GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The booming voice and his signature “Oh My!” are unmistakable. As the long time “Voice of the Gators,” Mike Hubert has called national championships, momentous plays and more than 2,500 games at Florida.
After 33 years, Hubert is calling it a career.
The 68-year-old Hubert informed Gators athletic director Scott Stricklin earlier this week that he is retiring following the UF-South Carolina baseball series this weekend at Condron Ballpark.
“That’s going to be it,” Hubert said. “This wasn’t the end of a five-year plan. I don’t know if I can explain how I knew, but I knew. I had been considering this for a little while. I just had to do some praying about it and enjoy every game.”
Hubert and his wife Judi sold their Gainesville home recently and will open a new season of life in Sarasota, where they bought a house in 2019 and plan to relocate next week.
While his departure is sure to startle diehard fans that have listened to his spirited style and meticulous preparation over the airwaves, Hubert said he is at peace and excited about living a different life in retirement.
“Five years ago, I’d probably told you I was going to do it until I was at least 80,” Hubert said. “That was five years ago. A couple of years ago, I started changing. I had a change of heart. Only God can change a person’s heart. I’m just being obedient right now.”
Hubert said he can’t identify a specific moment when he decided to step away from behind the mic that defined his professional career. He said it’s more of a feeling that now is the right time, a place he reached through his strong faith and discussions with his wife and their pastor. Judi retired after 32 years as a kindergarten teacher at Oak Hall in May 2021.
The Gators announced Hubert’s hiring on May 4, 1989, to replace David Steele as the “Voice of the Gators.” Hubert spent the previous 10 years as sports director at CBS affiliate WHIO in Dayton, Ohio. He also served as a radio play-by-play announcer for the University of Dayton football and men’s basketball teams.
Hubert arrived as an outsider, but he became synonymous with the Gators over time. Hubert, Steele and Otis Boggs are the only three full-time play-by-play voices in UF sports history. He is the only broadcaster in history to call national championship wins for the same school in college football (three), men’s basketball (two), and baseball (one). He stopped doing radio play-by-play for baseball after the 2017 season but has continued to call games for the SEC Network and its streaming services.
MICK AT THE MIC
A look at Gators play-by-play voice Mike Hubert‘s career from 1989-2022 in numbers:
*Has called every UF football game since the 1989 season opener; **Does not include approximately 100 events in women’s basketball, soccer, softball, tennis and gymnastics
Hubert considers his call of Danny Wuerffel’s touchdown pass to receiver Chris Doering in the final seconds of a victory at Kentucky in 1993 as the one that “put him on the map” in Gator Nation.
“I’ve probably listened to that over 100 times in my life,” former UF athletic director Jeremy Foley said. “You could feel his passion. He wasn’t just calling that as a play-by-play guy. He was calling it as a Gator. That’s the magic he brought to a Gator broadcast.”
Hubert steps away with no regrets following a career filled with awards and recognition, including induction into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame in 2019.
Hubert made his play-by-play debut at a high school football game on WMDB in Peoria, Ill., as a student at Illinois State University nearly 50 years ago. He was inducted into his alma mater’s communications program’s Hall of Fame last month.
A native of St. Anne, Illinois, Hubert is grateful for longevity in a field that has undergone significant changes during his career.
“No one is invincible. You can be replaced at any moment, and I understand that,” Hubert said. “But like I [told Stricklin], I think by doing it now that I’m going out at what I consider the top of my game. It’s just time. It’s just time for me to go. I can still do it, but my wife has sacrificed her whole career. We missed so many get-togethers and parties and meetings.”
Preparing to move reminded Hubert of how much he had missed at home as he and Judi cleared out photos and looked through old scrapbooks. There were so many photos of Judi back in her native Illinois with family and friends. He was always out of the picture, off at the latest football, basketball or baseball game.
“I wanted to cry,” he said. “Nothing was more important than the Gators. That’s what this business requires.”
Meanwhile, Hubert’s exit will awaken emotions for generations of fans who have shared the highs and lows of their beloved Gators through Hubert’s broadcasts.
The University Athletic Association will have an in-stadium recognition of Hubert’s career on the video board during this weekend’s baseball series. There are also plans to honor him at a UF football game in the fall.
“Mike Hubert has shared his immense talents and represented the Gators incredibly well for the past 33 years. All of Gator Nation will be eternally grateful for providing the soundtrack for so many special Gator athletic moments,” Stricklin said. “It’s hard to imagine a UF football or basketball broadcast without his voice being a part of it. Mick is a true pro and one of the all-time greats. We wish him and Judi the very best in the next chapter of their lives. “
Foley was part of the committee that sifted through 150 applicants for the job in 1989. Three decades later, there’s no doubt the committee hired the right guy.
“As the years went on, his incredible passion for the Gators, you could feel it come through the broadcasts,” Foley said. “When the Gators won or something exciting happened, he could bring it to life. I used to love watching Gator highlights from TV that had his call on them. He’s incredibly talented.
“Mike Hubert, in multiple sports, which was part of the fabric of following the Gators. He’s meant a lot to this program. He obviously rewarded our faith in him by becoming one of the all-time greats.”
Hubert has worked with several different analysts throughout his career at Florida, most prominently Lee McGriff in football, Mark Wise and Lee Humphrey in basketball, and Nick Belmonte and Jeff Cardozo in baseball.
Belmonte, a former UF baseball player, veteran announcer, and scout, has been with Hubert from the beginning. They will be in the SEC Network booth for the Gators-South Carolina series from Thursday through Saturday.
“It’s been an amazing 33 years together with 530 broadcasts, 1,600 hours on the air — or 65 days of our life. And I loved every minute of it,” Belmonte said. “In many ways, he is the best ‘teammate’ I ever had!”
When asked what broadcasts stood out the most, Hubert said the national championships are moments he will cherish forever. In 33 years, Hubert never missed a game due to sickness and only missed a handful of men’s basketball games because of conflicts with football.
He said what he treasures the most are the relationships he built with coaches, players, colleagues and fans.
“I wasn’t doing brain surgery,” he said. “I was in the toy department of life calling games. But I’m going to do it to the best of my ability that God gave me. I also liked the preparation Monday through Friday. By the time Saturday came, I was kind of like a fan ready for the game.”
In an hour-long interview the day after he met with Stricklin, Hubert answered two questions that many are sure to have.
Will he call any games in the future if the opportunity presents itself?
“I might, but I don’t see it.”
Finally, what does he hope Gators fans got from the last 33 years of listening to him on the radio and TV?
“I hope they heard the enthusiasm, and the credibility is important to me,” he said. “You need to be factual and credible, but you need to be enthusiastic. That’s what I always felt. I always wanted to take my audience on a roller-coaster ride of emotions. I also wanted to give them enough information so they could paint that picture in their mind.”
As he turns off the mic, the pictures remain.