When the Stallions and Calgary Stampeders meet for the Canadian Football League championship Sunday (5:30 p.m.), ESPN2 analyst Mike Mayock says they'll bring their respective nation's football philosophies to the Grey Cup in Regina, Saskatchewan.
Mayock, who will be joined in the booth by play-by-play man Gus Johnson, says the Stallions bring an NFL sensibility to the CFL, in that they feature a tailback, play tough defense and have great special teams.
Meanwhile, Calgary, behind freewheeling quarterback Doug Flutie is, in Mayock's opinion, the "prototypical" Canadian team with backs and receivers spreading the field with a wide-open attack.
In Mayock's view, the key for Sunday is for the Stallions to keep the Stampeders from, well, stampeding all over Taylor Field.
"If it's a track meet, I'm going with Doug Flutie and not just because I'm a Boston College guy," said Mayock. "On the other hand, if [coach] Don Matthews and the Stallions can contain Flutie, and who knows what the weather will be like, but if [running back Mike] Pringle can run the football and they can get [receiver] Chris Wright on a couple of big plays, they can score with anybody."
The live broadcast of Sunday's game remains unavailable to city residents, but a tape of the contest will air Thursday at 9 a.m. on ESPN. Bruce Cunningham and Joe Washington will have the radio call on WJFK (1300 AM) and WGRX (100.7 FM).
Paging Thomas Wolfe
As football has gone home again to the Oakland Coliseum this year for the first time since the Raiders left Oakland for Los Angeles in 1982, Sunday's game with the Cowboys (Channel 45, 4 p.m.) marks a return of sorts to the halcyon days when the intemperate team clad in silver and black ruled the AFC West, fueled by an equally intemperate crowd.
"It [the return] has been a factor," said Fox studio analyst Howie Long, a rookie defensive lineman in the Raiders' last season in Oakland. "The L.A. Coliseum is not an intimate setup. It's not built for football. It never became a home-field advantage. From what I hear from the players, it [the Oakland Coliseum] is a great place. That place will be rocking."
Sunday's game, preceded locally by the Green Bay-Cleveland game at 1 p.m., also will mark the return of John Madden to the place where he patrolled the sidelines for 10 years and won the Super Bowl in 1977, his second-to-last season as Oakland coach.
With Sunday's whopping Cowboys-49ers ratings, the biggest for regular-season Sunday game in 10 years, Fox has taken a 19 percent lead over NBC in the ratings-to-date race, and could blow things wide open if the Oakland-Dallas game performs well.
Two teams that likely will get shafted in the new college football Bowl Alliance setup, Virginia and Virginia Tech, face off tomorrow (Channel 2, noon) in the first game of ABC's doubleheader, which concludes with amazing Northwestern meeting Purdue at 3:30 p.m. Maryland prays for a bowl bid and just plain survival against Florida State at noon on Channel 13.
There's a fabulous women's basketball doubleheader Sunday on the ESPN networks. ESPN, the official network of Connecticut basketball, has the top-ranked and defending champion Huskies meeting No. 4 Louisiana Tech at 1 p.m., and sixth-ranked Tennessee plays host to No. 3 Virginia at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN2. Also, the finals of the Women's Tennis Association championships air Sunday (Channel 2, 1 p.m.), with Robin Roberts and our own Pam Shriver on the call.