Munson, Georgia’s longtime play-by-play voice, will miss his second game in more than 41 years Saturday when the No. 22 Bulldogs take on No. 16 Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Munson, whose health is in a steady decline, is not planning to work road games this year and may retire for good after this season.
For more than a decade, Munson has had a plan for this day. He would take a portable radio, load his fishing equipment onto a boat and listen to the Bulldogs while indulging the second-biggest obsession of his sporting life. Thanks to a 7:45 p.m. kickoff on ESPN, that plan has been shelved.
“I think the fishing angle has been shot right out of the saddle,” Munson said Wednesday. “I’m not so sure what I am going to do. I may wind up at a movie.”
An early movie, he clarified. He will listen to, and maybe even watch, the Bulldogs.
Munson still feels bad, he said, about the way his decision to scale back came about. Georgia officials were not aware he was considering retirement until he told The Telegraph this summer.
Athletics director Damon Evans “didn’t know it was coming,” said Munson, who missed the 1990 Clemson game after having back surgery. “We talked about it, and I had to tell him that I just didn’t think I was going to handle it. I was aware of the fact that the level of my work was not at the level that it used to be.”
Health is his main issue, he said. He fell this summer in a local restaurant, and he has trouble climbing the two steps onto the team’s buses.
“I never thought that was going to come,” he said.
Predictably, Munson is concerned about the Bulldogs’ fate in the game he’ll miss. Alabama is 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the SEC after a dramatic win over Arkansas last week. Georgia (2-1, 0-1) is trying to avoid its first 0-2 conference start since 1993.
“It’s going to be a devil of a ball game,” Munson said. “I feel they will run it hard on us. All they will have to do is look at our first couple films, and they will see that somebody already has run it on us. We are already juggling and changing linebackers. It has been that way from the first day. We have never been sure of the linebackers.
“This is a scary year, and we have to see what we have left when we come out of the end of the year and see if we’re standing.”
Scott Howard, Munson’s longtime color analyst for football and Georgia’s play-by-play voice for men’s basketball, will fill Munson’s chair on road games. Howard, 44, graduated from Georgia in 1984.
I’m “anxious I guess, excited for the opportunity,” he said. “I’ve kind of been looking forward to this all summer since the story broke. I’m kind of ready for the game to be here.”
Former Georgia quarterback Eric Zeier will join Howard in the booth to provide color commentary.
Howard has long been Munson’s choice to fill his shoes.
“I’m sure he’s starting to feel a little bit of the excitement, but I bet you he comes alive very much so,” Munson said. “It remains to be seen if he’s fortunate enough to have some highly crucial play that goes our way, and, if he gets one of those, how he’s going to handle it. He’s got a lot of people rooting for him and that ought to really help.”
The producers of Georgia’s game day broadcast have asked Munson to call in during some part of the show Saturday.
“I don’t know if I’m going to do it yet or not,” he said. “The nighttime television thing has thrown a real monkey wrench in my plans.”