Desoto County NewsDesoto County Sports

Roberts lends voice to 65th AutoZone Liberty Bowl Classic

Photo: Southaven’s Chuck Roberts prepares for his 23rd AutoZone Liberty Bowl Friday afternoon at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium in Memphis. (Bob Bakken/

As the Memphis Tigers played and went to defeat the Iowa State Cyclones in the 65th AutoZone Liberty Bowl 36-26 Friday afternoon, a voice from DeSoto County reverberated with energy through Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium. 

Providing down and distance, ball carrier and tackler information, sponsor promotional announcements and other items of interest was Southaven businessman Chuck Roberts, working his 23rd year as the bowl game’s stadium announcer. 

At one time Roberts was the public address announcer for Memphis football and basketball games, so he may have been a familiar voice for the Tiger faithful among the 48,799 fans watching the game. However, Roberts stresses that in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl announcing chair, he’s not a “homer.”  

“As an announcer I am not for either team,” Roberts said Friday morning ahead of the game. “Even though Memphis is in the game and I announced for them for 21 years, I’m still down the middle. I’m representing the bowl game and that gives me a chance to do both sides.”

Being ‘down the middle’ doesn’t mean there’s no energy, however. Roberts’ style is to foster excitement for both teams while making sure the players on the field are properly recognized. 

“My style of announcing is there as a way to engage the fans but my number one priority is to make sure the players that make the plays get the proper recognition,” he said. “I’ve never been an announcer who only says the player’s last name, for instance. Those kids are down there giving their all.”

It was prior to the 2000 AutoZone Liberty Bowl that former announcer and Memphis broadcast legend Tom Prestigiacomo decided to step away from working the game. Bowl executive director Steve Ehrhart came to Roberts and asked him to take the stadium chair. He has been there each year ever since.  

Preparation for the game begins almost immediately after the teams are selected, Roberts said.  

“As soon as the bowl announces the teams, I immediately go to the team website, grab rosters and just start looking at the players,” he said. “Bowl games are a little more of a challenge in my role because they bring every player. They may have 90 players on the sideline, so it can be a little more challenging.”

AutoZone Liberty Bowl stadium announcer Chuck Roberts

Working with the sports information directors of the teams helps in making sure the players’ names are properly pronounced, but Roberts added Iowa State this year offered a little extra item on their website.

“Iowa State has a button on their website and there’s a guy saying the names that you can listen to, so I just go through and listen to those as I go through the roster,” Roberts explained. “I just go ahead and lay out the phonetic spelling for the names so I am ready for that.”

The role of a stadium announcer is more than down and distance because of the several extra announcements that have to be included. Friday’s game, for instance, included announcing honorary captains for each team who are representing game sponsors and who will come out for the coin toss.

Scripts are sent to him ahead of the contest and they can be revised several times ahead of kickoff. Roberts said he actually had revisions sent by email to him as late as midnight before the game. 

Well known as a public address announcer around the Mid-South, the owner of Command Realty Group and Franklin Property Management in Southaven also voices other sporting events around the Mid-South, and elsewhere. 

Today, he announces most Northpoint Christian School football, basketball, and baseball games. Roberts works with an annual Thanksgiving week college basketball tournament held in Cancun and has started working an early season college softball tournament in Colorado.  

He has also filled in for the Memphis Redbirds, done some NFL games, the Memphis Grizzlies, and last season worked in the USFL with the Memphis Showboats and the Houston Gamblers, both of which played home games in Memphis. 

Friday, it was Chuck Roberts calling, “First down, Tigers,” or “First Down, Cyclones,” as the 65th AutoZone Liberty Bowl put the Mid-South in the center of the college football world.  

MEMPHIS SILENCES CYCLONES 36-26: In the game on Friday, Tigers’ quarterback Seth Henigan was named the AutoZone Liberty Bowl MVP after throwing for 364 yards and four touchdowns in the Memphis victory. Henigan also ran for another score. 

The Memphis quarterback set school records for single-season completions and attempts. He also passed Brady White to become the school’s all-time leading passer with 10,773 yards. The 2023 Tigers became the fifth team in program history to win 10 or more games in a year.

CLICK HERE for the game box score and summary. 

Following are photos from the game, made available for DeSoto County News by Michael Priest of Stopping Time Photography. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *