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.
“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
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.
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.)
He only wishes that he had quickly noted that Auburn’s victory put them in the Southeastern Conference title game.
Off the air, he said: “Our jaws were hanging agape. I was as shocked as anybody.”" image Todd Van Emst via NY Times