Camp Randall 100: Brent Musburger

The Camp Randall 100 honors a prestigious group of 100 people who shaped the first century of Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin Athletics will reveal a new honoree every day from May 24 until the Badgers’ 2017 opening game on Sept. 1 against Utah State.

“Can’t think of a better place in the country to go tailgating than Madison, Wisconsin. The fans here have turned tailgating into an art form.”

– Brent Musburger

Brent Musburger
Brent Musburger

As a play-by-play commentator for NFL, college football and college basketball games for more than 30 years with CBS, ABC and ESPN, Brent Musburger made the phrase “You are looking live,” his signature open.

He uttered it more than a few times from Camp Randall Stadium, including just minutes before exclaiming, “A chance to return the opening kickoff for six … he’ll take it to the house!” That, of course, was his call of David Gilreath’s memorable kickoff return for a touchdown to open Wisconsin’s 31-18 upset win over No. 1 Ohio State on Oct. 16, 2010.

Less than a year later, Musburger and broadcast partner Kirk Herbstreit were back in Madison for another prime time tussle, this one with a little added historic value. On Oct. 1, 2011, the Badgers welcomed a new conference foe, Nebraska, into the Big Ten by hosting the Huskers in their first league game.

The hype around the game was enormous, with ESPN’s College GameDay crew broadcasting from iconic Bascom Hall the morning of the game and as many as 20,000 Nebraska fans making the trip north and driving ticket prices on the secondary market to skyrocket.

Against this background, ABC welcomed the newest Big Ten member to the league with images of brats being grilled around Madison and Musburger exclaiming, “Can’t think of a better place in the country to go tailgating than Madison, Wisconsin. The fans here have turned tailgating into an art form.”

“One of the biggest home games in Badgers history,” according to Musburger, turned out to be a coming-out party for new UW quarterback Russell Wilson. The graduate transfer shined in the spotlight, going 14-of-20 for 255 yards and two touchdowns through the air while also running for 32 yards and a score.

After Wilson took a bootleg around left tackle, stiff-armed one Nebraska defender and outraced another to the pylon on his 10-yard TD run, Musburger’s commentary was spot-on: “NFL scouts that put him down as not being tall enough, they better take a second look at this youngster.”

Musburger was equally impressed with Wisconsin’s offensive coordinator, the man who would later take the head coaching reigns at his alma mater, Paul Chryst. “The combination of one of the best offensive coordinators in the Big Ten and this quarterback, you’ve got your hands full when you deal with this offense, ladies and gentlemen.”

Musburger was a year early with this proclamation about the Badgers’ star running back: “Montee Ball, put him in the argument and the discussion for the Doak Walker Award this year,” he said after Ball’s fourth touchdown of the game, which put the Badgers up 47-17 with 5:11 left. Ball was a Heisman Trophy finalist that year but actually won the Doak Walker Award as a senior the next season.

Circling back to his open focusing on the atmosphere outside of Camp Randall that night, Musbruger joked, “I can only imagine how they’re jumping around on State Street,” after watching the famous “Jump Around” inside the stadium at the end of the third quarter.

With the rout on in the fourth quarter, Musburger kept it light and referenced the pregame hype: “Some of those Huskers fans who paid scalpers’ prices here tonight are probably wondering how they can get their money back,” he said as the camera showed some dejected Nebraska backers in the stands.

A night no one wearing red (Cardinal, that is) will soon forget, described by a man who will long be remembered as one of the best in the business.