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Sportscaster Brent Musburger to Retire at End of January

Variety logo Variety 1/25/2017 Oriana Schwindt
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Brent Musburger has called just about every kind of sporting event you can think of: college basketball, college football, pro football, the Masters, little league baseball, the World Cup. On Jan. 31, he’ll call his last one, a Georgia-Kentucky NCAA men’s basketball game starting at 9/8c on ESPN.

“What a wonderful journey I have traveled with CBS and the Disney company,” Musburger said. “A love of sports allows me to live a life of endless pleasure. And make no mistake, I will miss the arenas and stadiums dearly. Most of all, I will miss the folks I have met along the trail. But the next rodeo for me is in Las Vegas. Stop by and we’ll share a cold one and some good stories. I may even buy!”

“Brent’s presence and delivery have come to symbolize big time sports for multiple generations of fans,” said ESPN president John Skipper. “When he opens with his signature ‘You are looking live,’ you sit up straight in your chair because you know something important is about to happen. Brent’s catalog of big events is unmatched, and he has skillfully guided us through some of the most dramatic and memorable moments in sports with his authentic and distinctive style. He is one of the best story-tellers to ever grace a sports booth. We and the fans will miss him.”

Musburger has been in the sportscasting world for nearly 50 years, 27 of which he spent at ESPN. Musburger, who grew up in Montana, began his sports career in 1968 after graduating from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, moving up from local TV to CBS and, in 1990, to ABC. In November 2016, Musburger received the Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Broadcasting, presented by Fordham University’s WFUV radio station. Throughout his tenure in the sportscasting world he was known as a perfectionist, fiercely competitive and driven.

Yet his career isn’t entirely without blemish: In 1968, he compared black American Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos to Nazis in a column for the Chicago American; in 2013, he made a series of comments about the attractiveness of Katherine Webb, the girlfriend of then-Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron. He stirred up some outrage just a few weeks ago during his commentary on the telecast for the Sugar Bowl, expressing well wishes for an Oklahoma player that had previously broken a woman’s jaw with a punch.

Though Musburger’s on-air persona was described in a 1984 Sports Illustrated profile as “white bread,” in real life, Musburger was “a bit of a hell raiser” who was in fact dismissed from Northwestern for a year because he’d been driving his car without a license and frequently ran through tolls on the way home to Connecticut from CBS’ New York studios.

Now 77, Musburger’s days of hell raising are behind him — or were, if his statement about Vegas is anything to go by. This is for all the Tostitos.

(Pictured: Brent Musburger in 2013 on the set of College Game Day.)

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