The TV Repairman:
No matter what kind of a weekend Billy Packer and Jim Nantz have calling the NCAA tournament tomorrow and Monday night, an Emmy should be set aside immediately for the pair for an unwritten rule they have lived by since becoming the premier CBS college hoops voices.
"We have never speculated on what the future holds for these players with regard to the pros. Our focus has always been on their college careers, which is enough," Nantz says proudly. Oh, that all those who hold jobs as play-by-playmen or commentators would do likewise.
"Trying to figure out where a kid goes from here [the present] is not an issue," adds Packer. "Focusing in on the level the guy is playing is our job. It should be left at that."
Nantz reviewed the case of ex-Georgia Tech star Kenny Anderson: "Almost as soon as he got in college, we [media] began dogging him about when he was going to turn pro. It's like we were in a hurry to get rid of him. There's too much judging on the college level whether a guy can play in the NBA or not. Who cares?"
Right on, as they say.
Packer often makes so much sense that there's absolutely no way his suggestions would ever even be considered by the people making the decisions. For instance, regarding the annual migration of college stars to the NBA, Billy says, "wouldn't you think people from the NCAA, the NBA, players, agents and anyone else involved would sit down and come up with a workable formula best for all concerned?
"Instead, everyone continues to go their separate ways. If a kid decides to go into the draft to check out where he stands and then decides to go back to school, 'OK,' the NBA says, 'if we draft him he belongs to that team forever.' "
It's a bad system that seems to hurt everyone involved. The players' careers are hurt, the colleges are sent scurrying and the ridiculous economic system of yet another pro sport continues.
Of course, hoops will be getting huge play tomorrow with the women's and men's championship semifinals on CBS from noon until Packer goes hoarse at about 10 p.m. If you tire of watching women dribble down the middle, unimpeded, to score on layups, the NCAA hockey final on ESPN at 1:30 p.m. is well worth a peek.
The women's final is at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Part of the show from the Final Four in Seattle will be Michael Jordan showing up between games for a "Doritos Presents Inside the Games with Michael Jordan" segment. This is probably a fall-back from the network's inability to get "Kato" Kaelin in the studio to schmooze with Pat and Quinn and George and Clark and anyone else who shows up. UCLA-Oklahoma State goes first at 5:42 p.m.
* Undaunted, ESPN will be there with its cameras and CBS with its radio microphones for the traditional diamond lid-lifter Sunday (8 p.m.), the Mets visiting the Marlins at everyone's favorite ballpark, Joe Robbie Stadium. The author of "Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire," Edmund Gibbons, is covering for The Sporting News.
* "If you think hockey is exciting now, wait'll you see what Fox does with it," the ad for Fox's debut as network carrier of NHL games Sunday (Bruins at Capitals, 3 p.m.). Animation to appeal to the younger set and, get this, Fox is checking out all video games in search of ideas that need to produce "five times as many viewers down the road."
* NBC doesn't do the golf leader board enough during telecasts. And another thing, is the net going to sign off all tournaments with the sentimental slop essay similar to the one Dick Enberg delivered at the conclusion of the Players Championship last weekend? Spare us.
* In case you missed it live on The Deuce (ESPN2) at 4 a.m. this morning, ESPN has the opening singles of the U.S. vs. Italy Davis Cup challenge today (1 p.m.), then does the doubles tomorrow at noon and the singles (if needed) Sunday at midnight.
* Home Team Sports is planning a special on the Orioles portly portsider Sid Fernandez dropping considerable weight in the off-season. Actually, "El Sid" is just verifying the program weight he has been listed at for years.
* Showtime sends along Virgil Hill defending his light-heavyweight title tomorrow (10:15 p.m.) against an opponent that hadn't been named when TV Guide went to press. Extensive investigation since has uncovered that Hill's opponent will be Crawford Ashley, who carries a 20-6 record after eight years in the ring. He's not overworked, that's for sure.
* Warner Wolf's suspension for showing horse racing results on Washington's Channel 9 when told to cease and desist lasted three working days. Hold off on the benefits, Warner drags down $1 million-plus per annum. . . . Further proof that the TV camera misses absolutely nothing was provided by SportsChannel, which just happened to be checking out the Islanders bench when the Devils' Claude Lemieux sucker-punched Brett Lindros.
* Tomorrow night's Bullets-Pistons game has been switched to 1:30 p.m. Sunday in Detroit so that NBC can give it national exposure. It has been 13 years since the Bullets have had a game on nationally, which may or may not tell you something about the state of the team in the standings over the last decade.
* You will never forgive yourself if you miss the inaugural of the quarterly series "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel" on HBO Sunday (10 p.m.). . . USA Today reports an unimpeachable source confirms that President Clinton will be watching the Arkansas-North Carolina telecast tomorrow night.