Sometimes news is both stunning and expected at the same time. Such was the case this evening when it was announced that Larry Munson, after some 42 years, has called his last game as the legendary radio voice of the Georgia Bulldogs.
I had hoped that it would end differently. I had hoped that we would have the chance to stand as a community of admirers, ideally on a fall evening in the Classic City as Mark Richt's Bulldogs put the finishing touches on a memorable victory over Alabama or Georgia Tech. If all had gone as it does in the movies, we would chant "Damn Good Dawg!!!" while Larry tried to hold it together in the booth and Scott Howard reflected on his place in the red and black cosmos. But these things rarely play out in cinematic hues do they?
Admittedly, those first two efforts of the season against Georgia Southern and Central Michigan were not his best. Some of the names weren't quite right. The fluid account didn't tumble seamlessly from the gravelly throat the way it once had. But I don't believe anyone thought that the end of Munson's tenure in the booth would come this suddenly. My sense is that we all thought there would be a farewell tour, even if for a single afternoon.
I certainly don't intend this to sound like a eulogy, because it's anything but. Larry Munson is alive and kicking. I imagine that the line to watch the Alabama game with him this Saturday will stretch around the block. I doubt he'll take anyone up on it, but that won't stop every reporter in the state from wanting to ask Larry what he thought of that last draw, or whether Coach Martinez is blitzing enough. Whatever the case, I'm sure he'll be worried. That's just his way, and we love him for it.
It's ironic that the Scott Howard era (wow, that sounds strange . . .) will begin in earnest against the team which helped give him the call that made many of us think "hey, the guy may be able to pull this off." It's impossible to be the man who replaces the man. Let's all remember that from here on in. Scott Howard doesn't need to ask us to "get the picture." In fact I'd rather he not, except in the most self-aware of ways. Scott will find his way, but it's going to be strange. Until now, I have to admit, I still listened to Howard and Zeier as if they were tagteam substitute teachers. Now they'll be taking over the class. I hope they're as unabashedly partisan as Larry ever was, because the fans of University of Georgia football deserve no less than an unrepetent homer. I'm convinced that's how God intended SEC football to sound.
It does give me pause to think that Larry Munson began calling Georgia football in an era before ESPN, before CNN and before the SEC was a media conglomerate with a GDP the size of some European principalities.At a time when the Red and Black have elbowed back into the national consciousness, and when the SEC looms large in the national football landscape, it just seems like an appropriate time to celebrate what Larry Munson has brought to the University of Georgia over these last four decades. I hope you'll join me in wishing Larry a peaceful fall Saturday. He's earned it.
Larry Munson: Damned. Good. Dawg!