McFeely: Voice of the Bison, yes, but above all else Scott Miller was a good man
FARGO -- You all know Scott Miller as the voice of the Bison and RedHawks. And, my oh my, he was that. But I knew Scotty as something else, too, and that's where this will start. You need to know that no matter how much Scott Miller lived for his...
FARGO - You all know Scott Miller as the voice of the Bison and RedHawks. And, my oh my, he was that. But I knew Scotty as something else, too, and that’s where this will start. You need to know that no matter how much Scott Miller lived for his job and loved calling Bison games and obsessed over doing everything exactly right, I knew him as a good man.
One of the best, kindest, gentlest, humblest, purest, most genuine souls any of us could ever know.
A story: Not long before his death, while he was lying in a hospital bed with all kinds of unhappy things happening and all kinds of critical things about which he had to think, he looked at me and asked about my family.
“Where are the girls tonight?” he asked, that once-strong voice reduced to a weakened whisper.
He was asking about my wife, Michelle, and our daughter Emma, who he never failed to ask about because he adored them. I told him Emma had confirmation class and Michelle was picking her up at the church. And Scotty smiled because he always smiled when I told him what Michelle and Emma were doing, even though he was in about the worst spot a person could be in.
That was the kind of man Scott Miller was, asking me about my family when anything other than himself should’ve been a million miles from his thoughts. A damn good man.
A tough man, too. You also need to know that. What a fighter. Cancer took him, but not easily. Not without a helluva battle. The last Bison football game he called, for the fifth title in Frisco, wasn’t easy for him. He wanted to be there, had to be there. But it took a tough SOB to do what Scott did.
You knew Scott, too. He was your friend, too. That’s the way radio works. You invited him into your pickup or living room or man cave or garage or combine every time you flicked on a Bison or RedHawks game. Like all great play-by-play guys, he had you pumping your fist and screaming with joy during the triumphant moments - “My oh my!” - and swearing through gritted teeth at the disappointing ones.
He was your eyes and your emotions. You might’ve been in Fargo, Kindred, Harvey, Moorhead or Barnesville, but Scott transported you to Macomb, Ames, Terre Haute, Spokane or Frisco. He was good. Really, really good. Big Ten good. Big 12 good. And we had him in Fargo. Be thankful for that.
Scott provided the historical soundtrack for this remarkable run of Bison the past decade. The coaches changed, the players graduated, new fans jumped on for the joyride - but Scott’s voice was the constant. It was in Missoula for the start of it all. It was at the Fargodome when Steve Walker hit Kole Heckendorf for the touchdown against Sam Houston State. It was in San Luis Obispo, Calif., when Walker and Heckendorf again pulled off a miracle. It called Ben Woodside’s shot in Sioux Falls and Lawrence Alexander’s in Spokane. It was there when Brock Jensen ran into the end zone against Georgia Southern and again against Kansas State. It described Marcus Williams’ touchdowns in TCF Bank Stadium and Tyler Roehl’s rumble at the Metrodome.
Of course it was in Frisco, from Travis Beck’s interception return to Carson Wentz’s dive for the pylon.
These signature moments, all three-dozen of them, brought to you for all-time by Scott Miller.
You need to know how important this was to him, about how much it mattered to get it right and be perfect. How much he cared. It was his life, and that’s not meant to be dramatic. Next to his strong faith and his family, being prepared and calling a great game were the most important things in his life. Scott was the most consummate professional I’ve known in 30 years in the media. There’s no need to name a second-place finisher because nobody else was close.
That doesn’t mean he wasn’t fun - and funny. He was, hilariously so and in a mischievous sort of way. Another fine trait. You heard it on the air, when Scotty called the play-by-play of a male streaker at a Bison football road game running across the field and dangerously scaling a chain-link fence. Who else tells a college kid over the airwaves to make sure he’s careful going over the fence because, well, things could get caught?
There’s a thing about the brotherhood of sports media who’ve been covering the Bison all these years. You spend so much time together in airplanes, press boxes, hotels, bars, restaurants, rental cars and a million other places that you just have stories. Who can remember them all? It was all so much fun. Bourbon Street. Some redneck joint in the backwoods of Arkansas. Driving the backroads of Louisiana in a van with no brakes. Two flights when the plane’s windshield cracked at 20,000 feet.
And Scotty, always the straight-laced one who didn’t take part in whatever semi-debauchery might be happening, going along for the ride with a smirk and a couple of dry wisecracks. Except for Bourbon Street. Ask me about it sometime.
One last story.
We have a rescue dog in the McFeely house named Rudy. He survived on the streets for some time before we adopted him and there’s always been a streak in him, just a touch of the street left over. Rudy is an angel but has been known to be, shall we say, distrustful of strangers.
A couple of years ago, Scott came to our house for Thanksgiving. He had not been introduced to Rudy. There was the usual barking and growling and tension when Scott came in the front door. But things settled down and eventually Scott found a place on the couch in front of the TV in the lower level. Rudy was hanging out, still unsure, still a little nervous about Scott.
I went upstairs to get some snacks and returned a few minutes later. Scott was still sitting on the couch. But now Rudy was on the couch, too, a muscle-bound pit bull mix sprawled out with his head on Scott’s lap. The voice of the Bison was cooing to the street dog, scratching his ears, telling him what a good boy he was. And they stayed like that for an hour, watching TV together, like they were lifelong friends. Which they turned out to be.
Good man, Scott Miller. Damn good man.
McFeely is a columnist and radio talk show host for Forum News Service. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org .