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For all his talent and tradition, Munson doesn't play the game

Get the picture! The Dogs are still dressed in red and black. The weather will still be stifling. The opponent will still have great team speed and our team will still have players missing.

You will recognize those as staple Larry Munson descriptions of every Georgia football game played in the last 40 years. I kicked in the still because since mid-summer Bulldog fans have been in a panic over Larry's announcement that he may not be able to handle his radio play-by-play duties anymore.

It's not like the guy doesn't have a good reason. He's only 84 years old with many of the typical health problems of most 84-year-olds. I'm sure he's also afraid that late Saturday night games will interfere with how he feels on Sundays. That's when he joins a bevy of beautiful college coeds in his by-invitation-only movie group at an Athens theatre. For Munson, missing those college gals would be worse than if Herschel had played for Georgia Tech.

There's been practically nonstop media attention given to Munson's declaration including the inevitable guesses as to who will succeed him. One thing that I have not read anywhere is somebody remembering the most important fact of all: who calls the game on the radio will not effect how the team plays on the field. Am I the only one that remembers that?

When Munson first misses a game and if the Bulldogs should lose that day, especially if it is their first loss of the season, fans will be terrified. Many fanatics will be convinced that their beloved University of Georgia will never win another football game without Larry at the microphone. Do not count me among that group.

Don't get me wrong. I recognize Larry Munson for the legend that he is. I also recognize that he is merely a peripheral component of the Georgia Bulldogs. He does not play nor does he coach. He has no more bearing on the outcome of the game than the kid selling programs or the rent-a-cop at the gate that checks your bag for bootleg. After me, Larry would be the second one to tell you that.

I can identify with, but not join, those freakin' out over the day Larry turns the mic over to someone else. He has been the consummate homer on Bulldog broadcasts and that is why he has become such a part of our state's folklore. In his heyday, Larry could truly paint the best ever picture of the action on the field. Throw in his coach-like obsession for poor mouthing and his iconic phrases in the big moments of a game and he has earned his place in our hearts.

Every Georgia fan has been asked about his favorite Munson call and there are many. I have my favorites but my choice is a bit unusual. I could go with the 1980 Florida game "there's gonna' be some property destroyed tonight" or the "hobnail boot" game at Tennessee in 2001, but I won't.

For years, when he was much younger, Munson had a signature call for going to a station break during broadcasts. He would say, "Timeout (pause), station iiiiiiiiidentification."

That simple verbal handoff, which had nothing to do with what happened in the game, would send chills up and down my spine. The way Munson stretched out the long I sound and then spewed out the rest of the syllables in the word identification in a nanosecond somehow got to me. Unfortunately, as time has worn on, I haven't heard that particular lilt from Larry's throat.

Change happens and it looks like the time is drawing nigh when Larry Munson will be missing from Georgia Bulldog broadcasts. I feel sorry for the guy that takes his place because it is always tough to follow a legend. No doubt, there will be many that will say they won't listen anymore or who will be dissatisfied with the replacement no matter what. That's just the way it is.

Personally, I think we should be glad that Larry came out this summer and prepared everyone for this inevitability. After all, the worst could happen in the middle of the season without any warning and it would no doubt throw a pall over everything red and black. At least this way, fans can possibly get used to the change in small bites, or on a game-by-game basis if he chooses to call only home games in 2007.

As for me, I can take solace in the fact that we don't need Larry to score touchdowns. Yes, he excites us when the Dogs do score, but I'll bet they keep on scoring long after Mr. Munson is resting his tired body.

Web posted on Thursday, July 19, 2007

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