Given the everyday chaos that is New York, it shouldn't be a surprise to hear that someone is out on a ledge in midtown Manhattan, but in the case of ABC's college football studio efforts and analyst Todd Blackledge, that's not such a bad thing at all.
Each week, provided there's time, Blackledge picks apart some aspect of the college game in a segment called "The Ledge," which has proved to be a boon for the viewer and for Blackledge's broadcasting career.
"I was very receptive to doing this because I thought it [analyzing] was one of my strengths. 'The Ledge' has allowed me to do that," said Blackledge, a former standout quarterback at Penn State.
The notion to move Blackledge out of the booth and into the studio, as well as the concept of "The Ledge," came from producer Charles Coplin, who along with host John Saunders serves as traffic cop for the studio segments.
"To us, Todd has been a tremendous addition to what we do, and the transition into the studio has never been a problem for him. If anything, he doesn't realize the influence you have in the studio," said Coplin. "When you watch a game, the announcers are in the background, but when you watch the studio, the announcers are the focus."
Blackledge may find out tomorrow how much influence he has. During one of his segments, he'll analyze the Heisman Trophy candidacy of Ohio State offensive tackle Orlando Pace, then moderate a debate on the subject between Keith Jackson and Dick Vermeil.
One could make the argument that with television's pervasiveness and the fact that ABC generally draws the bigger college football audience, that Blackledge's segment could, in effect, be a campaign commercial for Pace.
"What we don't want to do is tell people who to vote for. We just want people to recognize who the candidates are," said Coplin. "I use this analogy and it might not work, but we want people to know Ross Perot is out there, but we don't tell people to vote for him."
The campus football scene
Tomorrow's a busy and important day on the college football front. ABC (Channel 2) has a doubleheader, which commences at noon with Penn State meeting Michigan, followed by North Carolina-Virginia. CBS (Channel 13) will send along Virginia Tech-Miami at 3: 30, and Notre Dame plays host to Pittsburgh at 1: 30 p.m. on NBC (Channel 11).
ESPN's tripleheader has Wisconsin visiting Iowa at 12: 30, followed by Army, playing its first significant game in November in years, taking on Syracuse at 6. The day ends with Alabama playing host to Mississippi State. Florida meets South Carolina at 12: 30 on ESPN2, which also has Florida State hooking up with Southern Mississippi at 7 p.m.
College basketball makes its return tonight, as ESPN kicks off a mammoth 194-game men's schedule with "The Classic" doubleheader from Indianapolis at 7 p.m. It's Connecticut vs. Indiana in the opener and defending champion Kentucky vs. Clemson in the nightcap.
Meanwhile, ESPN and ESPN2 open their combined 16-game regular-season women's schedule with a blockbuster, pitting top-ranked Stanford against No. 2 Alabama in the first game of the Tip-Off Classic at 2: 30 p.m. Sunday on ESPN from Palo Alto, Calif., ESPN2 will air a 30-minute season preview at 4: 30, then the second game of the Tip-Off doubleheader (Connecticut vs. Western Kentucky).
By the way, ESPN announced yesterday that former Maryland standout Len Elmore has rejoined its analyst crew. Elmore, who had been one of the best analysts, left to become a player agent after the 1992 season but has sold his firm. His first game is Duke-St. Joseph's on Wednesday.
After the Notre Dame-Pittsburgh game Saturday, NBC (Channel 11) will air a look at Hoop-It-Up basketball competitions around the country, hosted by Bill Walton, Steve Jones and Ann Meyers at 5 p.m. Jim Nantz is taking the weekend off from CBS' college football to anchor the "Shark Shootout" golf match from Thousand Oaks, Calif., tomorrow at 1: 30 and Sunday at 3: 30 on Channel 13. Fox (Channel 45) opens the first of five Skate International events tomorrow from Canada at 4: 30 p.m. Finally, the replay of the Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield fight is on TC Showtime at 8 p.m. Sunday, with Holyfield on hand as a studio guest.
Pub Date: 11/15/96