Voice of the Illini Brian Barnhart is pulling double duty Saturday. And happy to do it.
At 11 a.m., he will call the Illinois-Iowa football game in Iowa City. Then, he gets on the team plane for a short ride back to Flightstar.
If it goes like Barnhart expects, the plane will land between 5:45 and 6:15 p.m. Barnhart will hop in his car and drive 5.2 miles to State Farm Center to call a 7 p.m. men’s basketball game between Illinois and Hampton.
WDWS announcer Scott Beatty will handle the pregame duties for the basketball game and Barnhart will take over as play-by-play announcer at tip-off.
There is a possibility Barnhart’s plan will get messed up. Like if the football game goes into multiple overtimes. Or the traffic from Kinnick Stadium to the Cedar Rapids airport looks like Chicago at rush hour. Or the weather turns nasty.
“If it goes the way you hope it will, I should arrive at State Farm Center around 6:30, 6:45,” he said.
Should Barnhart get delayed and can’t start the basketball call, Beatty will handle it.
“He knows the team,” Barnhart said. “He’ll do a great job if we need him to fill in for me there.”
It won’t be the first time Barnhart has called two games in the same day. When he worked as a baseball announcer in the majors and minor leagues, doubleheaders were part of the deal.
At Illinois, on Dec. 5, 2009, he called the football game against Fresno State followed by a basketball game against Boise State.
“They were across the street from each other, so that was easy enough to do,” Barnhart said. “This will be the first time I’ve done one sport in one city, football in Iowa, then do basketball in a different back here on the same day.”
On to my weekend recommendations:
“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”
10:30 p.m., NBC
Guests include singer John Legend and director M. Night Shyamalan.
“Saturday Night Live,” 10:30 p.m., NBC
Former cast member Will Ferrell returns to host with musical guest King Princess. Ferrell joins the five-timers club of guest hosts, a group that includes all-time leader Alec Baldwin (17), followed by Steve Martin (15) and John Goodman (13).
“2019 American Music Awards,” 7 p.m., ABC
Ciara hosts the live broadcast from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Post Malone leads in nominations with seven. Taylor Swift will receive the Artist of the Decade honor.