A.J. McCarron's girlfriend, Katherine Webb, was on the "Today Show" this morning to discuss her newfound celebrity with Matt Lauer. What did we learn almost 48-hours later? The 23-year old thinks the media has been unfair to ESPN's Brent Musburger. "The fact he said we were 'beautiful' and 'gorgeous,' I think any women would be flattered by that." She also doesn't think ESPN's apology was needed.
In so many words, Webb told the Associated Press the exact same thing on Tuesday: “It was kind of nice. I didn’t look at it as creepy at all. For a woman to be called beautiful, I don’t see how that’s an issue.”
She's not wrong. The so-called "controversy" over an announcer's gushing during the BCS National Championship Game is just silly. Somehow a benign, nationally-televised compliment about beauty has been spun into a controversy. Last night the New York Times published a round-up of the outrage. First there's Sue Carter, a professor of journalism at Michigan State:
“It’s extraordinarily inappropriate to focus on an individual’s looks. In this instance, the appearance of the quarterback’s girlfriend had no bearing on the outcome of the game. It’s a major personal violation, and it’s so retrograde that it’s embarrassing. I think there’s a generational issue, but it’s incumbent on people practicing in these eras to keep up and this is not a norm.
And then there's Deadspin's Timothy Burke, who clearly took Musburger's suggestion “If you’re a youngster in Alabama, start getting the football out and throw it around the backyard with pop,” way, way too seriously. Are we really that worried about marginalizing someone over this statement? Jest, in 2013, is not allowed:
“For Brent Musburger to find this woman attractive is normal. For him to assert that every man should, and that every boy should try to be a football hero to get such a gorgeous woman, is where it is really not a good thing for me.”
And, finally, there's Jennifer Greer, the chairwoman of the journalism department at the University of Alabama:
“Football is a male domain And the role that women play even in the journalistic respect is in the supportive role, the mom, the hot girlfriend, the sideline reporter. They’re accepted in this world, but in particular roles. It reinforces this stereotype of the hot model girlfriend attached to a quarterback and the maleness of sports that is hard for serious female athletes.”
A lot of faux-outrage and counterpoint gasbagging here. I hope -- in fact, I almost expect -- the Musburger-haters to offer the same politically-correct blitzkrieg in four weeks, when Sports Illustrated releases its 2013 Swimsuit Issue. It happens every year.
Hopefully this time Webb's comments shut Musburger's critics up.