UK Football

UK Q&A: Stadium announcer Carl Nathe

Carl Nathe
Carl Nathe

Carl Nathe, who works in the University of Kentucky's public relations office, has been the public address announcer at Commonwealth Stadium since 1997. Growing up 45 minutes from Yankee Stadium, he couldn't help but be a fan of Bob Sheppard, who announced at New York Yankees home games from 1951 through the 2007 season.

Nathe, who is in his 15th season making announcements at Commonwealth Stadium, might be most noted for his "First down, Kentucky!" exclamation that brings some fans out of their seats.

Q: Didn't the "First down, Kentucky!" call originate with your predecessor, Doug Bruce?

A: The story I got is, former (UK) president David Roselle was looking for a way to get the crowd more pumped up and had indicated this to Doug. 'What can you do to get them more excited?' Doug came up with the phrase.

Q: You didn't use the phrase your first two seasons as P.A. man. Why not?

A: C.M. (Newton, then athletics director) wanted it played pretty straightforward. Of course, that was the first two years of the Hal Mumme era and passing the football a lot. It turned out to be a pretty exciting brand of football.

Q: Yet you began using the phrase in 1999. Why?

A: I received a phone call from (then-UK director of marketing) Kyle Moats asking me, 'Hey, why don't we do the First down, Kentucky!' We started doing it, and people seemed to really like it, and I've been doing it ever since.

Q: What do you do if Kentucky gets a first down in the fourth quarter while losing, say, 42-3?

A: Keep doing, 'First down, Kentucky!' I'm a fan like everyone else. But I try to be always optimistic as far as how we're going to do. The 'First down, Kentucky!' is going to be there regardless of the situation.

Q: What about adding something for the UK defense? Something like, "Fourth down, Florida!"

A: No, we haven't done that. But when we get to a third-down situation, we'll maybe put a little extra emphasis on the third-and-eight or whatever the distance is. The way I look at it, you want to be enthused and supportive of your own team. But you want to be classy as far as your comments toward the other team.

Q: Yet UK games, especially in basketball, have twisted the knife with an announcement on out-of-town scores such as Louisville 20, West Virginia 23!

A: I always try to give the scores where I give the winning team first. If you have a team not particularly popular with Kentucky fans in Commonwealth Stadium, I'll let the score pretty much speak for itself.

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