When I remember the late Rod Bramblett what will stand out is the passion he brought to his job and how much he appreciated his opportunity to be the play-by-play voice for Auburn football, men’s basketball and baseball games.
I will always remember the smile on his face when we talked while watching the Tigers practice at Minneapolis a day before Auburn’s first-ever appearance in the men’s basketball Final Four. After suffering through too many years of mediocre or bad AU basketball teams, he thoroughly enjoyed the program’s recent successes and that is one of the subjects we discussed.
I will also remember his passion for Auburn football and baseball, and how it showed in his broadcasts. Rod had come a long way since his early days in the radio business doing birth announcements like “What’s New in Pink and Blue” and other similar tasks as a disc jockey on WAUD in Auburn and elsewhere.
I will remember plenty of his signature play-by-play calls like the “Kick 6” football game and others, but most of all I will remember Rod as a guy who paid his dues and did his homework so he could fully take advantage of his opportunity.
Growing up not too far away from Auburn in the Valley area by the Chattahoochee River, Rod’s long-time goal was to be the voice of the Tigers for his alma mater, something he did quite well beginning with baseball in 1993 and 10 years later taking over the football play-by-play role.
We lost Rod and his wife, Paula, who was also from the Valley area, after both were killed in a traffic accident in Auburn during Memorial Day Weekend. Paula was also an Auburn graduate. They were two of the people who helped make Auburn a special place and will be missed.
From the notebook:
• The golf seasons are done for AU’s teams. For the women it was a more positive finish as the Tigers exceeded their goal of reaching the final eight at the NCAA Tournament, something they did for the first time since the adoption of the match play format to determine a champion. Not only did Coach Melissa Luellen’s Tigers make the final eight, they defeated No. 2 Texas in match play with a dramatic comeback to finish in the final four.
The men’s team, which finished in the final four last year, had the talent to make another run at the NCAA Championship, but struggled in the final two days of stroke play at the national tournament and missed the cut to eight teams and finished 12th. Coach Nick Clinard’s Tigers had a lot of success in 2018-19 and should be strong again next season.
• Gus Malzahn and the rest of his football staff will be hosts on Saturday for their annual Big Cat Weekend, an event that brings in rising seniors and their families, plus younger football prospects, for an opportunity to get to know the Auburn coaches better in an informal setting.
Coach Bruce Pearl likes the idea so much he is doing a similar thing with basketball prospects and he is expecting to have a good turnout of blue-chippers after his team’s run to the NCAA Final Four.
• The baseball Tigers are making the shortest trip possible to a 2019 NCAA regional as they open play on Friday at Georgia Tech vs. 2016 College World Series champion Coastal Carolina.
The Tigers are the No. 2 seed in the four-team regional where Georgia Tech is the big favorite to advance to the super regional round with the other three teams having consistency issues. The Yellow Jackets swept a home-and-home series vs. Auburn this year and feature a roster with plenty of hitting punch. AU’s pitching staff will have its hands full with a Tech lineup that is especially tough at its home ballpark.
Mark Murphy is the editor of Inside the Auburn Tigers magazine and newsletter