I remember when Larry Munson, who’d spent a season as part of the newly arrived Braves’ original broadcast team, first took over from Ed Thilenius as the voice of the Georgia Bulldogs.
Even as a ninth grader, I was already a Bulldog traditionalist, and like many fans, I found the gravelly, staccato bark of Munson took some getting used to after the smooth, mellow tones of Thilenius.
I didn’t dislike Munson. In fact, I felt he’d been wronged when he got crowded out of the Braves booth by the tremendous ego of Milo the Mouth. Still, I remember feeling that Munson came across on his early UGA broadcasts as something of an outsider.
For some reason, I recall the moment when Munson won me over and I finally considered him one of “us.” It was the 1968 game matching No. 5 Georgia with No. 12 Auburn for the SEC Championship. It wasn’t so much any specific call or turn of phrase; he just sounded so into the game, like it really mattered to him whether the Bulldogs won. From that time on, Munson was the man, as far as I was concerned.
By the late ’70s, fans had started quoting Munson calls, and then the Munson phenomenon really took off in the 1980s (”There goes Herschel!”) as we started getting audio and video compilations of his greatest moments. Eventually it reached the point where Munson became an icon even outside the Bulldog Nation. Hardly a week goes by during college football season that you don’t hear somebody on ESPN drop into a growl to imitate the great one.
Since it was announced this week that Munson is being inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame, it seemed like a good time to celebrate the Munson legacy.
It’s easy to pick the three greatest Munson calls of all time; most fans have them memorized: “Run, Lindsay” from the 1980 Florida game (including the end bit about breaking “a metal steel chair” and his “Man is there gonna to be some property destroyed tonight!” warning; the whole extended “Hunker down” scenario culminating with “Look at the sugar falling out of the sky” from the 1982 Auburn game; and, probably the all-time favorite, from the 2001 win in Knoxville: “We just stepped on their face with a hobnail boot and broke their nose!”
I asked a bunch of Dawg fans about their favorite Munson calls other than those three, and the ones most often cited are from the 1980 Tennessee game, the 1975 Florida game and the 1978 Kentucky game.
The Tennessee play, of course, introduced Herschel Walker to the Bulldog Nation. It went like this:
“Tennessee leading 15 to 2, the crowd roaring against Georgia trying to make them drop it so they can’t hear. We hand it off to Herschel, there’s a hole, 5, 10, 12, he’s running over people! Oh, you Herschel Walker! My God almighty, he ran right through two men, Herschel ran right over two men, they had him dead away inside the 9. Herschel Walker went 16 yards, he drove right over those orange shirts, just driving and running with those big thighs. My God, a freshman!”
The 1975 call of an 80-yard touchdown pass from Richard Appleby to Gene Washington, one of my favorites, was an early example of Munson’s penchant for completely off-the-wall analogies:
“Appleby, end around, he just stopped, planted his feet and threw it, and Washington caught it thinking of Montreal and the Olympics, and ran out of his shoes right down the middle 80 yards. Stadium rocking, stunned, the girders are bending now, look at the score.”
And the 1978 call of a late Rex Robinson field goal that beat the Wildcats was Munson at his simplest and was notable for the fact he never actually said the kick was good:
“Sixteen to 14, Kentucky, with eight seconds! The stadium’s standing. Naw, some of ’em are upside down, but they’re trying to stand. It’s gonna be held just inside the 19. It’s set down, he puts it up, it looks good, watch it, watch it … yeah yeah yeah yeah! He kicked the whatchamacallit out of it!”
Another early favorite of Andy Johnson fans is from the 1973 Georgia win over Tennessee:
“Georgia’s got a first down on the Tennessee 26, the stadium rocking, the stadium can’t believe it… Georgia is 8 and a half yards away, minute 17, minute 16, minute 15, second down on the 8 and a half. Andy’s gonna take it give it to Harrison … Faked it! Andy Johnson! Touchdown Andy Johnson! Touchdown Andy Johnson! What a fake, they hit Harrison dead on the 9 and Andy bootlegged to the left and scored. My God Georgia beat Tennesee in Knoxville.”
And then there’s another call of a famous kick, Kevin Butler’s 60-yarder to break a tie with Clemson at Sanford Stadium in 1984:
“So we’ll try to kick one 100,000 miles, we’re holding it on our own 49 and a half, gonna try to kick 60 yards plus a foot and a half, and Butler kicks a long one, Butler kicks a long one … Oh my God! Oh My God! … The stadium is worse than bonkers. Eleven seconds … I can’t believe what he did. This is ungodly!”
Indeed. Great Munson memories. Any others that you’re particularly fond of?