If you've been an Auburn Tigers fan over the last 15-20 years, then you know the sound of Rod Bramblett's voice. First calling baseball and then taking over primary duties for all sports when Jim Fyffe passed, Rod has been a fixture with Auburn Athletics and the "Voice" of so many big moments. This August, you'll be able to read all about them from the man himself with the release of his book Touchdown Auburn! Carrying On The Tradition of the Auburn Tigers from Triumph Books.
I got the chance to get my hands on an advanced copy of the book thanks to the publishing company and was asked to write a review of it. The first thing I'll tell you is that I'd say it's a definite "must have" if you're a collector of memories of big moments in Auburn Athletics. The majority of the book is about memories of football, but baseball and basketball are not left out!
This is not an autobiography of Rod Bramblett if you're worried about just reading about someone's life. He does begin with a chapter discussing those who shaped his life and influenced his career, but the majority of it is focused on his experiences with Auburn Athletics. This may make the book a little tough to get into if you're just interested in the play calls, but it does set the stage for just how Bramblett ended up in the broadcast booth.
The broadcast memories begin, as they should, with Rod taking over Auburn Baseball in the early 90s. There were some mighty large moments in Auburn Baseball history in this section, too. If you're a big fan of the Tigers of the Diamond, then you'll love this walk down memory lane through the Tigers' trips to the College World Series and two of Rod's most memorable calls (prior to 2013 football) with David Ross' home run against Florida State in 1997 and Creede Simpson's home run against Clemson in 2010. The transcripts of the calls, backstories, etc are all included, along with a lot of smaller baseball details that you may never have known or just forgotten about.
The chapter dedicated to Jim Fyffe's passing and Rod taking over as the primary broadcaster is a bit of a tear jerker if you're someone like me who grew up listening to Fyffe on the radio. It's a touching tribute to a legend and is a candid look at the trepidation anyone would feel following in such a man's footsteps.
Once he gets to calling football games, the book is filled with reprints from Rod's weekly columns leading into big football games along with some transcripts of important "teases" that began radio broadcasts. It gives a fun behind-the-scenes look at plenty of the biggest calls and the big trips to Arizona and California for the BCS Championship games.
If there's one criticism I have in football, it's that not much discussion is made of the 2008 or 2012 seasons. I know that sounds crazy to say, but I would like to read about how hard it is to do this job in the worst of times just as much as I love reading about the best of times. I can well remember listening to Rod during the 2012 Ole Miss game and you could tell the way things were going was painful for him and everyone else in the booth. I can understand that not being included in this particular work, though, as it's focus is on the big moments. Should Bramblett ever decide to write an autobiography on his life in the broadcast business in general, I hope there is an inclusion of the rough times and powering through to do the job.
The memories of 2010 and 2013 alone make the book worth buying. If you're like me, then you eat up any reason to look back on those memorable seasons and Rod really cemented himself as "The Voice of the Auburn Tigers" with his oft-quoted calls from those years. The discussion of the aftermath of those calls and the seasons is a nice behind-the-scenes look, too.
Basketball isn't left out, either. It was something I thought of as I was reading the book that the topics covered were primarily baseball and football with no dedicated chapter for basketball. It didn't take long to remember that, well, not much of anything worth remembering has happened in Bramblett's tenure on the hardcourt in terms of "big calls." Jim Fyffe passed away not long after the Tigers' last trip to the NCAA Tournament. There were moments, though. The 2009 NIT, Bruce Pearl's hiring, and the run through the 2015 SEC Tournament get their time in the spotlight. As does just how much Bramblett loves calling games with Sonny Smith on the radio.
At just shy of 250 pages, this book is not a difficult one to read. It can be finished in just a few hours if you read it straight through. It took me just less than half a week, reading it a chapter or so at a time. If you're looking for a great gift for the Auburn fan in your life, this is definitely a good choice. It's also a good choice to buy for yourself if you're wanting something to get you in the mood for football season, which will begin just a few short weeks after its release.
Bramblett mentions that he hopes he's doing this job for a long time. This book is a fun look through his career so far, and I certainly hope there are enough memories over the next few years (including a lot more in baseball and basketball) to warrant another book filled with new calls in the future. Following a legend, or "carrying on the tradition" as the title so aptly says, is tough for anyone. I think I, like many Auburn fans, appreciated the job Rod Bramblett has done. It's been a slow build, but over the course of the 2010 and 2013 seasons, Rod has cemented himself as a legend in Auburn Athletics in his own right. Here's to many more years of great calls, beginning September 3rd, 2016.
Bonus: If you want to go back and LISTEN to plenty of those calls, here is a collection of Rod Bramblett's best football calls. There's even the baseball play with Creede Simpson's home run against Clemson in 2010 to go with it, as well.