TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - Alabama's routing of Notre Dame for its second straight national championship has been overshadowed in part by a new breakout star - Katherine Webb, girlfriend of quarterback AJ McCarron and Miss Alabama USA 2012.
Webb gained tens of thousands of Twitter followers during and after Monday night's game, when ESPN cameras visited and revisited her in the stands and announcer Brent Musburger piled on the compliments. As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, Webb had topped 163,000 followers, trumping McCarron's 110,000. Before the game, Webb - who graduated with a business degree from longtime Alabama rival Auburn University in 2011, according to her pageant biography - reportedly had about 2,000.
"Wow, I'm telling you quarterbacks: You get all the good-looking women," Musburger said as the camera focused on Webb, sitting with McCarron's mother. "What a beautiful woman. Wow!"
Some found the remarks from Musburger, 73, out of line. On Tuesday, ESPN released this statement: "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."
Webb, a 23-year-old model, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Musburger's comments didn't bother her.
"It was kind of nice," she said. "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."
Webb said that during the game, her iPhone was dead, but several friends seated nearby showed her what was happening on Twitter and pointed out that pictures of her were being shown on TV.
"I just couldn't believe it," she said. "I was just in complete surprise."
Dee Dee Bonner, McCarron's mother, said the two laughed in the stands as Webb's Twitter count grew.
"We were like, 'Oh my God,'" Bonner said. "She said, 'All I want to do is date your son.' We've been laughing about it. It's quite shocking."
Webb earlier told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer that she first encountered McCarron on Twitter, and they met in early December when he attended the Miss Alabama USA pageant in Montgomery. The two visited over the holidays and publicly confirmed their romance right before the New Year.
Webb's pageant biography says she was born in Montgomery and grew up in Phenix City. Webb worked for Chick-fil-A as a training director in Columbus, Ga., before moving to Los Angeles to pursue modeling. She finished in the top 10 in the national pageant.
Bonner said Webb is considering moving back to Alabama to be with the quarterback.
Before Monday's game, Webb tweeted a photo of herself wearing a jersey with McCarron's number, her arms wrapped around him.
Early Tuesday, Webb posted her first tweet to her new followers: "So extremely blessed... (at)10AJMcCarron. Congrats to Alabama and making history! (hash)BCSChamps."
Webb called the experience fun and said she doesn't think McCarron minds the attention on her.
But when Arizona Cardinals defensive end Darnell Dockett tweeted Webb his telephone number and suggested they meet after the game, McCarron responded, telling Dockett, "(hash)betterkeepdreaming like the rest of these dudes."