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Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Auburn football play by play announcer began in Auburn broadcast booth calling baseball in 1993- NY Times

12/2/13, "Auburn Announcer Has the Call of a Lifetime, Twice in One Month," NY Times, Richard Sandomir

Rod Bramblett, Auburn
"College football on radio is no place for subdued restraint. Announcers are oftentimes loud, excitable, and biased. Great, decisive, game-ending plays can be cues to go wild.

The best ones do not take complete leaves of their senses. Their vocal cords bend, but they do not break. But they can go more than a little bonkers for their universities. 

Rod Bramblett, the voice of Auburn football, had such moments, perhaps the biggest ones of his career, at the end of the Tigers’ last two games. 

On Nov. 16, Auburn’s Ricardo Louis scored a deflected 73-yard touchdown pass against Georgia with 25 seconds left, and the Tigers hung on for the 43-38 win. Bramblett proclaimed it “a miracle at Jordan-Hare,” the stadium where Auburn plays. Then, last Saturday, in the Iron Bowl against Alabama, Chris Davis returned a missed field goal more than 100 yards to give the Tigers a 34-28 victory. Bramblett invoked the almighty’s name to describe a moment that, for its ramifications, was more meaningful than miracle. 

“These are my top two calls,” Bramblett said Monday from Ames, Iowa, where he was to call an Auburn-Iowa State basketball game that night. “I’ve had some exciting ones and dramatic finishes, but nothing like the miracle of a couple of weeks ago and the unbelievable play the other night.”
Bramblett grew up in Valley, Ala., admiring Larry Munson’s radio calls for Georgia and Jim Fyffe’s for Auburn. He graduated from Auburn in 1988 and began calling Auburn baseball in 1993. 

After Fyffe’s death in 2003, Bramblett got the Auburn football job, and also started calling Tigers basketball. He does not embrace the title of a homer. But he is not ambivalent about which team he wants to win. 

“I have a vested interest in what happens on the field at Auburn, not only because of the job, but as an alum who loves the school,” he said. “There are play-by-play announcers like Brad Nessler — he can’t be called a homer. He’s middle of the road. Nobody’s listening to us for a down-the-middle broadcast. They want me to convey the emotion.” 

He added: “The Auburn IMG Sports Network pays me to call games for Auburn. Fans are listening for the Auburn slant. They want to know that the whole broadcast crew is living and dying with the school.” 

That is part of the tribal college football culture as it is in local sports across the country. Chris Ferris, the vice president of the audio division of IMG College, which distributes and produces the radio games of Auburn and dozens of other teams, said that Bramblett and announcers like him effectively represent die-hard fans who are not sitting before a video screen. 

They want to hear their guy call the game,” Ferris said. “People want that call, with all the emotion and raw energy that Rod is giving; you get a sense of what’s happening on the field and he doesn’t get lost in the emotion. He’s still painting the picture.” 

Although both of his recent Auburn calls elicited similar levels of his passion, Bramblett said that he entered what sounded like a bit of a dream state at one point in the Georgia call. “I remember what I said until the ball was tipped up and caught,” he said, “and then I went back after to make sure the words made sense.” 

Auburn was facing a fourth-and-18 at their own 27 and, out of instinct or experience, Bramblett said: “Here’s your ballgame. Nick Marshall stands in, steps up, is going to throw down field. Just a home run ball. And it is tipped up, and Louis caught it on the deflection. Louis is going to score! Louis is going to score! Louis is going to score! Touchdown, Auburn! Touchdown, Auburn! A miracle at Jordan-Hare! A miracle at Jordan-Hare!” 

(At some points, announcers in such states should pay royalties to the Russ Hodges estate for his “the Giants win the pennant” repetition motif from 62 years ago.) 

Davis’s runback developed more deliberately than the Georgia play two weeks earlier. After narrating Davis’s path in 5-yard increments until he reached the Alabama 45, Bramblett’s now hoarse voice provided exultation to listeners: 
He only wishes that he had quickly noted that Auburn’s victory put them in the Southeastern Conference title game. 

In the visitors’ radio booth, Eli Gold, the Alabama announcer, did not sound downcast although behind his crimson-colored glasses, he said he was displeased. He said that he thought Davis might have stepped out of bounds. He looked for Alabama defenders to tackle him. Finding none, he conceded, “There’s nobody there for Alabama.” 

Off the air, he said: “Our jaws were hanging agape. I was as shocked as anybody.”" image Todd Van Emst via NY Times

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