After decisive Orange, interest gets squeezed

ON THE AIR

January 03, 1995|By MILTON KENT

Bowl Daze 1995, or how many brain cells can a critic lose while watching about 24 hours of college football over a two-day span?

* Sunday, 8 p.m.: The Orange Bowl, or why did the halftime show run longer than "Roots"?

For some reason, the Orange Bowl decided this year to buck the custom of shifting its game to Monday when Jan. 1 falls on a Sunday. Good thing, too, because otherwise the season premiere of "The Mommies" would go for naught, and who could afford that?

The matchup between No. 1 Nebraska and third-ranked Miami was for the national championship. That was, unless the Cornhuskers lost, at which time yesterday's Rose Bowl between No. 2 Penn State and No. 12 Oregon would have been for the national title. But if the Nittany Lions lost as well, would the Dallas Cowboys have gotten the title?

Gosh, let's hope not.

At any rate, NBC pulled out the big guns for the Orange Bowl, bringing in Bob Costas from exile at Elba as host.

Costas is the best in the business, and though he hadn't been near a college football game all season, he conducted a probing and informative pre-game interview with usually stoic Nebraska coach Tom Osborne.

Given that they brought in such a heavy hitter as Costas to host, NBC curiously went with Tom Hammond and Cris Collinsworth for the game call.

Both are qualified and capable, having done Notre Dame games for the network, but seemed peculiar choices for such a big game.

But once the game started, Hammond proved to be up to the challenge, with a solid job of play-by-play, establishing the story line of Osborne, having come close numerous times in 22 years, but always falling short, getting one more crack at the title.

The star, however, was Collinsworth, who was sensational, with a John Madden-like mix of entertainment and analysis.

When Osborne yanked Brook Berringer for Tommie Frazier, who missed two months with blood clots in his leg, Collinsworth quipped that the revolving quarterback story was "turning into a movie."

One play later, when Miami defensive lineman Warren Sapp sacked Frazier on an option call, Collinsworth quickly noted, "If you're Nebraska, there's your villain," referring to Sapp.

Collinsworth, the former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver, was quick to note that the Miami defensive line was tiring because of a lack of substitution, a point that was borne out on the climactic Nebraska drive, as the huge Cornhuskers offensive line blasted open hole after hole, leading the way for Cory Schlesinger's second touchdown run, with 2:46 left.

Oddly enough, that was just one minute after the elephants cleared the field from the halftime show.

(Memo to CBS, which takes over the Orange Bowl next January: It might be nice if you bring the halftime show down to a more manageable length, something less than, say, a miniseries.)

Of course, the Cornhuskers' 24-17 win effectively rendered yesterday's proceedings moot, but in the interest of full disclosure, here's a look at yesterday's interesting moments:

Zzzzz.

Oh, sorry.

* 11 a.m., Hall of Fame Bowl (ESPN): The first rule of sports TV critics: If a sporting event was really worth the effort to watch, it would be played after noon.

* 1 p.m., Cotton Bowl (NBC): Southern Cal scored 28 points on Texas Tech in the first quarter. No wonder the Southwest Conference is heading for oblivion.

One exchange of note just before halftime:

NBC analyst Todd Christensen, referring to a sack by USC linebacker Israel Ifeanyi: "Isn't that what another SC linebacker from Samoa, Junior Seau, used to do?"

Jim Lampley: "Uh, Israel's from Lagos, Nigeria."

Christensen: "Isn't Hakeem Olajuwon from Lagos, Nigeria?"

Lampley: "Yes, he is."

* 1 p.m. Florida Citrus Bowl (ABC): Those storied rivals, Alabama and Ohio State, went to battle from the hallowed grounds of the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

Near as one can figure, the game's highlight was in the first quarter, when a dog got loose on the field for about three minutes and no one, save for Alabama coach Gene Stallings, seemed interested in getting the pooch off the field.

But then, no one outside the 71,000 in the stadium was really interested in the game, either.

* 1:30 p.m. Carquest Bowl (CBS): Hmmm. A game named after an auto parts chain? OK, let's see who the teams were. South Carolina, with a 6-5 record, and West Virginia, sporting a 7-5 mark. And didn't the Mountaineers lose at home to Maryland? Where's "All My Children" when you really need it?

Click.

* 4:45 p.m. Fiesta Bowl (NBC): You're kidding? Notre Dame got to play Big Eight runner-up Colorado on New Year's Day with a 6-4-1 record? Wow! It's good to have your own network.

* 5 p.m. Rose Bowl (ABC): It seemed nobody had told Keith Jackson and Bob Griese that the Penn State-Oregon game has as much value as the Rose Bowl generally does, meaning next to none, because the announcing pair did their usual stand-up job.

* 8:30 p.m. Sugar Bowl (ABC): This one could have been good, since Florida and Florida State played to a tie a few weeks ago, and they love to put points on the board.

Oh, no. It's the five words that strike fear into the hearts of sports TV critics everywhere:

"Hello, everybody, I'm Brent Musburger."

Oh, well. There was always "The Mommies" to fall back on.

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