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MEDIA SCOPE - November 2
by David Hershorin

By some weird coincidence, the most desirable match-ups were all broadcast competitively - in other words, I had to watch two games at once to see the good ones. This makes it tough to grade the proceedings. But I was able to watch enough of each of these broadcasts to tell much. So if I missed something, I hope you'll understand a football fans prerogative to click when necessary. That said, let's whine and critique…

Colorado vs. Oklahoma - ABC at 3:30pm
Brent Musberger, Gary Danielson, Jack Arute

"It's one of those days, folks." Uttered by Brent half way through the first quarter, this statement sums up the viewing audience's thoughts as this weather-related soup-of-a-game unfolded. Production-wise, the disastrous weather translated directly into glitch after technical glitch. But for the home viewer, there was much revealed when we accidentally heard the line-producer (usually done over headphones the viewing audience never hears), directing Brent & Co's every comment. In case you may not have known, the extra voice we heard wasn't meant to be audible. This glitch lasted about 10 minutes in the middle of the first half, during the rain's heaviest downpours. The line-producer's job is to control the course of the game's broadcast, from which camera angles we see to when commercials are shown, and everything in-between. So, least of all, this mishap illuminates the chaos announcers have to deal with just to make what is said coordinate with what is shown. Most people never hear the volume of crap levied upon announcers, which they hear and incorporate to then make their delivery all sound natural. Clouded lenses, along with everything said sounding like it's in an echo chamber, complimented the rain-affected broadcast. These problems faded as the rain let up, but their absence only revealed an uncompetitive snoozer.

Most of the remaining game went off well, broadcast-wise. Gary Danielson has a lot to say, and does… too much in this writer opinion. He is illuminating as he predicts everyone's thoughts, from officials to players. But he never leaves any blank space to digest the volume of insights. And when you heap a healthy dose of Musberger, the chatter becomes overbearing. But this complaint is well offset by their ample football savvy and knowledge. If one of them could tone down the intensity a hair, it would be perfect. One boding fact given to us was the Sooner's record after bye weeks under coach Stoops, 10-1. Another revealing stat provided - Colorado RB Chris Brown's 3rd down conversion rate when he gets the carry, 20-24. All this seemed background, though, as the weather stole the show early and was a factor all day. With such a handicap, the technical ends earn a B for an above average effort in a below average circumstance. The chatter may need tweaking, but these guys did much just to make our watching experience seem somewhat normal…a B+ balances these two factors.

FSU vs. Wake Forest - ESPN2 at 4pm
Dr. Jerry Punch, Sean Salisbury, Tracy Wolfson

These guys unfortunately reflect a growing trend in college football broadcasting - adequate play-by-play eclipsed by lacking color commentary. Dr. Jerry and friends meant well when they gave us their breakdown of what took place (microcosm of FSU's season). It just didn't scratch the surface of what the Noles' problems are. We expect more from people paid this well, who only have one game to cover a week. Never did they question the Nole's coaching staff, actually praising offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden for his changed game plan due to new QB McPhearson. Announcers worth their salt, and producers especially, should know no changes were made, just better team execution due to a new leader.
The lack of any dynamic nature to the FSU offense has been apparent for years. No one wants to be known for starting the "Get rid of Bobby" movement, something obviously blocking needed focus on the coaching staff's shortcomings. We on the inside know how poorly such outstanding talent has been coached. Consecutive years of top recruiting classes should equal more…and the blame becomes obvious. Ok, discount the fact that 18-22 year olds tend to play inconsistently over an entire season. But trends established over years speak volumes of Nole coaches. These coaching problems trickle into all of State's weak dimensions, stringing together evident clues rampantly ignored, this week by the above group. Only Griese has revealed FSU's truth to us. But then again, that is why he is Bob Griese.

Once again, this isn't to say nothing intelligent ever cam out of their mouths. Dr. Jerry is a good play-by-play guy, and Salisbury isn't stupid by any stretch. But this miss seems repeatedly prevalent no matter which network covers FSU. Years of Nole glory have been upheaved by questionable decision-making, something most either ignore or don't bring to light. This strategy does keep viewers, riding the Nole legacy for watching purposes. But it isn't why I listen to analytical banter…which is easily enough turned down when bad. This wasn't that bad, but did make me proverbially readjust each time they missed the boat. Along with delayed or omitted replays, this broadcast didn't reflect the higher standard ESPN2 has established in their daytime coverage (not much higher, but better than this). Just peg the Nole DBs for their poor play and you chip at this problematic "iceberg". The tip of FSU's dilemmas shows how much deeper their deficiencies run. There are more, and some sharp crew will soon tell all. The C earned all around does show "the deuce's" average approach, which passes for a good college football broadcast. Someone, please step up on this one…

Pittsburgh vs. Virginia Tech - ESPN2 at 7:30pm
Mike Golic, Dave Barnett, Bill Curry, Alex Flanagan

There was more range in the quality of this game's broadcast. Bill Curry's down-home approach saved us from boring low-points often wrought with mistakes and obvious glitches. But Curry's charming insights couldn't overcome all the funk.

Golic and Barnett do know which end (of a football) is up. They skillfully outlined how VT took Pitt's lethal TE out of 3rd down plays by blitzing,, thereby forcing the TE to stay home and pass protect. Also strong was their documentation of last years game (38-7 Pitt win) and how Pitt's post-game comments provided the Hokies supposed motivation, resonating for 364 days leading up to their rematch. Too bad it didn't swell the Hokies to victory. Weak was the time it took the crew's comments to reflect Pitt's frontline dominance. It wasn't until late in the 3rd quarter that we heard any praise for this Panther strongpoint. This reflected another weakness - the Hokie-heavy commentary. Rarely did we hear how well Pitt was doing, only how bad Tech played. Funniest sequence was when Curry raked Pitt WR #1 Fitzgerald when he missed an easy pass. "We were told by the Pitt coaching staff that this kid's (Fitzgerald) got the softest hands they've ever seen, even counting the pros. We expect more than that from him." Of course, Fitzgerald then went on to catch 3 TDs with highlight-reel footage for the ages. Curry had the same effect as when a QB is praised for not throwing an INT in hundreds of attempts, only then to throw one on his next pass. It's almost predictable. Most noticeable, though, was the huge missed call on a VT INT in the second half. The Hokie CB stepped out early on his return, evident on replay but totally missed by the talk-team.

The technical ends fared better. Replays included angles from both the endzone and directly above (seemingly from the blimp or suspended remote cameras). These were the best replays seen all day. But then a graphic that broke down schedules for the remaining unbeatens moved erratically. Also weak in production was the cut-away to a Syracuse-UCF highlight instead of showing any replay of a crucial Tech penalty. Late-night ESPN2 games have been amateurish for years, classically relying on action-filled tilts to carry weak broadcasting (techniques). A poorly earned C- reflects the up-and-down nature of how widely the chatter varied in quality. Maybe this will shame them into higher quality…hopefully by December. Yeah, suuurrrreee…

Georgia vs. Florida - ESPN at 7:45pm
Mike Gottfried, Ron Franklin

The difference from the above mentioned commentators and this crew is marked. An average broadcast earns them a B-. Their normal banter filled in viewers, seemingly by them just chewing the fat. Mike and Ron did miss a few calls , but hit many more.

One big call missed was at game's end. The Gator sack on the last play wasn't a sack at all, but an incomplete pass (as confirmed on replay). No one's arguing it would have changed the outcome, but these announcers sure whiffed. Also, there was no replay of Florida's missed PAT following their first TD. Once again, no big deal, but surely not up to par. Strong was their breakdown of line strategies, as well as secondary schemes. Florida played 5 DBs and 2 LBs most of the time, something hard to tell from home, truly discernable only through related commentary. The production truck skillfully supplied endzone angles to telestrate blocking and play-calling.

The overall effort produced an adequate viewing experience that never lulled excessively. The production rates a B for continuity and decent bread-and-butter delivery. A day full of so many big games (many on both ABC and sister-network ESPN) meant this 'B' crew responded well to a game that would normally be given higher priority. But with bowl season fast approaching, let's all hope a better standard is upheld sooner than later.



Editor: Dave Hershorin