Tonight, Brent Musburger will call Kentucky vs. Georgia, his final game for ESPN before he embarks on a new venture in Las Vegas. The setting is especially fitting; in 1985, Musburger called Villanova’s win over Georgetown in the NCAA Championship in Rupp Arena, considered one of the biggest upsets in sports history. Musburger joined John Calipari on his call-in show last night to look back on his career, which has spanned almost 50 years, and if you missed it, I suggest going back and listening to it.
In the spirit of the day, let’s “look live” at some of the best moments of Musburger’s career, starting with that game in Rupp over 30 years ago.
1985 NCAA Championship: Villanova upsets Georgetown (Rupp Arena)
Ed Pinckney and Dwayne McClain helped Villanova beat Patrick Ewing and 1-seed Georgetown at Rupp Arena, an upset for the ages. Last night, Musburger recalled how Villanova coach Rollie Massimino bet Musburger his sports coat that the Wildcats would win the game; improbably, they did, and to this day, the 82-year-old Massimino still has Musburger’s suede sports coat. Fun fact: John Calipari was in the back row of Rupp for that game as a volunteer assistant for Kansas.
In 2010, Musburger did this retrospect of the game for ESPN:
1984 Orange Bowl: Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary
Whenever I hear Musburger’s voice, I think college football, and his call of Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary vs. Miami in the 1984 Orange Bowl is probably his most famous.
1976 NBA Finals: Celtics vs. Suns
Last night, Musburger listed Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals as one of his most memorable calls, reminiscing about the three-overtime thriller at the old Boston Garden.
1979: Magic Johnson’s debut
Musburger was there for Magic Johnson’s NBA debut, back when Magic was just “the new kid on the block.”
1988: Catholics vs. Convicts
Few broadcasters set a scene as well as Musburger, and his intro to the 1988 showdown between #4 Notre Dame and #1 Miami, aka “Catholics vs. Convicts,” set against the iconic CBS fanfare should be the dictionary definition of college football on a Saturday night.
1990: His final CBS appearance
In 1990, Musburger attempted to negotiate a new contract with CBS, but apparently asked for too much money and the network dumped him during the Final Four. His final broadcast for CBS was the 1990 National Championship between UNLV and Duke, which he called alongside Billy Packer:
1991: Desmond Howard’s touchdown catch vs. Notre Dame
After parting ways with CBS, Musburger went to ABC, where he delivered this great call of Desmond Howard’s touchdown catch on 4th and one vs. Notre Dame.
1997: The Flea Kicker
Musburger and Dan Fouts’ reaction to one of the craziest moments in college football history is priceless.
2002: “Holy Buckeye!”
Musburger perfectly captured the excitement of Ohio State quarterback Craig Krenzel’s 37-yard pass to Michael Jenkins on 4th and 1 to take the lead vs. Purdue. “Holy Buckeye!”
2008: When he didn’t know who Beyonce was
Musburger may know every point spread in sports, but give him a pop culture reference and he’s lost. In 2008, Musburger hilariously mispronounced “Beyonce” in a promo for the American Music Awards, prompting Kirk Herbstreit and the ABC crew to give him all sorts of grief.
2011: “This is for all the Tostitos”
Musburger can get cheesy at times and couldn’t help himself when Auburn kicker Wes Byrum lined up for the game-winning field goal in 2011 Tostitos BCS Championship game, uttering dramatically, “This is for all the Tostitos.”
2013 BCS National Championship: Katherine Webb fixation
Musburger made headlines in 2013 when he ogled AJ McCarron’s girlfriend Katherine Webb, propelling her to minor stardom. Webb, now a model, congratulated Brent on his retirement on Twitter last week:
Cheers Brent, you were good to me. https://t.co/GFYECtbdW2
— Katherine McCarron (@_KatherineWebb) January 25, 2017
This was not Musburger’s finest moment, but would Katherine be where she is without his comments?
2013: Awkward times with Eminem
Who can forget Eminem’s bizarre interview with Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit during the 2013 Notre Dame/Michigan game? Man, that was awkward.
2014: “Boom Goes the Dynamite!”
Musburger’s called a lot of Kentucky games in recent years for the SEC Network, and in 2014, delivered the classic line, “Boom Goes the Dynamite” after a Boom Williams touchdown vs. Florida. That call was great; however, he got on BBN’s bad side later that season when he seemed a little too happy and chatty while Boom was injured on the field vs. LSU.
2016: That time he made a motorcycle joke about Bobby Petrino
Musburger got back in the BBN’s good graces when he made a joke about Bobby Petrino riding a motorcycle during the Clemson/Auburn game this past season.
All of the years: “You are looking live”
Musburger begins each broadcast with his signature line, “You are looking live at,” which has become so iconic that someone made a four-minute supercut of his intros and his most famous calls over the years.
Between his comments about Joe Mixon, mispronouncing Bam Adebayo’s name, and his endless fixation with the spread, Musburger may have had more missteps than home runs lately, but you have to respect his career, which has spanned nearly five decades and almost every major sports network. How fitting is it that the man who helped popularize the term “March Madness” will end his college sports broadcasting career at the arena which helped make him a household name in the 1980’s.
As Musburger himself put it last night, “What a wonderful place to end it, Rupp Arena.”