It’s the same game plan for the radio broadcast of the Rose Bowl as Alabama football has used all year.

Eli Gold has called the in-state games, while Chris Stewart has called the out-of-state. Since Pasadena, Calif., is as out-of-state as Alabama has played this year, it will be Stewart on the mic.

Eli Gold has become integral to the Alabama tradition since taking over Alabama radio broadcasts in 1988. Some fans even turn the TV sound off as they watch Alabama football so they can “listen to Eli.”

In the Eli Gold era, the 70-year-old “Voice of Alabama” has called the play-by-play during seven national championships and seven head coaches. It’s a record that may never be broken.

Here is Eli Gold’s call of the 4th and 31 play as Alabama takes the lead over Auburn with 30 seconds to play:

Stewart had taken over the broadcast booth for the 2022 season as Gold underwent cancer treatment. A recovering Eli Gold returned to the mic in the 2023 season for home games only, plus the nearby Iron Bowl in Auburn.

Joining Stewart for the Rose Bowl radio broadcast will be analyst Tyler Watts and sideline reporter Roger Hoover.

Stewart had been the voice of Crimson Tide basketball for 11 years before adding football for 2022. He also hosts the "Nick Saban Show."

Stewart can relate to Eli Gold’s medical issues and recovery as well as anyone. Stewart has been knocked flat more than once and has made a comeback himself—a miraculous comeback.

Stewart suffered a major stroke in 2018. It was followed by two years of life-threatening health problems: Surgery for two clots. Loss of his eyesight for 11 months. A blocked artery. By-pass surgery. Pneumonia. Infection. Major organs shutting down. A two-week coma. Family and friends were told to come and say their goodbyes.

“The doctor said I was as sick as I could be without actually dying,” a now-recovered Stewart said.

“I have no other explanation,” he added. “I was granted incredible favor by God. I take zero credit for anything that’s happened. I’ve done no rehab. It’s not like I worked hard. I’ve just been healed and brought back almost to full health. The medical people I’ve talked to, the ones that share the same faith that I do, point the direction that I do. The others who aren’t as comfortable with that say they have no explanation. And I say, ‘It’s OK, I do.’ I don’t have an explanation other than God chose to keep me and I’m thankful for it.”

The Rose Bowl game is on Monday, January 1, at 4 p.m. CT with #4 Alabama v. #1 Michigan. The winner moves to the National Championship game on January 8 against the winner of #2 Washington v. #3 Texas. If Alabama makes it to the championship game, the radio voice will again be Chris Stewart at the final in Houston. 

We will hear a survivor in life calling the play-by-play of a survivor of the football season.

Jim Zeigler is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].

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