We already knew about Katherine Webb – anytime a girl from Auburn dates a guy from arch-rival Alabama it is worthy of hushed whispers across the state. But when she is the reigning Miss Alabama USA and he is the star quarterback for the national champion Crimson Tide, there is enough glamor and glitz to get the two of them on the front page of the state’s newspapers.
This week the Twitter-borne love story took a far-greater turn. Katherine was sitting with A.J. McCarron’s mom at Monday night’s national championship game in Miami when the ESPN cameras zoomed in on the beautiful girl with 4:22 still left in the first quarter. Understand, her new boyfriend, A.J., had already thrown one touchdown pass and the rout over Notre Dame was well underway, the Tide leading 14-0 at the time.
As the camera dwelled on Katherine, veteran announcer Brent Musburger yelped into the microphone, “Wow, I’m tellin’ ya, you quarterbacks—you get all the good-lookin’ women. Wow! What a beautiful woman. Whoa! So, if you’re a youngster at Alabama, start gettin’ the football out and throw it around in the backyard with Pop.”
Musburger, age 73, was only having fun but now comes word that Katherine’s fledging career as a model was officially launched -- that very minute – and, glory of all glories, she’ll be included in Sports Illustrated’s famed Swimsuit issue next month. How is that for a pretty good week?
“I was completely dumbfounded!” she said about getting the phone call from the magazine. “It was so shocking to me because literally overnight I go from being AJ's girlfriend and going to support him in the championship game to being on every major media news outlet. It's just so surprising to me.
“I don't know what God has planned, but obviously He's working on something,” she said. “When Sports Illustrated called it just became even more real that this is happening. Every single model wants to be in Sports Illustrated, and I feel extremely blessed to have that opportunity.”
In a delightful interview with Jimmy Traina of SI”s “Extra Mustard,” the 23-year-old said she didn’t know about Musburger’s comments until after the game. “I don't think it became real to me until after I left the stadium and a reporter walked up to me and asked if I realized what was happening, because my phone was dead, so I had no idea what was going on,” she told Traina.
“He was like, ‘Do you realize you are the star of the game?’ I was like, ‘No, what are you talking about?’ So he told me the cameras focused on me and AJ's mom and I had over 100,000 Twitter followers, and I was like ‘Wait a minute, are you serious?’”
Katherine had no idea how serious. Her Twitter account has now had over 200,000 hits but – believe it or not – she and McCarron met on the social media site. They flirted a little and in early December A.J. showed up at the pageant in Montgomery. By this Monday night in Miami, Katherine “stole the show” at the national championship game, despite the fact McCarron passed for four TDs in the 42-14 debacle.
The day after the game, ESPN issued a statement that said, “We always try to capture interesting storylines and the relationship between an Auburn grad who is Miss Alabama and the current Alabama quarterback certainly met that test. However, we apologize that the commentary in this instance went too far and Brent understands that."
Oh, please. Even Webb discounted the apology. "It was kind of nice," she laughed. "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." Katherine said when she saw an actual tape from the game, “I laughed hysterically. I was flattered, and a little embarrassed, but I thought it was the funniest thing ever. I never expected that!”
For the record, Webb graduated from Auburn last May and has been working at a Chik-fil-A restaurant in Columbus, Ga., as a training director between modeling jobs. While at Auburn, she went on a mission trip to India and seems to be hitting it off just fine with the Crimson Tide quarterback.
The annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue has been accused by some in the past for being a little racy but in a recent radio interview, Katherine told Carson Daly, “I’ve been doing modeling for a little bit and, you know, I’m from the South – from Alabama – so you really don’t want to do anything that your grandma might be embarrassed by!”
You can see more of Katherine on Feb. 11 – that’s when the annual Swimsuit issue goes on sale.