Ryan Mayer

Ross Tucker has built quite the career for himself since retiring from football following the 2005 season. If you’ve watched football or listened to sports radio in the last decade, you have likely heard Ross’ voice weighing in on some of the biggest topics surrounding the game.

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This season, Ross is adding a new role to his resume as he joins the CBS Sports Network college football team, serving as an analyst for various games throughout the season. His first call in the booth for CBS SN will come this Saturday when the Nevada Wolfpack make the trip to Ohio to square off with the Toledo Rockets at noon (12 p.m.) Eastern Time. As Ross prepares to join the team, we caught up with him to discuss his career, the game, and which offensive lines have caught his eye heading into the fourth week of the season. (Editor’s note: This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.)

CBS Local Sports: Ross, you’ve built a big career covering football since the end of your playing career, working in a variety of different roles. Now, you’re in the broadcast booth for college football with CBS Sports Network. What excites you most about this new role?

Ross Tucker: Wearing the blazer (laughing). It is cool, I’m driving to the airport right now and I have it packed up and it’s cool I feel like Jim Nantz. I’m a big college hoops guy, college football and NFL so I feel like I’ve been looking at the CBS logo on the blazer for my whole life. It will be surreal and cool to wear it, so I’m definitely looking forward to that.

I was thoroughly impressed with the seminar they had back in August and the entire group that CBS has from the leadership down. I’m excited to have this opportunity to get in the mix at CBS and show them what I can do. I love doing games, it’s a huge passion of mine, and I love college football. I’m looking forward to my first game and hopefully over the years, moving up the ranks.

CBS Local Sports: For you, what’s been the biggest challenge in transitioning to being an analyst for games after a career as a player?

Ross Tucker: Probably the time management part of it. With the radio show, the podcast, writing stories and all the things I do, you really need to make sure you’re allocating your time wisely. When you’re doing games and prepping for those games, you really need to make that a priority.

When you’re a player, you really only have one thing and they lay out your schedule for you. You can add on to that at the front end or back end, but your schedule is mostly laid out for you. Whereas, in my shoes, you have to lay everything out yourself. With all of the different things I’m doing, allocating time for each and keeping the schedule straight can be challenging.

CBS Local Sports: First game up for you with CBS Sports Network is Nevada @ Toledo. Bit of an under-the-radar game, what intrigues you most about the match-up?

Ross Tucker: For me, I’ve been to so many college football games in my life but I’ve never been to a MAC game and I’ve never been to a Mountain West game. It’s cool for me to cross two conferences off the list so to speak. The opportunity to be at the Glass Bowl at Toledo and see the atmosphere of a MAC game is interesting to me because I know a lot of guys where I’m from in Central PA end up going on to play at MAC schools.

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The other thing is, it’s a good level of play. Toledo just gave Miami a run for their money last week, it was 28-21 late in the third quarter of that game. They have had a great program with what they have done the last seven years or so especially.

For Nevada, they’re coming off a huge win themselves beating a Pac-12 team in Oregon State last week. It was their first win over a Power 5 team since 2014. Both of these teams, it’s been fun to watch their film and see them go against top-level competition like that.

CBS Local Sports: Nevada’s allowed 41 & 35 points in their last two games while Toledo has racked up 66 and 24 offensively. Does this game have the feel of a potential shootout to you?

Ross Tucker: Without question. Nevada put up 30 points in the first half against Oregon State. They have some really good young talent that is interesting. Their running back is a true freshman Toa Taua. His brother played there and was a pretty good player so it’s awesome to see him there playing as a true freshman. He had a couple of offers from Pac-12 schools but because his brother is a legend at Nevada and is coaching there, that’s where he went. He was really fun to watch on film.

They also have some young receivers in McLane Mannix and Romeo Doubs. Mannix, a true sophomore, reminds you of a Wes Welker type that gets open on nearly every play it seems like. Doubs is a true freshman, a big-play guy that has a return for a touchdown already. They’ve got some serious weapons and they’re really young which makes you think we may be seeing the beginning of something special.

For Toledo, they had Logan Woodside at QB last year and he goes on to the NFL, and they replace him with Mitchell Guadagni who’s picked up right where Woodside left off. Right now he leads all of FBS with 20.3 yards per completion. Plus they have three receivers that have previously been all-conference players and had 10-plus touchdown seasons. They didn’t do it all at the same time, but that’s never been done before. And their junior, Deiontae Johnson, was really good against Miami last week.

Should be a lot of points. Should be a lot of fun. This is also a game for two teams that want to be in a bowl game this year that they feel is a winnable game.

CBS Local Sports: As a former offensive lineman, I have to ask, which team or teams, do you have your eye on in terms of best line play?

Ross Tucker: There’s two of them that I would say. One feels weird to say after they just lost at home to BYU but I love Wisconsin’s offensive line. They have three guys that will be high picks. They all almost look like carbon-copies of each other it’s kind of crazy. They’re all around 6’6″ 320 pounds, physical. BYU did really well against them and they deserve a lot of credit but I love the Wisconsin offensive line.

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The other one, I live in central Pennsylvania and Penn State’s offensive line is the best they have had in a long, long time. It might be a decade since Penn State’s offensive line has been this good. What’s crazy about it is that they all have another year of eligibility left so they could all come back next year in theory. They have a great group up front which is why Penn State scored so many points and have done as well as they have even though they lost Saquon Barkley, Mike Gesicki and Daeshon Hamilton.