Another week, another heart-stopping finish. We should be used to this by now. After all, how many games this season have come down to the final seconds? Clemson, LSU, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida, Auburn, and now Georgia Tech; so much excitement, and so much heartburn. After witnessing Georgia’s thrilling overtime win over Georgia Tech on Saturday, I couldn’t help but wonder what Larry Munson would have done with some of these down-to-the-wire finishes.
Much has been written about Larry since his retirement, and his passing a few years ago. I could talk all day about Larry’s greatest calls, and how his voice is synonymous with great moments in Bulldog history. I could go on and on about how he allowed all of the fans to "see" the action on the field, even when the game wasn’t televised. I could write about all of those things, but what I want to talk about here is what a broadcaster can mean to someone he never meets.
Larry was an icon. A one of a kind legend. No one else I have ever heard could take a situation and turn it into a life or death, all or nothing, one shot in a million miracle the way he could. He lived and died with every play, and I, along with countless other fans, lived and died right along with him.
Do you know how certain songs, or scenes from a movie just really hit home for you? Have you ever felt like what someone else created changed things for you? Have you ever felt a connection to someone you’ve never met? Well, for years I’ve felt that way about Georgia football. There have been times in my life when it seemed that the Bulldogs were all I had. When I was going through a tough time, no matter where I was, or who I was with, I always made sure I had the radio on to hear Larry’s immortal calls of the plays I would carry with me forever. While I love current Georgia broadcaster Scott Howard, there will never be another Larry Munson.
That being said, imagine what Munson would have added to some of this year’s games. What memorable turns of phrase would he have invented to describe the exciting, and at times unbelievable, events that we’ve witnessed in 2013? Imagine Munson’s gravelly, angst filled voice accompanying the following:
-Todd Gurley’s 75 yard touchdown run in the first quarter of the Clemson game. Though Georgia would eventually lose, Gurley really injected some energy into the team with this play. Munson would have gone yard for yard with him.
-Aaron Murry’s eight yard touchdown pass to Gurley to put the Dawgs up 34-24 vs. South Carolina, followed by an 85 yard touchdown to Justin Scott-Wesley after the Gamecocks cut the lead to three in the fourth quarter.
-Georgia’s pressure packed drive against LSU, which was capped by Murray’s twenty-five yard touchdown to Scott-Wesley.( "He’s got a man! Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown!")
-The fourth quarter and overtime of the injury-riddled win over Tennessee: The Dawgs’ final, frenzied drive to tie the game with five seconds left ("We’ve come flying back down to the Tennessee two! With bodies lying all over the field! Shotgun Murray. He gonna throw it in the end zone. Touchdown! Touchdown with five seconds left!"); Pig Howard’s fumble at the goal line that gave Georgia a chance to win; Marshall Morgan’s game winning field goal ("They set it down. He puts it up. Watch it! Watch it! It’s good! The Dawgs have won! I don’t know how but the Dawgs have won it!").
-The sickening collapse in a 31-27 loss to Vanderbilt. Fumbled punts, bad snaps, interceptions: It was the kind of disaster that Larry Munson was born to describe. It wouldn’t have made the loss any easier to take, but Larry I’d be willing to bet that Larry would have been entertaining telling us about it.
-Georgia’s third consecutive win over Florida. Gurley’s 73 yard touchdown catch. Florida’s comeback. Most of all the eight minute drive to run out the clock. Munson always seemed to be at his best in Jacksonville, and this one would have been no exception.
-The Auburn game. I know that no one wants to think about this one, but just imagaine the calls Larry would have come up with. Imagine his excitement during Georgia’s furious rally from a 37-17 deficit to take a 38-37 lead; especially Murray’s touchdown run on 4th down. Think about him imploring the defense to make one final play on 4th and eighteen. Consider, if you dare, his devastation when the tipped pass settled into Ricardo Louis’s hands. Heartbreak, and classic Munson.
-Finally, Georgia’s win over Georgia Tech. This game always seemed to mean more to Larry than any other. The Dawgs’ comeback to tie the game would have seen him at his most excited. I can only imagine his call of Tech’s final play. ("4th down and five! The whole ballgame coming down to this! Snap to Lee. Lee looks, and looks. He throws it in the end zone. We tipped it! The ball is in the air! Incomplete! Somebody got a hand on it, and we’ve hung on and won in overtime!").
I don’t turn down the volume on the television to listen to the radio broadcast anymore; mostly because the radio is several seconds ahead of the TV. But also because it just isn’t the same without Larry. I know that he would’ve loved Saturday’s game. I’m sure that, wherever he is, there’s a smile on his face right now. There is definitely one on mine.