Aug. 6, 2013
By Matt Winkeljohn
Lifelong Indianan Brandon Gaudin will hop in his car Sunday and follow a moving truck to Atlanta, where he will become the voice of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. It will in a roundabout way be a homecoming.
The new man behind the mic actually has background here, pointing to Atlanta as a career inspiration. He’s learning very quickly the traditions of the Old Gold and White, but it’s not like he’s starting from scratch in the area of local knowledge.
As a lad in Evansville, Ind., Gaudin, 29, was a ballplayer. He realized early, however, that he wasn’t going to be a ballplayer forever. Combine that with periodic trips to Atlanta to visit an aunt and an uncle, and well, seeds were planted.
“We would go to games and I was in heaven,” Gaudin said Monday, hours after Tech athletic director Mike Bobinski announced his hire to replaced the departed Wes Durham. “It all stems from my love for the Braves in 1991, when they started to make a run from zero to hero.
“I was seven and you could either watch the Braves on TBS or the Cubs on WGN. I was just starting to grasp the concept of sport, and I chose to be a rabid Braves fan. Every night I would watch Pete Van Wieren and Skip Caray. I realized a few years later I would never be good enough to play at that level but started to think it sure would be awesome to broadcast at that level. I’ve always had an affinity for Atlanta.”
Soon enough, Atlanta will be home for the 2006 Butler graduate, who is leaving his job as the Butler football and basketball play-by-play man to take the same job at Tech.
There are a few things you should know about Gaudin.
>> He and his family do not pronounce their surname, which is French in origin, the same way as San Francisco Giants pitcher Chad Gaudin. “He goes by ‘Go-dan,'” the new play-by-play man said. “We pronounce it, ‘Gawden’.”
>> He has also done considerable work behind the mic for Turner Sports, chiefly in broadcasting NCAA events beyond those with Butler. That role may grow as Turner is across 10th from Tech. “I’m hoping to get more involved,” he said. “Mike Bobinski has said if you can do play-by-play that doesn’t interfere [with Tech], we’re all for it.”
Gaudin is something of a broadcast historian, and knows well the work of his predecessors at Tech, Durham and Al Ciraldo. He’s said and Tweeted that he cannot be either one, but that he’s tremendously proud to follow them.
“This industry is kind of like a fraternity. I remember somebody saying Wes is stepping down. I’m familiar with his dad [former UNC broadcaster Woody]. I had reached out to Wes about a year ago and said, ‘Here’s my work, and whenever you have a chance I would love your thoughts.’
“When the job opened up, I reached back out to him. He wasn’t going to endorse me or anyone of course, but he was kind enough to call me and tell me about the opportunity and he encouraged me to apply.”
Gaudin’s gone all Tech in a hurry. His Twitter account (@BrandonGaudin) reflects that. There is Yellow Jacket material everywhere. He’s generally not a big Tweeter, however, unless he’s got something work-related to share.
Before sharing this one — “I’m excited and feel fortunate to join the Georgia Tech family as Voice of the Yellow Jackets. 26 days til toe meets leather. Can’t wait.” — early Monday, he was radio silent on Twitter from June 10.
That was his design, and Tech’s.
“I don’t Tweet updates from my life. I view my role on Twitter as being a voice for the fans if I can post interesting pictures and stories that fans might not have access to,” he said. “Nobody cares if I’m going to Starbucks for a frappacino.
“That was partly reason I was radio silent. Also, since I had been offered the job, [Tech officials] had asked that I not.”
If Gaudin’s landing in Atlanta was a form of fate connected to his childhood love of the city, it’s not the only example of history doubling back upon itself.
He interned in New York City in 2005 as a producer for the now-dead Stephen A. Smith show on ESPN. He was so good that when he returned to school, ESPN officials asked him to continue his work by cell phone and laptop. His cell phone still has an NYC prefix, in fact.
“The studio was in the old Penn Hotel, which is across from Penn Station,” Gaudin explained. “Years earlier, when my dad was 25, my mother and her parents had gone to New York City for a luggage convention.
“My dad saw my mom, and just happened to ask her to dance. Six months later, they were engaged. The ESPN studio was in the old ball room where they met.”
Similarly, Gaudin has circled back to a sentimental spot in Atlanta.
“This job is like a trifecta – a big city, a city that I know I like; with big-time football and basketball, and in the ACC,” he said. “That was kind of the big three for me.”
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