Starting 11: RIP Larry Munson Edition

Before we commence the Starting 11, let’s all say goodbye to Larry Munson, one of the last, great voices of Southern football. There was a day and there was an age when SEC announcers brought games to people all over the Southland who didn’t have the opportunity to watch the games live. These men were fearless, and they weren’t afraid to offend, and they were probably broadcasting with a whiskey bottle under the desk. Above all else, they were characters who brought football to the masses and did it in an entertaining fashion.

Now most radio game announcers are bland, corporate accoutrements whose primary goal is not to offend sponsors.

You think Larry Munson cared about sponsors? Nowadays talking about St. Simon condos being destroyed would lead to a demand for an official apology from a sponsor. Back then? Not hardly.

One of the things we’ve lost as leagues like the SEC have become corporatized is announcers like Munson, men who reveled in the moment and weren’t politically correct and didn’t pretend to be something that they weren’t. Men who never seemed to get over the childlike glee that this was real, this was what they did for a living — sit in the best seats in a football stadium and get to describe what they saw.

No matter who you root for Larry Munson was an original. With his passing, an era of SEC football is almost closed. 

How many people listen to the radio broadcast by choice now?

Not too damn many.  

So enjoy Larry Munson’s call no matter who you root for.

Hunker down, Larry, you’ve got an SEC championship to watch.

 Let’s roll on to the Starting 11 now.

1. Okay, let’s get something funny up in a hurry.

It’s young Phil Fulmer!

This is not photoshopped. It’s completely real, from the live broadcast of ESPNU.

There is hope for a better future Vol fans, Phil Fulmer has been cloned.

2. How did Bama fans react to Oklahoma State’s Friday night loss?

Let’s go to the video from Tuscaloosa’s Innisfree bar.

Alabama and Auburn fans fluctuate back and forth on who hates me the most depending on who I’m writing the most negative about in any given week, but I have to say this — no state in the nation loves college football more than Alabama.

In fact, there isn’t even a close second.

Just watch this video to confirm that fact. The spontaneous Alabama cheers? You can’t even make this up.

By the way, Iowa State was a 25-1 underdog for the straight upset. That’s damn near Buster Douglas-esque.

3.  Lane Kiffin has USC rolling.

After his win on the road at Oregon, there can be no doubt. In fact, and this is grudging respect, if Matt Barkley comes back next season, USC will be a darkhorse national title team next season. Is America prepared for a world where Lane Kiffin is a national champion?

We might have to prepare.

But did Kiffin really have to wear the toboggan Saturday night in Oregon?

He looks like Luke Skywalker in the opening to Empire Strikes Back. 

While I respect Kiffin’s antipathy to the cold, he’s only outside for a 1.5 hours per half. In between he gets to run back inside the locker room for twenty minutes. Are you really telling me that he couldn’t have toughed out the cold without a toboggan or gloves? The guys at Occupy Wall Street were tougher. At least they were sleeping outside all night.

Although, the fact these are receiver gloves is, somehow, even funnier. Never know when an errant pass might come rolling his way on the sideline.  

4. Speaking of a freeze, how about this segue to the St. Louis Cardinals David Freese sampling the finer delicacies of the Grove on Saturday.

I’ve got a wild feeling that it doesn’t suck to be David Freese.

Call it a hunch.

5. Need proof that God is an SEC fan.

This play happened.

This is an amazing throw that you need to watch a few times. Do you know how much of a cannon you need to even attempt this throw back across the entirety of the field? I don’t even blame the defensive back for slacking off a bit here, he probably thought he’d have time to react to any throw.

Then, bam.

A laser from all the way across the field.

I mean, that’s probably a 55 yard throw that’s absolutely perfect.

99% of grown men couldn’t even throw the ball that far if all we had to do was balloon it up in the air and wait for it to get there. Much less on a rope.

That throw had to have NFL scouts drooling.

RGIII now has 33 touchdowns against just five interceptions.

I’m starting to think he should be the Heisman winner.

6. Back to the USC-Oregon game, what was Chip Kelly thinking with his clock management down the stretch?

What is every coach thinking? (I’m looking at you, Derek Dooley, with your timeout with two seconds left to take a knee. And you too Bob Stoops, WTF were you doing?)

Given how much money coaches spend on staffs now, wouldn’t it make sense to toss someone $60,000 and just make him your clock expert? Like your Moneyball statistics guy on the sideline to tell you the right move clock-wise at the end of each half?

I understand that coaches have a ton going on down the stretch, but isn’t that when you need a guy just focusing on things like that? I couldn’t do anything else on a college football field very well, but I could be the clock guy. Well, that, and a great bad punter.

7. Georgia and Mark Richt won the SEC East.

And then this happened.

If Georgia upsets LSU, will Richt go to second base on the Georgia Dome sideline?

Further?

I’m sorry for making you think about this.

8. Two wrongs do make a right when it comes to SEC officiating.

When I reffed Alabama’s A-Day game, SEC director of officiating, Steve Shaw, gave us one clear instruction as soon as he passed out our whistles. “Do not blow your whistles!”

The reason?

It’s the easiest way to mess up as an official.

If you don’t blow your whistle and stop the play then the play can always be reviewed. But if you blow your whistle and stop the play then there is no way to review the ensuing call. We were told this before we took the field for Alabama’s spring game. So you can be really damn sure that I wasn’t blowing my whistle no matter what happened.

So what happens in overtime of Vandy-UT? An SEC official blows his whistle.

Leading to this celebration in the Vol locker room.

But SEC officials got it right despite being twice wrong. So two wrongs does make a right, I suppose. At least for once. The SEC is incredibly lucky this happened in a game no one outside the state cared about as opposed to, say, LSU at Alabama in overtime.

Can you imagine the controversy then?

In the meantime, Derek Dooley officially got back one of the blown calls that has cost him games.  

9. Vandy blew the Tennessee game, Vols didn’t win it. 

Consider the following as evidence of Vandy blowing it: two missed field goals, an insane clip penalty forty yards behind the play that negated a Vandy touchdown, and UT tied the game only after its field goal kicker was so incompetent he couldn’t execute a 22 yard field goal attempt. But then Vandy ran in to the kicker.  

Seriously, that has to be the lowest field goal attempt of all-time. The Vols were so bad on the execution of the field goal that they went for it on fourth down and Da’Rick Rogers made one of the best catches of the year.

By the way, Da’Rick Rogers is quietly putting up amazing numbers for UT. Despite his quarterback being injured for much of the season, Rogers leads the SEC in catches, with 65, and is tied for tops in receiving yardage with 1002. He also has nine touchdown catches.

He’s a first rounder next year.

Give Derek Dooley credit for the biggest win of his five year coaching career: overtime at home against Vanderbilt.

10. Les Miles took a knee with five minutes left against Ole Miss. 

With five minutes left. 

Most of y’all probably missed this for more competitive games, but with LSU leading 52-3 Miles took a knee with five minutes remaining and his team with a first and goal at the 1. 

Has anyone ever seen a knee taken this early before?

Is it worse to score and go up 59-3 or take the knee with five minutes left. 

I’m not even sure.     

11. LSU, Alabama, and Arkansas are 1, 2, and 3 in the BCS standings.

All week talking heads will attempt to make sense of what this means going forward.

Save yourself the time and frustration and just read this so you’re as well informed as you can be.

Here’s my column on LSU, Bama, Arkansas and what’s coming.

And, as a sign off for this week’s Starting 11, in honor of Larry Munson’s generation how about John Ward’s finest calls?

If a combination of Ward and Munson doesn’t give you chillbumps, then you’re probably dead.

Or a Big Ten fan.

Which is kind of the same thing.

Amazingly there is no great youtube compilation of John Ward’s best calls. But sit through this first couple of minutes and you get some great ones.

 

 

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