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MEDIA SCOPE - Sept. 16
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MEDIA SCOPE - November 16
by David Hershorin

Apologies for the gap in last week's MEDIA SCOPE. Another mid-season trip, this time to the heart and soul of Buckeye territory - Columbus, Ohio. My conclusion is that this would be an appropriate place for the Sears Trophy to reside for a year. Such modest people who know their collective football deserve to throttle the mantle from the privileged Cane-nation. But dare I speak my mind before the big one this weekend…history would say otherwise. Nonetheless, we get ready for the most-watched two-weekend slate outside of the bowl frenzy.

Georgia vs. Auburn - CBS at 3:30pm
Vern Lundquist, Todd Blackledge, Jill Arrington

CBS has continually raised its own bar with this broadcast team. Without the laundry list ABC and its sister networks (the ESPNs) have to offer, CBS's 'A' team has polished its act with subtle tweaks for optimum viewing affect. Too bad, demonstrated again this week, that the technical ends haven't achieved similar top quality.

Many fine insights needed over-explaining due to weak telestration. This on-air chalkboard has a place as the game is played live, not just a tool for replays. Someone should tell this to the more-than-capable Blackledge. His acumen would play out better if supported by the concise Xs and Os telestrators supply rather than having to explain everything. CBS offset this several ways - one with ample info on this rivalries' history. They did their homework on mover/shakers Pat Dye, Vince Dooley and Tommy Tubberville - surprising all with graphics and history of their connections to both schools. A big thumbs up for the mid-game interview with Dye. He exposed the intimate details of this rural area and thus this rivalry. The in-booth visual of the interview provided the weekend's most uncomfortable moment - we saw Blackledge play and embrace the third-wheel role as Vern and Pat chatted. Surprisingly, Todd's evident foot shuffling provided a nice human touch. An even bigger thumbs up when, in mid-interview, a QB change rightfully interrupted the booth's flow so they could outline the essential moment. Couple this with witty banter and this talk-team comes off nearly flawless, save the lacking telestration. Vern spotted several penalties officials missed, calling them out upon occurrence for proof of his savvy. Blackledge coordinated masterfully with the production truck(s) when replays were paused up to 5 seconds at multiple specific moments of the same play for more detailed breakdown(s) of pivotal points in the given play's development. This sequential method seems to allow time to work for instead of against viewers as we try to keep up with the action and its subsequent analysis. Todd's omniscience has proven on par with that of the esteemed Bob Griese, college football's best color guy. All this earns the booth an A-…a left-handed compliment: there seems to be even more potential, so there is room for improvement. But the technical ends left us hanging at 1:08 of the first quarter with no feed for over a minute. Couple that fact with isolated replays of individuals more often than ones showing the entire teams' development, and the geeks get a rare C…DEFINITELY room for improvement.

Alabama vs. LSU - ESPN at 9pm
Ron Franklin, Mike Gottfried, Andrian Karsten

It was another one of those games, where the action on the field didn't keep viewers tuned-in. Too bad, for this crew did much homework, which in turn went unappreciated due to the blowout. But the info was used as filler to make the broadcast itself more enjoyable than the quality of the game. The booth wisely outlined 'bama's rushing strategy, successfully running outside the tackles, away from the #1 defense's strong middle. But the booth missed by not analyzing or telestrating RB Sean William's long runs and how LSU made him appear unstoppable. Another strong point was the compare-and-contrast approach in sizing up the defenses. LSU was #1 nationally in many categories, but Alabama wasn't statistically far behind (#3 overall going into the tilt). And once given the piece about how experienced the Crimson Tide's linemen were, it was easy to put together how this one would (and did) play out. So we'll give the chatter an A for effort in this snoozer.

But the technical ends fared far worse. Death Valley is not supposed to describe the production's viability. In this case, though, it did. The feed from Baton Rouge was interrupted on the game's third play. This resulted in over a minute of dead air, without so much as the audio portion or a graphic to hold our attention. In this age of 5-second clips, an entire minute of nothing means thousands of simultaneous clicks flipping away from what became a bad game anyway. The score itself scared enough people off…ESPN needed this delay (another reason to leave) like a hole in their head. Suffice to say that a problem this major isn't nit picking, especially at sport's elite network. This C- should be a wake-up call as the bowls are soon upon us.



Editor: Dave Hershorin