Bill Land and J.V. Haney Talk Sports
By TERRELL LESTER
Editor at Large
VETERAN COMMENTATORS: Bill Land, left, and J.V. Haney pose in the Cox Cable television studio after the taping of an EOOC Sportscene show. The pair has been broadcasting together on radio and television for over 30 years.
GTR Newspapers photo
Old-timers might see it as some kind of “hot stove league.”
Fans sitting around talking sports. Casually chewing the fat. Shooting the breeze. Kibitzing.
Bill Land and J.V. Haney have been getting together for well on 30 years, talking sports, hanging out with their friends.
They might as well be having a tailgate party. It’s that type of atmosphere.
Casual. Fun-loving. Opinionated.
Not a lot of coats and ties. This is a shirt-sleeve setting.
Since 1995, Land and Haney have hosted an hour-long sports talkfest on Cox cable television.
About the only parameters involve the time schedule. Sixty minutes. On the button.
Other than that, anything goes.
Land, a radio and television veteran, and Haney, a Hall of Fame high school basketball coach, are the ringmasters of the most entertaining, most informative hour of Oklahoma-flavored sports available in the world of electronic media.
Their show – EOOC’s Sportscene – is not guest-driven. It is experience-driven.
Land and Haney, popular and savvy, command a peripatetic panel of media members – newspaper bylines, television faces, radio voices.
Together, they do what they do best.
They talk sports.
Sometimes just the headlines. Sometimes more in-depth. Always absorbing.
Sixty minutes of sports. Always conversational. Seldom controversial. Facts and conjecture, mixed with fair amounts of levity.
“The show is very relaxed,” said Haney, a member of the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the National High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
“It’s not fancy. We’re just sitting around talking sports.”
Joining his sidekick, Land laughed at the recollection of an incident that underscores Haney’s comments.
Chris Lincoln of Channel 8 was sitting in as a guest panelist when his cell phone rang. Lincoln answered as Land and Haney continued to talk and the cameras continued to roll.
Without leaving the set, Lincoln engaged in a conversation with Sean Sutton, at the time head basketball coach at Oklahoma State University. They were scheduling time for a later interview.
Upon finishing his brief tete-a-tete with Sutton, Lincoln seamlessly returned to the Sportscene subject of the moment.
“We don’t plan any of that stuff,” Land said with a laugh. “But I actually think that is what makes it kind of fun. Because you never really know what’ll happen.”
The show, which airs during a two-week span on Cox channel 3, is taped. But it is seldom edited.
“Basically, we don’t stop,” Land said. “We screw it up, we keep going.
“There are no dress rehearsals.”
Neither is there a lot of show preparation.
Land, the play-by-play voice of the San Antonio Spurs for the last 11 years, lives in the Alamo city. He flies into Tulsa to tape Sportscene, sometimes from the site of a Spurs game.
“We just wing it,” Land said. “That’s what makes it so much fun.”
Haney cited numerous instances when he might meet Land at the Tulsa airport at 12:30 p.m. and taping would begin in the Cox studio at 1 p.m. More often than not, they will tape two shows on the same day.
“I jot down topics that come to mind, especially the last couple of days before we do a show,” Land said. “But most of the guys know what’s going on. They’re all involved in sports.
“We don’t want it too planned.
“We can be on one subject, and somebody says something that might send us off in another direction.
“It’s like having a conversation,” Land said.
And that is the lifeblood of Sportscene, sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma Orthopedic Center.
The same format, the same casual approach has served Land and Haney well since their first on-air partnership began in 1982.
Haney, still serving as basketball coach and director of athletics at Webster High School, had been a frequent guest and host on a sports talk show on radio when Land arrived in 1981 from Wichita.
They teamed up on a number of projects, including talk shows and University of Tulsa and Oral Roberts University sporting events.
Their talk shows moved through a succession of radio stations, including i and .
Radio allowed the two co-hosts the freedom of remote broadcasts that is cost-prohibitive in cable television.
Haney scored interviews with such notables as Muhammad Ali and Mickey Mantle and George W. Bush (prior to the White House).
Haney also called in to Land – before the advent of cell phones – with regular on-air reports from his globe-trotting football adventures with the Sooner Stampede in the 1980s and 1990s, recounting tales of Oklahoma high schoolers playing football in Russia and Denmark, Australia and New Zealand.
Land, too, has his own diary of on-the-road experiences. While traveling with the Spurs, he schedules the Sportscene tapings to coincide with his schedule.
Land has jetted into Tulsa from game sites in Miami, Fla., Denver, Chicago, San Francisco.
“It can be kind of a nightmare,” Land said.
Here, he sits with Haney, chatting up one or two guest panelists about the most topical of sports subjects for an hour, and then he is off again, on to the next game site or to his home on a picturesque golf course in sunny south Texas.
Land and Haney share a deep-rooted and abiding friendship. They talk by phone once a week, conversations that are more convivial than professional.
Haney, the pride of Big Cabin, Okla., and Land, a product of DeKalb, Ill., have formed an enviable bond of brotherhood, borne of sports, nurtured by respect.
Their Sportscene show is completing its 18th year, and has endured while Land has moved from Tulsa to Dallas to San Antonio.
But monthly, he returns on schedule to take a seat next to Haney.
“It’s the highlight of my month,” Land said.
“How many Hall of Famers do I get a chance to work with? Not many.
“It’s probably just about the most fun thing I’ve ever done,” Land continued. “We control the show. There are no general managers. No consultants. It’s our show.”
Land and Haney purchase a 60-minute slot from Cox, then recoup their costs by independently selling commercial time.
Haney, retired from coaching and education in 1986, views his radio and television gigs as “a hobby.”
Still, that hobby has produced something of a second career for Haney.
He has long been associated with high school sports through his game assignments as an analyst on television and his hosting of several coaches’ shows.
But the one hour a month when he sits down with Land to talk sports might well be his avocational signature.
The casual pace of the show and the chummy give-and-take showcase Haney’s personality.
“It’s kind of an old-fashioned show,” he said. “Just some guys, some friends, sitting around talking sports.”