We’ve reviewed the ABC coverage of Thursday’s Rose Bowl (linked here), focused on Brent Musburger. And NBC’s coverage of the NHL Winter Classic from Wrigley Field.
What else do you need to know before NFL playoff weekend?
== Which high school all-star football game promises the best viewing pleasure this weekend? Hard to say, but there is plenty of local interest in both the U.S. Army High School All-American Bowl (Channel 4, Saturday at 10 a.m., from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Tex.) and the
Under Armour All-America High School Football Game (ESPN, Sunday at 5 p.m., from the Florida Citrus Bowl).
The U.S. Army game (official game site linked here), with Bob Papa on play-by-play, with analyst Pat Haden, sideline man Lewis Johnson and recruiting experts Marty Snider and Tom Lemming, has a West squad that includes Oaks Christian tight end Chris Coyle (pictured left, committed to Arizona State), St. Bonaventure DB Patrick Hall (committed to USC) and Oxnard’s Santa Clara High running back Cierre Wood (committed to Notre Dame). USC recruits include Narbonne High DB Byron Moore, Edison Fresno DB T.J. McDonald, L.A. Cathedral High WR Randall Carroll and Corona Centennial linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
The Under Armor contest (official game site linked here), with Dave Ryan on play-by-play, Tom Luginbill as the analyst and Quint Kessenich on the sidelines, is owned by ESPN and probably ended up with the most talent. Of local interest is Matt Barkley, the Mater Dei QB (pictured right) who’s headed to USC, and Kevin Graf, the offensive lineman from Agoura High also committed to USC. Another Trojan recruit is Alshon Jeffrey, a 6-3, 214-pound receiver from South Carolina. UCLA has verbal commitments from Richard Brehaut, the Los Osos QB; Stan Hasiak, a 6-6, 340-pound offensive guard from Kapolei High in Hawaii; Morrell Presley, the 6-foot-4 tight end from Carson High and Robbie Toma, a 5-10, 170-pound receiver from Punahou High in Honolulu.
==As those players contemplate where they’ll play college next year, the Kevin Hart story resurfaces again.
On Sunday’s ESPN “Outside the Lines” (6 a.m. on ESPN, 9 a.m. on ESPNEWS), the former Fernley High of Nevada offensive lineman who made news by lying about his recruitment by Cal — including a huge press conference at his school gym complete with TV crews to make his “announcement” — updates his story for reporter Tom Friend.
Back on Feb. 1, ’08, five days before National Signing Day, Hart was Nevada’s top-rated high school offensive lineman and decided to call a press conference. He then admitted a couple days later that it was a hoax, forced when Cal’s athletic department had no information on recruiting him. Hart took unofficial visits to the Universities of Nevada, Oregon and Washington but was never offered a scholarship.
He now plays at Feather River Junior College in Northeastern California where he has a chance to be starting right guard next season.
Hart says in the piece: “I still don’t know why. Maybe ’cause I knew I wasn’t going to be what I wanted to be. I didn’t know how to accept that. I didn’t know how other people would accept it. … I’m still not OK. It hasn’t been a year yet. It might not be 10 years until I’m finally OK. But maybe knowing what I did was totally wrong and a horrible thing is a good thing to be reminded of every day. I thought I’d never play again. I thought, you know, I’d be in the gutter somewhere.”
== Ted Robinson, Marques Johnson and Michael Eaves handle the microphonic coverage of both UCLA Pac-10 openers, tonight at Oregon State (FSN Prime Ticket, 7:30 p.m.) and Sunday at Oregon (FSN Prime Ticket, 12:30 p.m.). USC’s game at Oregon State on Sunday (FSN West, 2:30 p.m.) goes with the FSN Northwest crew of Rich Burk, Lamar Hurd and Brandon Granville. Other Pac-10 openers worth keeping an eye on: Arizona-Cal (5:30 p.m., today on FSN Arizona), Washington-Washington State (Saturday, 3 p.m., FSN Northwest) and Arizona-Stanford (Sunday, 7 p.m., FSN Prime Ticket). Also, Loyola Marymount’s conference opener at Seattle (today, 12:30 p.m., FSN Northwest) has some TV coverage.
== Fox Sports West will re-air the Fiesta Bowl (Wednesday, 8 p.m.; Thursday, noon) as well as the Jan. 8 BCS title game (Saturday, Jan. 10, 5:30 p.m.; Tues., Jan. 13, 8 p.m. and Thurs., Jan. 15, noon).
==Dick Vitale will call his first NBA game for ESPN since 1984 when the network puts him and usual college basketball partner Dan Shulman on the Denver-Miami game (Wednesday, 6 p.m.). It follows the Duke-Davidson game (Wednesday, 4 p.m.) that ESPN has allowed its NBA team of Mike Tirico, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy to call. Neither Jackson, a former star at St. John’s in the 1980s, nor Van Gundy, a former assistant at Providence and Rutgers in the late ’80s, have ever seen a game at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium.
== Maybe it’s not ESPN’s answer to the MLB Network, but ESPN Classic will highlight an MLB game every Monday night (usually at 5 p.m., starting next week) up untl the 2009 season opener to celebrate the league’s 20th season with ESPN. The first rebroadcast on Monday is the first one ESPN ever did — Baltimore at Kansas City on April 9, 1990. Others include the perfect game that Texas’ Kenny Rogers threw against the Angels in 1994 (on Monday, Feb. 2). ESPN Classic then plans to do an MLB game each week during the season, from April to October.
== More NBC Sports counter-NFL-programming this weekend includes Scott Hamilton’s “Stars On Ice” show, featuring Sasha Cohen, Michael Weiss and Todd Eldredge (Channel 4, Sunday, 1 p.m.)
AND THE CLOSING ARGUMENT:
== The website RealClearSports.com (linked here) has its list of Top 10 Erroneous Columns of 2008.
As Rick Chandler of Deadspin.com writes (linked here) when linking to this site: “Writers go out on limb like this, of course, because it makes them sound smart and decisive, and they figure no one is going to keep the paper around long enough to check on their accuracy. But then along came the Internets, and hilarity ensued.”
Included in the Top 10 list of ’08 are:
No. 7: “Why Kobe Won’t Win the MVP,” by ESPN’s Scoop Jackson (linked here)
No. 5: “Lakers Will Win NBA Title” by MSNBC’s Mike Ventre (linked here)
No. 4: “Picking (Matt) Ryan Highly Debatable (by Atlanta Falcons),” by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Terrence Moore (linked here).
No. 3: “Rays Won’t Make Playoffs” by Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post (linked here)
No. 2: “Mets Won’t Collapse Again” by Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post (linked here)
No. 1: “Crown them Now. Pats Can’t Lose” by Jay Mariotti , then of the Chicago Sun-Times (linked here)