The living room of the two-story brick house on Park Plaza Drive served as young Brandon Gaudin’s diamond, where he swung empty paper-towel rolls at wadded up balloons. The foyer was his football field, where chandelier crystals were sacrificed in the name of completed passes. In his parents’ bedroom, he called the action of the NCAA tournament as he played it out on a miniature basketball goal on games measured with an egg timer.
Said Linda Gaudin, Brandon’s mother, “Our house was one that was lived in.”
The wear on the Gaudins’ Evansville, Ind., home has brought a meaningful return on investment about 500 miles to the southeast. On Monday, Gaudin was named the voice of Georgia Tech athletics, following the footsteps of the beloved and accomplished Wes Durham. He is 29, the same age that Durham was when he began his 18-year tenure as the voice of the Yellow Jackets.
“I’m really not blowing smoke here,” Gaudin said. “I just want to stress that I feel very fortunate and blessed to have this job. I truly do.”
Gaudin grew up and went to college in Indiana, lived in New York and has been the voice of Butler basketball for the past three years (and football last year). Still, the move to Atlanta for the Tech job is not merely the transition of another transplant. Gaudin can trace the foundation of his career to this city.
Through the reach of TBS’ Braves telecasts and an aunt and uncle who live in Cobb County, Gaudin fell hard for the Braves in 1991, the year of their worst-to-first rise. He and his family, in fact, piled into their minivan and drove from Indiana to attend Game 5 of the 1991 World Series, and returned for postseason games in years to come.
His love of the Braves led to an affinity for the broadcasters calling the action, particularly the late Skip Caray.
He later wrote Caray, asking for advice about joining his field. Caray thrilled Gaudin with a response, urging him to practice, critique and practice some more. They met in 1998 at Turner Field before a Braves game, a day Gaudin calls special. He remains a Braves fan and can rattle off the lineups from the early ’90s.
“I loved the Braves, but Skip is most responsible for making me love broadcasting,” Gaudin wrote in an email.
He followed Caray’s advice in high school, when he talked a local radio station that allowed students to work as on-air talent into letting him call high school baseball games. He even solicited a sporting-goods store to sponsor pitching changes, with donations to his school’s athletic department for each mention.
After graduating from Butler in 2006, he called one summer of minor-league baseball in Utah. Then, through a connection from a previous ESPN internship, Gaudin helped start a media-management company and lived in New York for about a year and a half, knowing he ultimately wanted to get back to broadcasting. That came when he took a job at the University of Evansville in 2008, calling a variety of sports.
“It was great there because I got a ton of reps,” Gaudin said. “That was a big growth spurt in my career there, for sure.”
That led in 2010 to the Butler job, which he held for three years. Gaudin said he strives for “genuine excitement” in his calls, an apt description from listening to a sampling of clips.
“I would say energy is the buzzword I would think of,” said Joe Gentry, whom Gaudin worked for and replaced at Butler. “He brings that excitement or conveys the excitement that’s there.”
Speaking Wednesday by phone, Gaudin (pronounced GAW-din) was deep into preparation for the new job. He has watched television broadcasts of last season’s football games and this day was listening to the radio broadcast of the Tech-Duke game. He was studying to learn more about Tech’s spread-option offense, the flow of a broadcast produced by IMG College — Tech’s multimedia rights holder — and how Durham interacted with color analyst Rick Strom. An unintended result of his study — a deeper appreciation for Durham, now with Fox Sports South.
“Wes is as good of a football play-by-play guy as I’ve ever heard,” Gaudin said.
Athletic director Mike Bobinski also suggested a couple of books for Gaudin to read to learn more of Tech’s history. Thanks to a Wikipedia page devoted to school traditions, he has a working knowledge of RAT caps, the steam whistle and a certain four-word disparagement of the university in Athens.
He said it feels like the time elapsed from the time he was calling minor-league baseball in 2006 to now, when he’ll call football and basketball at a BCS-conference school, has felt like the blink of an eye.
“I know that at my age, not a lot of people get this opportunity,” he said, “and I’m thankful for it. I really am.”
Gaudin will leave Indianapolis this weekend for his career’s next step. He has this much going for him — he already knows the way to Atlanta.