Eli Gold will be the recipient of the 2019 NFF Chris Schenkel Award. He will officially be honored Dec. 10 during the 62nd NFF Annual Awards Dinner at the New York Hilton Midtown.
Presented annually since 1996, the award recognizes individuals who have had long, distinguished careers broadcasting college football with direct ties to a specific university. The award is named in honor of its inaugural recipient Chris Schenkel, the longtime ABC Sports broadcaster who emceed the NFF Annual Awards Dinner for 28 consecutive years from 1968 to 1995.
“Eli Gold has been the iconic ‘Voice of the Crimson Tide’ for more than 30 years, broadcasting some of the most memorable games for one of the most successful football programs in college football history,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “His calls of ‘Touchdown Alabama!’ are a familiar and beloved sound to the Crimson Tide faithful each fall. We are pleased to honor him with the 2019 NFF Chris Schenkel Award in recognition of his distinguished career.”
Gold will enter his 31st season as the “Voice of the Crimson Tide” in 2019, having started his time calling Alabama football games in 1989. He also serves as the play-by-play commentator for Alabama basketball and hosts “Hey Coach & The Nick Saban Show” on the Crimson Tide Sports Network every Thursday during the football season.
With Gold on the call, the Crimson Tide have claimed six national titles in eight championship game appearances, nine SEC championships and bowl games in all but four of his 30 seasons.
In 1992, the Crimson Tide, led by College Football Hall of Fame coach Gene Stallings, finished 13-0 and won the national championship game against Miami (FL).
Gold was also on the call for Coach Nick Saban‘s three BCS Championship wins following the 2009, 2011 and 2012 seasons and the two College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship wins after the 2015 and 2017 seasons.
In a video for AL.com, Gold recalled his five favorite calls from his illustrious career, including three calls from those national championship games. During the 2010 Rose Bowl against Texas, he called Marcell Dareus‘ recovery of a shovel pass for a touchdown and closed the game saying, “The roses in this grand old stadium are once again crimson!”
As his No. 1 favorite call, Gold ranks Tua Tagovailoa‘s 41-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith on second-and-26 in overtime to defeat Georgia in the CFP National Championship following the 2017 season.
Gold’s other memorable calls included game-winning blocked field goals at Penn State in 1989 and against Tennessee at home in 2009, as well as running back T.J. Yeldon‘s touchdown at LSU in 2012 that sealed the Crimson Tide’s comeback victory.
The Iron Bowl, Alabama’s annual game against archrival Auburn, has also produced many memorable moments during Gold’s tenure in the booth. In an interview with Tide 102.9 FM, he listed the Crimson Tide’s first trip to Auburn in 1989; Freddie Kitchens‘ touchdown pass to Dennis Riddle in 1996; and the program’s first ever win in Jordan-Hare Stadium in 1999 among his most memorable games to call in the historic series.
In addition to Coach Stallings, his time on the mic in Tuscaloosa included the final season of College Football Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas in 1988. Gold also called games featuring three NFF National Scholar-Athletes in 2012 Campbell Trophy® recipient Barrett Jones, quarterback Greg McElroy (2010) and linebacker DeMeco Ryans (2005).
Gold has had multiple color analysts join him in the Crimson Tide booth. He worked a decade with Doug Layton as his color analyst and another 12 years with former Alabama quarterback Kenny Stabler. Most recently, he worked nearly a decade with color man Phil Savage before calling the 2018 season alongside another former Crimson Tide quarterback, John Parker Wilson.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Gold started his sports broadcasting career in 1972, working as a weekend sports reporter with the Mutual Broadcasting System.
Gold has handled various other play-by-play assignments over the years. He was the primary voice of NASCAR for 41 years before he stepped away from the auto-racing track.
Gold spent 12 years as a professional hockey announcer, including stints with the NHL’s St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators, and he was the first play-by-play announcer for the UAB Blazers basketball team. He spent four years as the voice of the Birmingham Barons baseball team (AA Southern League), and he was named the Southern League’s Broadcaster of the Year in 1983. Gold has called Arena Football League games for Comcast Sports, FOX Sports Net, NBC Sports and TNN, as well as NFL and college football bowl games on SportsUSA Radio
Outside of his play-by-play duties, Gold was the sports director for WERC Radio in Birmingham, Alabama, and for six years he hosted a nightly sports call-in show called “Calling All Sports.” He then served as sports director with WBRC-TV Channel 6 in Birmingham, where he anchored three sportscasts each evening and also hosted a weekly call-in show “Sports Talk With Eli.”
A five-time Alabama Sportscaster of the Year, Gold is enshrined in the State of Alabama Sports and the University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences halls of fame.
Gold has authored three books: “Crimson Nation,” a history of Alabama football; “Bear’s Boys,” the story of 36 former Alabama players who share the lessons they learned from legendary Hall of Fame coach Paul “Bear” Bryant; and “From Peanuts to the Press Box,” an autobiography.
Gold and his wife, Claudette, reside in Birmingham, Alabama, and Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, and have a daughter, Elise. He is a part owner of Nino’s Italian Restaurant in Pelham, Alabama.
Gold becomes the fifth NFF Chris Schenkel Award recipient from a team currently in the SEC, joining Jack Cristil (Mississippi State – 1997), Larry Munson (Georgia – 2003), Jim Hawthorne (LSU – 2015) and Dave South (Texas A&M – 2018).
Gold will be honored during the 62nd NFF Annual Awards Dinner in New York alongside the recipients of the other NFF Major Awards, including famed actor and former UCLA quarterback Mark Harmon, who will accept the organization’s highest honor the NFF Gold Medal, as well as recently retired NC State director of athletics Deborah Yow (NFF John L. Toner Award for excellence in athletics administration) and the yet-to-be announced recipient of the NFF Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award.