Steve Barrios still a fixture of Tulane Football

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Steve Barrios

How a professional contract in the World Football League began a 36-year broadcasting career

NEW ORLEANS – Ask any casual football fan about the World Football League and there’s a safe bet that most won’t remember the league or for that matter what teams where in the league.

Steve Barrios, however, remembers it well. How could he forget?

Barrios chased his professional dreams in the World Football League with teams in Jacksonville and Birmingham.

Although the World Football League would eventually cease operations in 1975, his involvement with the league opened the doors to a lifetime of memories with Tulane University – his beloved alma mater.

During his time with the Birmingham Americans, Barrios met Larry Matson in 1974, who served as the team’s play-by-play voice. Four years later, Matson made his way to Uptown as the new “Voice of the Green Wave” and he needed a color analyst.

Matson knew just who to call.

The request to Barrios was simple: ‘how would you like to be my color analyst for Tulane football?’

Barrios grew up on the West Bank of New Orleans, so having the opportunity to serve as the color analyst for his alma mater was an easy decision.

Thirty-six seasons later, Barrios is still a fixture on the Tulane football radio broadcasts. This fall Barrios returns for his 37th year in the broadcast booth as the team’s color analyst.

“It’s been a way for me to stay involved after my playing days were over, be close to the team, be a part of Tulane and hopefully contribute my part to help the program,” Barrios said.

Barrios, who starred for the Green Wave from 1969-71, came to Tulane following an impressive prep career at West Jefferson High School where he led the team in receiving yards in 1969 and 1970. In 2000, he was inducted into the Tulane Athletics Hall of Fame.

A lot has changed with Tulane football since 1978, his season with the team, but the one constant has been Barrios’ voice over the airwaves.

“I’ll be coming up to my eighth play-by-play guy when Andrew (Allegretta) comes in to do the games this year,” Barrios said. “It’s been fun. Each guy was uniquely different, brought a different passion to the game and things that he did. I think I’ve learned from each guy. It’s just been a continual learning process, but it’s been fun.”

Over the course of his broadcasting career, Barrios’ travels with the team have taken him all over the country and although there are still some long hours on planes and busses that come along with team travel, the former Tulane star still relishes the opportunity to be a part of a team.

“Those long road trips are still fun, it’s a mini vacation,” Barrios said. “Even though you leave on a Friday and you come back immediately after the game on Saturday, it’s a little get away. It’s always a treat to go to those places and see those sites and those fields and the pageantry of college football.”

Of all the trips Barrios has been on with the team over the course of his 36 years on the air, it was the Green Wave’s trip to Hawai’i in 2002 that still remains his most memorable.

“The Hawaii Bowl would have to be the ultimate bowl game,” Barrios said. “It was phenomenal, we got to spend six days in Hawaii. The way we won the game made it the most memorable trip so far with Tulane.”

Tulane outscored Hawai’i 30-14 in the second half to rally back from a 14-6 first half deficit. Quarterback JP Losman had 240 passing yards in the game to lead the Green Wave to the 2002 Hawai’i Bowl title.

For Barrios it is the student-athletes that he gets the chance to interact with that keep the job fun and at Tulane there has been no shortage of great people he has dealt with over the years.

“There are so many great guys that have come through during my time on the radio” Barrios said. “Patrick Ramsey was probably my all-time favorite. That guy was an incredible football player, he was tough as nails, but he was the ultimate gentleman. Mewelde Moore and Matt Forte also stand out. They were class act guys. There’s just been a lot of them, but those guys really stand out.”

In addition to the people, it is the seasons that are also memorable and in the 350-plus football games he has called as the team’s color radio analyst, Barrios has seen his fair share of highs, but no year was more memorable as the program’s perfect season in 1998.

“The entire 1998 season was really a great season but one game in particular stands out in the 1998 season,” Barrios said. “It was against the Louisville Cardinals. That was really a phenomenal game and that actually propelled Tulane on to that perfect season in 1998.”

As the Green Wave enters the 2019 season, Barrios sees a lot of similarities with the current team to the 1998 team, which finished 12-0.

“I think coming off the season we had last year going 7-6, going to the Cure Bowl and winning that football game has given the same type of excitement around the program that we had coming back to the 98 season,” Barrios said. “It would really be nice to go back to a bowl game this year and win it. It would make history.”

The uncertainty of a season is what makes college football fun for Barrios that and his love for Tulane.

With the upcoming season just around the corner, Barrios is excited as ever for the start of the 2019 season because of the foundation head coach Willie Fritz put in place since arriving in 2016.

“When Coach Fritz came in, his main goal was to change the culture here at Tulane,” Barrios said. “I think we’ve seen him incrementally do that from year one to year two to year three and of course year three with the bowl game last year was a huge step. So, I am really excited about where he’s been and where I think the program is going under his leadership.”
Tulane opens the 2019 season on Thursday, August 29 at home against FIU with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. The Green Wave are coming off a memorable 2018 campaign that was highlighted by a win in the AutoNation Cure Bowl and an American Athletic Conference West Division Co-Championship.

For season ticket information, please call 504-861-WAVE (9283), log on to or visit the ticket office at the James W. Wilson Jr. Center.

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