Brandon Gaudin’s call of Lance Austin’s touchdown return for the game-winning score against Florida State last Saturday may well live for decades to come, a cherished memory for Yellow Jackets fans. He’d just as soon not hear it.
His voice may be his paycheck, but he’s just like anyone else in at least one regard to hearing himself talk.
“I hate to hear my voice, whether it’s on an answering machine or whether it’s a replay of a call,” Gaudin said.
Unfortunately for Gaudin, it’s been a little difficult to avoid this week, as the blocked kick and touchdown were a staple on ESPN in days following Tech’s 22-16 win over FSU. As of Friday morning, various copies of the play and game highlights, produced by different entities, had been viewed more than 700,000 times.
Presumably, unless Gaudin’s mom has been very busy, not all 700,000 views have been played with the intent of hearing the call, but the play and the audio from Gaudin and analyst Sean Bedford (“Oh, my goodness”) have become intertwined for many Tech fans.
“It really is just a right place, right time thing,” Gaudin said. “Being here day in and day out, to kind of see the rise of last year’s team to the pinnacle of the Orange Bowl championship and all of the offseason hype and then sort of the quote-unquote semi-decline this year with, as Coach (Paul Johnson) said, all the bounces going against them, it was just so cool. I kind of felt it, because you’re around the team so much so you kind of feel their joy for a moment of how they must be feeling. Like, oh, man, something went our way, in the best of ways. Like, this is the grandest of all victories. It was sort of like, for a moment, no one cares about those five losses.”
From a technical perspective, Gaudin wasn’t overwhelmed with his call of the touchdown.
“HE SCORES!!! LANCE AUSTIN PICKED UP THE BLOCKED KICK AND RETURNED IT ALL THE WAY TO THE HOUSE ON THE NORTH END ZONE!!! WE’VE HAD THE MIRACLE ON NORTH AVENUE, THIS IS THE MIRACLE ON TECHWOOD DRIVE!!!”
He wanted to somehow also fit in the end of FSU’s 28-game ACC winning streak, but couldn’t.
“I really think that’s a call where, as long as you are on the microphone saying something or screaming, that your call’s going to have some reach,” Gaudin said. “It’s sort of like, even if a monkey had on a headset …”
As for the origin of “Miracle on Techwood Drive,” it was Gaudin thinking on his feet. After Austin scored, Gaudin said he instantly thought of Tech’s 2008 last-second win over Florida State win, when safety Cooper Taylor forced a fumble on the Tech goal line and Rashaad Reid secured the ball in the south end zone, a play that has lived on as “The Miracle on North Avenue.” (Asked about the origin of the name Friday, longtime Tech voice Wes Durham said he wasn’t sure, guessing it likely came from a Tech fan message board. Durham, by the way, will have the TV call for the ACC Network of Saturday’s Tech-Virginia game.)
Gaudin has heard plenty about it, and, of course, the opponent was the same.
“So I was, like, I feel like I have to say something about that,” Gaudin said. “So I referenced the Miracle on North Ave. and quickly thought, ‘O.K., there’s two other streets that surround the stadium, so I’ve got two choices here, and it was sort of, Techwood Drive or Bobby Dodd Way, and I just thought that Techwood was an easier, two-syllable thing to get out.”
His mind whirring as he spoke, Gaudin also thought that perhaps Bobby Dodd Way would be the technically accurate street, as the street is behind the north end zone, just as North Avenue is behind the south end zone where Taylor forced the fumble. The internal debate continued with the counterargument that Austin was running parallel to Techwood Drive.
“By that time, you’ve got to say something, so that’s just what popped out of my mouth,” he said. “When I said it, I didn’t know if fans would like it or not. It’s just what came to mind.”
(I guess Gaudin or his eventual successor is just left with Bobby Dodd Way for the next miraculous win. Following that, it’ll have to be “Miracle adjacent to the Wardlaw Building.”)
Gaudin was self-effacing when asked about “Miracle on Techwood Drive” taking hold. He noted that others have also called it “Block Six.” The Tech website is selling t-shirts with “The Bobby Dodd Block” and the score of the game.
“It’s not about me,” he said.
Prior to the kick, Gaudin had been bracing himself for FSU kicker Roberto Aguayo to make the 56-yard kick, and to offer reflections on another heartbreaker.
“I think anytime you’re in a big game going down the stretch, as a broadcaster of whatever the sport, you start to think, Wow, this could be a really cool moment,” he said. “And I thought, Wow, this could be a really cool overtime victory where we score a touchdown, and then that happened, and it’s just like, Wow, there were other plans here.”