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ESPN has apologized for comments that broadcaster Brent Musburger made during the BCS game telecast on Monday night.
During the network’s coverage of the game — which Alabama won 42-14 over Notre Dame to take its third title in four years — ESPN cameras panned to Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend, Katherine Webb, who was sitting in the stands. Musburger, 73, and fellow commentator Kirk Herbstreit then proceeded to gush about the 23-year-old Webb, who is Miss Alabama.
“Well, I tell you, you quarterbacks, you get all the good-looking women! What a beautiful woman!,” marveled Musburger as ESPN’s cameras panned toward Webb.
Replied Herbstreit: “Wow, AJ’s doing some things right….”
Musburger continued, interjecting: “So if you’re a youngster at Alabama, start getting the football out and throw it around the backyard with pops.”
The Webb objectification instantly drew complaints on Twitter, with a chorus of critics deriding Musburger (and ESPN) as “creepy” and inappropriate.
“BREAKING: AJ McCarron’s girlfriend has filed a restraining order against Brent Musberger [sic]. That didn’t take long,” snarked the parody account NOT SportsCenter, prompting nearly 13,000 retweets.
After the media and bloggers also began posting stories about the commentary, ESPN issued a statement apologizing for the remarks.
“We always try to capture interesting storylines and the relationship between an Auburn grad who is Miss Alabama and the current Alabama quarterback certainly met that test,” the network said. “However, we apologize that the commentary in this instance went too farm and Brent understands that.”
Following the incident, Webb gained some 175,000 Twitter followers, raising her tally to 192,362 as of Tuesday night. She made the news roundup on the Today show as well as a slew of media headlines online.
And Donald Trump, co-owner of the Miss USA Pageant, tweeted that Webb was going to be asked to judge the upcoming event in Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, the BCS game pulled a 15.7 overnight rating, a 14 percent jump from last year’s most-watched broadcast in all of cable, the title game between Alabama and LSU. The first half of the game pulled a 18.2 overnight rating but started to fall just 45 minutes into the broadcast as Alabama pulled ahead with a huge lead.
Erin Carlson contributed to this report.
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