NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Miss Alabama USA Katherine Webb exits a sightseeing bus on May 8, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)2012 Miss USA Contestants Visit New York City
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – For the record, the first hug from AJ McCarron went to his dad; the second to his mom.
Then a bunch to other assorted family got in for high fives and pats on the back as McCarron, standing on an electrical box, reached up and into the front row of Sun Life Stadium where Alabama fans wildly celebrated the Crimson Tide's 42-14 destruction of Notre Dame for a second consecutive BCS title behind their star quarterback.
It was then, finally, when McCarron reached over and kissed his girlfriend, Katherine Webb, the reigning Miss Alabama and a young lady that, due to ESPN repeatedly flashing to her during the game broadcast, is America's newest celebrity.
So let it be known, here on a charmed night in the charmed life of AJ McCarron, it was still family first. Webb just had to wait.
"That means he's a family guy, a mama's boy," Webb said with a laugh to Yahoo! Sports. "And I'm totally good with that. It's that personality that attracted me to him in the first place. It was never about his status on the team."
Who knows where the pair's relationship goes, but if its stands the test of time January 7, 2013 will go down as a night of all nights for them.
McCarron forever shook off the lingering "game manager" label and moved into the annals of legendary quarterbacks by torching the once-vaunted Irish defense to the tune of 20 for 28 passing for 264 yards and four touchdowns. He was brilliant, sure now to go down as one of Alabama's all-time QB legends with Joe Namath and Kenny Stabler among others.
It was this kind of night: McCarron was asked after the game to "describe that touchdown pass to Amari Cooper."
"Which one?" he deadpanned.
What's better: leading a last-minute touchdown drive to beat Georgia in the SEC title game or dominating Notre Dame in the national title game?
"Can they both be equal?" he laughed.
Meanwhile, Webb became an instant star. ESPN, which long ago figured out what gets ratings, focused in on the beauty queen wearing the starting quarterback's No. 10 jersey.
There was even a first-half discussion on her from broadcasters Brent Musburger, the legendary 73-year-old play-by-play man, and former Ohio State QB Kirk Herbstreit.
"You quarterbacks, you get all the good-looking women," Musburger said. "What a beautiful woman."
"Wow!" Herbstreit concurred.
"Whoa," Musburger said.
At that point social media began buzzing – or maybe melting down is the better term – about the 23-year-old. She began gaining scores of Twitter followers and noticed her phone wouldn't stop vibrating with incoming texts and emails. The influx was so great, it drained her phone battery.
"My phone is dead," she told Yahoo! Sports, a bit stunned at it all. "My followers went from 2,300 this morning to 96,000 by the end of the night. I don't know if I should even check now, I don't know what is going on."
"I guess [Musburger] said something but I don't know what it was because I haven't seen it."
She eventually topped 105,000 followers (including LeBron James, who later unfollowed her). She was even tweeted the phone number of Arizona Cardinals defensive end Darnell Dockett, who offered to take her out to a gentleman's club in Miami.
When told of his girlfriend's new-found popularity – including passing his own mark of 87,000 followers – McCarron almost didn't believe it.
Wait, LeBron James, is following her?
"No way," McCarron said.
"Say you swear."
"Maaaan, I'm gonna tweet him and I'm gonna get a follow. That's messed up. Hey, I guess she's more famous than me."
Mostly he was happy to hear that she got so much television time, although he was even happier that his mom got nearly as much, if only because it allows mom to tease dad about it. Besides, maybe this is the start of something big for Webb.
"I think she was doing pretty well for herself before that, Miss Alabama and competing in Miss USA," he said. "She's a great girl and I'm happy we're together."
McCarron is 22 years old and is still just a junior at Alabama. Even on a big night on the big stage, there's still a sense of innocence to him. The team stayed at legendary South Beach hotel Fontaineblue. It boasts a nightclub, Liv, which is rich with celebs and models and the like. Naturally AJ didn't get to go during the week.
"You're not here to go to a nightclub with the Miami Heat," he said.
What about now that the game is over, the title won?
"Yeah, if it's open."
Open? Liv isn't exactly the kind of place that closes early; unless you consider sunrise early.
That's the fun part: this college kid is on top of the world, but still figuring it out. He isn't jaded. He isn't trying to be cool. He's a kid from Alabama, dating a girl from Alabama [an Auburn grad no less] who is quickly becoming a legend in Alabama. The NFL may come someday, but right now this is about still being young.
He'll return to Tuscaloosa for his senior season with an opportunity to do something no one in college football history has done, quarterback three consecutive national champions.
The Tide roster will again be stacked. His development as a true passing threat should continue. And, he noted, his coach, Nick Saban wasn't going to let anyone rest on past accomplishments.
"We have a team meeting on Thursday, so I expect him to address the new team and say it hasn't accomplished anything yet," McCarron said.
He's a determined competitor, driven to make the most of his humble background in Mobile – he may be the ideal quarterback for Saban, who he calls "my second or third dad." Even up big in the second half he wasn't afraid to get into a near brawl, on the field, with his center and close friend Barrett Jones because of a disagreement.
"Just both of us wanting to be perfect," he said.
'Bama led by four touchdowns at the time, of course, so perfection had pretty much been obtained. But then again, that's the point.
[Y! Sports Fan Shop: Buy Alabama national champions merchandise]
He's got the life, he's got the girl, and yet he isn't taking a moment of it for granted. That's why he hugged his parents first.
"I love watching them and having them kind of live out their dreams and watch me live out my dream at the same time, that's the special thing for me," he said. "And the thing I want to cherish."
And he kept acknowledging his good fortune.
"I'm truly blessed."
Even if it means announcers are discussing his girlfriend or pro athletes are tweeting at her. It's a public life now, the state's first couple.
"You can have fun and enjoy it," he said. "It's not always going to be here. My mom does a great job reminding me, you're blessed right now. Live it, enjoy it, have fun with it and one day it's all going to be over and people aren't going to be asking for your autograph."
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More BCS title game coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
• Forde: Notre Dame's crushing loss offers more proof Alabama, SEC rule
• HaHa Clinton-Dix's diving interception thwarts potential Notre Dame scoring drive
Eddie Lacy's spin move is a must-see moment at BCS championship
• Photos: The view from the BCS sideline in Miami