CLEMSON - Don Munson couldn't have scripted a more well-rounded test to debut his new gig.
Whether it was the good (Charone Peake's 30-yard touchdown catch from Deshaun Watson), the bad (any of Todd Gurley's four trips to the end zone) or the ugly (the entire final eight minutes Saturday), Munson yearned to match the moment with varied emotions.
His first 60 minutes as Voice of The Tigers, as Munson reviewed, could use a little dialing down. He knows he'll learn on the go.
"There's some times I need to calm down a little bit, but it was part of the juices flowing. It was Clemson and Georgia," Munson told The Post and Courier Tuesday afternoon while self-critiquing his game tape.
"You go and listen to the first quarter, and I'm amped. You start getting more into a groove as things go along."
It'll take time for Munson, 52, to realize his own vocal niche, and listeners to adjust after the past 11 years with Pete Yanity behind the microphone for the Clemson Radio Network reached an abrupt conclusion in April.
On the sideline at Sanford Stadium Saturday, hours before kickoff, Munson and his wife of 30 years, Elizabeth, stopped for a moment next to Uga IX's doghouse. Munson glanced up toward his workspace for the evening, the visiting radio booth, and exhaled.
This Saturday afternoon, during Clemson's home opener vs. South Carolina State, Munson will step into his new regular digs at Memorial Stadium, alongside color commentator Rodney Williams with Patrick Sapp contributing from the sideline.
"I want them to feel like they can utilize me in the best possible way," Munson said. "The three of us should be able to say anything to any of the three of us at any time."
As a student in the early 1980s at Appalachian State, Munson called sporting events for everything from football to women's soccer.
It was his senior year when the Mountaineers' new head coach - 32-year-old Mack Brown, who'd spend just one year at Appalachian State along his journey to Texas - took Munson and his roommate, Mike Gore, under his wing.
"Basically, he gave us carte blanche for the football program," Munson remembers. "He actually let us travel with the team, we were calling games for the student radio station. It was great. That's probably what really piqued my interest, having that kind of access."
Munson moved to Simpsonville on April 1, 1995, joining the Clemson Radio Network handling pregame, halftime and postgame shows, calling non-revenue sporting events, and learning under Jim Phillips, the longtime Voice of the Tigers.
In the past decade, MLB was on Munson's mind. He came close to moving to Miami as Voice of the Marlins, and also interviewed with Colorado and Pittsburgh.
But he never left. During the past four years, Munson served as director of creative media, instructing football players on proper use of Twitter and coaching them on interviews with reporters.
Muddying the waters
Munson and Yanity were friends. Clearly, it was an awkward situation last April 30 when Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich announced Munson was taking over Yanity's post.
"To me, there were real mixed emotions," Munson said. "I told Coach Swinney and Dan, this is really going to muddy the waters. This is going to stir up a lot of things in a lot of people, and it did, rightfully so. I understand that."
Yanity, WSPA's sports director in Spartanburg, respectfully declined comment this week, referring to his April statement which read in part, "What a wonderful run it's been. ... In the past decade-and-a-half, I also gained another family. The Clemson family. And I am so much the better for it."
Although Munson never specifically asked his boss why the change, he surmises Radakovich preferred a full-time athletic department employee to someone on the outside.
"I think a lot of people think Coach (Dabo) Swinney's the one that forced this. He had nothing to do with it," Munson said. "I don't know that it's all settled yet. I don't know if it ever will settle out."
Who to listen to
In the fall of 1996, Phillips fought back problems. At 7 a.m. the Friday before Clemson's visit to No. 2 Florida State, Munson received a phone call telling him to be on the team flight at noon out of Greenville, to fill in for Phillips.
Munson pinch-hit calling games at FSU (a 34-3 loss) and Duke (a 13-6 win.)
"When I came here, Jim was the Voice of the Tigers. And Jim to me will always be the Voice of the Tigers," Munson said. "It wasn't anything I aspired to do, to tell you the truth. I wanted to come down here and work with the network, and see where that has led."
This summer after accepting the new job, Munson developed a relationship with longtime Alabama play-by-play man Eli Gold. This weekend, after tuning for the second half, Gold called Munson for a 20-minute conversation.
"He told me, 'You need to do the best you can do. Don't listen to the others,'" Munson said. "I do have a good group of people around me."
"I've purposely laid off the social media and stayed off the boards, because it really doesn't matter when it comes down to brass tax. I need to listen to the people above me that are directing my job and go from there."
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