News Obituary Article
Razorbacks mourning Eells
By CHIP TOWERS
It's no small task replacing Larry Munson, the raspy radio voice of college football in the South.
But in 1966, Paul Eells did it --- and did it well --- when he took over for Munson at Nashville's WSN. Munson had gone off to Georgia, leaving the Vanderbilt play-by-play duties to the guy from West Branch, Iowa.
"He was a very good guy, nice to be around and super, super friendly," Munson said Tuesday. "And a helluva radio man."
Eells, who for the past 29 years has been the radio play-by-play man for Arkansas football, died Monday night in a head-on collision on I-40 in Russellville, Ark. He was on his way home from Little Rock, where he had played in Razorbacks football coach Houston Nutt's golf tournament. The driver of the other car was also killed.
News reports indicated alcohol was not a factor and the accident might have been health-related. Eells was 70.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee called Eells "a true Arkansas icon" and announced that state flags will fly at half-staff on the day of Eells' funeral. Nutt was nearly inconsolable at a news briefing in Fayetteville, Ark., saying, "In the world of media where things are changing rapidly, what I loved about Paul is he didn't change. He stayed his course, his way, and it was the perfect way, in my book. He was the voice that represented this state."
The close-knit fraternity of SEC play-by-play men remembered Eells as one of the "classiest human beings going," as Alabama's Eli Gold put it.
"I was just a raw rookie when I met Paul, but he treated me with so much respect," said Bob Kesling, the radio voice of the Tennessee Volunteers. "He was the one guy who would always remember your name and ask about your family. He was one of the nicest men I have ever met in this profession or any other profession."
In addition to his radio play-by-play responsibilies, Eells worked as the sports director at KATV in Little Rock. He hosted television shows for Nutt and basketball coach Stan Heath and did TV broadcasts of Arkansas basketball games.
His trademark call of "Touchdown, Arkansas" was a crowd favorite and will "continue to resonate with Razorback fans everywhere," longtime athletics director Frank Broyles said in a statement.
There was no word Tuesday of Eells' replacement. The Razorbacks kick off the football season a month from today against Southern Cal in Fayetteville.
"This hits close to home because several years ago our radio voice, Jim Fyffe, passed away right before the season," said Rod Bramblett of the Auburn Radio Network. "I know the void we felt, and I'm sure Arkansas is feeling that same void right now."
--- Staff writer Tony Barnhart contributed to this article.
© 2006 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution