"Oh, God, no!" says Holliday when asked if he ever thinks about retirement. "Doesn't even cross my mind. I don't look forward to it, I'll tell you that."
Some sportscasters, you get the feeling you'd have to pry the mike from their cold, dead fingers before they quit the game.
With Holliday, he'll give it up as soon as it stops being fun.
A calm approach
It's a little after 7 on a chilly weeknight at Piv's Pub in Timonium. The WBAL-Radio radio broadcast of The Gary Williams Show is about to begin, except there seems to be a slight problem, the slight problem being Gary Williams is nowhere to be found.
A call to Williams' cell phone reveals the Terps coach is stuck in rush-hour traffic. The Washington beltway was a parking lot and the Baltimore beltway is its usual charming, traffic-choked mess. He says he's about 15 minutes away.
Unfazed, Holliday smoothly starts the show, recapping the Terps' recent fortunes, analyzing their embarrassing loss to surprising Notre Dame and taking a call from a listener.
When Williams finally arrives to a warm hand from the audience, he looks like a man who is seconds away from a major aneurysm.
But after a few sympathetic remarks about the traffic, Holliday calmly steers the conversation back to Maryland basketball with a couple of innocuous questions, and they take another call. Soon, Williams is refocused on the show, and his blood pressure begins inching down from its previous vein-bursting levels.
The moment illustrates the comfortable relationship between Holliday and Williams, who have known each other since the latter, a guard for the Terps in the mid-'60s, returned to College Park 14 years ago to rebuild a program still reeling from the death of Bias.
"Johnny's part of the program," Williams says. "He's been through the tough times as well as the good times, and I respect that. It gets to be more than an announcer and coach - we're friends.
"We kid each other. There's not a lot of things sacred between the two of us, which is good. John's earned it all on the sidelines."
Friedgen also calls Holliday a friend and says: "It's an honor for me to work with him."
But the moment at Piv's Pub also highlights the fine line Holliday walks calling games and doing radio and TV gigs with the coaches at Maryland, which, after all, pays his salary.
Don't be too critical, is the unspoken message broadcasters receive from coaches and fans alike. Don't tick off the coach, stay on his good side, or the next broadcast you sign off on may be your last. It leaves broadcasters like Holliday open to charges of being "homers" who unquestioningly support the home team and never give credit to its opponents.
"I think Johnny does a really good job - almost a perfect job - of support for the home team, support for the school colors, but ... he's not afraid to say it like it is," says Knoche. "And if things are going poorly, it doesn't get sugar-coated."
Williams agrees. He says most listeners think "it's OK if Johnny roots for Maryland a little bit. But they want to know what's going on out there, too. They don't want just a one-sided deal. And I think Johnny gives that.
"You know he's a Maryland guy. He wouldn't deny that. But at the same time, if the other team plays well, I think the people know it out there."
Calls it as he sees it
Johnny on the spot
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