If you’ve listened to an Ohio State radio broadcast at nearly any point during the last two decades, you can probably conjure Paul Keels’ voice with minimal effort. “The Voice of the Buckeyes,” as Keels is affectionately known, has teamed with sportswriter Zach Meisel to recount some of his top memories from behind the microphone since he started calling Ohio State games in 1998 in a book titled, “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories From The Ohio State Buckeyes Sideline, Locker Room, And Press Box.”

And oh yes, there is plenty of attention paid to men’s basketball. With background and context provided by Meisel, Keels provides drop-in thoughts and comments from the now-vacated Final Four run in 1998 to the end of the Thad Matta era leading into the start of Chris Holtmann’s tenure.

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Matta’s relationship with Keels is portrayed as having been particularly important. Keels conducts a pregame and postgame interview for nearly each game with the team’s coach, which meant he was intimately involved with the program as Matta took over for Jim O’Brien during the summer of 2004 and led the Buckeyes to two Final Four appearances and one national championship appearance. The two were close enough that Matta, along with former Ohio State football player Jim Lachey, provided a foreward to the book.

“I would be lying if I said I ever enjoyed spending time in front of the media,” Matta writes. “However, if I could pick one person to be interviewed by, it would be Paul. He was always prepared, knowledgeable, and loving in the moment. … Thanks for all of the softballs, Paul!”

Keels begins his story by recounting the path to Ohio State. A Cincinnati native who attended Xavier, he worked for a Detroit radio station calling Michigan football games and then in Cincinnati calling Bearcats football games and some Cincinnati Bengals games before making the decision to move from his hometown to start his tenure as Ohio State’s primary radio voice.

Key seasons and situations for both programs are given their own chapters. For the basketball team, that includes the 1998 Final Four run, The “Thad Five” recruiting class, the heights of the Matta era and then the decline. In a private essay written in the days after Matta was fired and not published until now, Keels describes Matta as a friend.

“During the times of great success, when the networks were all craving his time, he still made the time for his local radio guys,” Keels writes. “Also, just as importantly, after tough losses – and the last two years, which were difficult seasons – he was still there when his radio obligations required him to be. He was also very forthcoming, entertaining and informative in the times I dealt with him as a radio announcer.

“While Thad Matta’s chapter as coach at Ohio State has ended, many of us are better for the time spent with him, his coaches, and his family. … Rest assured, there is one radio announcer whose experiences have been made memorable because of the coach he got to cover for 13 years.”

You can order a copy of the book here: https://www.triumphbooks.com/if-these-walls-could-talk--ohio-state-buckeyes-products-9781629376240.php?page_id=30

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy