Much of Wes Durham’s life has featured talking about sports.
First it was growing up as the son of legendary University of North Carolina announcer Woody Durham, and then it was his own career as the radio play-by-play voice of Georgia Tech athletics and the Falcons.
Durham, who left Tech in 2013 to join Fox Sports, has joined the ACC Network, which will launch in August, in addition to calling Falcons games. In a recent exclusive interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution at the Atlanta Sports Awards ceremony, Durham spoke of his new job and what he thinks of changes in Tech football and offered a few thoughts on the Falcons.
What was the process of the development of the ACC Network, and what are you looking forward to about it?
Well, it’s humbling to be asked to be a part of it, because ESPN does such a marvelous job with any kind of project like this. People who have seen the growth of the SEC Network certainly understand it. For me it’s a professional thrill, because you’re talking about the conference that I kind of grew up in as a kid (through) my dad, and I’ve had the chance since 1995 to be affiliated with it, so that’s been really cool. In terms of some of the projects and things like that, we’ll see. I know what I’m going to be doing in terms of the morning show that we’ve been doing on Sirius XM now moves over to a television show. I’m excited about that. Then the games themselves, I still don’t know who I’m working with and what games and things like that. It’s been a pretty quick offseason as a result of that, but it’s also been pretty fun, too.
Do you think it could have a similar impact that the SEC Network does?
Absolutely. I think these conference networks, especially the ones that ESPN has started, originally all have a mission of showcasing the league across the board. So, while people are probably comfortable with SEC football or ACC basketball, there’s a lot more depth (across) each league. I think in the five or six years the SEC has been on the air, you’ve seen baseball certainly grow, women’s and men’s soccer grow, that’s what you’re going to see in the ACC as well. You’re going to see softball grow, baseball certainly will grow, I think volleyball and women’s basketball. There was a release last week about how much exposure field hockey is going to get, the ACC has won national championships there. Lacrosse is a huge sport in the ACC, Virginia just winning the national title with Lars Tiffany. I think all that really counts, too.
Speaking of the ACC, a local team like Georgia Tech has undergone a lot of changes in the past year, with coach Geoff Collins, how have you seen the culture changed?
Geoff has done a great job, I knew him when he was a (grad assistant) in the late ’90s and when he came back as an assistant. He’s got a lot of passion, he’s done a really really good job of putting his kind of imprint on what he wants, but at the same time, the schedule is the schedule. You look at Clemson, it’s a pretty good league beyond that. He knows that, I’m sure there will be some degree of a transition. They’ve got to replace some key spots defensively more than anything else. The transition offensively is going to be interesting, but I don’t think it’s as drastic as some people think.
Now with the Falcons, speaking in terms of the defense, there are certainly a lot of changes there as well, mainly with head coach Dan Quinn taking over the play-calling.
Well, (first) everybody is healthy. It’s interesting to see, you know a lot of people looked at the draft as not being particularly sexy, but it certainly was efficient. (Chris) Lindstrom and (Kaleb) McGary are two guys that can help them right away. (Kendall) Sheffield, I think, is an impressive kid. It’s going to be interesting. Training camp is fun, the five preseason games is different, we haven’t had that in 14 years, since 2005 when we went to Japan to start the year. So, we’ll see how this goes, the division, again, everybody in the division has gotten better. So, we’ll see.
Certainly, a healthy Devonta Freeman should help as well, right?
Oh yeah, anybody. All those guys had gotten banged up last year.
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