McDonough-Donohue tandem a comfortable success for CBS

Media Watch

November 21, 1997|By MILTON KENT

From this side of the screen, the camaraderie between good announcers seems effortless and natural. Haven't Pat Summerall and John Madden always been together? Aren't Jon Miller and Joe Morgan joined at the hip?

The answer, of course, is no. Long-lasting network pairings take time to flourish and grow, both with the viewing public and between the parties involved. Time, however, is the one quantity that networks don't have. Tandems have to work almost immediately, or else someone -- namely the talent, the executives who paired them off or the production staff that works with them or all of the above -- pays the price.

That's what makes the successful coupling of Sean McDonough and Terry Donohue as CBS' No. 1 college football announcing team so surprising. In their first full season together, the two have found a comfort zone with each other that has paid off nicely on the air.

"I've really enjoyed this season with Terry," said McDonough the other day on a conference call to preview tomorrow's Florida State-Florida showdown (Channel 13, 3 p.m. pre-game show). "He's done a terrific job. It's obvious in his second season that he's that much more comfortable with television."

Donohue, who worked last season with Jim Nantz, who anchors the studio coverage this year, had a rocky start in his television introduction in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl, the national championship game, but has rebounded smartly, thanks in large part to McDonough, who, at 35, is one of the solid young pros in sports broadcasting.

"Working with Sean has given me a real good appreciation of the media," said Donahue. "He has so much experience in this industry, he's extremely well-prepared and he's a funny man. I like working with him."

Whether they continue together is an open question, not because of failure on their part, but rather because of Donohue's past successes as a coach, with 20 years leading UCLA. Donohue's name has come up in recent days as a possibility to take over the Dallas Cowboys if Barry Switzer does not return.

For his part, Donohue is playing it coy, saying he enjoys his television work, but not closing any doors to any opportunities.

"I've always in my life refrained from saying never," said Donohue. "You'd be less than honest if you didn't say that anything can happen, but right now, I'm solely interested in what I'm doing and I'm hopeful that I'm getting better."

Be their guest

CBS and Turner, which will share telecast duties at the Winter Olympic Games, have decided on two of the people who will guide viewers through the coverage.

CBS this week tapped Michele Tafoya, who has done college football and basketball sideline reporting as well as some WNBA play-by-play, to be one of its late-night hosts. The other late-night slot, left vacant when Pat O'Brien took off for "Access Hollywood" will apparently be filled in the next week or so, according to Rick Gentile, the CBS executive in charge of the Olympics.

Turner, meanwhile, selected Jim Lampley to be front man on its coverage. Lampley, the voice of boxing on HBO, is no stranger to Olympic assignments, with eight previous gigs, including late-night host on NBC in 1992 and 1996.

Truth Squad, Week 12

The most egregious item from Sunday's NFL pre-game shows hits close to home, as it relates to Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda.

Fox had an item that former 49ers coach George Seifert was at the top of the Ravens' list if they replaced Marchibroda, an item that was made false when owner Art Modell said Marchibroda would return next season for the final year of his contract.

No one knows where the item came from because whoever fed it to Fox didn't have the guts to reveal themselves, but that's the way it goes on the NFL pre-game shows, where little that resembles journalism is practiced.

During the midday hours on Sunday, the policy is to throw whatever can be thrown up against the wall and bray about the limited number of times something is right, and figure that no one will remember when something is wrong. The trouble is that there are always decent human beings like Ted Marchibroda who get caught flush by what gets thrown, and often don't survive.

Around the dial

We hate to harp on the Baltimore vs. Washington thing, but sometimes it's really hard to ignore.

For instance, why is ABC subjecting Baltimore college football fans to tomorrow's Maryland-Georgia Tech game (Channel 2, 3: 30 p.m.), which pits two teams going nowhere fast, while our neighbors to the south get the infinitely more preferable Penn State-Wisconsin clash (Channel 7, 3: 30 p.m.)? Don't they know in New York that Washington is closer to the Maryland campus than Baltimore or doesn't that matter?

Speaking of Baltimore and Washington, a local station, namely Channel 54, has picked up a package of Wizards basketball games, and may we say, it's long overdue. The slate kicks off tonight from Landover as the hometown five takes on the New York Knicks at 7: 30 p.m.

A welcome consequence of the Ravens' blackout Sunday is that local viewers will get to see the Dallas-Green Bay game (Channel 45, 1 p.m). An unfortunate consequence, or at least for Steve Davis, is that no one here will see him reprise his sideline reporting duties during the Ravens-Arizona game.

Someone missed a golden opportunity by not showing tonight's women's basketball showdown between top-ranked Tennessee and No. 2 Louisiana Tech, but ESPN and ESPN2 will attempt to make up for the oversight Sunday by carrying both games in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame Classic. ESPN2 takes the early game between North Carolina and Florida at 12: 30 p.m., with ESPN taking the Old Dominion-Illinois dust-up at about 3 p.m.

Finally, a rather entertaining women's tennis season comes to an end Sunday afternoon with the final round of the Women's Tennis Association championships (Channel 2, 1 p.m.), with Robin Roberts on the call.

Pub Date: 11/21/97

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