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MEDIA SCOPE - Sept. 16
Preseason (Aug. 24)
Week 1 (Aug. 31)
Week 2 (Sept. 7)
Week 3 (Sept. 14)
Week 4 (Sept. 21)
Week 5 (Sept. 28)

Week 6 (Oct. 5)
Week 7 (Oct. 12)
Week 8 (Oct. 19)
Week 9 (Oct. 26)

Week 10 (Nov. 2)
Week 11 (Nov. 9)
Week 12 (Nov. 16)
Week 13 (Nov. 23)
Week 14 (Nov. 30)

by David Hershorin

Mississippi vs. Alabama – CBS at 3:30pm
Vern Lundquist, Todd Blackledge, Jill Arrington

This week’s televised line-up looked great on paper, surprisingly competitive for this mid-October Saturday. But games like this one, sure to please, wound up blowouts. Does the national viewing audience want to see the remainder of a one-sided tilt?

For CBS, the answer is yes. Without a slate of games (like network competitor ABC, which has ESPN under its umbrella of coverage), the producers had nowhere to go. OK, so the game was only 28-7 after three quarters not a foregone conclusion until the fourth. It still seemed like we were on an island without a way off. Apologies should be given to all those stuck somewhere so that they couldn’t click over to one of many better games. Nonetheless, this broadcast gave us plenty to grade.

Good replay angles were supplied amply and often. Yet one bothersome aspect is CBS’s inability to show replays actually involving productive players, only to then feature a big-named flop. Ole Miss QB Eli Manning was this week’s flop. So much effort was poorly spent this way that credit often due to ‘Bama’s defensive front got lost amongst the Manning fodder. “Eli was off on this or that” was heard more than “The Crimson Tide defense did its job”. Too bad for these ‘Bama kids who won’t bask in many national spotlights due to probation.

CBS did their job of cursing Ole Miss, too. By my experiences, anytime a graphic or comment makes light of a statistical streak, that streak usually ends within a few plays. So we then learn the Rebels have yielded the least sacks by any SEC OL in the last four years, giving up only 36 over that span. After this was revealed to the viewers, sure enough, predictably, the Tide pass rush began to break through as they then sacked Manning three times. When will announcers realize they impose Murphy’s law on teams called out this way? Just like no-hitters in baseball, talking about it only leads to…sorry for the superstitious tact, but am I wrong? Not such a problem, just an observation.

In the end, the entire viewing experience reflected different deficiencies CBS needs to approach. Any keen insights were offset by the missteps listed, and more. I give each department a B-, from production to the chatter itself. CBS needs to step up, as a network should when presented with problems like these. That is, unless they want to be associated with the sport’s savvy of TBS (not horrible, just second tier).

Oklahoma vs. Iowa State - ABC at 3:30pm
Bob Griese, Brad Nessler, Lynn Swann

Accordingly, we give big-time kudos for the producers who chose to go to Ohio State/Wisconsin once this one got out of hand. We knew it was going to be a long afternoon for ISU when a graphic showing their numerous first and second place Big 12 offensive rankings only confirmed just how strong the Sooner defense really is. Once the third quarter confirmed the Cyclone’s inability to keep-up, we were switched. It makes for tough grading. But from what we saw, the broadcast came off well. Griese was his usual self, making insightful comments quicker than the replays supplied. Couple that quality with things like his pre-emptive telestrater use (often employed during live sequences) and you see why I feel so strongly about Bob. He did whiff when he said OU’s OL was its weak point. But he then began to keenly diagram how wrong he was, using wide-angle endzone views to highlight the blocking schemes responsible for the game’s lopsided result. Swanny was his poignant self, injecting comments only when needed and nailing each one. Lynn’s sideline viewpoint became critical when the rain obscured what the booth could see. His follow-ups became default play-by-play commentary.

So let’s give the entire broadcast effort an A for effort in this technical test. Remember, the weather problems easily could have made a mess of our watch-ability. Glitches from other games broadcast in the same conditions prove we should count our prayers that we got to see what we did.

Wisconsin vs. Ohio State – ABC at 3:30pm
Brent Musburger, Gary Danielson, Jack Arute

What a treat to see this lagniappe instead of the preceding trouncing! We caught up with this one midway through the third, with Wisconsin up 14-13. Unfortunately, Brent & Co. showed us again why they are the B team for ABC.

A few of their misses seemed glaring. Why didn’t the announcers question the decision to leave Buckeye freshman RB sensation Maurice Clarett in with a minute left, the game pretty much over? He eventually limped off, seemingly injured, yet the talk team never pointed out this poor coaching choice. LSU coach Nick Saban could shed some light on this topic. And where were they when OSU contact with the Badger punter (late in the fourth quarter) went uncalled by officials? No replay was supplied at this pivotal juncture, but we did get a poorly timed update on the Arizona State upset of Oregon. Even two triple-TE sets in a row by the Buckeyes went unnoticed - the game-winning TD a result of these multiple unbalanced formations. This crew made up for their deficiencies with live use of the telestrater (an ABC trait, huh) as they keenly diagramed Ohio State’s offensive- and defensive-line dominance (which keyed their victory). Also strong was the interview with Buckeye coach Jim Tressel still on the field just as the game ended. He gave us late-joining viewers a few reasons for why he used #7 WR Gamble as a CB. Too bad he wasn’t queried about Clarett’s late injury. Overall, a C+ for these glaring faux pas. The technical ends were tighter, with production up to par with ABC’s superiority…a B+ only penalizes them for cutting away to New York at certain critical times.

Notre Dame vs. Air Force – ESPN at 10pm
Dave Barnett, Bill Curry, Mike Golic, Michele Tafoya

This was a surprising snoozer, with the predictable nature of the contest similar to the mundane treatment given by these announcers. Maybe that is unfair. The game was close deep into the third. Plus, these guys (and gal) did do adequate play-by-play. It was the color section of the chatter that wasn’t so sharp.

The outsized Falcons never really seemed to have a chance, getting blown off of both sides of the ball. Maybe it was so obvious, the announcers didn’t feel a need to mention its great frequency. AF’s triple option’s implosion upon meeting ND needed better telestration to diagram the Irish’s run-stopping schemes. The talking portion seemed to ignore the on-field happenings to hype us statistically, so as to keep viewers from clicking away. Only the Irish’s stagnating offense kept this one close, a fact not muttered as often as warranted. So where does this leave things? With most of us wishing Herbstreet would have come in from the “Game Day” set. Noteworthy were several comments, but too few that were too divided by bland number-banter. C+ for the pontificators barely above average (I turned it down at intervals and checked out the radio instead). The production was good, deserving a B (the grade school equivalent of good, right?). Michele Tafoya might be better utilized in the booth next time.


Weekly Preview

Editor: Dave Hershorin