MSU Announces Football Broadcast Team
May 8, 2006
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Veteran play-by-play announcer George Blaha anchors the Spartan Radio Network's broadcast team for Michigan State football in 2006 that includes former Spartan and pro quarterback Jim Miller as color analyst and former All-Big Ten center Jason Strayhorn as the sideline reporter.
The 2006 season also marks the return of WJR Radio (AM 760) as MSU's flagship station in Detroit. WJR Radio previously served as the Spartans' flagship station for 14 years, from 1963-76.
"The Spartan Radio Network has assembled a talented and knowledgeable broadcast team," MSU Athletics Director Ron Mason said. "George Blaha is one of the nation's premier play-by-play announcers, and it's a real positive to be able to add two former Spartans to the broadcast lineup, in Jim Miller and Jason Strayhorn. There aren't many broadcast crews that can match MSU's team in terms of experience and knowledge. Spartan football fans are in for a real treat this fall."
This fall marks Blaha's 29th season as the play-by-play announcer for Spartan football. In addition, he handled play-by-play duties for Michigan State basketball during part of the 2000-01 season. Blaha is wrapping up his 30th consecutive season as the television and radio play-by-play voice of the National Basketball Association's Detroit Pistons. With the retirement of Detroit Tigers' legend Ernie Harwell in 2002 after 42 seasons with the ballclub, the "Voice of the Pistons" is the longest tenured play-by-play broadcaster in the state. Blaha has been named Michigan Sports Broadcaster of the Year twice (1998 and 2002) by the National Association of Sports Writers and Broadcasters. In 2002, he also was presented the Ty Tyson Award for "Excellence in Sports Broadcasting" by the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association.
"It's terrific to have two former Spartans on the broadcast team," Blaha said. "I've always respected guys that played the game at the highest level, and Jim Miller had his share of big-time victories at both the collegiate and professional levels. Jim will be able to dissect every play on the field through the eyes of a quarterback.
"Jason Strayhorn is a class act. He's a former Spartan captain who played in his share of big games for Nick Saban."
Born in Detroit, Blaha was raised in Marshalltown, Iowa, and Grayling, Mich. He and his father attended Michigan State's first-ever Big Ten football game, played at Iowa in 1953. Blaha earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Notre Dame in 1966 and later received his MBA from Michigan. He currently resides with his wife Mary in Troy, Mich.
Prior to signing a National Letter of Intent to attend Michigan State in February 1989, Miller earned All-America and all-state honors at Kettering High School in Waterford, Mich. A three-year starter for Coach George Perles from 1991-93, he still ranks among MSU's all-time leaders in pass attempts (fifth at 746), pass completions (second at 467), completion percentage (second at .629) and passing yards (fifth at 5,037). As a senior, Miller shared team MVP honors after completing 215-of-336 passes (.640) for 2,269 yards and nine touchdowns. A three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection from 1990-92, he earned his bachelor's degree in supply chain management from Michigan State in 2002.
A sixth-round selection by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1994 National Football League Draft, Miller threw for 6,387 yards and 36 TDs during his nine-year pro career (Pittsburgh, 1995-96; Atlanta, 1997; Chicago, 1998-2002; New England, 2004). He earned 27 career starts at quarterback, compiling a 15-11 record as a starter in Chicago. In five seasons with the Bears, Miller recorded three 300-yard passing games. In his first career start against Minnesota on Nov. 14, 1999, he completed 34-of-48 throws for 422 yards and three scores. His 422 passing yards represent the fourth-highest single-game total in Chicago history. In 2001, Miller led the Bears' charge to the playoffs, posting an 11-2 record as a starter during the regular season while establishing career highs in pass attempts (395), pass completions (228), passing yards (2,299) and TDs (13). In 2002, he threw for 1,944 yards while matching his career best with 13 TD tosses.
"I'm excited to be affiliated with Michigan State University and its football program again," Miller said. "It's a thrill to join George Blaha in the broadcast booth because he's a true professional. I grew up listening to George call the Detroit Pistons' games.
"I'm glad to be part of the Spartan Radio Network, and I'm really looking forward to the upcoming football season. With Drew Stanton returning at quarterback, I'm expecting big things from the Spartans this fall. Drew definitely has an opportunity to play football at the next level."
Miller and his wife Leah have a 4-year-old daughter Sophia and are expecting their second child in October. The family resides in Davisburg, Mich. Miller owns JMK Custom Homes in Clarkston, Mich.
A native of Indianapolis, Ind., Strayhorn started 24 consecutive games at center for Coach Nick Saban in 1997-98. As a senior, he earned first-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches and media after grading out as a winner (better than 70 percent) in 11 of the 12 games in 1998. The former team captain also received the Up Front Award as the team's outstanding interior lineman in 1998, consistently posting the unit's top grade for pass protection by not allowing a sack the entire season. Strayhorn turned in one of the best performances of his career in MSU's 28-24 victory over top-ranked Ohio State in Columbus in 1998. He was selected Spartan Offensive Player of the Week after grading out 80 percent overall against the Buckeyes, including 89 percent in his pass-blocking assignments.
"It's a dream come true to return to the sidelines in this capacity," Strayhorn said. "As a former player, I know that I can provide Spartan fans with special insights from that vantage point.
"I'm excited to be working along with George Blaha and Jim Miller on the broadcasts. I've listened to George describe games for a number of years and I can't think of a better broadcaster to learn from than him. During my playing career, I read a lot about Jim in the media guide and I closely followed his NFL career. He enjoyed some outstanding years with the Chicago Bears. As a former center, I have a special bond with quarterbacks, so I look forward to building a strong relationship with Jim as a broadcast partner."
Strayhorn received his bachelor's degree in business management from Michigan State in 1998. He and his wife Alicia have an infant son Kaden and reside in Novi, Mich. Strayhorn is an executive mortgage banker for Rock Financial.
Mike Kamin returns for his fourth season as broadcast host for the Spartan Radio Network. Kamin previously served as the producer and broadcast host for the Central Michigan Football Radio Network for five years.
For the fifth consecutive season, the Spartan Radio Network (Holt, Mich.) will produce and distribute Michigan State football broadcasts to 30-plus affiliates throughout the state, including WJIM Radio (AM 1240) and WMMQ (FM 94.9) in Lansing, WBBL (AM 1340) in Grand Rapids and WMUS (FM 106.9) in Muskegon.
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