Tim Healey has seen a lot since taking over for the late Tom Dillon as the radio voice of the Arizona State Sun Devils in 1998.
In fact, Healey will call his 200th game in the football play-by-play booth when the 24th-ranked Sun Devils visit 16th-ranked USC at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Saturday.
Since ’98, he’s called 107 wins. He’s described the action for over 60 players who have gone on to play in the NFL. He’s voiced ten Sun Devil bowl game appearances and conducted post-game interviews with four different head coaches.
Healey was nice enough to walk down memory lane with us here at ArizonaSports.com prior to his milestone broadcast Saturday.
What is the best game you’ve called during your 200-game run?
There have been lots of great games over the past 17 years, so it’s difficult to pick just one. However, the 2010 Territorial Cup win at Arizona was one of the most thrilling ASU games I’ve ever seen. A back-and-forth one-point win over the archrival Wildcats, in their stadium, in two overtimes, with ASU blocking a UA extra point to force overtime and then blocking another to win the game in the second extra period, made this game stand out as one of the best of my 200 as ASU’s radio voice. The only thing that diminished the impact of this win was the fact that it was the final game of a disappointing 6-6 season for the Sun Devils.
What is the best individual play you’ve called?
Again, there is a lot to choose from in this category. There was Delvon Flowers’ 50-yard touchdown reception in the final 20 seconds to beat UCLA 28-27 in 1999. Ten years later, Danny Sullivan hit a wide-open Chris McGaha for a 50-yard touchdown with five seconds left to beat Washington. Carl Bradford’s leaping interception of a Brett Hundley swing pass and resulting TD return was a highlight of the Pac-12 South-clinching win at UCLA in 2013. There was McGaha’s remarkable finger-tip reception at the one-inch line in ASU’s 20-17 win over UA in 2007. And Andrew Walter’s last-play-of-the-game TD pass to Skyler Fulton to pull out a win at North Carolina in ’03. But if I had to pick one play, I’d refer back to answer #1, as 6-foot-8 James Brooks blocked not one, but two Arizona extra-point tries to clinch the 30-29 double-overtime win over the Wildcats in 2010. It is so seldom you ever see an extra-point blocked in any circumstance. To see two, in one game (and a RIVALRY game, at that), both of them late with the outcome hanging in the balance, was truly remarkable.
Who is the best Sun Devil player you’ve seen play in your time behind the mic?
I had the privilege of broadcasting every one of Derek Hagan’s ASU-record 258 career receptions, and every one of QB Andrew Walter’s school-record 10,617 passing yards and 85 passing touchdowns. Todd Heap and Zach Miller were two of the best collegiate tight ends I’ve ever seen, with both going on to have wonderful NFL careers. But for sheer dominance, I’m not sure anyone or anything compares with the year defensive end Terrell Suggs had in 2002, when he set the ASU and NCAA single-season record with 24 quarterback sacks, and was a nightmare for every opposing quarterback he encountered that season.
Who is the best opposing player you’ve seen in that time?
Several stand out. My first ASU-UA game as the Sun Devils’ radio voice (1998) saw Arizona State QB Ryan Kealy pass for over 500 yards, and yet the Devils lost in Tucson to a 12-1 Arizona team 50-42, as Wildcat RB Trung Canidate rushed for 288 yards in one of the best individual performances I’ve seen from an ASU opponent. Ironically, Trung’s brother Cornell would play for the Sun Devils a few years later. Other standouts from the opposing sidelines over the years: USC running backs LenDale White & Reggie Bush, Oregon QB Marcus Mariota, UCLA DB Ishmael Adams (we saw enough of him last week, didn’t we??), and Stanford’s offensive line in 2013.
What is the most crushing loss you’ve witnessed from the broadcast booth?
This is an easy one to answer — my very first game as ASU’s radio voice! On Sept. 5, 1998, an ASU team that was 20-4 the previous two seasons and was ranked in the preseason national top 10 hosted Washington in the season opener (nothing like starting the season against a good conference opponent!). The game was an incredible back-and-forth affair, which ASU led 38-35 in the final 30 seconds, with the Huskies facing a 4th-and-17 from their own 37-yard-line. Then, in one electrifying moment, UW quarterback Brock Huard hit his tight end Reggie Davis down the far sideline and Davis rumbled 63 yards for the winning touchdown. I’ve never seen a football team’s entire season so dramatically impacted by one play, as that 42-38 loss sent ASU reeling to a 5-6 season. There’ve been other gut-wrenching defeats, like a 56-55 double-overtime loss to Oregon in 2000 when the underdog Sun Devils saw a two-touchdown lead over the favored Ducks slip away in the final five minutes of regulation, the 2005 loss to LSU 35-31 on a 4th-down touchdown pass with 1:15 remaining (the so-called ‘Hurricane Katrina’ game, re-located from Baton Rouge to Tempe), and a 38-28 loss to USC in October ’05, after the Sun Devils had the defending national champs on the ropes, with a 21-3 halftime lead. But that Washington defeat in ’98 still hurts 17 years later!
What was your favorite Sun Devil moment in the run?
I’d say ASU’s Pac-12 South Division title-clinching win at UCLA last November ranks at the top of this list. To see Todd Graham produce a Pac-12 championship game participant in just his second year at ASU was a tremendous thrill. Other favorite moments of the past 17 years include every win over the Wildcats (and I’ve been behind the mic for 10 of them!!), the 2004 Sun Bowl come-from-behind win over Purdue, the first “Blackout” in 2011 (a heart-stopping 37-30 overtime win over Missouri), a 44-7 demolition of #16 Iowa in 2004, and the 45-42 upset of then-6th-ranked Oregon in Eugene in ’02 (a game the Devils trailed 21-0). One last thought on this subject — the 2012 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl delivered a pair of “lump-in-your-throat” moments: just days after the murder of his brother in Houston, Sun Devil RB Marion Grice was named the Offensive MVP of ASU’s 62-28 win over Navy, a truly remarkable performance on so many levels. Then, following the game, it was a privilege to witness the sight of the Sun Devil football team standing right behind their Navy counterparts, as the Midshipmen sang the U.S. Naval Academy’s alma mater, “Navy Blue and Gold.” Unforgettable.