OU men's basketball: How Sooner voice Toby Rowland and his sons bond through basketball

Joe Buettner / The Transcript

Sooner men's basketball managers Trevor Rowland, left, and Payton Rowland stand midcourt at Lloyd Noble Center. The Rowland brother's father, Toby Rowland, is the play-by-play voice for OU men's basketball.

A booming voice rings throughout a Piedmont residence at 6 a.m. each weekday.

It’s nothing to fear. For Trevor and Payton Rowland, it’s just their father, Toby Rowland. Experience the morning ritual enough and the easier it is to drown out the broadcast veteran’s sports talk radio show remotely done from his in-home studio and carried on KREF 1400 AM.

“I would wake up because he always starts his radio shows yelling into the microphone,” Payton said. “So, I'd wake up at 6 a.m. every morning with him.”

The shared wall between Payton’s childhood bedroom and the studio made it especially challenging for the younger of the two brothers to tune out the sounds others turn to on their radios for Toby's sports takes. Payton and Trevor — as well as their younger sister, Chloe, who recently claimed Payton’s room since he left for college — eventually learned to fall back asleep until it was time to prepare for school or ignore it altogether.

“I'm sure the kids have heard a lot more sports radio than they care to in their lives through that wall,” Toby said.

Trevor and Payton now live in Norman and attend the University of Oklahoma, where Trevor is a sports management senior, Payton is a journalism sophomore and still can’t escape their father’s work.

But that’s a good thing.

Toby’s two sons are student managers for the Sooners’ men’s basketball program, which heads to No. 2 Baylor Monday. So, the boys see their father — who calls play-by-play for the team on KRXO 107.7 FM — plenty through hoops season.

“When you leave for college, a lot of times it's hard for kids to move away from home,” Trevor said. “So, being able to work with my dad, and two years later have my brother come in; we were close growing up and then that just kind of helped our relationship build.”

The Rowland men’s proximity is a joy for Toby, who previously worked at Oklahoma City's CBS affiliate News 9 for nearly a decade. He worked five-to-six nights a week, making it impossible to be at every sporting event and school activity for his children.

Toby praises his wife, Jenni, for holding the bunch together. “She’s had to be a real warrior for our family to allow us to reach this point,” he said.

Toby’s home-work balance has become easier since earning his role as the radio voice of both OU’s football and men’s basketball teams in 2011.

"This life at OU for the last nine years now has been glorious schedule-wise compared to the TV days, which were very difficult," Toby said.

His personal studio, where he hosts the “T-Row in the Morning Show” Monday through Friday from 6-9 a.m., helps him work from home most days and saves him a two-hour commute to the Norman-based station.

He’s still required to travel to OU’s road football and men’s basketball and has a weekly FOX Sports Oklahoma gig on Tuesdays in the fall and Thursdays in the spring at Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q in Norman. Rowland hosts “Sooner Sports Talk,” where he sits down with the likes of OU head football coach, Lincoln Riley, and men’s basketball coach, Lon Kruger — typically in front of a large audience.

Trevor and Payton are almost always at Rudy’s for their father’s show. Trevor says he’ll also catch his dad’s morning radio show as he readies for class and Payton’s viewing experience for OU football road games includes muting his television and syncing OU’s radio call to the action on screen.

The boys are often approached by their father's fans to express their enjoyment of his work, which they both appreciate.

“He is a legend,” Payton said. “I don't know if he thinks he is, but he definitely is.”

The Rowland boys aren’t sure what’s next after OU but it’s no surprise to Toby both are intrigued by careers in sports.

“They've been inundated with it,” he said.

And life as a manager isn’t always glamorous.

Classes in the morning. Get to Lloyd Noble Center by 1 p.m. Put out towels, basketballs and water for players ahead of practice. Rebound shots. Help with drills. Clean up. Leave around 5 p.m., or maybe a few hours later if it’s your turn to do laundry. And then prepare to do it all the next day.

Payton and Trevor cherish the opportunity to work and travel the country with Kruger, his coaching staff and their father.

“It's great that now that they're older and in college that we can have some adventures, going to fascinating places and seeing big games together,” Toby said. “It has made my heart happy and hopefully they feel the same.”

Joe Buettner


Follow me @ByJoeBuettner


Oklahoma at Baylor

Time/Place: 8 p.m. | Ferrell Center, Waco, Texas

Records/Rankings: OU (12-5, 3-2 Big 12); Baylor (15-1, 5-0)/No. 2 AP

OU starters: 24 Jamal Bieniemy (6-5, So./5.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg); G 11 De'Vion Harmon (6-1, Fr./8.6 ppg, 2.1 apg); G 12 Austin Reaves (6-5, Jr./15.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg); F 0 Kristian Doolittle (6-7, Sr./16.4 ppg, 8.5 rpg); F 35 Brady Manek (6-9, So./15.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg)

Baylor starters: G 45 Davion Mitchell (6-2, So./9.5 ppg, 2.9 apg); G 12 Jared Butler (6-3, So./16.9 ppg, 3.3 apg); G 31 MaCio Teague (6-3, Jr./13.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg); F 11 Mark Vital (6-5, Jr./6.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg); F 33 Freddie Gillespie (6-9, Sr./9.8 ppg, 8.9 rpg)

Series: OU leads 45-17


Radio: KRXO 107.7 FM

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