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Chris Carlin & Rutgers, perfect together

There was white smoke over WFAN as a replacement for “the pope” was announced

Miami Marlins v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

I may finally be able to listen to WFAN again. Maybe.

But that isn’t the good news.

Mike Francesa is retiring from the afternoon drive shift on WFAN. For me, that is good news. But the really good news, though, is that his replacement - at least part of the crew - is Chris Carlin. Carlin has been part of Rutgers football since 2001 and has been the play-by-play voice of the Knights since 2004. He was also the play-by-play voice for Rutgers men's basketball from 2008-2016.

And now he gets to host what is arguably the premier time slot of sports talk the country.

But for Rutgers fans, this - Pandemonium in Piscataway - is how Chris Carlin is locked into our collective and individual psyches and brains.

The 45-year old Carlin is a New Jersey native and a graduate of Hobart & William Smith Colleges. While his early broadcasting career was at a smaller station in upstate New York, his move into a major market was at WFAN, starting as an intern. And so the return brings him full circle and into a job that likely tops any other he could want. Currently, he is co-host of Carlin & Reese on WIP in Philadelphia. And Philadelphia is where our story really gets down to the importance of Chris Carlin moving to WFAN.

A few weeks ago, I was traveling to a game and was in the Philly area. I was listening to the local news station, KYW, on that Saturday morning and the sports caught my attention. Here was the news station in the nation’s fourth largest market and the sports included mentioning the college football games being played locally. Right, they mentioned Temple and Villanova. But then they went on to mention the D2 and D3 games in the area. West Chester, Cheyney, all of them. How often do you hear on WCBS, WINS or WFAN that Kean, Montclair State, Marist, or Stony Brook are playing? How about never. In truth, we’re sometimes lucky to get any mention of Rutgers, the only P5 football program within 100 miles of Times Square.

Enter Chris Carlin.

Carlin will be co-hosting with former Jet Bart Scott and Maggie Gray. Gray? I had to look her up, too. She is the lead anchor for all of Sports Illustrated’s digital video productions. She also worked in radio with Marc Malusis - yes, the Rutgers football post-game guy - co-hosting the “Moose and Maggie Show” on CBS Sports Radio Network.

All in all, this sounds like a pretty good situation for Rutgers. Don’t expect Carlin, Scott, and Gray to suddenly turn WFAN’s afternoon program into all Rutgers, all the time. But at least Carlin won’t have to look up what the Rutgers mascot is or check Google to find out who coaches any of the teams.

Francesa, in my view, grudgingly dealt with Rutgers. In 2006 he couldn’t ignore RU because we were a national story. But any other time he had to address the Knights in any form, whether interviewing a coach or discussing the move to the Big Ten, it was a chore. St. John’s was another story; that was NYC. Rutgers was an after thought. Which bothered me that much more since WFAN’s programming director, Mark Chernoff, is a Rutgers grad. Chernoff was a year or two behind me when we were at WRSU together. But apparently his loyalty was to New York, not New Brunswick.

Chris Carlin will, according to reports, continue his role as play-by-play announcer for Rutgers football. And while his voice may not be akin to Vin Scully or Keith Jackson or Jim Nantz, he is passionate and knows the game. And knows and loves Rutgers.

The “pope” is gone. His replacement, at least the one I’m concerned about, is a winner.

Go get’em, Chris.