“I feel really fortunate to be working with him,” Durham said. “I think it’ll be fun.”
For Jones, working as a game analyst is the next step in a quickly ascending career. Following his 2011 senior season, he wanted to step away from sports, managing a store for AT&T and then taking a job as an account executive for a carpeting company.
“I just wanted something different,” Jones said. “Then I realized the grass is not greener, and this is what I enjoy.”
In 2014, he replaced Rick Strom as an analyst for the Tech radio broadcasts, a position he envisioned himself holding in perpetuity. But, after one year, his work for Tech earned him a spot as a sideline analyst for Raycom for two years, and then ESPN in the same role for the past two.
Now he’ll have a more pronounced role breaking down the action from the broadcast booth. To prepare, Jones has been talking with others who have done the job, drawing from one game he called last year in the booth and “just kind of doing some dry runs on my own,” he said.
With more opportunities at the ACC Network possible and some additional work with SiriusXM satellite radio, Jones is nearing a point where it will be his only vocation. To develop his career to the point where he can support his family (he is married with two young daughters) through a job in sports “is pretty cool,” he said.
“I sold cellphones and carpet,” he said. “Now I get to sell the ACC.”
For Durham, who had been calling ACC football and basketball for Fox Sports South and will continue serving as the radio voice of the Falcons, the play-by-play job is one of two hats he’ll wear for the network, launching Aug. 22. He also will co-host a three-hour morning talk show that will originate from the basement of his co-host Mark Packer’s home in Charlotte. It’s a continuation of a show they’ve done together for SiriusXM.
Being part of a venture that’s the combination of the conference that’s in his blood (his late father, Woody, was the legendary voice for the University of North Carolina) and ESPN, which owns the network, is tickling.
“I feel really blessed,” Durham said. “My mom, she’s talked to me about how proud my dad would be and stuff like that, and I think that’s kind of cool.”
The two will be joined by former Buffalo Bills center Eric Wood, who played at Louisville and will contribute from the sidelines. Durham and Jones aren’t the only talent at the network with Tech ties. Chris Cotter, a Tech grad who has worked at ESPN since 2012, will be a play-by-play voice for a different broadcast team.
Their broadcasts figure to be easy banter with plenty of humor.
“I want to make him look good,” Durham said.
For Tech fans, hearing two favorites call a Jackets game with an impartial perspective may be an unusual experience, though both have already done so separately.
“I look forward to hear the Tech fans when I say something that’s a little critical of something that Georgia Tech has done,” Jones said, tongue in cheek.
Jones said “we’re all kind of waiting with bated breath” to find out if he and Durham will be tabbed to call the network’s first game, the much-anticipated season opener between Tech and Clemson on Aug. 29.
Wherever the first assignment is, it won’t actually be the first time they’ve worked a game together. The two once called a Tech baseball game that was streamed on ESPN3 that Durham did as a prep for calling the ACC baseball tournament for Fox Sports South.
“We had fun, but now we’re going to get to do a whole season of football, so we’re really excited,” Durham said.