Interview with Retired WWE Announcer Jim Ross: Sugar Bowl, Wrestling and BBQ


As the date with Oklahoma at the Sugar Bowl approaches, I imagine that you will read lots of different breakdowns from many different writers as game time approaches. The Houndztooth staff decided to be a little different and go out and have a fun but yet informative interview with someone different that you might not normally see from most writers and get his own breakdown of the game plus talk a little BBQ. He is an avid supporter of Oklahoma athletics and a regular season ticket holder that can be seen at home games in Norman or when the Sooners go on the road to face an opponent but yet still calls things like he sees them. He even uses the Oklahoma fight song “Boomer Sooner” as his entrance song. We had the pleasure to sit down and chat with retired WWE announcer and executive Jim Ross and here is what he had to say on the Sugar Bowl, BBQ Sauce and Products and even a little wrestling.

Oklahoma, Alabama and the Sugar Bowl

The line on the game opened with Alabama being the 14.5 point favorite over the Sooners. As Tide fans know, with a little luck or a big play, those point spreads could be tossed out the window rather quickly. “I kinda feel like we are the Buster Douglas of college football”, said Ross. “We’re not supposed to win and we are going to a place that wasn’t real positive for us”.  Alabama brings in an 11-1 (7-1 SEC) record to the game while the Sooners are bringing in their 10-2 (7-2 Big 12) record.  Oklahoma holds the series lead over Alabama with a 2-1-1 edge, winning the last two against the Tide in 2002 and 2003. Ross said that those last two games were highly anticipated games from Oklahoma. He had some great things to say about those fans in Tuscaloosa as well. “The fans in Tuscaloosa were very hospitable, polite, and very classy”, Ross said. He added, “It was a great thrill for me to watch a game in Tuscaloosa after watching so many on television and I don’t believe I was treated any nicer at any stadium than I was in Tuscaloosa”. Ross even visited Dreamland BBQ. The admiration and respect for Alabama is not something that just came recently. Earlier this week on The Paul Finebaum Show,  Ross appeared and had some wonderful things to say about Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. “My dad was a big Bear Bryant fan. He just thought he was a man’s man”, said Ross. He told me in the interview that his father looked up to Coach Bryant and John Wayne and believed those two were great Americans.  He also talked about an Oklahoma and Alabama game from when he was a child where Lee Roy Jordan had “something like 17 unassisted tackles”.

Both teams will head into the game with each having some offensive line issues. Alabama’s Anthony Steen will have to miss the game after shoulder surgery earlier this month. During Saban’s last press conference, he said that Leon Brown, Kellen Williams, and Alphonse Taylor are the ones that are competing for Steen’s spot. I asked Ross about Oklahoma’s issues on the line. Ross said, “Their offensive line is a little bit make shift right now, which doesn’t bode well for them”.  Sooner’s left tackle Tyrus Thompson and left guard Adam Shead are both expected to miss the Sugar Bowl.

While the QB situation at Bama should be set in stone for the match up as AJ McCarron will start his last game as an Alabama player, Oklahoma seems to have somewhat of a question mark at the same position. Trevor Knight and Kendal Thompson both got playing time with the Sooner’s annual rivalry game with Oklahoma State. With it clear Thompson was ineffective replacing an injured Knight, Stoops turned to his 3rd choice, Blake Bell, who came in and threw 10 completions on 16 passes for 140 yards and tossed the winning touchdown pass in Oklahoma’s triumph in Bedlam 33-24.  I asked Ross who he thought would get the start for the Sooners in New Orleans and he replied ” I think against Oklahoma State, they wanted to run the option more and that would be better suited for Trevor Knight and Kendal Thompson”. Ross was unsure on which quarterback would get the start for the Sooners in the Sugar Bowl but guessed that Trevor Knight would get the nod.

A good matchup to consider on the field is to see if Alabama’s receiving corp can be held in check by the Sooner’s defensive backfield that is ranked 15th in the nation in pass defense and is led by star corner Aaron Colvin. On the ground, Alabama’s stable of backs will face the Sooners’ rushing defense that is only giving up 138 yards a game. The second matchup that should get your attention would be the Oklahoma rushing offense vs the Alabama rush defense. Ross said, “If Oklahoma can’t run the football effectively, they are going to have a hard time staying in the game”. The Sooners have averaged 235 yards on the ground throughout the season while the Tide has held opponent’s rushing to 108 yards a game. Running back Brennan Clay has rushed for 913 yards and 6 touchdowns. Ross also added that he will be watching the battle in the trenches. “I think whoever can win the line of scrimmage consistently will have the upper hand in the game.” He believes that Alabama has the edge on that battle on both sides of the ball. Ross doesn’t see a repeat performance of the Tide’s Sugar Bowl game with Utah and believes they will be ready to go. He said “I expect Alabama to be very competitive and ready to win on the national level. Oklahoma has too much tradition and Saban and Stoops have a great friendship so that will help with the competitive spirit”.

Ross didn’t have a prediction in the game and said he would leave that up to the folks in Las Vegas.  He did say “I know anything can happen in a one game series” and added “Alabama has a better team on paper and I think Alabama is the best team in college football today”. Like Ross stated, you never know which team will get the breaks, the turnovers and will come out on top. “You just never know when you get two great teams playing each other”, said Ross.

After we talked about the game, I got a chance to ask JR about AJ McCarron. A little known fact that just recently came out was that AJ McCarron almost committed to Oklahoma out of high school. We asked Ross how he thought the quarterback battle between McCarron and Landry Jones could have gone after Sam Bradford’s departure. “Landry is a bit more one dimensional and not as athletic as AJ”, said Ross. He added that both players have great arms but he didn’t think that Landry was the vocal leader that McCarron is. Ross said, “If McCarron had have came to Oklahoma, he probably would have played”.

BBQ And Life After Wrestling

As soon as we got the football talk finished, I had to ask JR a few things about his time in wrestling, his BBQ products and what he is up to now since retiring. His career in wrestling spanned 40 years and he is truly one of the legends in the business. He spent some time commentating on college radio and with his experience, Ross was given a chance to be a sideline commentator when an announcer in one territory was unable to show up one night. He was a referee in the NWA Mid South from 1974 until 1977. Right after Bill Watts bought the Mid-South Territory, JR returned to work for them in 1982 as the lead play by play man and Vice President of Marketing. The first World Title match that he called was between Ric Flair and Ted DiBiase. NWA eventually became WCW and Ross stayed with them until 1993 before moving on to the WWF (later WWE). He retired in September of 2013. One of our staff members remembered from back in 1993 when Bobby Heenan was giving an on air farewell booting from the late great Gorilla Monsoon. The two were actually really great friends and cried about the incident in the hotel afterwards. I asked JR if he could pick someone to give him that kind of farewell, just who would he pick. He told us, “Well, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock were the biggest stars I ever recruited and signed. If those guys could get together and walk me out the door, that would be fine with me”. With such a long and wonderful career, we asked if there was one singular moment in his career that he remembered the most. He told us, “For an old country boy from Oklahoma, it was all a dream come true”. He points to his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007 as the accomplishment that sticks out to him. “I’ve had too many wonderful memories and there were a lot of great stars”, Ross said and added that “It was quite the lifestyle and unique vocation”.

I asked Ross what he has been doing since retiring and what may be planned for the future. “I’m gonna do a bunch of one man shows in 2014”, Ross said. According to him, the shows will feature him talking about his career and telling stories. These shows will include a question and answer session from the audience as well as a meet and greet. He also will be starting a podcast in the early part of 2014 and he told us that his agent is also shopping a book idea around as well. “I’ve got plenty on plate”, Ross told us and added, “Retirement is way overrated”. JR also has his own line of BBQ Products and Beef Jerky. He tells us he has chipolte ketchup, jalapeno mustard, all purpose seasoning, a cookbook and of course those BBQ sauces. If you are interested in ordering, there is a link included near the bottom. He told us that he knows Bama fans know what good BBQ sauce tastes like.

Ross had a message for all of the Tide Nation. “I look forward to meeting a lot of Alabama fans in New Orleans. They’ll find out that I am not a bad guy, I’m not the enemy, and we are Brothers in Crimson.” JR plans on meeting his good friend and Alabama radio broadcaster Eli Gold in New Orleans as well as ESPN’s Brad Nessler which is also a close friend.

We thank Mr. Ross for his time. For more from JR, check out his fantastic blog at and shop for his BBQ products at the WWE Online Store. If you are a member of, you can catch his article on OU Insider. Follow him on Twitter as well.

Be sure to keep checking The Houndztooth message board for all of your Bama Sports and Recruiting Discussions. Follow The Houndztooth on Twitter and the contributors for this piece: Chilld28 and Magilla.