The Voice of the Vols brought his voice to the Noon Rotary Club meeting on Thursday. Bob Kesling was hired in 1976 as a spotter for John Ward, and he has been the current voice for more than 20 years.
Many know Kesling for giving play-by-plays on the Vol Radio Network for University of Tennessee football coverage. And this season is special to hear from the Voice of the Vols as the Volunteers have seen their first 10-win series in 15 years.
One Rotarian opened the floor for questioning by asking him why Jeremy Banks was suspended from the game against South Carolina. “What have you heard?” Kesling jokingly asked back after he said the Rotarians were coming out with the hard questions. He answered, “All I know for sure is he did miss a practice, and most of the time in a season, if you have an unexcused practice, you’re going to get suspended.”
Kesling said he didn’t know of any other reason and added, “At least he played last week and played well.” Another Rotarian asked where Kesling grew up, and he answered that he was from Dallas before moving to Ohio in the fourth grade. He then told the story of how he became a Volunteer himself.
Kesling joined his high school friend to visit UT in Knoxville because his friend’s father was trying to get Kesling’s friend to be the manager of the basketball team. As a high school football player, Kesling said, “They go in the basketball office, and I walk into the football office, unannounced. I don’t have a program or a piece of tape that even showed I play high school football.”
He asked Coach Bill Battle’s secretary, “What’s the process here of walking on the Tennessee football team?” Kesling added, “Five minutes later, I’m in the head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers, Bill Battle's, office. He doesn’t know me from Adam.” Battle introduced Kesling to some freshman football players and gave him a workout schedule.
Kesling decided then to attend UT and join the football team. He said, “I called my dad, I said, ‘Dad, I think I’m going to Tennessee.’ He said, ‘What do you mean?’ He was an Ohio State guy; he was a drum major at Ohio State. He was a big time Buckeye, and he goes, ‘What do you mean you’re going to Tennessee?’”
Kesling told his dad that he was going to walk on the football team and explained that it was cheaper to go to UT than any school in Ohio. After that point, Kesling’s father then said, “Go Vols!”
Kesling joins veteran local sportscaster Jay Walker for a half-hour recorded conversation on McMinnville Public Radio 91.3-WCPI. The program will air Tuesday at 5 p.m.; Wednesday, 5 a.m.; Thursday, 1 p.m.; and Friday at 1 a.m.
Food was provided to the Noon Rotary Club by the ladies of the First Presbyterian Church.