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An Open Letter to Damon Evans About Larry Munson

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From: T. Kyle King
To: Damon Evans
Date: June 22, 2007
Re: Larry Munson

Dear Mr. Evans:

I hope you are doing well. I am writing today regarding a matter of great importance to all of us in Bulldog Nation, as we became acutely conscious this week of how close we are to a day we have all known was coming . . . the retirement of Larry Munson.

Hopefully, that day is not yet upon us. Hopefully, the voice of Georgia football, like another "Larry Legend" (of Boston Celtics fame), will stick around for another year, even if it means only being able to participate in his team's home games. Another year would give us the opportunity to pay proper tribute to one of the great sports announcers of all time. Another year also would ease the transition from Larry Munson to his successor, much as Ken Berry's growing significance in the final season of "The Andy Griffith Show" paved the way for "Mayberry, R.F.D."

Although your tenure as our alma mater's athletic director already has been hallmarked by many impressive successes, the impending decision regarding Larry Munson's successor will mark a watershed moment in your young stewardship of University of Georgia athletics. In many respects, the selection of a successor in the broadcast booth is as important as any coaching hire you will be called upon to make.

Many names are being bandied about for the pairing of play-by-play man and color commentator. I have little or no problem with most of them. Scott Howard. Hondo Williamson. Jeff Dantzler. Bill Hartman, Jr. Chip Caray. Buck Belue. Wes Durham. As long as Jeff Hullinger is no part of the equation, I am fine with any of these options.

Rather than suggesting a specific candidate, I would simply urge you in the direction of a particular type of announcer. The trend in recent years has been toward a more professional breed of broadcaster, a play-by-play man with a degree in communications and an accent of indeterminate origin who is committed to "telling it like it is," without favor or flavor.

Such a hire would be in keeping with the modern preference for having formally educated and ethically impartial narrators in the broadcast booth. Such a hire would signal a changing of the guard and chart a bold new course for the 21st century. Such a hire would mark a clear break with the past and place a distinctively different stamp on the airing of Georgia football games in the future.

Such a hire, in short, would be a bad idea.

Bulldog Nation wants---needs---a homer. He doesn't have to be a University of Georgia alumnus; Larry Munson is from up north, for crying out loud. He just needs to be someone who (as Chuck Dowdle once said of Larry Munson) lives and dies with the 'Dawgs on every down.

Larry Munson's successor will live in his predecessor's shadow and he will need to lend his own distinctive voice to the job; no one expects him to be Larry Munson and he would fail miserably if he tried to do so. He does, however, need to be like Larry Munson in certain respects.

He needs to refer to Georgia and Georgia's opponent, respectively, as "us" and "them." He needs to report the Bulldogs' successes not with dispassionate detachment but with elated exuberance. He needs to announce the Red and Black's misfortunes not with restrained impartiality but with heartfelt disgust.

In short, on third and long with a minute to go in Jacksonville and the 'Dawgs trailing the Gators by one with the line of scrimmage being the Georgia seven yard line, he needs to beg Lindsay to run.

Graduates of Boston College and Syracuse who bring journalistic objectivity to the broadcast booth may be all the rage, but they aren't what we need. When the day comes for Larry Munson to step off of the stage, on his terms and on his timetable, Bulldog Nation needs---demands---that the man chosen to sit in Larry Munson's chair be a man whose on-air passion for the Red and Black causes him to break that chair when the circumstances warrant it.

As attested to by recent examples involving Alabama football fans and Kentucky basketball fans, we in the South are astoundingly, gloriously crazed where intercollegiate athletics are concerned. Our best sports broadcasters---Larry Munson chief among them---are as "horribly, admirably partisan" (to borrow a phrase from Orson Swindle) as the fans to whose affections they give voice on autumn Saturdays.

When it comes, the changing of the guard should not involve either a changing of our course or a changing of our principles. There is only one Larry Munson, but his unapologetically biased spirit must be allowed to endure on the Georgia Bulldog Radio Network even after he has chosen to pass the microphone to his successor . . . and that is another Bulldog point of pride.

Sincerely yours,

T. Kyle King

Go 'Dawgs!