Neil Price was interviewing for a job in the spring of 2005 to be play-by-play radio announcer for the University of Kentucky's women's basketball and baseball teams when he realized he'd made a big mistake.
Price, at the time a graduate assistant at Middle Tennessee State University, was asked during the interview about the most influential people in his radio career, which started when he was a sophomore at Morristown East High School.
"I said, 'I grew up in East Tennessee, and I was fortunate to listen to the greatest there ever was, John Ward,' " Price said Monday. "I got these looks. Everybody in the room either worked for UK or was a UK grad. I was like, 'Did I say something wrong?' "
He realized the interviewers were thinking of longtime UK radio announcer Cawood Ledford when Price referred to Ward, the legendary voice of the Tennessee Vols.
"We listened to Cawood Ledford, and we're awful partial to him," Price recalls hearing.
Price recovered in the interview, got the job, has been covering the Lady Wildcats and Wildcats' baseball teams since, and has done play-by-play for three UK men's basketball games.
Price, 28, says the memories swirl when he returns to UT, and that happens again Thursday night when the Lady Vols play host to the Lady Wildcats at 7 p.m. in Thompson-Boling Arena.
"It's a special place," Price said of UT. "My earliest memories of college sports are in Knoxville."
They go back a ways.
Price grew up listening to Ward's trademark calls for UT football and basketball - like 'Give him six!' in football and 'Bottom!' in basketball - and Mickey Dearstone call Lady Vols basketball, and then Bob Kesling when Ward retired.
As a sophomore at Morristown East, Price went with the radio crew to games, and he soon started calling baseball games and a few basketball games for the Hurricanes.
After graduating from Morristown East, Price went to Walters State Community College where he had got his first big break - calling basketball and baseball games for the Senators as a student.
"That was the first experience I had doing games on a regular basis, a whole schedule of games and working with coaches on a daily basis," Price said. "I was 18, 19 years old, and they (coaches) were really nice to humor me. I'd ask questions that came from out in left field, I was so new at it."
From there, Price went to MTSU, where he earned his degree in 2003 and as a graduate assistant became the radio play-by-play announcer for women's basketball and baseball, and was a football sideline reporter for the school's sports network.
When his confidence was shaken after missing out on a couple of jobs before Kentucky, Price said Kesling gave him encouragement.
"Bob has been super to me in a mentor's role," Price said. "Bob talked me down off the cliff, so to speak, when I was thinking about getting out of it (radio)."
Price was quickly in the fray at Kentucky. He recalls early at UK doing the call-in show of former Lady Wildcats coach Mickie DeMoss, who coached under Pat Summitt at UT.
When DeMoss invited Summitt to the call-in show before a UT-UK game, and the Lady Vols' coach sat down next to him, Price was a nervous wreck.
"She (Summitt) leaned over and said, 'I think you have a terrific voice,' " Price said. "That made me feel a little better about life. It was just kind of surreal, to be around them and be in that situation."
Price has become more accustomed to those situations. He did play-by-play for the UK men's basketballs games against Florida International on New Year's Eve 2007 and for two tournament games, Kansas State and West Virginia, in Las Vegas this season.
"That's a huge deal," he said. "I don't want to sound arrogant, but it's Kentucky basketball."
Now, his rooting interest has changed from his days as a youngster.
"I'm a Kentucky fan," Price said. "Anybody who listens to me on the radio, that's the way I come across, but I always look forward to coming back to UT, whether it's to cover women's basketball or baseball."