CARBONDALE — Wherever Mike Reis, the Voice of the Salukis, and sideline reporter Connor James land on a given Saturday, or however they get there, there is always one guy to get them back to the football game.
Gene Green, otherwise known as "The Glue," started his 20th year as the football broadcast team's analyst in September. The 1975 SIU grad never played college football, but brings something more valuable than on-field experience.
"He has the ability to rein us all in. Connor now, Joel (Sambursky) then," Reis said. "We could get a little emotional, caught up in things, good or bad, and Gene would always be on a flat line. And he could rein it all back in, and point out the other stuff to get us off the extreme ledge."
The three-man weave, as they call it now, was a 2-on-0 fast break with just Reis and Green in 1997. Former broadcaster Mike Trude, who now calls football and basketball games with WSIL-TV anchor Darren Kinnard on ESPN3, stepped away as the analyst.
Green, a former sports information director at Division II Missouri-Rolla (now Missouri Science & Technology) and a former baseball coach there, had done some color work for several sports, including football. Back then, Green was in his seventh season as the media liaison for the SIU baseball team, and did a few broadcasts a year with Reis.
"I was going to be there anyway, so to speak, and I thought I would start doing it, and see how it went," Green said. "I enjoyed it, and I really enjoyed working with him. I always told him that if he ever stepped away, I would probably stop doing it as well, because, over the years, we'd gotten very used to each other, and there's a real comfort to that on the air."
Reis, the voice of the Salukis since 1978, didn't think too long before offering the football analyst job to his longtime friend.
"His strengths were making sure, especially when it was a two-man booth, that the play was described well enough for the listeners," Reis said. "There was no television at that time, of any game, so, we were the outlet. So you had to be able to paint the picture, and in the end, it's about playing to your strengths, anyway.
"His strengths were not going to be talking about the strengths of the wishbone offense, or the 4-3 defense compared to the 3-4 defense. His was gonna be in terms of being able to describe the play to the listener, so, between he and I, we could paint a picture where the person knew what was going on, as well as the other important stuff, like bios and stats, which are key."
And no matter how exciting, or exasperating, the Salukis were on the field, Green remained steady in the booth.
"He's a level-headed guy," Reis said. "If you get Gene Green overly emotional about something, positive or negative, it's probably your fault. You probably stirred the pot. Because I have not seen him get visibly angry, visibly emotional on the positive side, either. When things screw up in baseball, he'll take his pen and throw it if the same mistake is made, but that's about as wild as he gets."
From Jan Quarless' back-to-back 3-8 seasons to Jerry Kill's 10-2 breakthrough in 2003, Green remained steady.
"I don't think I've ever really been upset during a broadcast," Green said. "You can be disappointed, or feel like you need to make the point to people who don't know the history. I've seen years of Saluki football. Twenty years here, I've seen great football, and I've seen some football you don't want to remember, so, when you see strides being made, that keeps you excited."
A humble 64-year-old, Green retired from SIU after 27 years last December. After working nine years in media relations, he moved to the SIU Alumni Association, where he edited the organization's magazine for 12 years. He became the organization's associate director in 2011.
He met his wife, Pam, at SIU, and raised two kids, Kelcie, an art design major, and Brian, a political science major. Green now contributes to the alumni magazine and the SIH communications office in between broadcasts.
Rick Gregg, a former broadcaster with the team, said Green has been a great fit.
"He's a great ambassador for the program, which you'd have to be if you did it for 20 years, and the alumni magazine. He loves SIU and he loves Saluki sports, and that comes out," said Gregg, who is now with WBBM in Chicago. "They have the chemistry like old friends 10 years ago, and they still have the chemistry like they're old friends."