Steve Grad has much in common with a great deal of the television audience for tomorrow's Poulan-Weed Eater Independence Bowl -- he's hardly seen the University of Maryland football team play this season.
Mizlou is syndicating the bowl telecast to about 78 percent of the country, most of which will be getting its first look at the Terrapins in 1990 as they take on Louisiana Tech. Grad will be calling play-by-play, working with analyst Ed Biles, former coach of the Houston Oilers.
"I'm not extremely familiar with them. I've seen Maryland a little bit on television," Grad said yesterday from Shreveport, La., before heading off to become familiar with the teams by watching practice.
However, Grad has broadcast a Maryland game before -- the 1980 Tangerine Bowl, in which the Terps lost to Florida, 35-20.
Grad has worked Mizlou bowl telecasts since 1979, and, as a free-lance sportscaster, has announced everything from network pro and college football to kick boxing and bowling for ESPN. Grad first teamed with Biles in 1985, and other former coaches once paired with Grad include Lee Corso, Rick Forzano and Sam Rutigliano.
Grad said he'll think of the Maryland and Louisiana Tech fans when announcing the game.
"What I try to do when I broadcast the game, I try to identify with the people in the home area of the teams," Grad said. "They want their teams to get national recognition."
To that end, he said, the telecast should include information that points to what made the Terps and Bulldogs bowl teams.
The game will be shown in 23 of the nation's top 25 markets, and it also will be replayed Sunday on Low Power Television, a limited-range system in place in several cities.
The Terps may have to be careful, therefore, not to run wild. Who knows what a high-powered offense could do to Low Power
On Sunday at 5 p.m., ABC (Channel 13) will present "Athletes and Addiction: It's Not a Game," a look at the problems of drug and alcohol addiction among athletes. Several recovering addicts are featured on the program, including former Washington Redskin and current Phoenix Cardinal Dexter Manley, ex-major-league pitcher Steve Howe and one-time National Football League running back Chuck Muncie.
The show's host is Jim McKay, who spoke of the mixed feelings fans can have about the fallen athlete.
"You tend to say, 'These guys can't take responsibility. Get them out of there,' " McKay said in a news conference this week. "But you certainly want to save a guy's life if you can."
McKay also said there is a rush to glorify those who are trying to beat addiction.
"I have a problem with athletes, movie stars and rock stars who go into a treatment center for 28 days, come out and go on talk shows and say how they beat it," McKay said. "They haven't beaten anything.
"We make the point [in the program] that there isn't anything fun about this. We try to make the point it ain't that easy."
CBS has placed its 1990 loss on major-league baseball at $55 million. But the network also said it would write off another $115 million this year for the final three years of the $1.06 billion deal. And then there's CBS' $1 billion National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament package, whose profitability could be hurt if beer advertisers are put off by limits placed on their commercials. And you tell me, over and over and over again, my friend, you don't believe we're on the eve of pay per view.
If one is to occupy the high ground, then the issue of Jim Valvano, television basketball analyst, is to be addressed with moral outrage. How could Valvano simply wash off the stench of a corrupt North Carolina State program with a shower of 300,000 television dollars?
However, if one is simply to sit down and listen to Valvano -- forgetting his baggage -- on a Georgia-Vanderbilt game on ESPN, there is little to be outraged about.
He doesn't try to be Al McGuire, getting by strictly on personality. He doesn't try to be Dick Vitale, dominating a telecast by sheer volume of words (in loudness and number). He doesn't try to be Hubie Brown, so dryly technical that dust collects on your screen.
No, Valvano's outgoing, jocular personality combines with just enough basketball insight to provide one good announcing package. His hiring may have been bad ethics, but it's good television, and which do you think interests ABC and ESPN more?
CBS' first college basketball game of the season is Dec. 22 at p.m. (Channel 11) -- Duke-Oklahoma. . . . Tom Davis' "SportsBeat" has moved to 12:30 p.m. Sundays on Channel 45.
The Pimlico Special, which just became part of the American Racing Championship Series for older horses, will continue to be broadcast by ABC, as the network agreed to a multiyear deal to telecast the series. . . . Even though soccer's World Cup is coming to the United States in 1994, American television isn't providing world broadcasts of the games. The World Cup Organizing Committee recently chose the European Broadcasting Union as host broadcaster, citing its experience with soccer. But Scott LeTellier, president of the organizing committee, also said that ABC, CBS and NBC did not want to incur the expense of producing the 52 games and providing signals for the rest of the world.