Rachel George, USA TODAY Sports
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron won a second BCS National Championship on Monday, but it was his girlfriend who won the Internet.
Katherine Webb, who has been dating the Alabama quarterback for about a month, started trending on Twitter early in Alabama's win over Notre Dame. Plenty of air time during the broadcast and an awkward exchange between the ESPN announcers served as a Twitter boost for the former Miss Alabama USA.
Webb, a 23-year-old Montgomery, Ala., native and Auburn alum, saw her followers increase from around 2,300 to more than 109,000 by early Tuesday morning.
But as her following grew - including for a brief time Miami Heat forward LeBron James - Webb was mostly oblivious. Her phone was dead.
"I did get to check it a little bit through a friend's phone," she told USA TODAY Sports. "It's been crazy."
Among the more bizarre turns of her moment-by-moment increase in popularity was Arizona Cardinals DT Darnell Dockett posting his number and inviting her to a strip club. He later deleted the tweet and said he meant to send Webb a direct message.
McCarron responded to some of the tweets on Tuesday morning. To Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, who said Webb needed to become a Bulldogs fan, McCarron wrote, "u don't win enough bud!! #15"
To Dockett, McCarron wrote, "u better worry ab being in them playoffs, then going to king of diamonds homie.. #betterkeepdreaming like the rest of these dudes."
Coming off his second national championship in as many years, McCarron couldn't feel threatened by the attention. Both Webb and McCarron said he's not the jealous type, at least not about unwanted advances Webb gets from other men.
Getting a follow from James, however briefly, that's a different story.
"Say you swear," he said to a reporter after being told of James following his girlfriend. "Man, I'm gonna tweet him and I'm gonna get a follow. That's messed up. Hey, I guess she's more famous than me now."
The Twitter frenzy started early in the first quarter with Alabama already up 14-0 when ESPN cameras found Webb and McCarron's mother, Dee Dee Bonner, in the crowd.
"You quarterbacks, you get all the good looking women," said play-by-play announcer Brent Musberger. "What a beautiful woman. Wow."
Kirk Herbstreit chimed in to say that McCarron must be doing some things right before Musberger added, "If you're a youngster in Alabama, start getting the football out and throw it around the backyard with pop."
Told later about her ESPN appearance, Webb said, "Oh Lord. This is the first time that's kind of ever happened, for me. I've never dated someone who's actually been in the spotlight, so it's a new thing for me."
Webb finished in the top 10 in the Miss USA competition in June. A model who lives in Los Angeles, she's used to attention, but even this was unique.
Bonner said she first got a sense of what was happening when she got a text to smile because she was so frequently on camera. The attention wasn't surprising, she said, and was tamer than some of the "crude and harsh" comments they sometimes hear from rival fans.
"As old as I'm getting, hell, I appreciate the compliments," Bonner said.
Appropriately, McCarron and Webb met via Twitter when a friend connected them in November. In December, McCarron went to the pageant for Miss Alabama USA 2013, where Webb ended her reign, and the two have been together since.
"I know she's good looking. She's gonna have guys that jaw-drop over her," McCarron said. "That's life. I guess I'm the blessed one at the end of the day. She's gotta put up with me."
Following his television interviews on the field after the win, McCarron jogged to the Alabama end zone with a slew of photographers in tow. He hugged his mother and father, fist bumped several other family members and finally found Webb, who bent down for a kiss.
The relationship is still new, but both are excited. McCarron seems to have little to worry about. Webb is talking about moving back to Alabama to be near him.
It'd likely mean more time in the spotlight, but after the wild events of Monday - a second national title and Twitter explosion among them - they expect they'll handle it just fine.
Early Tuesday morning, Webb tweeted for the first time to her new legion of followers.
She wrote, "So extremely blessed... @10AJMcCarron. Congrats to Alabama and making history! #BCSChamps."