Idea that college football players have it tough is out of tune

ON MEDIA

December 10, 2004|By RAY FRAGER

WITH JUST a flip of the radio dial, the listener's mood can change so quickly. Like yesterday, for instance.

I'm just driving along, minding my own business, when, all of a sudden, ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd is praising - that's right, praising - the graduation rates for schools in the major bowl games. He's citing how busy a college football player's day is, contrasting it with the slacker lifestyle of a typical student and saying how any rate comparable with the overall school rate is great.

Had I been drinking something, it would have been a Danny Thomas spit take all over the windshield (to use a television reference so old that even Chris Berman would refuse it).

Sure, the football player has lots of time eaten up by his sport, but he doesn't need a job to pay tuition and he does have academic help at his fingertips.

And I had radio settings at my fingertips, so then I punched up Bob Haynie's show on WNST (1570 AM). He had University of Maryland announcer Johnny Holliday talking football and basketball. Holliday even had mildly critical words for the emotional reactions of Terps point guard John Gilchrist.

Holliday also spoke about the enthusiasm Gary Williams still has for coaching basketball and how fans could see the way he teaches if they could observe practices. Then again, if reporters were allowed into Maryland practices, maybe fans could read about how Williams conducts them.

But overall, as usual on his show, Haynie let his guest talk, not trying to dominate the air. What a pleasure.

Then, with another touch of the dial, I heard the Counting Crows' Adam Duritz tell me he was the Rain King. So I turned on the wipers.

The vote is in

Based on the idea that we should report the news rather make it, Sun policy prohibits staff members from voting for a sport's hall of fame, player awards or in polls. This week, that policy looked pretty good.

(By way of disclosure: I am not qualified to vote for any awards or polls. I also may not be qualified to write this column, but that's another matter.)

The final regular-season Associated Press college football poll, conducted among media members, including newspaper reporters, was released Sunday. As a component of the Bowl Championship Series rankings, the AP poll helped determine who went to what bowl.

California played its final game Saturday, defeating Southern Mississippi, while Texas was idle. Though the two remained in fourth and sixth, respectively, in the AP poll, the gap in vote point totals narrowed. The week before, Cal was ahead 1,410 to 1,325. This week, Cal led 1,399 to 1,337. Texas essentially moved up and landed in the Rose Bowl.

Fingers were pointed at those who changed their votes, especially those from Texas.

Meanwhile, at The Huntsville (Ala.) Times this week, a staffer who put Auburn third behind Oklahoma and Southern Cal explained his vote in a column that also noted the many complaints he'd received from Auburn fans. Two days later, the newspaper's editor wrote a column apologizing for the tone of the sportswriter's column.

To quote my late grandfather - who also never voted in the AP poll, though he could match wallpaper seams with the best of them - oy vey.

Channeling

He's not a laugh a minute, but Hubie Brown can break down a basketball game better than any other analyst you can name. ABC has hired Brown as its lead NBA analyst (teaming with Al Michaels and debuting on Christmas) after his health-induced departure as Memphis Grizzlies coach.

"Every game has its own personality," he said in a teleconference this week. "What you try to do is expand [the viewer's] vision." ...

In other ex-coach news, Dave Wannstedt, formerly of the Miami Dolphins, is joining Fox as a game analyst. ... In Pittsburgh on Sunday night, nearly three-quarters of the people watching TV were tuned in to the Steelers game. By contrast, in Baltimore on Sunday afternoon, the Ravens attracted almost half of those with their TVs on.

Contact Ray Frager at ray. frager@baltsun.com.

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