Dan Borne': LSU's "Voice of the Valley"

Brian ScottAnalyst INovember 18, 2008

Don't let the look on my face fool you. I was actually enjoying my time in the Press Box at Tiger Stadium. I had just witnessed LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee throw another interception to the Georgia Bulldogs, so please forgive my ugly mug.

How could I not enjoy it? Besides the great view, full buffet, and virtual "Who's Who" of LSU VIPs and legendary sports media personalities, I was sitting right next to Dan Borne', the "Voice" of Tiger Stadium.

In addition to Mr. Borne' graciously allowing me to write this profile, he had invited me to come spot for him as he made the announcements for the LSU vs. Georgia game.

So, if you were in Death Valley that day and you heard Borne' announce that a tackle was made by someone other than who actually made it, that would be my fault!

For 22 years, Dan Borne' has been the "Voice of the Valley," and from that unique perspective, I thought that LSU fans and football fans everywhere would enjoy his insight, hilarious stories, and valuable life lessons. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.


How did you come to be the PA announcer at Tiger Stadium?


Sid Crocker was the PA announcer at Tiger Stadium for 30 years. He and I worked together at WAFB (a Baton Rouge TV station), and back in 1968, when I was covering an LSU home game, he invited me to his box.

He said, "Come up and see me, because you never know, you might be doing this one day."

Fast forward almost 20 years later, Sid announced that he would be retiring as PA announcer. I called and asked him who would be replacing him, and he said, "I don't know."

I then wrote a letter to the LSU Athletic Department informing them of my interest in the job, but I never heard anything.

Then a few weeks before the 1986 season began, I got a phone call from LSU reps asking me if I was still interested in the job and would I come in to speak with them. I went in and introduced myself.

We exchanged some small talk and didn't talk very much about the position. They then informed me that the job was mine if I still wanted it because nobody else had asked for it. So a good life lesson is that if you want something, make sure you ask for it.


What is your favorite part about the job?


Announcing for LSU football and basketball games are my only true hobbies. I don't hunt, golf, or fish, so this is what I do as an escape from real life. I'm also an adjunct in the Manship School. I enjoy teaching and interacting with the young people.


Do your responsibilities preclude you from being able to participate in the legendary tailgating festivities LSU is known for?

Yes. I don't tailgate. I try to relax around the house on the morning of the game and then head to campus about three hours before kickoff. Usually I stop by the marketing office and pick up the production book for that day's game, then head up to the Press Box.

The activities that are going on at most LSU tailgate parties would likely impair my ability to call the game in a lucid manner, if you know what I mean. I try to eat a light meal and get ready to start the announcements.


What is the first announcement you make before a football game?


"Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen. This is Dan Borne'. On behalf of Louisiana State University and the LSU Athletic Department, welcome to Tiger Stadium for tonight's Southeastern Conference football game between the (Rebels of the University of Mississippi) and your Fighting Tigers of LSU."

And we go from there...


Do you have to embellish your voice at all or do you just speak naturally?

Not really. A million bucks of equipment would make Donald Duck sound pretty decent!


Has a big play ever altered your ability to make a call absent from emotion?

You don't get caught up in the emotion of the game. You can't. Shakespeare said it better than I can: "The play's the thing." You work hard to make sure the information you give is timely and accurate.


What has been the most memorable game in your tenure as the PA announcer?

That would have to be the Auburn game after 9/11.  The game had been moved to the end of the season, and as it turned out, the winner of that game was going to represent the Western Division at the SEC Championship game.

It was a hard-fought game, but when it became apparent that LSU was going to win, dozens of marshals, troopers, and deputies lined up in front of the student section to prevent them from rushing the field.

With just a few minutes left in the game, I noticed a mass exodus from the student section. This was strange because the students are always the first to arrive in Tiger Stadium and the last to leave. I was looking through my binoculars and couldn't figure out why they were leaving right before a big win like that.

Well, a few moments later I noticed a horde of heads bobbing up and down in the field level portal in the northeast corner of the stadium, which is on the other side of the field from the student section. Apparently, the students just collectively decided to find another way onto the field.

Well, the clock expired, and without a marshal in sight of the northeast portal, the now relocated LSU student section stormed the field and tore down the goal posts.

We're not a military school for nothing! I remember thinking that old General Troy Middleton would be proud of these kids; when there is an obstacle in your way and you can't go through it, find a way to go around it!


What was it like announcing at the famous LSU vs. Auburn "Earthquake" game of 1988?

Back then we used to actually say a prayer before the games instead of just observing a moment of silence. Normally, someone would record a prayer on a cassette and we'd play it after the band marched onto the field during pregame. For some reason, the prayer never got to us that week.

I started a mad search around the press box for a priest or minister to say the prayer, and eventually I found a Jewish Rabbi, Barry Weinstein, who was a guest in the press box. I said, "Rabbi, would you please give a blessing before the start of the game?" He happily agreed.

Now, mind you I had not been given any advanced notice of what he was going to say, and in fact when it came time to say the prayer he grabbed the microphone from me and shouted "Dear God (God, God, God, God)"—he seemed to be taken aback by the echo of his own voice, but he loved it. He absolutely loved it. The power of the PA is awesome the first time you hear your own voice over it.

He continued, "We pray, (pray, pray, pray)…for VICTORY!" and it went on from there. At this point it was obvious he was really fired up because he stood up straight, raised his shoulders, and gave me a look like a little kid with a new toy.

The crowd came absolutely unglued. No one had ever prayed for VICTORY before! And that was the Earthquake Game, the Hodson to Fuller pass late in the game that won it for the Tigers.


Do you make it to many LSU road games?

I make a few, but with so many home games lately I prefer to just relax and watch them at home. For the most part, I've outsourced the road games to my children.


What was the most memorable thing to happen in the Press Box that the fans may not know about?

Going back to that Auburn game that had been moved due to 9/11, the students were on the field after the game and it was apparent that they weren't planning to leave anytime soon. The LSU band always plays a few songs after the game and students were dancing and going wild.

I made the announcement to please leave the field. It didn't have the desired effect. Then I get a call from Skip (Skip Bertman, former LSU Athletic Director and legendary LSU baseball coach) saying, "Voice" (he calls me "Voice"), he said, "Voice, we need to get them students off the field, but they won't leave as long as the band is playing."

So we radioed down to the band director and told him to have the band stop playing. This really just upset the herd and they began chanting "Play, Play, Play, Play."

So the phone rings again and it's Skip. He says, "Voice, tell the band to play 'God Bless America.' If they play 'God Bless America,' the students will get the point and leave."

Back on the radio to the band director, "Skip says to play 'God Bless America' then wrap it up." A minute goes by and the girl on the other end of the radio says, "They don't know 'God Bless America.'"

Well, I really didn't want to be the one to tell Skip Bertman that the Golden Band from Tigerland didn't know 'God Bless America,' but I had no choice. "Coach, they don't know 'God Bless America.'"

After a brief silence from Skip's end, I said, "Well coach, I don't think it means they don't know it, I think it just means they don't have the sheet music for it." (Nice save!)

So ultimately, the band played on for a few more minutes and then shut it down. The crowd eventually left the stadium and began roaming the streets of Tiger Town until class the following Monday.


You will certainly go in the books as an integral part of LSU sports history, but what would you personally like your legacy to be?

I don't consider myself to be an icon; Sid Crocker is the icon. I just feel lucky and blessed that I was able to succeed him. But nobody could ever replace him.


Brian Scott can be reached at nolasportswriter@gmail.com.