The Story of Saturday Night: The Voice
LSU PA announcer Dan Borné has seen – and said – it all, and is one of many unfamiliar faces who play a vital role in the creation of Saturday Night in Death Valley
By Cody WorshamPosted Sep 7, 2011
Among LSU football’s legends, Dan Borné might not have the most recognizable face. Even for a sport as distant and protective as football, where facial features are hidden from fans’ vision by hundreds of feet and helmet-fastened facemasks, Borné’s mien remains among the most anonymous within the realm of LSU football.
What is not anonymous, however, is his voice.
For 25 years, Borné has been The Voice of Tiger Stadium, the public address announcer perhaps best known for fathering the famous forecast unique to Tiger Stadium: “Chance of rain – never!”
Surely, Borné’s voice is among the immortal features in LSU football, contributing to one of the most unique and colorful atmospheres not just in college football, but in the entire world of sports. He, along with countless hard working, passionate Tigers, is a crucial component to the legend of Saturdays in the fall at Tiger Stadium.
Borné took Dig on a tour around the stadium to talk about his last 25 years, including the origin of his famous meteorological axiom, his poetic theory, and his game day routine.
Dig: “Chance of rain – never.” Where did you come up with the phrase?
Dan Borné: Growing up in Thibodaux, we always heard, “It never rains in Tiger Stadium on a Saturday Night.” It was just this phrase we always heard. I don’t even know where it came from. Well, I would always do the weather forecasts before the game, and I would just say what the actual report said. But one night, I just said, “Chance of rain – never.” It just came out. I had never heard the words put together that way. I’d heard, “It never rains in Tiger Stadium,” and no one can find out where it came from, but it just kind of caught on. Now, it’s expected, and people answer back to me. I say “Chance of rain,” and they say, “never.”
Dig: Now, the phrase is so ubiquitous that it’s become a poem. What made you put pen to paper?
DB: Before football season last year, the guys who run the promotions department at LSU wanted to an introductory video before the team came out, sort of to set the stage. They told me they were going to write something and send it to me to take a look at it. I looked at it, and I said, “Guys, you know, I think we just need to take somewhat of a different approach.” So I said, “Why don’t you just let me throw some thoughts down that come to mind after having sat in the stadium for 55 years?” So I put these words together, and honestly I just kind of threw them together. I sat at my desk, and I just thought about all of those things that are meaningful about the stadium; all of those things that give it the character that it has – the awesome nature of it.
They got to work with Doug Aucoin, who does the Tiger films for the players to watch before the game. He put the video to the words, and then they hired Tom Kane, a professional voiceover guy who does all kinds of commercials all over the world. He’s got that real kind of NFL voice. They gave him the poem, and he did the voiceover, and then they played it, I think, for the first time at the McNeese State game last season. It turned out really great. All I did was provide the words. Those guys provided the video, the aura, the voice. Now, it’s kind of taken on a life of its own. The video has blown up on YouTube, the poem is on the cover of the media guide and the poster and the t-shirts in the LSU sports shop. But, you know, it’s just my reminiscing of all those years in that stadium.
Dig: In your 25 years, who is the greatest LSU player you’ve ever watched?
DB: Man, you can’t pick one. You know, I never dreamed that I would be associated with LSU for two national championships. That was beyond my wildest imaginations. I literally sat in that stadium in 1958 when we won the first one, and to be a part of the other two – to host those celebrations – was just really special. In the course of when I’ve been working the PA, we’ve had five SEC championships and two national championships. It’s unfair to say who was greater than whom, because we’ve just had so many great players over the years. And we’ve had a lot of players who were really great before that. We’ve got, I believe, 58 All-Americans who played at this school, so it’s hard to pick among the best.
Dig: How about your favorite memories outside of the booth?
DB: I got to interview Billy Cannon prior to his being initiated into the college football hall of fame. We did a long-form interview. We sat right on the grass of Tiger Stadium. We spoke for an hour and fifteen minutes, and it was amazing. I also did one with Jerry Stovall when he went to be inducted into the college football hall of fame. It was special; it was a wonderful opportunity.
Dig: Do you remember your first game?
DB: My first game was Texas A&M, 1986. It’s funny, we used to play them a lot, back in the 1950s and 1960s, and even into the ‘80s, we had a home-and-home with A&M. It was a great trip, because college station is just north of Houston – it’s not that far. Kyle Field is a great place to play football; it’s got a tremendous amount of spirit. Now, they said they’re leaving [the Big 12], so I guess they’ve got a home in the SEC. I’ll tell you who doesn’t want them to leave, though, is the University of Texas. The last thing Texas wants is the SEC to have a showcase in their state. That’s really going to fire up a lot of Texas recruits.
Dig: Do you have a game day routine you stick to, or do you like to mix it up?
DB: I usually get to the booth three hours before kickoff and watch the stadium fill up as I prepare for the game. I go over the scripts with my producer and we make sure we are on the same page with respect to what announcements are live and which are not. The most crucial time, actually, is pregame, when everything on the field is timed and has to come off on the dime.
Then I sit back for a moment and watch Patrick Wright so skillfully introduce the Golden Band from Tigerland for its pregame pageantry. And, finally, after the kickoff things sort of settle down and I can enjoy the flow of the game, calling the plays after they run them, of course. Once the game is over I hang around the press box for about an hour, looking over post-game stats and waiting for the traffic to thin out.
Dig: What’s the biggest gaffe you’ve ever made in the game?
DB: Once I gave a touchdown to a player we had, Nemesis Bates, who I don’t even think lettered that season. He wasn’t even in the game. Someone else had caught the pass, and his number looked just like Bates’. So I corrected it; but I think the happiest person in the stadium was his mother. He had that ten seconds of glory in Tiger Stadium. As hard as you try, you sometimes make mistakes. I have two spotters who help with the numbers and I’m tied in to the inside PA guy, Jimmy Manasseh, who has the stats crew helping him with down and distance, tackles and the like. Even with all that, you can blow a call. We’re positioned on the south end of the stadium now, so when the ball gets on the north 30 yard line – from the north 30 yard line to the north endzone – you are at an angle which is difficult to really get some depth perception, so you depend on the big screen for that. What’s good about football, though, is that when you mess up, they don’t know where you are. When you mess up in basketball, they know exactly where you are.