ESPN issued an apology on Tuesday to the girlfriend of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron for fawning comments made by broadcaster Brent Musberger, but Katherine Webb said Wednesday on TODAY that she had no issue with his compliments.
Webb, 23, became an online sensation after Musberger and color analyst Kirk Herbstreit gushed over the brunette beauty’s good looks when she was shown in the stands during Alabama’s Monday's BCS championship game with Notre Dame. On Tuesday afternoon, ESPN Vice President of Communications Mike Soltys tweeted that the “commentary went too far and Brent understands that.’’ Alabama defeated Notre Dame, 42-14.
“I think the media has been really unfair to (Musberger),’’ Webb told Matt Lauer. “If he would’ve said something along the line that we were hot or sexy or made any derogatory statements like that, I think that would’ve been a little bit different, but the fact that he said that we were beautiful and gorgeous, I don’t see why any woman wouldn’t be flattered by that.’’
The former Miss Alabama USA captivated Musberger during the game. “You quarterbacks, you get all the good-looking women," he said when the camera panned to Webb. "What a beautiful woman. Whoa!’’ He later added, “If you’re a youngster in Alabama, start getting the football out and throw around the backyard with pop.’’
“I don’t think (an apology) was needed, honestly,’’ Webb said. “Of course, I appreciate it, but at the same time, I don’t think that I needed an apology.’’
“Good-looking people sell,’’ NBC Sports Radio’s Clay Travis told NBC News. “It’s not a surprise that television and movies have good-looking people and she’s a good-looking person, and again, the game wasn’t competitive. So what would you talk about? I didn’t think they went too far at all, especially because ESPN knew, when you put an attractive woman on the screen, what do you expect people to say?”
It’s been a whirlwind few days for Webb, who was a top 10 finalist in the Miss USA pageant in June. She saw her Twitter followers go from 2,300 before the game to nearly 220,000 by Wednesday morning. At one point, she was gaining 1,000 followers per minute, a Twitter spokesman told NBC. Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett tweeted her his phone number with a date request, which prompted McCarron to tweet at him, "#betterkeepdreaming like the rest of these dudes." Donald Trump, the owner of the Miss Universe organization, tweeted that Webb will be asked to be a judge at the upcoming Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas.
“I’m honestly really shocked that it really took off like that,’’ Webb said. “I think that we need to draw back our attention to who the real winners are, and that’s the Alabama football team. They spent so long getting ready for this season and they won their second back-to-back national championship, and that’s such an accomplishment.’’
McCarron threw four touchdown passes in the win to lead Alabama to its third national title in four seasons and his second in a row, yet took a backseat to his girlfriend of a month. The two met on Twitter, and Webb is a graduate of Auburn University, Alabama’s most hated rival.
“I’m flattered at all the attention, and I’m humbled," Webb said. “At the same time, I’ll do whatever I can to help the team out and support A.J. and do all that.’’
Webb was unaware of the sensation she had caused until about halfway through the game.
“My phone actually died before I entered into the stadium,’’ she said. “I was so disappointed because I didn’t have my phone. I wasn’t able to tweet or take pictures and send it to my family. During the game, a few of my friends kind of turned around and just like, ‘Oh my gosh, Katherine, look what’s on the Internet.’ It was this great shot of me and A.J.’s mom, Dee Dee Bonner, at the game. I had absolutely no idea, and I didn’t find out until halfway through.’’