June 17, 2017 6:12:29 PM
STARKVILLE -- Jason Crowder's best story regarding Neil Price has nothing to do with Price's on-air talents.
Crowder, the voice of Mississippi State women's basketball, was in Greenville, South Carolina, in March calling the Bulldogs in the Southeastern Conference Tournament. When equipment struggles struck the crew leading up to a game, Price, then the voice of Kentucky women's basketball, offered to loan Crowder his equipment.
"Neil is one of the most professional guys in the SEC," Crowder said. "Not only does he have excellent, soothing broadcast voice, but he's very articulate and does a great job. He's been likened to, from some people I've read, a Vin Scully kind of delivery."
Now Crowder and Price can share equipment more easily, they work together.
Friday morning, MSU announced Price will replace Jim Ellis as the voice of MSU football and men's basketball. The vacancy came after Ellis announced in February that he will scale his duties back to baseball only. A native of West Point and Mississippi State graduate, Ellis did both sports as the play-by-play voice for six seasons after service decades as an analyst.
"We are privileged to have one of the great broadcasting talents in the country join the MSU family," MSU athletic director John Cohen said in a statement. "Neil has 12 years of Southeastern Conference experience and a contagious enthusiasm that will extend our legacy of outstanding Mississippi State broadcasters."
All of that SEC experience came at Kentucky.
Price held play-by-play duties for the women's basketball (nine seasons) and baseball teams (12 seasons) in addition to the pregame show for football and some jobs hosting talk shows with coaches. One of those coaches was Gary Henderson, MSU's current pitching coach, who was previously the head coach at Kentucky.
In that time Price has impressed his peers. Among them is Will Kollmeyer, who has worked with Price on his calls of Southeastern Conference baseball for SEC Network+.
Kollmeyer put it simply, "The Lord's blessed him with good pipes."
In all the adoration for him as he enters his new role, his peers are also acutely aware of what Price follows: beloved predecessors.
"I can't think of a broadcast that has not had (longtime broadcaster Jack) Cristil or Ellis on it," Crowder said. "I'm 39 years old and a football or basketball broadcast, for the most part, has been Jack or Jim."
Kollmeyer has a personal connection with one of those predecessors, Cristil, having worked with him in Tupelo. While Cristil was the Voice of the Bulldogs in the 1990s, he was also the director of sales at WTVA where Kollmeyer was working at the time. His advice in replacing two legends is for Price to simply be himself.
He's not alone in thinking that will eventually win over the fan base.
"I think State fans will love Neil Price," Crowder said. "The one thing in the broadcast business is people aren't welcoming at first to a new voice. I think we've all been through that before, but once people know that you're the good guy, they'll warm up.
"They'll warm up to Price quickly because of his personality and his broadcast style."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter, @Brett_Hudson
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