The TV repairman
EVERY YEAR, nearly without fail, NBC proves the adage about being unable to serve two masters by sending pro football announcers in to cover bowl games.
Too much of what they say relates to the pro game, giving the impression that the captivating 100-year-old college game is simply a minor league for the Sunday afternoon kill-the-quarterback contest.
For example, Will McDonough told us breathlessly that NFL scouts indicated to him that Rocket Ismail would be leaving Notre Dame for the NFL draft after his junior season. And it seemed as if he wanted to see it happen.
Meanwhile, NBC sports head Terry O'Neil crows: "It shows the depth of announcers we have to put Paul Maguire, Bob Trumpy, Todd Christiansen and Ahmad Rashad on [bowl] games," as if they did a good job.
Speaking of the Rocket, the materializing-out-of-the-mist opening of the Orange Bowl showdown got local viewers thinking they were about to see a Blast game.
* You have to admire Billy Packer's forthrightness even if it's next to impossible to fathom his views sometimes. For instance, the CBS basketball analyst classified the "60 Minutes" report on the University of Louisville's inability to provide its athletes with an education as little more than a witch hunt. Billy, with or without justification, is a bigger apologist for college hoops than Frank Gifford is for the NFL, if that's possible.
* Take that, Redskins fans! You get Brent Musburger and Dick Vermeil calling the Redskins-Eagles playoff game in Philadelphia tomorrow (12:30 p.m.). ABC's first team of Al Michaels, Gifford and Dan Dierdorf do Kansas City at Miami (4 p.m.).
Brent hasn't done NFL play-by-play since 1974 (Vikings vs. Cardinals with John Unitas and Pat Summerall as commentators), but I daresay you remember his work.
It's a bit surprising ABC didn't put Bushburger behind the desk in the studio for a "NFL This Moment" show.
* The "Hoops" show on WCAO next Monday (10 p.m.) should be a good listen with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and Sports Illustrated author Alex Wolff ("Raw Recruits") as guests.
* Speaking of hoops, a couple of women's games -- Auburn vs. Purdue and Georgia vs. Iowa beginning at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow on CBS -- probably won't draw a quorum going against playoff football. Some friend the network is.
* The World Boxing Association has cited Showtime as its Sports Network of the Year, which is slightly embarrassing considering the bouts it carried during 1990: George Foreman vs. Gerry Cooney, Tommy Hearns vs. Michael Olajide, Evander Holyfield vs. Seamus McDonagh, Michael Nunn vs. Donald Curry (no ringside commentary), and a delayed telecast of Holyfield vs. Buster Douglas.
* After watching Denver on the telly, it's apparent the NBA should adopt the "slaughter" rule: A team gets to 150 points, and the game's over.
* Considering the circumstances, it's surprising the Virginia-Tennessee Sugar Bowl game got a 4.2 rating New Year's night. And at least it won't finish dead last in the weekly Nielsens. Back to New Year's Eve, USF&G.
* The video "Wayne Gretzky: Above and Beyond" goes a tad too far when it asks the question of Edmontonites, "Where were you when it happened?" referring to the Great One's trade to the Los Angeles Kings a few years ago.
* Next scheduled TV game on Channel 45 for ye old Blasters is Jan. 19 -- a 3 p.m. affair against Tacoma. Art Sinclair and Dino Mangione work well together at the mike.
* The coin-flip ceremony at the Miami-Texas Cotton Bowl was a trip, especially when one of the Longhorn captains intoned: "We've been waiting a month for this, let's crank this bitch up."
* While he's going around saying he plans to re-sign with NBC to analyze football, Bill Walsh's tributes to Lou Holtz during the Orange Bowl fairly screamed that he would drag the Notre Dame coach along with him while taking the general manager's job with the Tampa Bay Bucs.
* Regarding a playoff system, Walsh told USA Today, "The top four-rated teams after bowls would go on to a playoff." To which Jim Nantz (CBS) responded, "That would lead to new arguments and the run-and-hide factor. Why would teams play a tough opponent on New Year's if they could be bumped out of the playoff?" So designate their opponents. See, Walsh isn't the only genius.
* It's a slow news day indeed when Eagles coach Buddy Ryan gets front page play in sports sections because he hung up the phone on a bunch of media types.
* Things must be A-OK in Tom McMillen's district and the House of Representatives, because he's up on the soapbox again preaching to the NCAA. The ex-Maryland and Bullets hoopster says the organization better clean up its act or Congress will. Right.
* If you ever wondered what coaches say to their players before going out to play the big game, listen to Dan Jiggetts (CBS). At a crucial point in the John Hancock Bowl between Michigan State and Southern Cal, ex-lineman Jiggetts said, "This is when you find out what you're made of," which is the oldest pepper-upper known in the coaching manual.
* Quickie quiz: Someone says, "Some 10,000 orchids were flown in from . . ." What are you watching?