28 bowls means 28 winners

ON MEDIA

December 16, 2005|By RAY FRAGER

Perhaps we'd be better off with a playoff system for Division I-A football.

But where would that leave the Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl?

On Tuesday, the first of 28 college bowl games airs (New Orleans Bowl, 8 p.m., ESPN), and maybe, by the end, the parade of 6-5 and 7-4 teams stomping across corporate-logoed fields will have lost your interest. But the current setup does have its supporters, including two ABC/ESPN game analysts, Bob Griese and Bob Davie.

"I kind of like it the way it is," Griese said on a conference call yesterday. "You go to a bowl game of any sort, it's considered a winning season."

Davie, the ex-Notre Dame coach, said : "I look at it as a former coach. There is no bad bowl game. ... There's a lot of benefit to winning your last game."

If Division I-A football had a playoff like all the other NCAA sports, Davie said, "at the end of the day, there's only one coach who won his last game."

Griese said: "Almost half of Division I-A teams go to bowl games, and there's nothing wrong with that as long as the bowls are healthy."

When it comes time to actually play the games, though, teams don't necessarily pick up where they left off in the regular season.

"One thing about bowl games," Davie said, "many times a different team shows up than you ended the season with."

Griese pointed out players have many distractions between their regular-season finale and a bowl appearance - final exams, trips home, bowl week activities.

"A lot of it falls on the head coach ... when to push them and when not to push them," he said.

In addition, a coach may have to convince his team that playing in the Biff's Burger Barn Mahwah Bowl is worthy of its best effort.

Davie said: "Some bowl games are higher on the radar than others. ... There are different expectations on where you thought you'd be [before the season]."

But for your viewing pleasure, 56 teams will be somewhere, from Nashville, Tenn., to Boise, Idaho, to Tempe, Ariz. Besides, how many CSI reruns can you watch?

Not pre-empted

The Ravens may be changing stations next year, but that doesn't mean the end of Ravens programming on their current AM home, WJFK (1300). Word from the inside is that the station will continue with its Sunday pre- and post-game shows, even without carrying the games.

God bless the U.S.A.

Just in case there is any chance you would be confused about which country you're in when you watch NBC's Sunday night NFL highlights show next year, the network is calling it Football Night in America.

That's the program that will replace ESPN's aptly named, but far-less-patriotic-sounding NFL PrimeTime as the lead-in to the Sunday night package on NBC. Bob Costas addresses Americans one and all as studio host.

Ratings section

The Ravens-Denver Broncos telecast wasn't the highest-rated NFL game in Baltimore on Sunday. Though the ratings reflect only the half-hour of "bonus" coverage on CBS that followed the Ravens, the Kansas City Chiefs-Dallas Cowboys drew a 19.7 rating to the Ravens' 17.8.

Once again, the opposition outscored the Ravens in the ratings. In Denver, Sunday's game rated a 34.4, just less than double what the telecast did here.

I did OK against the spread, though, because I took the Ravens, getting 17.3.

Feeling torn

Viewers may be starting to notice NBC ramping up its Winter Olympics presence on the air, which includes logos that say "Torino." So perhaps you wonder why we call it "Turin" in The Sun.

Turin is the Anglicized version of the Italian city's name. Just as we don't call Rome "Roma" or Milan "Milano," we won't be calling Turin "Torino."

Now, if we're talking Starsky and Hutch's Gran Torino, that's a different matter.

ray.frager@baltsun.com

TV HIGHLIGHTS

College football: No polls, no BCS, just a playoff. Appalachian State and Northern Iowa play for the NCAA Division I-AA championship tonight at 8 on ESPN2.

College basketball: Is the rivalry as fierce as it once was? Check out Louisville vs. Kentucky tomorrow at 2 (WJZ/Channel 13 and WUSA/Channel 9).

Golf: NBC looks back at the year on the PGA Tour on Sunday (3 p.m., WBAL/Channel 11 and WRC/Channel 4), with commentary from Dan Hicks and Roger Maltbie. Will the highlights include those highlights that inexplicably appeared in Tiger Woods' hair?

COMPILED BY RAY FRAGER

Top-rated sports

Highest-rated sports programming for Baltimore for Dec. 7-13 (ratings measure the percentage of television households watching a program):

Program Date Ch. Rtg.

Cowboys-Chiefs-a 12/11 13 19.7

Ravens-Broncos 12/11 13 17.8

Browns-Bengals-a 12/11 13 11.7

Colts-Jaguars 12/11 13 9.4

Saints-Falcons 12/12 2 8.6

Bears-Steelers 12/11 45 7.8

Figure skating 12/10 13 5.5

Lions-Packers 12/11 ESPN 5.4

Kentucky-Indiana 12/10 13 3.3

WWE Raw 12/12 USA 3.1

a-bonus coverage of 30 minutes

[ Nielsen ratings courtesy of WBAL-TV]

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