A longtime Mizzou football broadcaster known for his exciting calls will be inducted into the Missouri Broadcasters Association (MBA) Hall of Fame in June. The late Bill Wilkerson handled the play-by-play for Mizzou from 1982 to 1993, and handled color commentary on the Tiger Network with Dan Kelly in the 1970s.
Wilkerson called the infamous 1990 “fifth down” game at Faurot Field against Colorado. During a timeout with less than 30 seconds to go in the game, Wilkerson ad-libbed about how big an upset would be over Colorado.
“There have been times in the annals of Missouri Tiger football lore that someone has stepped forward and made a play. At Notre Dame (1978), it was Chris Garlich. At Ohio State (1976), it was Pete Woods. At USC (1976), it was Curtis Brown. At Alabama (1975), it was Keith Morrissey. Who among the 11 black-shirted Tigers today will make the play of the afternoon?” Wilkerson ad-libbed on the air.
Audio is courtesy of Learfield. Many Mizzou fans say Buffaloe quarterback Charles Johnson didn’t score on the final play, but Colorado won the game. Mizzou fans were furious, saying Tiger defender Harry Colon made the tackle.
“This is the final play of the game, come on Tigers. Fourth and goal. The snap, Johnson with the ball, no, no, no, they call a touchdown, they call a touchdown, they call a touchdown, oh I can’t believe this,” Wilkerson told listeners.
Wilkerson was also an award-winning newsman at St. Louis’ KMOX and he was honored by then-FBI Director Robert Mueller with the FBI’s Community Leadership award in Washington in 2010. Director Mueller honored Wilkerson for his work in stemming the dropout rate at four St. Louis schools, and his work keeping St. Louis-area youth out of gangs.
Former Tiger basketball star Tom Dore describes Wilkerson to 939 the Eagle as a guy “that lived St. Louis, lived for football and lived for Mizzou.”
The 72-year-old Wilkerson died in 2017, after collapsing at his Florissant home. He was known for his signature calls, including “he (Jeff Handy) drops back … sets up, steps up.” He also called St. Louis Cardinal football and some Blues hockey games on KMOX. Wilkerson is in the Mizzou Media Hall of Fame and his photo is in the Memorial Stadium press box.
June’s other inductees include 29-time Emmy winner Bob Costas, who also spent time here in Columbia calling Mizzou basketball games.