Martin O’Donnell Resigning from Illini Radio Analyst Duties After Nine Years

Former Illini All-American Martin O’Donnell announces end to a 15-year tenure on WDWS/Illini Sports Radio Network.

Matt Stevens, IlliniGuys Staff Writer

February 16, 2024

CHAMPAIGN — Martin O’Donnell has said goodbye to his radio responsibilities after being on the air for the Illini Sports Radio Network and on WDWS for the last 15 years.

O’Donnell, a former first-team All-America selection as a Illinois offensive lineman in 2007, announced he’ll be stepping away from his analyst duties for Illinois football games alongside play-by-play announcer Brian Barnhart.

I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to spend Saturdays in the fall with @IlliniFootball for the past 9 years,” O’Donnell wrote on X on Thursday evening. “I never took a day for granted, had a great time and hope that we provided a great listening experience. See you in the stands. I L L.”

Fighting Illini Sports Properties, a division of the Learfield Sports Radio Network, will immediately begin the search to find an analyst for Illini football games. No immediate plans on who will fill O’Donnell’s seat for the Illini’s 2024 spring game have been revealed at this time. The spring game is back on a Saturday afternoon for the first time in the Bret Bielema era of Illini football as the program announced earlier this month that the annual spring game will be Saturday, April 20 at Memorial Stadium. The game will kick off at 1 p.m. CT on Big Ten Network and on the Illini Sports Radio Network.

O’Donnell has served in that analyst role for the Illini Sports Radio Network since replacing former All-Big Ten selection quarterback Kurt Kittner in 2014. Before stepping into the analyst role, served as co-host for the WDWS postgame call-in show from 2008-14.

O’Donnell, who graduated from Illinois in May 2007 with a degree in history and speech communications, is currently the executive vice president for the Central Region of Busey Bank.

O’Donnell, a Downers Grove, Ill. native, was a Parade All-America selection and was one of the highest ranked offensive linemen in the country in the 2003 recruiting class before committing to Ron Zook’s Illini program. O’Donnell had 45 starts in his four-year Illini career and was part of an Illinois offensive line unit to a win at No. 1 Ohio State, including a punishing 8-plus minute drive to run out the clock and end the game. In the starting lineup announcement for ABC Sports’ broadcast of the 2008 Rose Bowl, O’Donnell was pointed out by guest announcer Jim Belushi as being the leader, All-American and co-captain of the 2007 Illini offensive line unit.

O’Donnell’s memorable calls include the 2019 game-winning field goal to complete the upset win over then-No. 6 Wisconsin on Homecoming, the 2019 comeback win at Michigan State to clinch bowl eligibility for Lovie Smith’s Illini squad, the first win of the Lovie Smith and Bret Bielema era both at Memorial Stadium in 2016 and 2021 and the program’s first January 1 bowl game (2023 ReliaQuest Bowl) since O’Donnell’s final game in a Illini jersey (2008 Rose Bowl).

Since 1976, O’Donnell’s replacement will mark only the fourth radio color analyst for Illini football games; Jim Grabowski 1976-2006, Kurt Kittner 2007-14 and O’Donnell 2014-23.

In addition to his Illini radio broadcast duties, O’Donnell also recently taped a popular ‘Football 101’ segment on YouTube with Bielema on Monday to look back at the most recent game in the previous weekend.

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