After Robinson's exit, will NBC still care about Bayou Classic?

Media Watch

November 28, 1997|By Milton Kent

There are tons of college football games on television this weekend, and a couple of them have bowl implications, but none of them is as significant as tomorrow's Bayou Classic between Southern and Grambling.

And, for once, you really can toss out the records between the teams, because what happens on the field will take a serious back seat to a man roaming the Grambling sidelines, as coach Eddie Robinson works his final game and brings to a close a glorious, 54-year career.

"You can't pay for the publicity that black colleges got because of Eddie Robinson. For that matter, college football will never be able to repay the debt it owes to Eddie Robinson. No way," said Beasley Reece, who will roam the sidelines, no doubt with Robinson, during NBC's telecast (Channel 11, 2 p.m.)

Robinson leaves the game with a record 408 wins and as one of the giant figures in the sport, having coached such NFL notables as Doug Williams and James Harris as well as winning eight black college national championships.

But more importantly, at a time when the best black athletes were taking their talents to predominantly white schools, Robinson's Grambling teams stood as beacons, showing the public that the contributions of historically black institutions like Morgan State, Howard, Coppin State and UMES, to cite local examples, couldn't be ignored.

"Look at [Tennessee Oilers quarterback] Steve McNair. This guy has become a tremendous NFL quarterback and is only getting better, but he was put on the discount rack in college [Alcorn State]," said Reece, who will also work the Ravens-Jacksonville game on Sunday.

"The accomplishments at historically black schools have always been discounted, but no one could take anything away from what Eddie Robinson did. I do believe that if he were a white coach, he would be a lot better known, but I'll do my best to get his story out there [tomorrow]."

Reece praises NBC, and rightfully so, for investing time, money and resources to a game that probably won't attract giant ratings, but wonders aloud whether next year's game will even be seen without Robinson.

"I want to see what happens when you don't have the figure of Eddie Robinson. Once you lose that and go back to normal, I pray that this game stays alive and that NBC maintains its commitment," said Reece.

Truth Squad, Week 13

Remember how Fox last week peddled the story that former 49ers coach George Seifert was first in line to replace Ted Marchibroda if the Ravens coach was replaced?

This weekend's Seifert rumor du jour, courtesy of NBC's Will McDonough, had him heading for the new Cleveland franchise, which would be interesting except the new Browns not only don't have a general manager, but they also don't have an owner, and we don't know if the team will be an existing club or an expansion team.

Around the dial

This weekend's college football action doesn't seem quite so momentous as it has in previous weekends. Among the plethora of games over the next two days, only today's Nebraska-Colorado game (Channel 2, 2: 30 p.m.), and tomorrow's Syracuse-Miami contest (Channel 13, 3: 30 p.m.) carry something of import. Tomorrow's Tennessee-Vanderbilt game (Channel 13, noon) does give Volunteers quarterback Peyton Manning one last chance, however, to prove his hype should steal the Heisman Trophy away from Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson.

There's plenty of tennis afoot, with the United States traveling to Sweden in the Davis Cup finals starting today, all on tape. ESPN has a match at 1 p.m. with another match on ESPN2 at 4 p.m. The action shifts back to ESPN tomorrow at 3 p.m. and concludes Sunday at 1 p.m.

More taped figure skating is on tap for the weekend, as CBS finishes up its "Ice Wars" program tonight (Channel 13, 9 p.m.), while Fox retaliates with two editions of its Skate International series, with tonight's contest from Canada (Channel 45, 8 p.m.) and tomorrow's from France, same time, same station. For the less dainty ice fans, there's daytime hockey this afternoon as Colorado meets Florida at 4 p.m. on ESPN.

Finally, watch for a brief appearance by Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jeff Blake in a pretty funny Thanksgiving sketch on tonight's "Chris Rock Show" (HBO, 11: 30 p.m.).

Pub Date: 11/28/97

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