Athens–It was a typical Larry Munson greeting.
He didn’t say “Hello.”
He didn’t say “How you doing?”
He just started talking.
“Tell me about the quarterback. I’m worried about the quarterback,” said Munson.
Okay, get the picture: It is August. Georgia’s first game is still almost a month away. And Larry Munson is already worried. Man, is he worried.
Munson retired as the radio voice of the Georgia Bulldogs two games into the 2008 season. He was the heartbeat of the Bulldog Nation for almost 43 years. He doesn’t miss the travel one bit. But he misses the rest of it more than he can possibly explain. He really misses those Friday night dinners with his radio crew when he would hold court with story after story about life on the road in the SEC. Remember that Larry called Vanderbilt games for 19 years before he came to Georgia in 1966. That’s over 60 years of road games in this league. I don’t think Larry would mind my telling you that some very good wine was consumed.
“I’ve never laughed so hard before–or since,” said Chuck Dowdle, the former Channel 2 anchor who would join the fun.
“Sure, you miss all that stuff but hey, you get old,” said Munson, who turns 88 in September. “And I’m damned old.”
Since Larry and I did a book together last year (more on that later) a lot of people ask me how he’s doing. I tell them that for an 87-year old guy who’s had his share of physical ailments, including brain surgery to remove a clot in 2008, Larry is holding up pretty well. It’s tougher for him to get around.
But it sure hasn’t slowed down his ability to worry about his beloved Bulldogs.
“I’ve seen film of the kid (Aaron Murray) and he looks like he can play,” said Munson. “But we had to let the other guy (backup quarterback Zach Mettenberger) go when he got into trouble. And now we have a true freshman (Hutson Mason) as the backup? Is that right? Can we go to Columbia (on Sept. 11) with a redshirt freshman and a true freshman? Do you realize what a dog fight it is going to be up there?”
I reminded Larry that it was not an unprecedented situation. Georgia went to Tennessee in 2001 and won (26-24) when David Greene, a redshirt freshman, drove the Bulldogs down the field and threw a touchdown pass to Verron Haynes with only five seconds left. That’s when Larry did his famous “Hobnail Boot” call that remains his favorite, even to this day.
“Ah, Greene,” Munson recalled. “Big Kid. Smooth. Never got too excited. Man, if Murray can be like Greene then maybe we got a shot.”
Larry probably won’t be in Sanford Stadium for a game this fall. He felt like he said his goodbyes when he was honored during the Georgia Tech game in November of 2008. But he’ll be watching on the big screen at home and worrying. And nobody, absolutely nobody, can worry like Larry Munson.
“What are we going to do about the defense? We couldn’t stop anybody last year,” he said. ”What do you know about the new guy (defensive coordinator Todd Grantham)? Does he understand what the SEC is all about? Does he realize how hard it is to play on the road in this league? Does he understand that it’s going to be NINE THOUSAND degrees up there? There is no place on earth hotter than Columbia, South Carolina!”
I try to get by to see Larry whenever I’m in Athens. I was there this day to get him to sign some books and to catch up because it had been a while. Then was time to go. Larry doesn’t really stand on formality at times like this.
“Okay, see ya. I’m still worried about the damned quarterback.”
Larry still watches a lot of college football but it’s not the same when you’re not emotionaly invested in the day-to-day comings and goings of a team. But college football, specifically Georgia football, misses Larry, too. It just isn’t the same without him.
Shamless plug: Last year I worked with Larry to produce his autobiography “From Herschel to a Hobnail Boot.” If you’re interested in the book (and the CD of great calls that goes with it), please go to my website and check it out. You can order it from there:
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