SCOPE - WEEK 8
by David Hershorin
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.
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).
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.
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
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
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.
Dame vs. Air Force – ESPN at 10pm
Dave Barnett, Bill Curry, Mike Golic, Michele
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
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.