By JOEL COLEMAN
Anthony Craven isn’t one to brag. He’s not going to boast or call attention to any of his accolades, but the numbers don’t lie. About to begin his second season as Mississippi State football’s public address announcer, Craven might currently be the most successful man to ever sit behind the microphone at Davis Wade Stadium.
In 2014, Craven debuted as the voice of the Bulldogs and called the action as MSU went a perfect 7-0 at home and rose to the top of the national polls. Now, Craven will get the chance for an encore, because all the magic from a year ago had to be in his pipes, right?
“That had nothing to do with me or anyone in the press box,” Craven said with a laugh. “(My first season) ended up being one of the best seasons ever for Mississippi State. State wins every home game and all of them except for the Arkansas game were by a convincing margin. The Bulldogs dominated and everyone had a good time, so I guess (MSU administration) figured, ‘Let’s not change what’s working.’”
Craven’s opportunity to get behind the mic ahead of Mississippi State’s historic 2014 campaign actually came suddenly, just prior to the season kicking off. Previous announcer Jonathan Holmes was dealing with health issues at the time and the MSU athletics staff had an impromptu search to fill the vacancy.
“It was probably the Wednesday before the Southern Miss game last year,” Craven said. “Several of us did a tryout and I got a call back saying ‘Hey, would you please do this for the first three or four games until Jonathan can get back. I said yes, and it was a cool experience.”
Unfortunately for Holmes, his recovery was taking a little longer than expected. So Craven was asked to continue in his announcing role.
“The whole thing was kind of like the old story from the 20’s about Wally Pipp of the Yankees getting sick and Lou Gehrig filling in for him and playing for all those years straight,” Craven joked.
Craven, who is also the interim general manager for MSU’s on-campus radio station WMSV in addition to doing Bulldog softball play-by-play work, says he has had a lot of fun serving as football PA announcer. Yet he understands each week, much like the football team, he performs in front of an audience of 60,000-plus fans so there could be some critics. That thought doesn’t concern Craven much though.
“From doing my stuff in radio, I learned a while back to not go onto message boards,” Craven said. “In the rare occurrence that my name pops up in those places, I do not read it or look at it. But even if I were to sit there and read something that was negative, it wouldn’t bother me. I’m pretty thick-skinned. But, the good news is, no one has come up to me and said ‘Hey, they were ripping you (on a message board).’ If it’s happened, everyone has been nice and kept it away from me.”
Mississippi State supporters shouldn’t have much to complain about. In the often-superstitious world of sports, why mess with what’s working?
Craven hopes MSU’s success continues in 2015 and he says he thinks the Bulldogs have a good shot at repeating last year’s accomplishments. However things turn out, Craven is just happy to play a small part in it.
“I’m a native Mississippian, went to school here and work on campus,” Craven said. “Before I even became a student here, I loved sports and specifically loved Mississippi State sports. So to get the opportunity to have some kind of a role in the football games at Davis Wade Stadium is a huge thrill.”
By JOEL COLEMAN