With today being the final home game of the season, it’s the last chance for Auburn fans to hear the familiar voice that everyone knows, even if you’re not aware of who’s actually talking. Ellie Falconer went in-depth with the actual Voice of Jordan-Hare Stadium, Ric Smith, as he talks about his 13 years in the public address booth.
“Fans outside the stadium, read below...”
Auburn University communication and journalism professor Ric Smith has filled the role of Auburn’s football announcer on the plains for 13 seasons, while following traditions set by his predecessor, and describes it as a dream.
“Auburn is one of the premier programs in the country. I think it’s the best,” Smith says. “I’m honored to be part of the team.”
Traditionally, Jordan-Hare Stadium announcers have a neutral approach, rather than a cheerleader-like announcing style. Smith didn’t change this.
He recounts when he first became public address announcer and was asked what his approach was going to be. “I said I was going to remain neutral because that’s the Auburn way,” Smith says. He assumed Auburn would continue with that tradition anyway.
Some people think stadium announcers merely show up right before the game begins on Saturday. This is far from reality, because seven or eight hours of preparation time is required before he sits down in the press box.
Preparation for Saturday begins as early as Tuesday. Smith says this is when he begins to put his spotting charts together and, based on the opposing team’s depth chart, he will assemble their starting line-up.
On Wednesday, Smith receives the script from Auburn’s Director of Athletics Marketing Dan Heck and begins to rephrase some parts in his portion of the script to make it fit his speaking style, so the announcing flows.
On Thursday and Friday, Smith marks the script by underlining and using quotations as visual ques for how to read the script when he’s in front of the microphone, 87,451 Auburn fans in the stadium, and everyone else watching live.
On game day Smith says he arrives to the stadium at least four and a half hours before kick-off. This way, he’s in the press box three hours prior to announcing which begins an hour and a half before the game starts.
This means for 11 a.m. games he wakes up at 5 a.m. and leaves his house two hours later. “I’m an early-morning person so that helps, but not quite that early,” Smith says, laughing.
All this preparation is more than worth it for Smith.
He says one of his favorite parts of the day is when the eagle flies and the events following, because at that point he’s finished making the pregame announcements and can have a moment to take a deep breath, look around, and be a fan. “The eagle flight, what’s more beautiful than that? I also love the band and just taking in the pageantry of game day,” he says.
This moment is important for him since he can’t be a fan during the game, because he must focus on his job. “I can’t let my emotions become part of it, I must separate myself to remain neutral,” Smith says.
The toughest part is how physically demanding it is due to the long span of time required, including preparation and the game announcing itself. Surprisingly, Smith has never lost his voice before a game throughout the 13 years he’s had the position. “I’ve been very lucky because when I get a cold, my voice is the first to go,” he says laughing.
Growing up as an Auburn fan, being an Auburn graduate, and later becoming the stadium announcer at Jordan-Hare is such a rare opportunity and Smith is extremely grateful.
“You know it’s a cool thing in life when a dream comes true,” Smith says. “To have an opportunity to be in this position is still amazing to me even 13 years later.”