At 73, wily broadcaster Brent Musburger appears to have become a master of what in sports they call “extending the play.”
He managed to make a college basketball blowout by home team Kansas over Baylor Monday night into a news story by seemingly saying his broadcasting cohort Holly Rowe was “smokin’ tonight.’”
That came on his first broadcast since making headlines in college football's BCS national championship game, another blowout, when he gushed over Katherine Webb, Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend and the former Miss Alabama.
“You quarterbacks, you get all the good-looking women," he said as the camera focused on Webb. "What a beautiful woman. Whoa!’’
That quickly shot Webb into Internet stardom and became a front-page storyline the next day that threatened to eclipse the Alabama victory over Notre Dame. Creepy, was the reaction by many. ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys even tweeted that Musburger went “too far.” For her part Webb, 23, said she was flattered.
On Monday night, Musburger extended interest in the victory of No. 4 Kansas by apparently riffing during his customary signoff.
“Once again, your final score, Kansas 61, Baylor, 44," he said. “Coming up next, ‘Sports Center.’ For Fran Franshilla and Holly Rowe, who was really smokin’ tonight, I want to say ‘so long from Lawrence.’”
Hunter Martin / Getty Images file
That was interpreted by some as a response to the Webb brouhaha. Maybe it was a joke, poking fun at all the reaction, or something else.
Musburger’s quip was picked up by bloggers and national sports writers, drawing headlines such as “he did it again.”
Neither Musburger nor Rowe, who goes by the handle "@sportsiren" on Twitter, have responded.
But ESPN, Musburger’s employer, is suggesting the veteran broadcaster added the word “it” to his signoff – as if the game or the broadcast or Rowe did a good job – “it was really smoking.”
“Simply stated: Brent said the word ‘it.’ We are moving on,” tweeted Josh Krulewitz, ESPN’s spokesman.
So are we.