Larry Munson was the conscience of Georgia football fans.
You didn’t just listen to a Georgia football game called by Munson. You experienced the game with him, in his broken chair watching Lindsay Scott or trying to find glasses to see who caught the touchdown pass against Auburn in 2002.
The clock always seemed to move a bit slower when the Bulldogs were winning and too fast when they were behind. Man, could Larry Munson worry.
News of his retirement is a blow to everyone. Even fans of Georgia opponents will miss Munson, because, in his eyes, their teams were so big and so fast and, my God, they might score 150,000 points.
He didn’t laugh at his own jokes. Heck, he didn’t even realize he was being funny, and that made him even more appealing. Somehow, you got more out of the game listening to Munson’s unmistakable growl than watching the action on TV.
He’s also the last of his kind. As legendary Tennessee broadcaster John Ward explained to me last week, radio guys are just different now. Not worse, just different. They grew up watching games on TV. Some were trained in TV. They have TVs in the radio booth. Ward said he refused to turn on his monitor.
You didn’t need a TV with Munson. The most underrated part of a Munson broadcast was the detail.
“Get the picture,” he would always bellow at the start of the game. Herschel Walker didn’t just run over Bill Bates for a 16-yard touchdown. He was driving and running with those big thighs. My God, a freshman!
“The main strength of Larry Munson is that he can visualize the game and make the listener see it,” Ward said. “Regardless of his style, or my style or (former Kentucky broadcaster) Cawood Ledford’s style, it gets down to the strength of not your personality or technique, but describing the game and helping the listener visualize it. And Larry Munson is outstanding at that.”
Munson did it his way. He was an unabashed homer, because that’s how he felt and you were watching the game with him, so he was going to tell you. He wasn’t some modern-day broadcaster who put a smile on every situation and remained eternally optimistic. He gave up on the Bulldogs before Scott’s catch against Florida, but as he said, so did you.
He was real. He was a reflection of you. Forget the rules of broadcasting. His job was using his eyes and opinions to describe the game, and that’s what you got.
And that’s why he’s an icon, as important to Georgia as any of the coaches or players or administrators. Georgia’s win over Tennessee in 2001? Oh, you mean the hobnailed boot game. Scott’s catch against Florida? You remember, “Run, Lindsay, run!”
The stadium was never simply loud. It was worse than bonkers. It was falling apart. It was creaking.
You want to tell him to hunker down one more time Saturday when Georgia meets Alabama in a showdown that Munson needs to be describing for us. We know we’re asking a lot, Larry, but hunker down one more time. We won’t ask you again.
But he’s hunkered down a lot over the past few years. At the age of 85, his health is declining. He walks by slowly shuffling his feet.
We’ll miss Larry. No one will broadcast a game like him ever again. It’s a very sad day. We’ve heard our last live Munson call. It’s a miserable feeling.
Man, is there going to be some property destroyed tonight.