One week after his gushing comments about the attractiveness of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron's girlfriend inspired a few days of criticism, veteran ESPN play-by-play man Brent Musburger made headlines again Monday night.
The question is whether his sign-off at the end of Monday's Kansas-Baylor basketball game was an attempt to poke fun at the controversy or not.
As he said good bye at the end of ESPN's telecast, Musberger began as if nothing out of the ordinary was coming, telling viewers, "Once again, your final score, Kansas 61, Baylor 44. Coming up next, SportsCenter." Then he delivered the following jaw-dropping finish you'll hear in the video above: "For Fran Fraschilla and Holly Rowe, who was really smokin' tonight, I want to say 'So long from Lawrence.'"
The closing line from Musburger created an instant buzz on social media as viewers tried to figure out exactly what the 73-year-old broadcaster had said. Most people seem to have heard it the way it's typed it above. ESPN disagrees.
According to ESPN, what Musburger actually said was, "it was really smokin' tonight" rather than "who was really smokin' tonight." An ESPN spokesman responded Tuesday, "Brent said the word 'it.' We are moving on."
It's possible Musburger said "it" rather than "who," but it seems very strange for him to describe a low-scoring rout in such a manner. It seems more likely this was a sly wink at the controversy he sparked.
ESPN apologized last week for Musburger's on-air admiration of Katherine Webb's looks, noting that "the commentary in this instance went too far and Brent understands that." Webb, a former Miss Alabama, later came to Musburger's defense, insisting she was flattered by his praise.
Considering how overblown the initial controversy was regarding Musburger's comments, I think his closing line Monday night was harmless fun — as long as he took the time to run it by sideline reporter Holly Rowe first.
If she was on board with the idea, then great. Otherwise, she shouldn't have to be dragged into something that was bound to make headlines unless she was a willing participant.
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