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Rose Bowl winner, ‘Idol’ finalist adds flair to Summit broadcasts

By Chris Yow

When the Summit Spartans agreed to have their football games aired on WKOM-FM (101.7) for the 2020 season, the thought of having a former Rose Bowl champion and national television personality as part of the broadcast probably wasn’t on the radar. 

Spring Hill, however, is a giant melting pot of unique personalities and backgrounds. Enter Matt Rogers former Rose Bowl champion, auctioneer to the stars, American Idol finalist and television host of shows such as “Beat the Chefs” and the Lifetime docu-series “Coming Home.”

As the auctioneer to the stars, Rogers is afforded the opportunity to help nonprofits sell high-price items in a fundraising capacity. Occasionally, he’ll be called to host a television series, but he only takes those jobs when it’s just right for him and his family, as they are now full-time residents of Spring Hill. 

In 2015, he brought his family to Tennessee from his home state of California. 

“When I was filming ‘Coming Home’ in Clarksville, I fell in love,” he said. “The people are amazing and it’s so much better than California. Don’t worry, though, when I came to Tennessee, I didn’t bring the California with me.”

He makes his steady income selling payroll services to restaurants, bars and even country music singers. While he was hesitant at first to take a job like that, he now says he wouldn’t want to do anything else.

“When I left American Idol and started hosting ‘Beat the Chefs’ I had three employees. I was told I needed to set up payroll, and this guy came out and we hit it off,” he laughed. “In 2005-2006 he talked me into joining his company.”

That type of work allows Rogers to be flexible with his time, and after moving to Spring Hill, Rogers made acquaintances with Justin Lamb, who serves as the statistician for the football team, along with being the husband of Summit principal Sarah Lamb. When the deal was signed for Summit to be on WKOM, Lamb immediately made a phone call to Rogers.

“I called him in the parking lot when we left the meeting,” Lamb said. “Where else would we find someone with his experience who’s willing to do it?”

A former high school volunteer coach as well, Rogers mentioned that he’d been getting the itch to return to the sidelines, but this allows him an opportunity to be under the lights again as well.

He teams with Mike Epley, who has been a play-by-play broadcaster for many years in the area, and the duo have a lot of fun on the air.

“I don’t think Mike knew how to take me at first,” Rogers said. “I cracked a joke on air early in our first broadcast, and he kind of looked at me like he wanted to laugh, but wasn’t sure if he should. I like to break up the serious nature of football with my humor.”

The quintessential entertainer, Rogers has made his living finding the right balance on air between football and fun. While a sideline reporter for Turner Sports, Rogers learned how to explain what he was seeing on the field and portray it to an audience who may not understand the lingo. Sometimes that can be difficult for a player who spent time at Iowa under Hall of Fame coach Hayden Fry and won a Rose Bowl at Washington under Rick Neuheisel 

“I am so passionate about football — especially high school football,” he said. “I am so excited, and we’re just getting started.”

Listen to Rogers and Epley on Friday nights beginning at 6:45 p.m. before each Summit game this season on WKOM 101.7-FM or on the live stream.

Chris Yow is the multimedia director for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. E-mail: sports@sm-tnsports.com; Twitter: @ChrisYow14.