College play-by-play announcers are generally homers for good reason. Their employer, at least indirectly, is the school which they represent.
Even so, many of those on the outside are not philosophically comfortable with blatant “homerism,” such as that of the late Larry Munson who arrived in Athens far from being a homer. He later learned, however, that his popularity was based on his overt passion for the team.
When Verne Lundquist first heard Munson while driving to the Atlanta airport from an afternoon Alabama game in Tuscaloosa, he was appalled at Munson’s frequent use of “we” on the broadcast of a Georgia night game. However, when Lundquist was the radio play-by-play voice of the Dallas Cowboys, he would have had difficulty criticizing management on the air, since he, too, was a club employee in his radio role.
Nonetheless, Verne was amazed at how much of a homer Munson was. The Braves’ Milo Hamilton was a fine baseball announcer but was severely rebuked by the Georgia Tech alumni when longtime announcer Al Ciraldo was replaced by Milo at the direction Bobby Dodd, Tech athletic director. The Tech alumni felt like Ciraldo “was one of us.” Ciraldo soon got his job back.
When Scott Howard, Georgia’s veteran announcer—now in his 14th season as the Bulldogs play-by-play voice and 28th with the broadcast—succeeded Munson in 2008, Bulldog fans were familiar with him because Scott had been providing color on the network for years. They became aware of his broadcasting style in 2007 when he announced Georgia’s road games as Munson’s declining health caused him to call home games only.
Looking back, the transition from Munson to Howard was seamless—owing to the fact that the Decatur-born-raised-in-Nashville-and-Miami-Howard has a durable, resilient and seasoned voice. He functions on the air with a bent to give his audience the facts. Furthermore, he has never tried “to be like his predecessor.” He gets excited but never is as emotional as Munson was.
Scott can be graphically clever as he was in a game at Missouri when running back Brendan Douglas experienced a collision at the goal line which resulted in the Bulldog back flipping over the would be tacklers and landing on his feet in the end zone. Scott said on the air, “Give him six for the score and a 10 for the flip.” Very descriptive and apropos.
A very balanced and levelheaded type, Scott has considerable blue collar, lunch pail influence in his career. He is always on time, he underscores the fundamentals of his business—he always gives you the down and distance—and never becomes flummoxed by a new player going on the field with an unrecognized number. He is not given to outbursts; he never carps about broadcast booth inadequacies or fusses about travel conditions—even in private.
The thing about this loyal Bulldog that I appreciate the most is that the many iconic Munson calls that continue to be played as part of the Georgia broadcast does not rankle Scott Howard.
If I were a betting man, I would wager that there are not two announcers in the country, more than likely, none, who would be comfortable with a situation such as that. Especially after Munson’s last active year dates back a decade and a half.
Much of that is that Georgia’s current play-by-play announcer is not ego driven. He is not only familiar with Munson’s legend, he enjoys and embraces Munson’s memory and unforgettable moments. He assesses it as he does with the Braves celebrated announcers Skip Caray and Pete Van Wieren. “It is sad,” Howard says, “that they are not with us anymore, but I’m glad their memories and their voices are still with us through their calls.”
When his family moved to Nashville, Scott remembers hearing Larry calling Vanderbilt football and basketball games. He also recalls seeing Munson’s fishing show on television.
Scott, a very passionate family man, has a very dry sense of humor; his hobby is his work and his focus is giving every Georgia broadcast his best effort. He will never shortchange those who tune in.
There is no job out there he aspires to hold, no big league position for him to pursue. The lights of Athens are bright enough for him, and his network affiliation is the only one he wants. There’s nothing out there that would turn his head. He enjoys his laidback lifestyle in a college town and appreciates the distinction of being the “Voice of the Dawgs.”
A dedicated professional, Scott’s portfolio includes a positive attitude, a seasoned work ethic and a personality devoid of ego. One more thing: He is a Damn Good Dawg.