“It is another touchdown for Rene Ingoglia and UMass takes the lead.” – Mike Corey on WMUA, 91.1 FM in 1994
“Man, Rene [pronounced Ree-Nee] was so tough. . . he was this bruising running back who could just run over people,” Corey recalled this week, 20 years after he made that call as a UMass student radio play-by-play commentator. “When I began my career, he was the best player on the team, so it all kind of started with him.”
Like thousands of students before and since, Corey and Ingoglia [pronounced In-Goalya] spent their college years building a foundation for their future. Corey delved into sports media, calling play-by-play on the UMass student radio station and Ingoglia excelled on the football field for the Minutemen, being named a first-team All-American in 1995. After graduating from the University, both would continue their success, Corey becoming a full-time commentator and Ingoglia playing in the NFL.
Years later, Ingoglia ventured into commentating as an analyst and it reunited him with Corey for the first time since they left the Pioneer Valley. Both would soon be hired by ESPN and in 2012 they were partners in the booth for the first time.
“The funny thing is I don’t think our bosses knew we had this unique connection where Mike called my games,” Ingoglia said. “It just happened to be, as they say in Massachusetts, a ‘wicked coincidence’.”
Corey and Ingoglia will once again work together on Saturday night, calling No. 11 Booker T. Washington (FL) vs. Oscar Smith (VA) on ESPNU as part of the 2014 ESPN High School Football Showcase.
“For us, it is really cool to have that association from when we were students. We have instant chemistry working together in the booth,” Corey said. “Just like I remember him as a player, Rene puts a tremendous amount of work and effort into each game he calls. It means so much to him and one thing you cannot duplicate is passion. I totally enjoy calling games with him.”
Featured in Saturday night’s matchup is Josh Sweat, the No. 1 recruit in the country. The defensive end for Oscar Smith (VA) has received over 40 Division I offers from the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, LSU and USC.
“To say recruiting and just the overall exposure of the high school game is different from when I played in the late 80’s is a huge understatement,” Ingoglia said. “Back then, we were ecstatic to have our name or picture in the local newspaper. Now, every move a top recruit makes is detailed both online and on national television. But, in the end, high school football is still about the purity of the game. Yes, there are some big time recruits but there are also numerous players who really aren’t thinking about playing in college. They are playing just for fun.”
Fun will be had, but Corey acknowledged it is a bit different when ESPN trucks roll into town.
“Playing on ESPN, it’s new to almost everyone involved. The players, the coaches, the parents, the community, they all get excited and it is a big deal to them,” he said. “It is important that we make the telecast special for them, by being accurate with information surrounding the players and schools and showcasing their communities.”
It is the same approach Corey used as student broadcaster, when he helped introduce Minutemen fans to a future UMass Hall of Famer – who now shares the mic with his fellow alumnus.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Writer Derek Volner, like Corey and Ingoglia, is a UMass graduate.