Beuerlein's return to South Bend goes a little south

ON MEDIA

Commentary

October 27, 2006|By RAY FRAGER

Last weekend, Steve Beuerlein made a trip back to South Bend, Ind., to watch his alma mater play football in person. It was only the second time he'd been back at Notre Dame Stadium since he graduated in 1987 and headed to the NFL.

But it must have been a thrill for the former Irish quarterback to watch Notre Dame's last-minute rally for a victory over UCLA.

Except it didn't exactly work out like that.

Beuerlein, a football analyst for CBS who will work tomorrow's Notre Dame-Navy game with Craig Bolerjack (WJZ/Channel 13, WUSA/Channel 9, noon), had brought his children - a 9-year-old and two 7-year-olds. By halftime, they were bored, he said. Beuerlein got them to stay through watching the bands perform, but that was it.

When the Irish staged their comeback, Beuerlein was out strolling the campus with the kids.

"They wanted to chase squirrels and feed the geese at the lake," Beuerlein said Wednesday.

Fear not, Irish fans, Beuerlein said he has caught up by watching three Notre Dame games on tape. He wants to be prepared, after all, to call his first Irish game on television.

"I'm excited, obviously," said Beuerlein, a regular analyst on CBS' NFL games paired with Don Criqui and part of the network's backup team for college football. "From a collegiate standpoint, it's as big as it gets" to do a Notre Dame game.

Despite being an alum, Beuerlein said he'll be unbiased. And recalling his days as a quarterback at South Bend, partly during the dark Gerry Faust years, Beuerlein said his Irish teams certainly didn't look past Navy.

"When I played at Notre Dame, it was a different era," he said. "We couldn't take anyone for granted."

Lost in translation

You have probably heard a commentator or two talk about how Steve McNair still is acclimating himself to the Ravens' offense. If you're inclined to believe the adjustment period is overstated, take it from Beuerlein, this is very real.

"It takes a full year," said Beuerlein, who should know after playing for six teams during his 17-year NFL career. "Before you get the terminology, you have to learn to speak the language."

For now, McNair likely is still "applying [the offense] according to things he did in Tennessee. By the time next year rolls around, he'll be in full command of that offense."

Watch it

More of Baltimore is watching the Ravens this season. According to information supplied by the NFL, ratings for Ravens games in the Baltimore market are up 29 percent compared with the first seven weeks of the season in 2005 - 25.1 against 19.5.

(Think of the rating as a percentage of the TV audience. And think of me as your old pal. Can you spot me $40 until Tuesday?)

Baltimore's percentage increase is tied with Chicago for third highest among NFL cities. Tops is Seattle, coming off a Super Bowl season, at 45 percent, and second is Phoenix, at 37 percent. An NFL spokesman said the increase in the Arizona Cardinals market likely was fueled by the lack of blackouts with a new stadium that is sold out.

Stop the World

Hey, it's only the World Series. So it can wait.

That has been the approach shown by WJFK (1300 AM) this week. On Tuesday night, WJFK delayed carrying ESPN Radio's Series broadcast for about a half-hour after game time, until a Ravens show ended at 9 p.m. Though there was no game on Wednesday, the Series would have had to wait again until 9, this time taking a back seat to Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen's show.

I suppose you can always spin your radio dial and hope to pick up an out-of-town signal. One colleague listened to the start of Tuesday's game on a Cincinnati station. Maybe in that city they haven't gotten the word that an all-sports station doesn't need to carry World Series games starting with the first pitch.

ray.frager@baltsun.com

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