Paying Tribute to Larry Munson – Part I

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Larry Munson is a Cornerstone of UGA Football Tradition

Over two generations of Bulldog Nation heard Larry Munson’s gravelly tone every Saturday while he provided Georgia fans everywhere with chills and thrills.  Munson voiced the soundtrack to the historic memories and moments that unfolded on the gridiron during the four decades that he spent passionately calling Georgia football.

Rather than one long article, it is best to allow our admiration for Larry Munson to span multiple posts.  This piece focuses on the late Larry Munson’s life before he broadcasted UGA football.   The subsequent two posts that follow will center around his legendary tenure between the hedges, and his legacy that grows with every Saturday in Athens.

A Short Biography
The man born Lawrence Harry Munson came into the world on September 28, 1922.  He grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and he was a two-sport athlete in college at Minnesota State University Moorhead.  Munson played both ways on the football field, lining up as a defensive end, as well as at the offensive tackle position.  The iconic announcer also played basketball at MSUM as a center and a guard.

Larry Munson Served His Country/First Announcing Experience
Before Larry Munson ever picked up a microphone, he served in the United States Army as a medic during World War II.  When he returned from duty, Munson used all $200 of the mustering-out pay that he earned to attend a Minneapolis radio broadcasting school.  His first official experience announcing sporting events happened when he made $15 dollars per week to introduce boxers and wrestlers to crowds at a Minneapolis venue.

Take Me out to the Ball Game, Mr. Munson
Thanks to a recommendation from a friend, Larry Munson was hired as the announcer for a minor league baseball team located Oklahoma City in 1946. Unwittingly, the same friend played a key role in bringing Larry Munson to the state of Georgia because Munson gained valuable experience doing play-by-play for minor league football and baseball teams while in the Sooner State.

Larry Munson was Once a Commodore/The Rod & Gun Club
Prior to becoming the voice of the Bulldogs, Larry Munson moved to Tennessee in 1952, where he worked as the caller for the Vanderbilt Commodores on WKDA, a local radio station in Nashville.  He did the play-by-play during Vanderbilt football and basketball games for the better part of the 1950s.  It was during this time that Munson started his own hunting and fishing television show, titled The Rod & Gun Club. The program first aired on local television in Nashville.

Larry Munson was an Original Member of the Atlanta Braves Broadcast Team
After successfully holding jobs doing play-by-play for the Vanderbilt Commodores, coupled with his minor league baseball and football expertise, Munson was hired to be part of the first broadcasting team for the Atlanta Braves when the team relocated from Milwakee to Atlanta in 1966. 

Georgia Bulldogs 2012 Schedule Preview – Postseason Edition

Bulldog Nation is rabid for a national championship.

As the college football regular season is mere hours from getting started, the point of final prognostication is upon us. When we last left the Georgia Bulldogs, they were riding high after finishing the regular season unbeaten at 12-0. As for which team from the SEC West will be awaiting the Dawgs in Atlanta, the slight edge goes to LSU.

The western portion of the SEC features three teams with a realistic opportunity to contend for the conference title. Arkansas (interim) head coach John L. Smith is playing with house money, because with the exception of Razorback faithful, there are not many folks who expect the Hogs to live up to the hype. Arkansas will be impressive on offense with senior quarterback Tyler Wilson at the controls, and they get standout tailback Knile Davis back from injury. Even so, the Razorbacks do not have enough on defense to stand up to the two-headed monster of Alabama and LSU. Prediction: nine regular season wins for Arkansas.

Alabama is coming off a national championship victory in 2011 and the Tide is certainly high in Tuscaloosa. However, the defending champions of college football lost a lot of talent to the NFL draft, along with some other players who graduated, which will likely leave the Tide on the outside looking in at the BCS championship picture this season. Alabama has a brutal road schedule as well, including a showdown with LSU in Baton Rouge. Nick Saban’s boys will contend for another title again soon, but it would be flat out scary for the rest of college football if Bama is able to defend their college football crown in 2012. Prediction: ten regular season wins for the Alabama Crimson Tide. (No team has ever repeat in the Bowl Championship Series era.) Continue reading

Georgia Bulldogs Quarterback “Controversy” – A Change Doesn’t Always Do You Good

While browsing the Atlanta Journal Constitution last week, I was stunned to learn that some Georgia fans feel the starting quarterback position in Athens should be more open ended going into the summer. In Bill King’s latest “Junkyard Blog,” King addresses the concern that some of Bulldog Nation has with Murray turning the football over too much last season.

I will concede that Aaron Murray certainly has things to work on this off-season. However, the same can be said for every other quarterback at any level of football. To think that the University of Georgia football team would somehow be better off with Murray on the bench is absurd. The combined number of starts between back-up quarterbacks Hutson Mason and Christian LeMay at the University of Georgia is zero. Both young men have a lot of potential, but that alone is not enough to supplant a two year starter. The Bulldogs will be replacing a healthy portion of their offensive line this fall, and Murray’s starting experience will be a valuable asset in helping the young Georgia offense grow.

Regardless of experience, the statistics that Aaron Murray put up in his first two seasons leave little doubt about who should be the starting signal caller for the Bulldogs. Murray has thrown for 6,198 yards and 69 touchdowns in his career between the hedges. The frustration with Aaron Murray comes from the number of turnovers he committed last season. The rising junior threw 14 interceptions, and fumbled the ball away at crucial moments a year ago. There is no substitute for maturity and the Dawgs are confident that Aaron Murray will cut down significantly on the number of balls he throws to the other team in his third year.

It is obvious that everyone in and around the Georgia Bulldog football program is hungry for a national championship. Championships come with patience and hard work, not by making hasty decisions and keeping your quarterback on a short leash. Change for change’s sake is never a smart move. All of Bulldog Nation needs to be united in support of Aaron Murray. After all, USC quarterback Matt Barkley is the only returning starter in the country to put up better numbers than Murray in 2011. As long as he takes care of the football Aaron Murray is poised to re-write a lot of Georgia passing records starting this fall.

Georgia Bulldogs G-Day Game 2012

The Georgia Bulldogs found themselves between the hedges for the first time in 2012 last Saturday afternoon. The occasion marked the first real opportunity for all of Bulldog Nation to forget about the bitter ending of last season and shift their focus to the present. Georgia’s off-season has been tumultuous thus far, but the G-Day Game provided a much needed opportunity for the Bulldogs to refocus.

Rather than offer a dry analysis of a glorified scrimmage, I would like to share some notes and observations from watching last weekend’s broadcast.

Aaron Murray is the unquestioned leader of the Georgia Bulldog offense. However, both Hutson Mason and Christian LeMay appear to be developing into great quarterbacks as well. Both young men could probably start elsewhere if they decided to transfer. Christian LeMay is a gifted athlete, and he could be capable of providing a spark in certain packages for the Bulldogs in the coming campaign.

Isaiah Crowell appeared to be running hard and hitting the hole quicker than he did during his freshman season. Crowell must stay patient, and avoid taking big hits so that his body is better able to withstand a full schedule next year. A few weeks ago Isaiah Crowell said that he had Heisman aspirations. That is an admirable goal, but Mr. Crowell should focus on staying out of trouble and healthy first. Continue reading

Georgia Football Traditions – Baba O’Riley

Recently I touched on my admiration for the “Battle Hymm of The Bulldog Nation.” Following that hallowed Georgia tradition, Dawg fans wait with baited breath for the Georgia Bulldog football team to take the field. As “Baba O’Riley” by The Who rings out of the Sanford Stadium speakers and the familiar piano notes play out, it is impossible not to forget one’s troubles and simply be a fan for about three hours.

Georgia’s arrival into Sanford Stadium is special because it is unique. Instead of a serious or intense entrance, “Baba O’Riley” provides the feeling that the crowd has gathered between the hedges to enjoy themselves and root for the Bulldogs. Entrance themes such as Virginia Tech’s choice of “Enter Sandman” by Metallica, have become so cliche that it is hard to see how it could feel like part of a tradition. With “Baba O’Riley” it is easy for those in attendance to relate to the narrative on a Saturday in Athens. “Out here in the fields, I fight for my meals. I got my back into my living. I don’t need to fight, to prove I’m right, I don’t need to be forgiven.”

It was not until I  experienced the tradition first hand that it had a profound effect on me. I could not imagine being so passionate about any other football team besides the Georgia Bulldogs. The University of Georgia has a place in the heart of every member of Bulldog Nation. Regardless of whether the Bulldogs win or lose on a given Saturday, there is no better way to feel connected to 90,000 plus people than to hear “Baba O’Riley” begin to play.