Three decades, seven head coaches and 13 bowl trips ago, a new PA voice took the microphone at Memorial Stadium.
And what a matchup to kick off a career — “the Illini versus Southern Cal in what many thought could be a preview of the 1986 Rose Bowl," says Jim Sheppard, the pride of Fisher High School. "USC won, 20-10, before 76,000-plus fans, with Cap Boso scoring the only TD for the Illini on a pass from Jack Trudeau.
"I was obviously excited about announcing my first Illini game. The size of the crowd didn't bother me, but I was a little unsure of the pattern and things involved in doing PA. My spotter was close friend and Central High School coach Charlie Due, who made me feel comfortable. Looking back, my first game was memorable because Charlie passed away a week later.
"It was an extremely hot day and in the stands were a favorite aunt and uncle from California. I wish my dad could have been there, but he'd passed away two years earlier."