ESPN has plenty on hand, little to say for Miami game

ON THE AIR

October 10, 1994|By MILTON KENT

With nine on-air personnel, a host of technicians and close to five hours of air time, ESPN certainly did treat Saturday's Florida State-Miami game as if it were a Super Bowl.

And golly, with all that buildup, didn't the rather easy 34-20 Hurricanes victory feel like the genuine article, which, oddly enough, will be played in Miami this season?

The outcome of the game, of course, was out of ESPN's control, but apart from Ron Franklin's play-by-play, Mike Gottfried and Craig James' analysis and Mike Tirico's studio work, the total sports network made Saturday's encounter seem totally tedious.

There were simply too many people on the air with too little to say, save for Beano Cook, who got all gussied up to get on camera from a Pittsburgh studio late Saturday night, only to get about five sentences in about the national championship and Heisman races, neither of which was resolved with the outcome.

This was only a mid-October non-conference game, yet the only thing missing to make the hoopla complete was shillmeister Brent Musburger.

Some quick hits from the game:

* "College GameDay" host Chris Fowler might have some role of value with ESPN, but it isn't doing what he's doing now. His smirks and attempts at commentary probably make him think he's an equal of Chris Berman or Keith Olbermann.

This just in: He's not.

* What would happen to Lee Corso if they took away that camera he always stares into so earnestly while spouting CoachSpeak? Wouldn't you like to find out?

* Being host of "American Gladiators" must be a lot more taxing on the mind than one could imagine. How else to explain Mike Adamle's oafish post-game questioning of Miami quarterback Frank Costa?

On the positive side, Franklin and Gottfried have blossomed into college football's second-best broadcast team, behind ABC's Keith Jackson and Bob Griese. Gottfried, the former Pittsburgh coach was especially informative in dissecting two botched Miami punts, and Franklin was typically low-key, but solid.

James will be great someday, provided he gets away from Fowler and Corso, and Tirico, one of the latest products of the Syracuse University broadcast factory, handles his studio duties well, probably well enough so that he should be considered for some other post, namely Fowler's.

Truth in advertising

WBAL radio listeners heard an ad Saturday touting CBS' "Eye on Sports" program that afternoon, and the first of a series of boxing matches to air at 4 p.m.

But boxing fans know that program didn't appear on Channel 11, since the station blew it off for a National Geographic special and two episodes of "Rescue 911."

Here's the kicker: Both the television station and the radio station are owned by the same company, Hearst, and operate in the same building, on Television Hill.

The commercial might have been part of a package WBAL radio must run as a member of the CBS radio network, but it should have been pulled, or better yet, Channel 11 should have run the boxing show.

Tommy gun

Don't look just yet, but Tom Weiskopf might be joining Gary McCord on the CBS sidelines during next April's Masters.

As you'll remember, McCord got sacked by Augusta National for making undeferential comments about the hallowed course.

Well, Weiskopf, in the current issue of Golf World magazine, has taken exception to the list of "references" Masters announcers must make, including using the word "beautiful" as often as possible and not referring to flowers as flowers, but rather azaleas, roses and dogwoods.

"I'm not trying not to be invited back by these comments," said Weiskopf. "I'm just trying to tell you the reality of the situation. I'm just trying to be honest and upfront."

Sounds like Weiskopf is planning a spring vacation.

Morning briefing

If you have 15 minutes to kill on Saturday morning and you don't live in Baltimore City where ESPN2 is still unavailable on United Artists Cable, check out the Saturday morning "SportSmash."

"SportSmash" is a shorter model of the early morning "SportsCenter" that runs on ESPN, but is hipper and funnier than its big brother.

Hosted this weekend by Kenny Mayne, ESPN2's answer to Greg Kinnear, "SportSmash" was full of clever graphic gems Saturday, most of them coming during the "Sideline Pass" preview of the coming day's games.

Among them:

* Michigan State vs. Michigan -- Winner gets Paul Bunyan trophy. Loser gets Babe, the blue ox.

* Southern Miss vs. Alabama -- Southern Miss: Prefers Wisk to Tide.

L * Georgia Tech vs. North Carolina -- Better if it was hoops.

L * Illinois vs. Ohio State -- Battle of the stupid nicknames.

* Oregon vs. Washington State -- Oregon: Honorary captain -- Donald.

"We'll keep doing it until the guys on the third floor find out. Thanks for having cable," said Mayne at program's end.

No, Kenny, thank you for being so doggoned funny so early on a weekend morning.

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