One very subtle way that sports fans are made to feel their age occurs when the seminal voices that narrated the big moments of our childhood and formative adult years decide to hang up their microphone and call it quits. If I am stack ranking those voices from my early years of sports watching, Brent Musberger is at the top of that list.
On Wednesday, it was announced that Musberger, 77, would be calling his last game for ESPN/ABC next Tuesday night, a Georgia-Kentucky basketball game at Rupp Arena (which, in a weird way, is an entirely appropriate ending for Musberger...more on that in a minute).
Courtesy of ESPN.com, here is a brief synopsis of Musberger's historic career:
A member of the National Sports Media Association Hall of Fame, Musburger joined ABC in 1990 after a long stint in which he was the lead voice of CBS Sports. He also received the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame Outstanding Contributor to Amateur Football Award in 2011 and the Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Broadcasting in November.
For ABC, ESPN and the SEC Network, Musburger has hosted and/or called play-by-play for the NBA, college football (including seven BCS National Championships) and basketball, golf, NASCAR and IndyCar races and the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He called the Little League World Series from 2000 to 2011. He also hosted Super Bowl XXV's pregame and halftime shows as well as the 1991 Pan Am Games from Cuba.
With ESPN Radio, Musburger handled play-by-play for NBA games, including the NBA Finals, for many years. He also was the original host of its daily "ESPN SportsBeat" segments.
His signature catchphrase was, of course, "you are looking live..." at the outset of each of his broadcasts...
...but for me, Musberger's voice will always be attached to three sporting events with very personal significance:
1. Villanova's upset of Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA title game
Maybe the greatest upset in Final Four history; that 1985 Villanova team was one of my all-time favorites, as I was a sophomore in high school and giving serious consideration to attending Villanova at the time. A few quirky sidebars — no shot clock, no three point line, and Villanova's point guard, Gary McLain, may or may not have been high on cocaine (a Sports Illustrated cover story a few years later claimed he was in the semifinal game two days earlier).
2. Notre Dame's upset of Miami in 1988, the "Catholics vs. Convicts" game
I didn't end up going to Villanova. Instead, I went to Notre Dame, and was lucky enough to be a sophomore at what is still the best sporting event that I've ever been to, Notre Dame's 31-30 upset of Miami, which was recently chronicled in the 30 for 30 titled "Catholics vs. Convicts."
3. Notre Dame at Penn State, 1991
You're probably like "Huh?" My brother played soccer for Notre Dame back in the early '90s, and, long story short, found his way onto the football team. This was his first game, and if you fast-forward to the 35:40 mark, you'll see his first kick and the story of how he wound up on the team.
Here are a few other Musberger specials...
Brent giving props to Alabama QB A.J. McCarron for dating Miss Alabama
Brent interviewing Eminem during the Notre Dame-Michigan game in 2013
Brent giving ill-advised well wishes to Joe Mixon in last season's Sugar Bowl...and then doubling down on Mixon in the saltiest way possible
Brent inadvertently saying that he's Kirk Herbstreit
Last but not least, Musberger will also be remembered as one of two announcers (along with NBC's Al Michaels) who brazenly refer to the point spread and who are not shy for letting the emotions in their voice tell the story of which side they are "invested" in. So it should come as no surprise that Brent Musberger is leaving broadcasting reportedly to help his family start a sports handicapping business. Also, Covers.com reports that Musberger will be a voice on the fledgling Vegas Sports Information Network.
And that's why Musberger's hanging it up after a meaningless regular season college basketball game is the most Musberger move ever...that game truly only has meaning to Georgia fans, Kentucky fans and degenerate gamblers. Degenerate gamblers like Brent Musberger...and that's why I love him!
I can't wait to hear "You are looking live...at the inside of the Mirage sports book..." on the Vegas Sports Information Network, whatever that is.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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