On New Yawn Day, good games were more slim than Lasorda's ads

Phil Jackman

January 02, 1991|By Phil Jackman

The TV repairman:

If the wire services, those guardians of the college football rankings, had any flair for the absurd, they'd wait about a week before conducting the polls to name the national champion.

Imagine the arguments, not to mention the insurrection in the streets and the food fights in campus dining halls.

As bowl days go, yesterday's record glut of eight games, beginning at noon and stretching past midnight, was fairly easy to negotiate. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Tommy Lasorda Slim Fast ads, which easily numbered in the hundreds.

Even the most devout X's and O's fan had his attention (and consciousness) wander as game after game took on rout proportions.

With a couple of TV sets and a VCR at the ready, there was no way the Repairman was going to miss a snap, a crowd shot, a commercial or a single syllable of the snappy patter being dispensed by the legion of announcers. One set and a remote control proved quite adequate, thank you.

A graphic appearing sometime before halftime of the Colorado-Notre Dame thriller pretty well summed up the tenseness wrought by the Cotton, Citrus, Gator, Rose, Fiesta and Hall of Fame attractions.

It said the average margin of victory in the six games was 28 points, which got you to thinking that maybe Paul Westhead of the Denver Nuggets has a future coaching in this game. In fact, combined with the nine other games played in the last week, it appeared as if he already is on the job.

Chew on some of these scores: 65-14, 46-3, 30-0, 35-3, 48-24, 32-31, 45-21. Hey, what's going on?

NBC commentator Bill Walsh's analysis was right on the button, as usual. "So much emphasis is put on being No. 1 that a lot of teams come into these bowl games without much incentive," he said. Bull's eye!

Hopefully, the men picking up the checks for Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio State, Arizona, Brigham Young and a few more backed up to the pay window.

Besides being the best and most meaningful game of the day, the Orange Bowl easily got the best coverage as Walsh was informative and incisive and Dick Enberg rock solid on play-by-play for NBC.

Many have described Walsh as being boring and wordy in his analysis, but to this corner he's always interesting and refreshingly glib.

Not many colormen, after watching Colorado run the ball down the field against N.D., would have pointed out, "Colorado lost its nerve when it got down close" to explain the pass-poor Buffaloes suddenly putting the ball in the air.

A rash of other observations that made it onto the notepad since Saturday when coach R.C. Slocum of Texas A&M had his team pass for a touchdown with two minutes left in a 65-14 win over BYU, "Because I have great respect for how explosive they are."

Think a few of the Heisman Trophy voters are having second thoughts about their ballots considering the work of Ty Detmer and Rocket Ismail of late?

It has been suggested that the Miami players are really good guys, just a little high-spirited, that's all. Regardless, most of their games deserve an X rating and should be shown only after midnight.

Brent Musburger and Dick Vermeil did all they could to boost Georgia Tech to the top spot during their yacking over the Citrus Bowl contest. Vermeil didn't bother explaining his logic when he exclaimed moments into the game, "Heck, if Tech wins today it's the national champion."

NBC did the same thing later on, awarding Colorado the mythical title in a graphic after it had won, 10-9.

Meanwhile, Musburger spent the afternoon heaping excessive praise on Nebraska, obviously forgetting the sorry record of the 'Huskers in bowls over the years.

Easily the worst pictures came from the Tech game where constant closeup shots of players left the viewer with no idea of what was going on. The ball is snapped, 22 guys head every which way and there's ABC zoomed in on just a player or two.

The net got off to a good start in the morning coverage of bowl parades, Jim McKay and Joan Lunden doing a far superior job to Kevin Dobson and Leeza Gibbons (CBS) in Pasadena. Do you believe Gibbons saying, "I hope my parents are watching this back in South Carolina?"

Just the way Jim Nantz (CBS) said the Texas ballcarrier was "smashed down at the 14" by a Miami tackler on the opening kickoff was pretty good indication the Longhorns were in for it.

The "dancing in the end zone" penalty against Miami was a new one on me . . . CBS's tribute to George Allen, who died at age 72 on New Year's Eve, was excellent . . . Even more plentiful than Lasorda ads was Vermeil saying, "Good job, son" after every tackle.

Joel Meyers, working the awful Clemson-Illinois game, said late: "So we don't miss the start of that key game in the Fiesta Bowl between Alabama and Louisville, we'll be going to there before the conclusion of this [30-0] game." Key game?

If this was the NCAA basketball playoffs, folks would be screaming about the Big Ten, which had six teams go to bowls and four got beat, three in embarrassing fashion.

Colorado's victory was supposed to clear up the poll picture, but did it? Tech, Miami and Washington looked superior, Florida State, Notre Dame and Tennessee are strong and a lot of voters have problems calling a team best when, in typical Big Eight fashion, the Buffs can't/don't pass.

It's parity, gang, so argue to your heart's content.

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