Editor’s Note: This guest column comes to us from Brandon Chonko, noted South Georgia author, farmer, and Bulldog fan. You may have seen his work in various newspapers and across the internet, or on your dinner plate. Brandon’s poultry and pork operation, Grassroots Farm, has supplied both everyday Georgians and some of the South’s finest restaurants with wholesome, locally raised products for several years now and has been featured in such august publications as Garden & Gun and the Camden County Tribune & Georgian.
I wanna talk football but I don’t wanna talk X’s and O’s. I don’t wanna dabble in predictions or espouse how great Georgia is. I don’t believe in jinxes, but you’ll get no jinx here.
What I am gonna talk about is the magic that is Georgia football…on radio. For legions of us, for what seems like forever, the radio was the lens through which we saw so many ‘Dawg games. Watchin’ it on radio, as they say. After all it’s not like we were on TV every week back then. You had to listen.
We cut our teeth with Larry Munson, the best college football announcer to ever grace the airwaves. I can quote Munson verbatim and at length. Most of us old Dawgs can. We are a “hobnail boot” people. A “look at the sugar falling out of the sky” society. A collective who stomped and celebrated with “run Lindsay.” He knew us. He was us.
“I gave up, you did too.”
On my tombstone it’s probably apt to scribble something about Appleby to Washington, the end around. “Stopped, planted his feet, and threw it….Dreaming of Montreal and the Olympics.” As a kid I used the word “balmy” in a 4th grade paper. My teacher asked where I’d heard that word. Munson.
He also taught me to count by seconds rather than minutes. 86, 85, 84 seconds. “The ‘Dawgs call time.”
I don’t have to recite Munson to you. You already know and I’m sure you’re speaking quotes with me as you read.
“Driving and running with those big thighs, my God a freshman.”
I never saw my dad watch a game whether on TV or in person without his headset on. Same goes for at least 70% of the fans at Sanford on any given Saturday.
“Loran, whattaya got.”
I can still see my old man pacing the fence at my Pop Warner football games, headset on, multitasking before that was even a word. Munson introduced us to Robinson’s folks. Talked to ‘em in the hotel lobby. “Missed his first two tonight….watch it, watch it, yeah yeah yeah yeah!”
Yes, he was us but with more colorful and vivid descriptions. “The stadium is completely bonkers.” He was a true fan. We knew always he was with us, navigating us, on our side as he sweated the outcome of each game for what seemed all our lives in the radio booth.
I still listen to games. Usually radio only. I only watch the huge ones. I love listening to games. This past Saturday night our announcer Scott Howard made what is in my opinion a call that is as good as any that Munson ever made. It’s gold. It’s one part morphine dream mumbling, one part incoherent babbling and it’s a million percent ‘Dawg. It personifies every last one of us in the final seconds of that game, whether at the stadium or on the floor in the living room, begging, pleading, living, dying.
It’s us and it’s beautiful. At first unsure of ball trajectory from his vantage, Howard’s wobbly voice mustering only “uhhh uhhhh uhhh” as the ball leaves the kicker’s foot, quickly followed by a slowly driven moan of “nooo guhoooooood, nooo guhooooood” as the ball shanks way left. Howard’s moan actually sounds as if the ball shanked so far left that it went into the pressbox and blasted him in the gut, knocking his air completely out. He’s writhing on the floor in breathless ecstasy as the ball spins to a stop in the corner and the clock strikes midnight and the bench clears.
That call should be played every morning on every loudspeaker in every school in the state right after the pledge. It’s a man dreaming of a train about to run him down when suddenly a miracle throws the train from its tracks and somehow he survives, unscathed. It’s pure, it’s ethereal, it’s highly entertaining, and if you had to describe what it’s like to be a dyed in the wool ‘Dawg fan with only a series of sounds the Howard OSU call gets my vote. Life and death on the FM dial as ‘22 became ‘23. There won’t be another Munson but I’m damn thankful we got Howard.