By Jeff Roberson
Special to Rebel Nation Magazine™ – As published in the July/August 2014 Football Preivew
For the past 15 years (going on 16 now with the 2015 season), Glen Waddle has used his distinctive voice to start a tradition at Ole Miss football games and to become a staple of Rebel sports on the mic
According to Glen Waddle, former Ole Miss Chancellor Robert Khayat said Waddle was able to do something a lot of others have attempted but not been able to accomplish.
“It was like 2003 when Eli Manning was a senior. I was at a tailgate, and Chancellor Khayat came by,” said Waddle, the public address announcer at Ole Miss’ Vaught-Hemingway Stadium/Hollingsworth Field, officially, since 1998. “It was one of those early morning games. He said ‘I want to tell you something. You’ve done something nobody has done in 15 years at The University of Mississippi. You’ve started a new tradition.’ That struck me. I’d never thought about anything like that.”
The new tradition?
“First Down! Ole Miss!” Waddle proclaims whenever the Rebels do indeed make a first down at home football games.
He yells the “First Down!” part, and the fans join him in a rousing response of “Ole Miss!”
Multiple times a game that happens. The more the better, obviously, for the homestanding Rebels.
Waddle, an Ole Miss alumnus and Ole Miss Law School graduate, said he has people mention his unique phrase to him often.
“I have people walk up to me on the street and I do it so they can put it on their cell phone so they’ll have it,” Waddle said. “Recordings for phone messages, all those type things. I guess that’s what I’m the most famous for. Not a touchdown call, but a first down.”
Waddle got a phone call from then Ole Miss sports information director Langston Rogers prior to the Rebels’ final home football game in 1997, which was against Georgia. The longtime P.A. announcer for Oxford games, Charles Walker, couldn’t be there that day, so Waddle filled in. He became the full-time announcer the following season.
“The next summer athletic director John Shafer approved me as the public address announcer for football,” Waddle said. “I’ve been doing it since 1998.”
Rogers said Waddle was a natural choice for the job, but he’s more than just a public address announcer. He’s a part of Ole Miss athletics and is there when needed.
“Most fans may recognize Glen’s voice as our public address announcer for football and baseball, but he also has helped rescue us in other sports when we needed a last minute replacement,” Rogers said. “I remember one time we needed an announcer for volleyball and I called him around noon to see if he could serve as our PA person that night. I knew I could count on him and I was right. He immediately left his office in Jackson and made it to Oxford on time. I’ve always considered him as the greatest pinch hitter. No matter the sport, he is always prepared.”
When he began doing the public address for Ole Miss home football games, Waddle was already doing P.A. work in his home area of Jackson. He was well-known to sports fans in that area.
“I’d been announcing since 1982, all-star games and other things,” Waddle said. “The Mississippi High School All-Star Football Game is my oldest gig. I’m still doing that one. It’s now called the Bernard Blackwell Classic. I started doing that for the Mississippi Coaches Association.
“Then I started doing some basketball games for the association, and in 1989 I took over as the Emcee for the Coaches Hall of Fame. That’s a nice Hall of Fame night, a Hall of Fame for the high school coaches and community college coaches.”
But still there are others. Waddle worked public address for the Jackson Mets, the Jackson Generals, and the Jackson Senators baseball teams.
“I would have to say some of my more memorable moments have come in minor league baseball,” he said.
Through the years he’s added other announcing jobs to his busy schedule.
“I did the Mississippi High School All-Star Basketball Games when they moved to Mississippi College,” Waddle said. “I did the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Basketball Games. About 1986 I started doing the afternoon sessions of the State High School Basketball Tournament. As that went along, the coaches and players lobbied to have me do more games. When their announcer, Bill Lee, retired I started doing the whole thing.”
He began doing Mississippi College basketball games in 1994, according to Waddle, at the request of Coach Mike Jones. But he sets his own schedule so that it doesn’t conflict with Ole Miss football games early in the basketball season, or even to simply come up and watch an Ole Miss basketball game.
Waddle was already attending all the Ole Miss football games prior to becoming the announcer. He hasn’t missed a game – home or away – since 1975.
“That’s 452 in a row,” he said.
But that’s not all. There are Mississippi College volleyball games that he does, and the bowl game in Mobile, Ala. – the GoDaddy Bowl.
David Collins, who is on the bowl’s board, is an Ole Miss grad, and he recommended Waddle for the Mobile game.
“I’ve been doing that game since 2001,” Waddle said.
Waddle received a bachelor of public administration degree from Ole Miss, which was basically pre-law back then. He got a law enforcement certificate, and then he entered law school at Ole Miss. He works fulltime for the Mississippi Bar Association.
But during his years of education, nothing he did necessarily prepared him for a career also in public address.
“I just did it,” he said. “I had zero formal training for the high school all-star game in 1982, which started it all.”
Waddle also was a recruiting guru in the early days when that aspect of media was changing. Chuck Rounsaville, owner and publisher of The Ole Miss Spirit (omspirit.com) hired him to write a weekly recruiting column for his Ole Miss fan publication.
“I always knew that Glen was a diehard Ole Miss Rebel, and he loved to keep up with recruiting,” Rounsaville said. “I thought he was a natural fit at The Ole Miss Spirit when we had the weekly print publication. That way fans could keep up with recruiting on a weekly basis. And when he got into the public address announcing business, it was obvious he had a natural flare for that. I’m so glad he is able to fulfill his dream of being the Ole Miss P.A. guy.”
Waddle recalls some interesting moments behind the mic. One of those was an Ole Miss-Mississippi State football game in Jackson when he was pinch-hitting for the regular P.A. guy. It was in the late 1980s and was ultimately a Rebel victory. But prior to the game Waddle remembers a specific situation that was alarming.
“There was a tornado warning, and I had to tell everybody to get under cover,” he said.
“That was interesting, to say the least. And I remember the Ole Miss-Arkansas seven overtime loss (for the Rebels in 2001). I worked the GoDaddy bowl that year, and they had triple overtime. I worked those two games in less than two months’ time.”
Waddle said he’s worked through cold and flu and fever but has never lost his voice calling a game.
Baseball is the easiest to call, he says. “Basically all you are announcing is a batter. With football and basketball there is much more going on.”
And there are foul-ups along the way. Not many but some.
“I remember one time they had a campaign to fingerprint kids for safety,” Waddle said.
“The announcement said something like “Take your kid’s fingers to the location to have them signed up.” I still have that announcement in my folder. I laugh about that from time to time.”
Waddle said he always does his best to be prepared for an event.
“I study the script ahead of time. Preparation is about 90 percent of the job of a public address announcer,” he said. “You have to be well prepared. I try to pride myself on that. I’m at the ball park early. I go over the pronunciations with other media relations people. I go over things with marketing. I’m used to it now, even when they throw something at me last minute.”
Rogers said Waddle is valuable in many areas where Mississippi sports are concerned.
“Glen has contributed to many sports in Mississippi, and his research is especially important for the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum when its selection committee meets each year to choose the next induction class,” Rogers said. “I appreciate all he has done to promote sports in our state.”
For Waddle, it’s his calling. It’s what he was meant to do.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to do P.A. for Ole Miss,” he said. “I’m one of 14 SEC football announcers, one of 130 Division I football announcers. That’s a pretty high honor. Not many guys get to do this. I’m not a rich alum and I can’t give back in large quantities. But I can give my services.”
And he hopes to continue to do so for years to come.
“I’ll do it until they get rid of me,” Waddle said. “As long as they let me, I’d love to keep doing it.” – RN
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