Players can miss class but, heavens, not sleep

The TV Repairman

March 27, 1992|By Phil Jackman

Some of these coaches are a scream. They, their schools and the NCAA are dragging more than $1 billion out of television, they live like kings, and here they are complaining about the starting times of tournament games.

Of course, CBS is scheduling toward greatest exposure and ratings so as not to lose too much money, and North Carolina's Dean Smith is "shocked" some teams have to play games starting after 10 p.m. The poor guy must think it's 1952 and he's back in Kansas hitting the sack after Uncle Miltie on Tuesday nights.

Some college teams, playing in empty gyms early in the evening when serious students are studying, moved starting times to 10 o'clock and even later and the kids showed up en masse.

And then there's the story of Bobby Knight, who railed long and hard about his Hoosiers drawing midweek starting times of 9:30 to accommodate television, hauling his team out of class a day early so it could get acclimated to Albuquerque.

The supreme potentate of Indiana says, "I think all games should be played in the morning . . . pretty soon, you'd have housewives playing basketball instead of running on those Nordic ski tracks."

CBS is doing its usual and predictably solid (not spectacular) coverage of the tourney with one notable exception: The studio repartee is a little weak when, during one of the too frequent breaks from the arenas, the main conversation is about how much food Mike Francesa devours during breaks. Still, it's at least as good as Billy Packer's constant shilling for his beloved ACC.

* With Midori Ito on the shelf and American skaters Kristi Yamaguchi, Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding a good bet to go 1-2-3, NBC should get a big number for its live coverage of the women's final at the World Figure Skating Championships Sunday (7 p.m.) . . . The same cannot be said for tomorrow (2 p.m.) when tape of the men, dance and pairs competition are it.

Earlier this week, Dick Enberg, who will host, told USA Today he feels there's too much gabbing during the skating, so he'll have an excellent opportunity to correct the situation.

* With hoops, men and women, and skating, TV is in the midst of a huge championship weekend with an LPGA major, the Dinah Shore Classic, and the PGA's Players Championship joining the mix.

ABC takes over the cameras from ESPN for the women's tourney tomorrow (4:30 p.m.) and Sunday (4). Seek out Channel 7 for the final and curse Channel 13 for opting for a movie. NBC does the men at 3 p.m. tomorrow and 2:30 Sunday.

* During filming of the movie "Pride of the Yankees" 50 years ago, Babe Ruth had it in his contract that he could leave by 6 p.m. on Fridays. Gary Cooper, who played Lou Gehrig, asked the Babe if he partied Fridays. Ruth answered, "No. My favorite radio programs are on then -- "Lone Ranger" and "Gang Busters."

* Even imperceptive listeners were treated to further proof that sportswriters far outstrip the rip-and-read sportscasters when it comes to knowledge of the subject during the "Masters Sports Quiz" hosted by Dan Rodricks on WBAL Radio Wednesday night. Of course, the 'casters did not have that well-known fountain of sports, John Buren, to backstop their efforts.

* One of the problems of attending NCAA tournament games is not being able to watch the sideline reporters on the telly and wondering what they are supposed to be accomplishing (if anything). CBS executive producer Ted Shaker admits, "We're still trying to develop exactly what the sideline reporter's role is." Four years later?

* It says something about the NFL owners if, upon learning that the networks are likely to lose $250 million next year in their contracts with the league, they won't approve any relief for their longtime partners.

They'll vote next Wednesday in Dallas, and if there's no giveback or contract extension, the nets are talking about being tough negotiators in 1994. Of course, they've said that previously and ended up giving up the family jewels.

* ESPN carries the rugged second-round test of the U.S. Davis Cup team against Czechoslovakia today at 11 a.m. The doubles tomorrow and final singles Sunday get the tape-delay treatment at midnight.

* ESPN is rendering yeoman service toward women's hoops, carrying the East Regional final tomorrow at 11 a.m. (stop yawning, ladies), the Mideast (featuring Maryland) at 7:30 p.m., the Midwest at 9 p.m. and the West (taped) at 3 a.m. Sunday.

* Chalk up another lucky break for Gary Bender, who has had a series of great assignments at CBS and ABC: The well-spoken but wooden Bender will do TNT's Sunday night NFL series with Pat Haden this fall, replacing Chip Caray.

* In keeping with the "Give Baltimore the Ball" campaign to return pro football to these shores, the Maryland Stadium Authority suggests everyone watch World League games on ABC (1 p.m., Sunday) and USA Network (8 p.m., tomorrow) to prove we're so maniacal about the game we'll watch anything.

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