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Musburger

Brent Musburger talks to a class at the University of Montana School of Journalism in 2010.

Brent Musburger's ties to athletics in the state of Montana are tight, but one thing the longtime broadcaster has never done is call a Montana Grizzlies football game.

That'll change later this month.

Musburger, a 40-plus-year veteran of sports television who grew up in Billings, will team with Jesse Palmer as game commentators when the college football season opens in Missoula on Aug. 29.

The Grizzlies play North Dakota State in a highly anticipated matchup that will air on ESPN and mark the start of the football season as part of the network's second annual "FCS Kickoff."

First-year Griz football coach Bob Stitt first broke the news Monday morning on Twitter before the Montana athletic department confirmed Musburger's inclusion about a half-hour later.

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Turns out Musburger and Coach Stitt had developed a bit of a relationship after meeting during an Grizzly athletic department event in the Bitterroot Valley earlier this summer where the commentator owns a home. So Montana's coach got the scoop.

"He called Coach Stitt directly to tell him," Montana Athletic Director Kent Haslam said. "Bob was breaking news and I did not even know it was coming."

Musburger, 76, was born in Portland, Oregon, but spent most of his childhood in Billings before attending Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. He splits his time between homes in Hamilton and Jupiter, Florida.

A 2011 inductee into the Montana Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame, Musburger is heralded as one of the top on-air talents in the world of sports, especially in the realm of college football.

"Personally, I equate Brent Musburger to some awful big sporting events," Haslam said. "He's just an icon so to have him in Washington-Grizzly Stadium with Jesse Palmer, it's gonna be really a lot of fun."

Musburger has called seven BCS National Championship games, including the past five, and teamed with analyst Kirk Herbstreit to call ABC Sports' college football prime-time series the past 10 years.

Also among his resume stops are years as an analyst or studio host covering college basketball, MLB, NFL, NBA, NASCAR, World Cup soccer and the Little League World Series.

He called a game involving a Billings team in the 2011 Little League tournament, the only Montana team to ever make the baseball World Series.

Musburger's play-by-play stylings will mix with Palmer's color commentary work during the Grizzlies' season opener. The duo is one of ESPN's most prominent on-air tandems, recently being named lead announcers for the SEC Network.

Palmer, a quarterback at Florida from 1997 to 2000, began his broadcasting career in 2005 as a color commentator with Fox.

Montana's clash with North Dakota State, the four-time defending FCS national champ, is scheduled to kick off at 1:30 p.m. on the final Saturday of August.

The televised game will be the first college football game of the season, five days before the rest of the nation begins play Sept. 3.

"(Musburger) is associated with big college football games and on Aug. 29 this is the biggest and the only one in America," Haslam said. "It seems appropriate that he'll be calling the game with his partner."

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