Brent Musburger

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Brent Musburger
Brent Musberger crop.jpg
Musburger in 2007
Born Brent Woody Musburger
(1939-05-26) May 26, 1939 (age 75)
Portland, Oregon, U.S.
Residence Jupiter, Florida
Nationality American
Alma mater Northwestern University
Occupation Sportscaster
Home town Billings, Montana (raised),
Chicago, Illinois
Spouse(s) Arlene Clare Sander (m. 1963)
Children Blake Musburger,
Scott Musburger
Parents Cec Musburger,
Beryl Musburger
Family Todd Musburger (brother)

Brent Woody Musburger (/ˈmʌsbɜrɡər/; born May 26, 1939) is an American sportscaster for the ESPN and ABC television networks. Formerly with CBS Sports and one of the original members of their program The NFL Today, Musburger has also covered the NBA, MLB, NCAA football and basketball and NASCAR. Musburger has also served as a studio host for games, a play-by-play man, and halftime host. He has also performed post game wrap up segments and covered championship trophy presentations. He is a member of the Montana Broadcaster's Association Hall of Fame.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Musburger was born in Portland, Oregon and raised in Billings, Montana, the son of Beryl Ruth (Woody) and Cec Musburger.[2][3] He was an umpire for minor league baseball during the 1950s. He was also a boyhood friend of former Major League pitcher Dave McNally. His brother, Todd Musburger, is a prominent sports agent.

Musburger's youth included some brushes with trouble: when he was 12, he and his brother stole a car belonging to their mother's cleaning lady and took it for joy ride. His parents sent him to the Shattuck-St. Mary's in Faribault, Minnesota.[3] Educated at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, he was kicked out for a year for owning and operating a car without a license.[3]

Musburger began his career as a sportswriter for the now-defunct Chicago American newspaper. In 1968, Musburger penned a column regarding Tommie Smith and John Carlos's protest of racial injustice in the United States with a Black Power salute on the medal stand during the 1968 Summer Olympics. In it he stated "Smith and Carlos looked like a couple of black-skinned storm troopers" who were "ignoble," "juvenile," and "unimaginative." In a 1999 article in The New York Times, Musburger stated that comparing the two to the Nazis was "harsh", but he stood by his criticism of the pair's action:

Did [Smith and Carlos' action] improve anything?... Smith and Carlos aside, I object to using the Olympic awards stand to make a political statement.[4]

According to Carlos, Musburger never apologized:

We are talking about someone who compared us to Nazis. Think about that. Here we are standing up to apartheid and to a man in Avery Brundage who delivered the Olympics to Hitler’s Germany. And here’s Musburger calling us Nazis. That got around. It followed us. It hurt us. It hurt my wife, my kids. I’ve never been able to confront him about why he did this. Every time I’ve been at a function or an event with Brent Musburger and I walk towards him, he heads the other way.[5]

In 1968, Musburger began a 22-year association with CBS, first as a sports anchor for WBBM radio and later for WBBM-TV. In the mid-1970s Musburger moved to Los Angeles and anchored news and sports for KNXT (now KCBS-TV); there he worked alongside Connie Chung as a co-anchor on KNXT's evening newscasts from 1978 until 1980, when he joined CBS Sports full-time.

CBS Sports (1973–1990)[edit]

Beginning in late 1973, Musburger was doing play-by-play for CBS Sports. He started out doing regular season National Football League games (future The NFL Today co-host Irv Cross was also doing NFL games at that time as well). Musburger was paired with Tommy Mason or Bart Starr, who provided the color commentary. A year later, Wayne Walker would be paired with Musburger in the booth.

By 1975, at CBS, Musburger went from doing the NFL play-by-play (and other items, mostly on CBS' Sports Saturday/Sunday programs) to rise to prominence as the host of the network's National Football League studio show, The NFL Today. Suddenly, Musburger began to cover many assignments for CBS Sports. Among the other events he covered, either as studio host or play-by-play announcer, were college football and basketball, the National Basketball Association, horse racing, the U.S. Open (tennis) tournament, and The Masters golf tournament. He would even lend his talents to weekend afternoon fare such as The World's Strongest Man contests and the like. Musburger also called Major League Baseball games for CBS Radio.

The NFL Today[edit]

But it was Musburger's association with The NFL Today that made him famous. During his tenure, the CBS' NFL pregame show was consistently the #1 rated pregame show. One of the signatures of the program was Musburger's show-opening teases to the various games CBS would cover, along with live images from the various stadiums. Musburger's accompanying intro to each visual, "You are looking live at..." became one of his catch phrases. In promoting the network, his voice often tailed off on the last letter of "CBS" ("C.B. eeezz"), creating another catch phrase.

Musburger made headlines when he got into a fist-fight with The NFL Today '​s betting analyst Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder in a Manhattan bar on October 27, 1980. Only two years earlier, the two had co-announced the 1978 World Series of Poker. However, the fist-fight incident was quickly regarded as water under the bridge as the two cheerfully appeared on The NFL Today the following week wearing boxing gloves on camera.

CBS departure[edit]

By the late 1980s, Musburger was CBS's top sportscaster. He was the main host and play-by-play announcer for the NBA Finals, college basketball, college football, the Belmont Stakes, and the College World Series. He also hosted a New Year's Eve countdown for CBS. Musburger is regarded as the first broadcaster to apply the term March Madness to the annual NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship tournament.[citation needed]

Early in 1990, CBS underwent a significant management change. During the early morning hours of April 1, 1990, Musburger was fired from CBS. His final assignment for CBS came the following evening, doing play-by-play for the 1990 NCAA men's basketball final, which was Duke versus UNLV. When the game was completed, Musburger thanked the audience and CBS Sports, and the analysts that he had worked with through the years like Billy Packer, who was standing next to him.[6]

At the time of his firing Musburger had been set to handle play-by-play duties for CBS's television coverage of Major League Baseball later that month; he was replaced by Jack Buck in that capacity. His position at The NFL Today was filled by Greg Gumbel. His position as the lead play-by-play announcer for college basketball was filled by Jim Nantz.

ABC Sports and ESPN (1990–present)[edit]

Following his dismissal from CBS, Musburger considered several offers – including one to return to Chicago and work at WGN-TV. Musburger settled at ABC. With Al Michaels entrenched as ABC's top broadcaster, Musburger focused on college football and basketball. After his hiring, ABC's merger with ESPN under the Disney umbrella allowed him[7] to work on ESPN and ABC Sports divisions in 2006, including Major League Baseball, NBA games, ESPN Radio, golf tournaments, horse racing, the Indianapolis 500, Little League World Series, soccer games, college football, and even some NFL games (including hosting halftime duties for Monday Night Football and Wild Card round games). Musburger was also the main studio host during ABC's coverage of the 1998 World Cup and the 2006 World Cup, and was the studio host for ESPN and ABC's NASCAR coverage.

College football[edit]

Brent Musburger departs the College GameDay bus in Austin, Texas in 2006

Musburger's college football duties for ESPN and ABC have included calling seven BCS National Championship games: in 2000, 2004, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. Musburger has also covered the Tour de France for ABC. Since 2006, Musburger has called ABC Sports' college football prime time series, along with analysts Bob Davie and Kirk Herbstreit. Musburger called the 2007 Rose Bowl, taking over for the retired Keith Jackson. He also has called some games on ESPN.

On September 17, 2005, after broadcasting the Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Pittsburgh Panthers, Musburger was cited for having an open container in a motor vehicle.[8]

On September 18, 2006, University of Southern California Sports Information Director Tim Tessalone sent a letter to ESPN, complaining that Musburger revealed privileged information during his broadcast of the September 16, 2006, football game, between USC and Nebraska. Musburger disclosed that he had learned a signal used by Trojans quarterback John David Booty in a pre-game conversation with the quarterback. USC claimed this information was for private purposes only. ESPN and Musburger released separate statements, saying they regretted the confusion. Musburger also appeared on ESPN Radio's Dan Patrick Show, saying that there was never an intention of putting team secrets on the air.[9]

On January 7, 2013, during the BCS national championship football game between Alabama and Notre Dame, the ESPN broadcast camera turned to Katherine Webb, who was in the stands cheering for her boyfriend, Alabama quarterback, A.J. McCarron. Musburger, impressed with Webb's beauty, remarked, "I'm telling you, you quarterbacks get all the good-looking women. What a beautiful woman. Wow!" and continued commenting in a similar fashion.[10] The next day, ESPN apologized for his comments, saying they "went too far".[11] The controversy died down quickly afterwards largely due to Webb stating that she was not bothered at all by Musburger's comments.

On March 12, 2014, ESPN named Musburger and Jesse Palmer as the lead game commentators for the forthcoming SEC Network.[12]

Style[edit]

Musburger has a down-home manner of speaking, often addressing his viewers as "folks." In a Sports Illustrated profile done on Musburger in January 1984, he stressed his hesitance to "pontificate" during his broadcasts. CNN Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel selected him as the second-best college football announcer, behind Ron Franklin. Mandel said of Musburger, "His voice will always be associated with some of the sports' most memorable modern moments."

Other media[edit]

Musburger was a reporter in Rocky II, and had his role immortalized in a 1979 action figure.[13] He also made cameo appreances in The Main Event and The Waterboy. In Cars 2, and Planes he played Brent Mustangburger a fictionalized version of himself. He appeared as himself in the episode "Lying Around" on the ABC sitcom Happy Endings.[14] Musburger was also featured on the animated series South Park in 1998, in the episode City on the Edge of Forever, when he played the leg of a monster named Scuzzlebutt.

Career timeline[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ "Brent Musburger (1939 - )". Montana Broadcasters Association. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  2. ^ http://www.filmreference.com/film/55/Brent-Musburger.html
  3. ^ a b c "Not Just A Pretty Face". Sports Illustrated (Turner Sports & Entertainment Digital Network). January 16, 1984. Retrieved August 1, 2011. 
  4. ^ Richard Sandomir, Now on Film: Raised Fists And the Yogi Love Letters, The New York Times, August 6, 1999, accessed September 10, 2012.
  5. ^ Dave Zirin, After Forty-four Years, It's Time Brent Musburger Apologized to John Carlos and Tommie Smith, The Nation, June 4, 2012, Accessed September 10, 2012.
  6. ^ Brent Musburger's Final CBS Appearance 1990 on YouTube
  7. ^ After being fired from CBS, Brent Musburger lands a high-profile job at ABC and a lucrative contract
  8. ^ http://www.journalstar.com/news/local/article_b6931523-0c6e-506c-8d94-fed737aca40e.html
  9. ^ msn.foxsports.com/cfb/story
  10. ^ Video on YouTube
  11. ^ Hiestand, Michael (January 8, 2013). "ESPN apologizes for remarks about McCarron's girlfriend". USA Today. 
  12. ^ "Brent Musburger, Jesse Palmer lead SEC team". ESPN.com. 12 March 2014. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  13. ^ http://frontrow.espn.go.com/2011/06/musburger-animates-cars-2/
  14. ^ Murschel, Matt (2011-11-03). "Brent Musburger makes cameo on ABC’s ‘Happy Endings’". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2011-12-14. 
  15. ^ Bowl Championship Series – Musburger, Brent
  16. ^ a b c Reiss, Craig (June 1, 1990). "Brent bounces back". Entertainment Weekly. 
  17. ^ "I want my Musburger TV". CNN. June 25, 2004. Retrieved April 26, 2010. 
  18. ^ Deseret News | Move over, football, hoops: NASCAR is back on ESPN
Bibliography
  • Sandomir, Richard "TV Sports: Now on Film: Raised Fists And the Yogi Love Letters", New York Times, 6 August 1999

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Pat Summerall
Play-by-Play announcer, NBA Finals
19751980
Succeeded by
Gary Bender
Preceded by
Jack Whitaker
The NFL Today host
19751989
Succeeded by
Greg Gumbel
Preceded by
Bryant Gumbel
Studio Host, College Basketball on CBS
1982–1984
Succeeded by
Dick Stockton
Preceded by
Gary Bender
Play-by-Play announcer, NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four
19851990
Succeeded by
Jim Nantz
Preceded by
None
Studio Host, Monday Night Football
1990–1995
Succeeded by
Chris Berman
Preceded by
Jim McKay
U.S. World Cup Television Studio Host
1998
Succeeded by
Terry Gannon
Preceded by
Terry Gannon
Lead Play-by-Play, Little League World Series
2000–2011
Succeeded by
Karl Ravech
Preceded by
Terry Gannon
U.S. World Cup Television Studio Host
2006
Succeeded by
Chris Fowler
Preceded by
none
ABC Saturday Night Football Play-By-Play Announcer
2006-present
Succeeded by
Chris Fowler and Brad Nessler
Preceded by
Keith Jackson
Television Play-by-Play announcer, Rose Bowl
2007-present
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Preceded by
Thom Brennaman
Television Play-by-Play announcer, BCS National Championship Game
20102014
Succeeded by
BCS defunct