AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – The Auburn Tigers take on Oregon for their season opener in Arlington, Texas on Saturday. The meeting is much more than a football game for the Auburn family as Andy Burcham prepares to call his first game as the Voice of the Auburn Tigers since his best friend Rod Bramblett and his wife Paula were killed in a traffic crash back in May.
Thursday, News 3’s Elizabeth White sat down with Andy to discuss the range of emotions he feels as he prepares to take over the microphone. As only a handful of people can do, Andy Burcham effortlessly and beautifly shares what’s in his heart and mind.
“This is something I have worked for since I graduated from college in 1983. It’s what I had always hoped when I moved to Auburn that this day would come, but not under these circumstances. So that goes through your mind. Because if that terrible accident on May 25th doesn’t occur, you are talking to Rod right now and he’s getting ready to call his 17th season, and I am getting ready to do the locker room as I have always done for the last several years and life moves on. But it did happen on the 25th, and Auburn needed a new voice. I was asked if I hesitated. No, I didn’t. None of us wanted it to come out this way; you know what I mean? But I owe it to Auburn fans to be excited about the position and this opportunity; all the while being thankful for Rod, his friendship and his legacy. Just like it was when Rod took over for Jim. So, bittersweet comes to mind. However, I am so very excited to do this job,” shared Burcham.
Burcham says he’d be lying if he didn’t say he was nervous. Moreover, just like Rod, and Jim and all the Auburn voices’ before him, he hopes to give the Auburn family chills when he describes memorable plays by Auburn.
He also hopes his familiar voice will comfort the Auburn family as they continue to miss Rod and Paula. Burcham says in his heart he knows Bramblett would have been happy for him.
Andy and his wife, Dr. Jan Burcham who is an Associate Dean at Columbus State University, have taken on an even more vital role when it comes to The Bramblett Family legacy. After Rod and Paula’s passing, the Burcham’s became guardian to their teenage son, Joshua.
“When the accident occurred, that was one of the first things that came to our mind, you know. We had agreed to this last fall. We had gone to dinner on a Friday night before a home football game; we did that a lot with them. They asked us, and we were taken aback by it a little bit at first and then said, of course, we will do that, but whoever believes it’s gonna happen,” shared Burcham.
Burcham says a week before the crash, he and Rod had another conversation about Rod’s children while they were in the office before the SEC tournament.
“We talked about what would happen if…and a week later it occurred. I think back to that day, and I wonder why in the world did we talk about it that day? What brought it up? Yes, surely it was a God thing, no question about that. So after the emotions of the accident, there is this responsibility. Their 15-year-old son will learn to drive, get his driver’s license, and graduate high school under our care. We have had a dog in our lives, but that’s the extent of us caring for another being. So we are learning. Everybody is learning,” said Burcham.
Andy says becoming parental figures in their late 50’s has been done with love and effort, thanks to his wife, whom he met on a Christian dating site nearly 15 years ago. The couple never had children, until now.
“My wife is an incredible person, an amazing person. She is incredibly organized and has done unbelievable work this summer from a legal standpoint and getting this all together, on top of being an Associate Dean at CSU. So, she is a rockstar,” shared Burcham.
Burcham worked alongside Bramblett over the last 25 years, broadcasting Auburn baseball and serving as the play-by-play voice for Auburn women’s basketball since 1988.
“Rod and I have been friends for a long time. We traveled all over the southeastern conference together. You spend a lot of time in vans, and hotel rooms, going to dinner and in the press box during rain delays. You talk a lot. You talk about your family, your hopes, your dreams, you get to know that person. I am reminded of him every single day when I visit a pres box we worked together and during the time I take his son to school in the morning. We are reminded not only of Rod but of Paula as well, and that will never change and it never should,” shared Burcham.
Burcham says in the three weeks since being named The Voice of The Auburn Tigers; it’s been a whirlwind.
“There are times you try to step back and understand all of this. I’m not sure that I do or I ever will until the day God reveals it to me,” said Burcham.
Burcham says the reaction of the Auburn Family has been gratifying and humbling.
“There have been so many people in the Auburn Family and outside the Auburn family who have reached out. They have helped the Bramblett Family and us too. I have learned it’s okay to accept help because we need it and the person who is offering, it fulfills something inside them too.” shared Burcham.
Burcham says Auburn is facing one of the toughest schedules he’s seen, with a true freshman quarterback. However, he believes Auburn Football history has shown anticipated tough seasons usually turn out to be special for Auburn University.
“We have had a heavy dose of perspective this year in Auburn. A heavy dose of what is important. Now, I am not saying football isn’t important, or athletics aren’t important because I have devoted my entire career since graduating from college to athletics. I am just saying life is precious. So very precious. You have to take advantage of every single day you have on this earth,” said Burcham.
Burcham describes moving into Rod’s former office inside Auburn’s Coliseum this week as difficult. The office had been left untouched for three months. Along with Rod and Paula’s children and family, Burchum understands the loss better than just about anyone.
Burcham’s unique perspective on Auburn history, his one of a kind friendship with Rod and Paula, along with his utter genius when it comes to Auburn Athletics makes him the perfect choice as Auburn’s Voice.
The Auburn family wholeheartedly approves and will be wishing Andy Burcham all the best on game day and in the years to come.