Tar Heels that can remember 1993 will likely be able to cite you the call from the Tar Heel Sports Network word for word. If you haven’t heard it, click to the 2:20 mark here
“HE TAKES A TIMEOUT!” It’s a call that resonates nationally now thanks to Tar Heel alum Tate Frazier who made it a point to play this sound clip at the beginning of his college basketball podcast with Mark Titus, and despite that podcasts several iterations, the intro has stayed the same. The thing that makes Woody’s call here so amazing isn’t just the stunned joy from Durham yelling the fact that Webber would be assessed a technical foul, it’s the fact that this deadpanned voice beside him is informing him, in real time, that it’s about to happen.
“HE TAKES A TIMEOUT!”
“TECHNICAL FOUL!! TECHNICAL FOUL!! ON MICHIGAN!!!”
The deadpanned voice helping Woody’s call standout even more is Forest Orien Mixon, better known to Tar Heel fans and Carolina Panther fans as Mick. Twelve years after this call he would help Woody call another national championship, and then move on to the NFL to take on the challenge of being an NFL radio announcer. On Thursday, Mixon about as quietly as one could, announced that he would be hanging up his headphones after the 2021 football season.
This news hits folks in my age bracket right in the nostalgia stomach. I grew up with Woody and Mick behind the microphone at the Tar Heel Sports Network. I honestly had no clue what Dick Vitale and Billy Packer sounded like because I always made sure to mute my TV and listen to the THSN call. This was also in an age when not every Carolina football and basketball game would be shown on TV, so you relied on those voices to paint the picture as to what was going on.
Mixon started doing color for the THSN in 1989, meaning he was only in his fourth season of providing color when that infamous timeout was taken. By that point, though, fans had gotten used to the fact that the term “color commentator” was about as ironic as it got for Mixon, because he almost never got as excitable as his partner. The quiet “technical foul” he’s saying there was just par for the course. Mixon knew his stuff, which was remarkable for someone who had to provide analysis for both football and basketball. The remarkable thing about it wasn’t just that he could do both, but that he did it without being a former player in either sport. He was a Journalism School graduate, and landed back in Chapel Hill about nine years after graduating from Chapel Hill.
When the Panthers announced Mixon as the lead voice in 2005, fans no doubt had questions about whether or not he could do the job well since he “only” did color for a college team before. He did what he did throughout his whole career, though, and took the job on head-on and made it his own. He added a little more excitement to make sure home fans knew he was happy about a score, but something that stayed was his dry sense of humor. At some point during a Panthers broadcast you’re going to hear the team breaking down in laughter because Mixon’s sharpe wit wasn’t going to let an opportunity to make a joke pass by.
I’ll remember one other thing about Mixon: that he taught a class at UNC while he was there. For obvious reasons, he could only offer one section and it met once a week because of his other obligations. Pretty much only seniors took it because of the limited size, and in it he extolled the virtues of showing off the best in the business. He emphasized his dislike of the “talk about” question and how an interview was just there to facilitate a conversation and not be the center of the interview. Because of what he did, he was able to bring in several names to speak with the class-of course Woody gave a chat, as did Jay Bilas before he was JAY BILAS. It was in that class I fully realized just how much work Woody did just to call a game, as he brought his infamous Bic four color pen, his name boards, the index cards, and just made our heads spin with all of the things he did to call a game for a team he had know for three decades by that point.
For the most part, Mick really hasn’t gotten the kudos he’s deserved both in the role he had as the THSN and as the voice of the Panthers. Honestly, though, he didn’t seem like the sort that wanted to. He doesn’t have a social media account, you can read even in the title of the Panthers release that Mixon really didn’t want a story to come out about it, In fact, he outright says in the story “I’m made extremely uncomfortable by any kind of attention,”
The move should allow Mick to attend more UNC games as there won’t be a conflict of interest with his job as the Panthers, and here’s hoping the THSN can find some sort of role for him to occasionally come on and provide some perspective. The airwaves won’t be the same without him.