ABC's Jackson sees bowl season ending with another co-champ

The TV repairman:

December 27, 1991|By Phil Jackman

No one watches college football closer than Keith Jackson and it's the considered opinion of the ABC play-by-play man that once again we're about to have two national champions. Jackson's game, Washington vs. Michigan in the Rose Bowl, will be just about over when Miami goes against Nebraska in the Orange Bowl on NBC New Year's Day and he says, "both have a chance to win their games and the polls [writers and coaches] will probably split again.

"This would be a perfect year to have a one-game playoff to decide the national championship, but you can't always be fair in picking two teams. And let's take a look at what could happen even in this situation with what looks to have two superior football teams.

"Say after huge, elaborate and expensive arrangements have been made for a playoff, Michigan and Nebraska win and Notre Dame beats Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Who plays in it then?

"I think it's good that you guys [writers] and the fans sit out in the different towns and give opinions. In fact, it's the media that keeps the playoff talk alive. Once in a while I'll hear a coach talk about it, but it's usually just after he's retired."

Invariably, this time of year when the bowls take over, broadcasters are asked about the preponderance of games. Jackson is not alone when he says there are "too many. A bowl appearance is supposed to be a reward. But what special nature is attached when there are so many of them [19] around?"

* Charlie Eckman, a staple on radio and TV talk shows hereabouts, is expected to bring his gift of gab to the Maryland Athletic Commission soon. He's rumored about to join the board that legislates boxing and wrestling.

* One pretty good reason why the women's basketball doubleheader on CBS tomorrow (Penn State vs. Tennessee at 1:30 p.m. and Iowa vs. Vanderbilt at 3:45) figures for scant viewership is it's going against the NFL wild-card playoff games on ABC: Raiders (9-7) vs. Chiefs (10-6) at 12:30 p.m. and Falcons (10-6) vs. Saints (11-5) at 4.

And Sunday would be even worse with two more NFL games -- Jets (8-8) vs. Oilers (11-6) at 12:30 p.m. on NBC and Cowboys (11-5) vs. Bears (11-5) at 4 on CBS -- and three bowl games, Georgia vs. Arkansas in the Independence on ABC at 2:30, Air Force vs. Mississippi State in the Liberty on ESPN at 8 and Virginia vs. Oklahoma in the Gator on TBS at 8.

* If I'm a collegian at the end of my eligibility waiting around for the NFL draft in a couple of months, I'm not too sure I'd want to be rushing off to a bowl game next week. For openers, a bad game before all those cameras can drop you a couple of rounds and thousands of dollars. And a guy can pick up a nifty hunk of change flitting between the Blue-Gray, Japan Bowl, Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Classic while spending more time away from the books, classrooms and junk like that.

* The networks covering the Olympics come February are looting the Patrick Division for hockey announcers, Mike Emrick (Flyers) and John Davidson (Rangers) handling games for CBS and Jiggs McDonald (Islanders) and Bill Clement (Flyers) the voices on TNT. What, no Craig Laughlin (Capitals)?

* It doesn't seem possible, but after just one "Showtime," it's apparent NBC's NBA pre-game show has taken a turn for the worse from a very weak performance last season. Endless discussions about rumored coaching changes on horrible teams and lots of inside jokes about who paid for lunch, etc., make a shopper's network show appealing.

That's the Peacock's way of doing things, though, witness the NFL pre-game show wherein they interview studio analyst Bill Parcells weekly about his future plans as if it's the biggest story since the East Berlin wall came down.

* CBS has assigned Randy Cross to the UCLA-Illinois bowl game (name not determined yet) and the NFL analyst admits he hasn't checked out a college game in 15 years. Thanks, guys . . . The NFL Films show "This is the NFL" Sunday noon on Channel 2 should be a goodie: 10 decisive moments of the 1991 season.

* The football stadium in Honolulu, where the Some Kind of Car Aloha Bowl is staged, has a capacity of 55,000. About 34,000 showed up to watch Georgia Tech beat Stanford, 18-17, Christmas Day on ABC. How can minor bowls stagger on in the face of sometimes non-existent interest?

Easy. The title sponsor not only puts up the dough to underwrite the bowl, but also assures the network coming in to telecast the game enough ad buys to assure a profit. Obviously, it's still a better deal for a sponsor than a couple of 30-second ads during the Super Bowl.

* One good thing about the Ineptapolis Colts latching onto the first two picks in the NFL draft: this will keep a lot of the hot-shot juniors in college where they belong, probably including Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard of Michigan. See, Bob Irsay's not such a bad guy after all.

* Sure, the Sugar Bowl probably should have tabbed Penn State to play Florida in the Sugar Bowl, instead of opting for Notre Dame. But, coming off the worst TV rating ever for its Virginia-Tennessee pairing last year, the boys in New Orleans were thinking which would give the largest audience. And, as Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno said before his team whomping the Irish, "Notre Dame could come to play us with a 3-7 record and it would be a big game." ABC insists it did not pressure the bowl committee to take N.D. Yeah, right.

* Guess who called NBC on Christmas Eve about future employment?

Sam Wyche, the recently deposed coach of the Cincinnati Bengals. And guess who will be a guest commentator Sunday on CBS's "The NFL Today?" Why, Sam Wyche.

Wyche is the most telegenic of the fired, soon-to-be-fired, resigned or retired NFL coaches at a time when there may be a few openings on the CBS and NBC football announcing rosters.

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