By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
Want more top stories? Sign up here for daily or weekly newsletters with our top news.
SEQUIM — Judging by the many fans who stopped to chat and take photos with Brent Musburger before the start of the fourth annual Sonny Sixkiller Husky Celebrity Golf Classic presented by Wilder Auto, it's readily apparent the 75-year old sportscaster has reached iconic status among college football fans.
His mix of serious in-game commentary coupled with a wry wit and humorously hip tone has successfully resonated with viewers for much of the past half-century.
Musburger and University of Washington athletic legends and supporters gathered to raise funds for the Olympic Medical Center Foundation at two recent events.
Record fundraising numbers were set as more than 380 people attended a dinner auction Thursday and the golf tournament at a purple and gold-clad Cedars at Dungeness on Friday.
Musburger is no stranger to hospital foundation fundraisers, having recently emceed a similar benefit featuring a performance by Huey Lewis for a new intensive care unit in his offseason home of Hamilton, Mont.
His Sequim appearance came about through a friendship and working relationship with foundation director of operations and Port Angeles resident George Hill.
“My compadre George Hill has been my spotter in college football for 24 years,” Musburger said.
Hill also works college basketball games with Musburger.
Spotters relay crucial pieces of in-game information to the announcers on players, trends and statistics.
“He comes to me for the college game on Thursday or Saturday and then goes with Al Michaels for the Sunday Night Football game on NBC,” Musburger said. “George is one of the busiest men in football.”
Musburger and his wife of 50 years, Arlene, drove west from Montana for the appearance.
In doing so, he gained even more respect for Hill.
“This is our first time up to the Olympic Peninsula and I really appreciate George's work on the weekend because I now realize how far it is from the airport,” Musburger joked.
“The thing that appeals to me so far is the natural beauty.”
Musburger had plans to play tourist with his wife Saturday before heading across to Victoria for a short vacation.
Musburger is no stranger to Seattle, going so far as to say to his wife, “I think its our favorite city.”
He was in the booth for ABC's coverage of the 1995 “Refuse to Lose” Seattle Mariners' comeback from a 2-0 deficit against the New York Yankees.
Musburger had the call on what is arguably the most memorable moment in team history, Ken Griffey Jr. scoring from first base on an Edgar Martinez double for a 6-5 win in 11 innings in the deciding fifth game.
He hasn't had a game in the refurbished Husky Stadium, but has fond memories from previous trips.
“The stadium shaking, Steve Emtman, USC and UCLA games in there, real fond memories of those games,” Musburger said.
Musburger didn't know at time that the 1993 Rose Bowl, a rematch between Michigan and Washington that resulted in a 38-31 Wolverines victory, would become the most memorable Husky game he would ever call.
“It was Don James' last game,” Musburger said.
“None of us knew it was James' last game, come to think of it I don't even think he knew it was his last game,” Musburger said.
The iconic Washington coach quit in protest of sanctions leveled at the program by the NCAA and the Pac-10 Conference just before the start of the 1993 season.
Musburger was paired in the Rose Bowl booth with Dick Vermeil, a longtime coach who won the 1975 Rose Bowl as head man at UCLA.
“Vermeil became the first person to have coached and broadcast a Rose Bowl,” Musburger said.
“And it was such a close game, either team could have won it with all the lead changes .”
Musburger is enthusiastic about Washington's selection of former Boise State coach Chris Petersen to lead the program.
“Outstanding hire,” Musburger said.
“They could not have hired a better guy than Chris. It will take him a couple of years to get everything in place, but I believe he will become a power in the Pac-12.”
Musburger is in preparation for a new role in television this season as lead broadcaster for the soon-to-be launched SEC Network, an ESPN-operated channel devoted solely to Southeastern Athletic Conference sports.
“It's exciting,” Musburger said.
“Am I going to miss going to Husky Stadium, Texas or Madison, Wisconsin? Absolutely, but every place we go in the SEC is a college football cathedral.
“And the competition for talent, I live in Florida during the season so I know the area, it's off the chart.”
Musburger will open with Texas A&M at South Carolina on Aug. 28 and then call the Arkansas at Auburn game on Aug. 31.
Sixkiller likes Petersen
Sixkiller has been affiliated with the Jamestown S'Klallam tribe since the opening of 7 Cedars in Blyn in 1995 and with the Olympic Medical Center Foundation for the past four years.
“The reason we are doing the golf tournament is not about myself, it's about bringing people together in this community that I've always felt have been strong supporters of Husky athletics and raising funds for the foundation,” Sixkiller said.
“There are a lot of good 'Dawgs' in this community.
On the football side, Sixkiller is a big fan of the Chris Petersen hire.
“I think it's awesome, his record speaks for itself,” Sixkiller said.
“The challenge is going to be able to compete in the Pac-12 on a weekly basis with the different schemes and amount of talent on each team's roster.
“I think Sark [former coach Steve Sarkisian] upgraded the program and Chris can take them to the next level.”
Events a hit
The foundation said that the auction, held at the Vern Burton Community Center in Port Angeles, raised its highest net total ever — more than $44,000.
“We sold a record amount of corporate sponsorship, had a record attendance, and most importantly, raised more money than ever for Olympic Medical Center's cardiac facilities in Sequim and Port Angeles,” said foundation executive director Bruce Skinner.
“We want to thank both communities for the support of this incredible event.”
“Because of our sponsors, 100 percent of all money raised at the event will go to the hospital,” said foundation president Karen Rogers.
“In the past we have been able to provide funds for equipment that has saved people's lives, and we want to continue to do that.”