TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama's rout of Notre Dame in Monday's national championship game resulted in a breakout star who isn't a player — Katherine Webb, girlfriend of Tide quarterback AJ McCarron and Miss Alabama USA 2012.
Webb gained tens of thousands of Twitter followers during and after Monday night's game, when ESPN cameras visited and revisited Webb in the stands and announcer Brent Musburger piled on the compliments. Tuesday evening, she topped 175,000 followers, trumping McCarron's 114,000. Before the game, Webb — who graduated with a business degree from Auburn in 2011, according to her pageant biography — had about 2,000.
"Wow, I'm telling you quarterbacks: You get all the good-looking women," Musburger said as the camera focused on Webb, sitting with McCarron's mother. "What a beautiful woman. Wow!"
Some found the remarks from Musburger, 73, out of line. The New York Times reported that ESPN staffers in the production truck at the stadium cringed, and soon John Wildhack, ESPN's executive vice president of production, told Musburger through the announcer's earpiece that he had to "move on.''
On Tuesday, ESPN released this statement: "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. However, we apologize that the commentary in this instance went too far and Brent understands that."
Webb, 23, a model, said of Musburger's comments: "It was kind of nice. I didn't look at it as creepy at all. For a woman to be called beautiful, I don't see how that's an issue."
Dee Dee Bonner, McCarron's mother, said the two laughed in the stands as Webb's Twitter count grew.
"We were like, 'Oh my God,' " Bonner said. "She said, 'All I want to do is date your son.' We've been laughing about it. It's quite shocking."
Webb called the experience fun and said she doesn't think McCarron minds the attention paid to her.
But when Arizona Cardinals defensive end Darnell Dockett tweeted Webb his phone number and suggested they meet for chicken wings and then go to a strip club in Miami, McCarron tweeted that Dockett should worry more about making the playoffs, and "(hash)betterkeep- dreaming like the rest of these dudes."
And when Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, a former Plant High standout, tweeted that Webb "needs to become a Dawg fan,'' McCarron tweeted a response: "u don't win enough bud!!"