In yesterday's editions of The Sun, it was incorrectly...


September 04, 1992|By RAY FRAGER

In yesterday's editions of The Sun, it was incorrectly reported which TV station will carry the Atlantic Coast Conference football game of the week. The ACC game will be on Channel 45 each week.

The Sun regrets the error.

57 channels and nothin' on

It's a slow start to the college football season -- only eight live televised games tomorrow. For those of you scoring at home, college games are available locally on ABC, ESPN, Home Team Sports and Channel 54. The latter will carry the Atlantic Coast Conference game of the week. Turner Broadcasting, which was outbid for Southeastern Conference rights by Jefferson-Pilot, will carry no college football.

If he (wham!) delivers knockout (pow!) color, it must be (bop!) Madden

There are three basic rules of writing a television sports column that I just made up:

* Never say anything nice about Gary Bender.


* Always use the job to get out of household chores. "Gee, honey, I'd love to help you take Aunt Blabby's mahogany credenza out of the attic, but I really have to watch Conrad Dobler and Jack Tatum fish with dynamite on 'NFL OutdoorsDay.' "

* You can't go wrong by praising John Madden.

Madden is entering his 14th season as an NFL analyst for CBS, and he has been the best on television for most of that time. For all but two of those seasons, Madden's partner has been Pat Summerall, and the combination of Madden's effusive commentary -- complete with comic-book sound effects, wham, pow, bop -- with Summerall's taciturn play-by-play is always a welcome soundtrack to an NFL game.

Sportscasting can seem like a game of king of the hill. Let somebody reach the top, and everybody -- such as those vile, jealous, talentless critics -- wants to make him fall down and break his crown. And, pretty soon, someone else will come tumbling after. (I'll take nursery rhymes for $100, Alex.)

Madden, though not immune from criticism, has endured at the top. It's not just because he knows football. Lots of people -- some of them even network analysts -- know football. It's not just because his distinctive personality plays well on television. Lots of people -- though not Gary Bender (remember Rule No. 1?) -- have distinctive personalities.

It's because Madden's enthusiasm for the game bursts through the screen each Sunday, much like he once ripped through a beer logo on a commercial. He revels in football, particularly the visceral elements that can leave very grown men looking like entrants in a "Swamp Thing" look-alike contest.

The NFL season begins Sunday, and Madden is working the San Francisco 49ers-New York Giants game (4 p.m., channels 11, 9) with Verne Lundquist, subbing for Summerall, who's at the U.S. Open. On Wednesday, Madden took time to answer questions on football and television matters.

* On who's headed to the Super Bowl: "There's no dominant team. When the team that wins the Super Bowl is not a dominant team, then it's hard to say what's going to happen next year, because there's not a big dog on the porch. You look at the Redskins, and they're the best team, but they're not unbeatable."

* On Joe Montana's strained relations with the 49ers as he comes back from injury: "Joe Montana is one of the finest competitors I've ever seen in my life. He's the same guy who comes back to beat you in the fourth quarter as the guy who's fighting for his football life now."

* On the preseason: "The whole thing of when players have to report, when they sign, how they play in preseason has to be rethought. [Madden proposes making preseason games count as playoff tiebreakers.] You need something to put some pizazz back in it. The NFL rolls downhill into their start of the season."

* On how the antitrust trial in Minneapolis has affected the league: "There's so much time spent in litigation that there isn't -- as much spent in public relations."

* On coaches who become broadcasters, then return to coaching: "I know when I got out [after leaving the Oakland Raiders], I'd had enough of coaching. There are some guys who get away and find they can't live without it."

* On how he does his job: "I'm just a football guy. I just study it and learn it. I just enjoy it. I don't take it that seriously."

Pay as you go

Suppose you are a San Diego State alumnus who lives in Baltimore. Your old school plays its first football game tomorrow, so I have two questions for you:

What's with those ugly, Los Bravos, "Black is black, I want my baby back," uniforms, and would you pay to watch your team on television?

The answer to the first question may have something to do with not having to spend money on laundry bleach, but the second is much more germane. (You remember him -- one of the Jacksons.)

ABC is offering pay-per-view college football games starting tomorrow. Here's how it works: Each week, the network telecasts up to five regional games. Those games not being shown by a local network affiliate can be purchased.

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