Utes go from one ex-QB to another on their radio broadcast team

Scott Mitchell is now the analyst and former punter Tom Hackett is the sideline reporter.

Detroit Lions quarterback Scott Mitchell (19) gets rid of the ball before Minnesota Vikings' Broderick Thomas (51) can bring him down during the second quarter, Thursday, Nov. 23, 1995, in Pontiac, Mich. Mitchell completed 30 passes for a career-high four touchdowns and 410 yards, beating Bobby Layne's single-game team record. The Lions won 44-38. (AP Photo/Tom Pidgeon)

The Utah Utes have switched quarterbacks in the broadcast booth.

Scott Mitchell, who completed his Utah football career just before Frank Dolce arrived on campus in 1990, has replaced Dolce as the radio analyst. Former Ute punter Tom Hackett is now the sideline reporter.

Mitchell and Hackett made their first appearances on the broadcast of last week's season opener vs. Weber State, working with Bill Riley, the Utes' play-by-play announcer for 10 years on ESPN 700.

The personnel moves reflect the influence of Learfield, the multimedia rights firm that launched a 10-year agreement with Utah Athletics in July 2017. As the vice president and general manager of the locally based Utes Sports Properties, Learfield employee Steve Borland is responsible for the broadcast, including the on-air talent.

Borland recently had worked for the Utah Jazz in corporate partnerships. In previous roles, he managed the multimedia operations of San Jose State and Fresno State — among the nearly 130 schools, conferences and arenas in Learfield’s empire.

“We obviously have a vested interest in making the broadcast as good as we can,” Borland said.

Bo Nagahi, a former Ute defensive back, stepped away as the sideline reporter for family reasons, Riley said. Dolce, a former director of the school’s Crimson Club, was “to say the least, disappointed” about being replaced, he tweeted last week. Dolce now appears regularly on 1280 The Zone’s coverage of the Utes.

“It was a tough decision to make the change,” Borland said. “We really feel that Scott is going to take us to another level. … His analysis and knowledge are second to none.”

Mitchell’s experience as a NFL quarterback for 10 years, as well as his broadcasting ability in various forums, made him appealing. In his debut last week, Mitchell impressed Borland with his responses to Riley’s subjects and especially with his own questions in postgame interviews.

Mitchell, 50, co-hosts a nightly sports-talk show on KSL Radio, among other broadcast ventures. He joked about being employed by the home of BYU sports while working for the Utes, as a Utah alumnus. Part of the attraction of the Utah football job is “I can be a little bit of a homer, which is kind of fun,” he said.

“I have a unique perspective because of the experience I've had in sports,” Mitchell said. “I understand a lot of the game and what's going on. That's really what I want to share with people.”

Riley said Mitchell “is a smart guy; he knows football, and he's excited about doing it.”

Hackett has worked in broadcasting regularly since his Ute career ended in 2015, including a co-host role in the pregame and postgame segments of Real Salt Lake broadcasts. Borland likes the Australian’s view of football and his recent involvement in the Ute program. “With the right coaching,” Borland said, “he’s going to be really good.”