You are looking live at the end of an era.
Brent Musburger whose sonorous voice and signature “you are looking live” introduction to games were synonymous with sports telecasts will call his final game for ESPN this month.
Musburger became a household name as television grew into the dominant medium of the sports-entertainment industrial complex. On social media, however, his career wasn’t quite so cut and dried. While an icon on TV, he sometimes became a lightning rod online.
Let’s first flash back to college football’s national title game in 2013. Musburger provided a bit of drooling commentary when ESPN cameras cut to a shot of beauty queen Katherine Webb, who was then the girlfriend of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron. The moment vaulted Webb to celebrity, while video of Musburger’s commentary instantly hit viral status on YouTube. If you type “Musburger” into the YouTube search bar today, “McCarron’s girlfriend” is still the first autofill to follow.
While Webb was catapulted to celebrity, Musburger was roundly criticized online by viewers who found his analysis of her looks lascivious. ESPN later released a statement saying that “we apologize that the commentary in this instance went too far and Brent understands that.”
Musburger’s penchant for mentioning gambling lines during broadcasts also frequently sent Twitter atwitter. Perhaps most famously, a somewhat downbeat call of a last-minute onside kick during a college football game in October prompted jokes that Musburger had money on the final spread.
Just this month, Musburger again found himself in the social media crosshairs after he discussed star Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon during the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2. Mixon was suspended for the entire 2014 season for punching a female student after a late-night argument at a restaurant near campus.
“Lets hope this young man makes the most of his chance and goes on to have a career in the National Football League,” Musburger intoned during Oklahoma’s 35-19 win.
Musburger was immediately and vehemently (and correctly) ripped on Twitter for appearing insensitive toward victims of domestic violence. But the kerfuffle grew when Musburger who’d apparently gotten word of the reaction to his televised comments online didn’t exactly apologize for what he said. He circled back to address his critics later in the game, saying:
Apparently some people were very upset when I wished this young man well at the next level. Let me make something perfectly clear: what he did with that young lady was brutal, uncalled forhes apologized. He was tearful. He got a second chance.
He got a second chance. From Bob Stoops. I happen to pull for people with second chances. Let me make it absolutely clear: I hope he has a wonderful career and he teaches people with that brutal, violent video. OK?
Second down and nine.
Musberger, who is 77 years old, will call his final game for ESPN on Jan. 31, when Kentucky and Georgia play a college basketball game at 9 p.m. EST. Before joining ESPN, he was a broadcast-booth star for CBS Sports until 1990.
Internet backlash over his Mixon comments earlier this month prompted some to speculate whether that dust-up was related to his retirement from ESPN announced Wednesday. But Stephanie Druley, ESPN’s senior vice president for events and studio production, told the Associated Press the network was sorry to see him leave.
Musburger, meanwhile, told the AP he’s on to new adventures. The broadcasting legend’s next move is one that’s sure to delight the online commenters for whom dissecting his TV calls became a game within the game: He plans to help his family start a sports handicapping business.