The dean of Southeastern Conference radio broadcasters, LSU’s Jim Hawthorne, 71, calls his 23rd bowl game Tuesday when LSU meets Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl. He reflected Monday on his career and what’s ahead:
You’re a big country music fan, so how much have you enjoyed being in Nashville?
It’s been very nice. Both my daughters live here, and my grandchildren are here.
Tell us about your experiences on the “Louisiana Hayride” program.
In the history of the “Louisiana Hayride,” there have been three people who were full-time employees of KWKH (in Shreveport), MC’d the “Louisiana Hayride” and sang on the “Louisiana Hayride” — Jim Reeves, Nat Stuckey and me. I don’t feel I really belong in that category, but it’s just the truth. I had some great times at KWKH.
LSU has had only three play-by-play announcers over the past 60 years or so: yourself, J.C. Politz and John Ferguson. Tell us about your experience working with them.
I had a chance to work with both of them. John hired me, and the final year he did play-by-play (in 1983), I kind of sat in as the analyst. Then for a couple of years, J.C. was the analyst with me. It’s kind of unique that we all got to work together at one point.
Would you say the first BCS national championship win over Oklahoma in the 2004 Sugar Bowl is your best bowl memory?
Really both (BCS championship wins). We had lost six years in a row, and then go to playing in significant bowls, I don’t know how anything could be more exciting than that. I’ve gotten to broadcast nine national championship games, and we’ve won eight of them. A lot of college announcers haven’t had a chance to broadcast any national championship games. To do six in baseball and three in football … now I’ve told Johnny (Jones), “Come on, man. I don’t have a lot of time left.”
How much longer do you see yourself doing this?
I can’t really say. My wife, Carol, taught school for 45 years and retired two years ago. She rubs it in my face all the time. She’s ready for me to stop. We love to travel. We’ve been in 39 countries. We went to South America last year. The year before that, we went to the British Isles. We’ve been to Russia and China and Morocco. I look forward to being able to do more of that — sooner rather than later.