Musburger, Southern California manage to get signals crossed

ON MEDIA

September 22, 2006|By RAY FRAGER | RAY FRAGER,Sun Columnist

Hang loose? More like loose lips sink ships.

That was some of the reaction to Brent Musburger's revelation of a state secret during Saturday's ABC telecast of the Southern California-Nebraska football game.

Musburger informed viewers that Trojans quarterback John David Booty and his receivers employed the "hang loose" sign popularized by surfers to indicate one-on-one coverage in a blitz situation. This information apparently was conveyed to Musburger and others in the ABC crew in a meeting with USC leading up to the game.

Such information is supposed to help broadcasters in preparation, but then be kept confidential. USC complained to network officials, saying, in essence: Dude, what were you thinking? Not cool.

However, Ravens radio analyst Stan White said everybody should just chill.

"I look at what Brent did, and I don't see it as that egregious," said White, a former Baltimore Colts linebacker and veteran analyst on college and pro football. "You just change the sign."

In production meetings, coaches and players "will tell you some things and say, `Don't say this.' There are some things you would know as a player not to give away."

A coach may tell broadcasters "when we line up in this formation, we'll run this play," White said. He recalled how, during White's playing days, then-NBC analyst Merlin Olsen would get tips on hand signals from defensive coordinator Maxie Baughan, Olsen's former teammate with the Los Angeles Rams.

But there are always those coaches who are more circumspect.

"Bill Parcells used to watch what he said," White said. "He used to listen to the pre-game show of the other team" in an effort to pick up information.

As the saying goes, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

No post-game yet

The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network is the Ravens' regional sports network home, carrying various Ravens programs during the week. But fans aren't seeing a post-game show Sunday, as used to be the case with Comcast SportsNet. The network is working on it, a MASN spokesman said, but doesn't have a date for when such programming would launch - or even guarantee it would start this year.

Cup holders

Stepping through the falling leaves of early autumn's pro football, college football and baseball landscape, NBC and USA Network present this weekend's Ryder Cup.

If you can tear yourself away from the pigskin and horsehide, host Dan Hicks said, the golf is gonna get ya.

"There's soap operas on every single day," Hicks said in a conference call yesterday. " ... If they get a taste of the Ryder Cup, they're going to be hooked."

The team competition of the United States vs. Europe is long on emotion from a group of pro golfers who often keep their feelings in check.

"This is the one time they bare their souls for us," producer Tommy Roy said.

And for the American team, which has lost four of the past five competitions, there is "a certain sense of urgency," commentator Roger Maltbie said.

But Maltbie's colleague, Johnny Miller, said the outlook isn't necessarily red, white and blue.

"In my lifetime, it's the first time the Americans have fielded a team that is underdogs," Miller said. " ... You've got three guys firing 50 millimeter cannons and nine guys shooting BB guns."

Miller's cannons? Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk and Stewart Cink. Miller's exclusion of Phil Mickelson tells you how concerned he is about the left-hander's play.

Even with that, Miller picks the U.S. squad to win.

"Woods has got to step it up. His time has come," Miller said. " ... The U.S. is due to have a good Ryder Cup."

Why? It's the law.

"The law of averages says Woods and Mickelson are going to have a great Ryder Cup," Miller said. "This is the first time Tiger has the mind-set, `This is my team.'"

ray.frager@baltsun.com

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