Our Daily Dread: Answer this: Is it a leap of fate, or a deleted scene from “Speed”?

What has the bigger upside for a New Year’s Eve live televised disaster in L.A.: The Clippers’ Staples Center game against Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers, or Travis Pastrana pushing a Subaru off a ramp, over 30-feet deep water, and onto a large barge in Long Beach’s Rainbow Harbor?

TNT will televise tonight’s Clippers contest with the 9-22 Sixers at 6:30 p.m. (with Kevin Harlan, Doug Collins Reggie Miller and Cheryl Miller). Sorry, it’s public information. Just in case you needed to know.

But by about halftime, ESPN will televise Pastrana rally-car jump about the length of a football field at 8 p.m., right after that danger Chick-fil-A Bowl between (we’re not sure, look it up) has concluded.

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Across the street from LA Live — a safe distance from where George Lopez is in concert at the Nokia Theatre, where the Stone Temple Pilots are playing at Club Nokia and where the Gypsi Kings are at the Conga Room, and perhaps where Steve Mason is sharing chicken strips at the ESPN Zone with Arash Markasi (who, for some reason, has a four paragraph Wikipedia entry on himself, linked here) — you already have a vision of how this Clippers thing against the Clippers will end up. Baron Davis will get into a “contest” with “The Answer,” Elton Brand will disappear in the third quarter to see if he can get some of his old Clipper gear at an LA Team Store discount, and we’ll be at the Philly official team site throwing 10 bucks out on the Visa card to order the Sixers Dancer Team 2010 calendar (linked here).

We expect traffic to be usually heavy in that two-square block off Figueroa. As well as traffic on the Sixers’ website.

It’s up to you how daring you are at dodging cars while crossing Chick Hearn Court.

But if you can’t get your head around what’s going on at the Pine Street Pier in Long Beach, here’s a CGI attempt at what Pastrana will be attempting (possibly with a Red Bull in his right hand the whole time):

The goal is to break the 171-foot world record for the longest distance jump in a rally car. Pastrana will try to make it to 250 feet in his “street-legal” rig.

More or less.

Mostly, right on the mark.

Rescue crews are standing by.

No limits on how crazy this can all get.

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Your L.A. NFL TV week 17 schedule: Let’s end it with some implications

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Life couldn’t be better in Tagliabueville Goodell Falls. Optimism stretches from … here …. to there ….

Unless your a Colts’ fan, still booing.

CBS NFL studio analyst and former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher has this to stay in a network-released statement about how the league’s regular-season will finish this weekend:

“It’s wonderful for a Week 17 to have as many playoff-implication games as we have, particularly in the AFC, and even still now in the NFC with a bye week riding on the final results. The NFL playoff system is as good as you’re going to have it. I’ve always said about the National Football League, as opposed to the other professional Leagues, you can play your way into the playoffs. In a lot of other Leagues you play your way out of the playoffs. That very clearly indicates to me that the NFL has the right amount of teams in the playoffs – not too many, not too few. Nothing is more evident than what we see in Week 17 with all the possible playoff implications that still exist.”

It’s wonderful to be Cowher, too. Not having to explain why your team won the Super Bowl one year and has to rely on others to just return to the playoffs the next season.

Oh, and we like implications. It implies there’s more to what we’re watching and don’t understand all the ramifications.

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Like, can the Cowboys win the NFC East? Apparently so, by beating the Eagles.

Like, why did the league move Cincinnati-N.Y. Jets to the NBC Sunday night contest? Because a Carson Palmer-Mark Sanchez matchup seemed as necessary as a hot-dog eating contest?

It’s been pointed out that if New England wins earlier in the day against Texas, Cincinnati has nothing to play for against the Jets and will probably rest its starters. The Jets need to win to get in — it’s the only “win or go home” contest on the docket for Sunday. So that’s why it’s in the prime-time spot.

Sunday’s Week 17 finale to the regular season, according to your L.A. providers:

10 a.m., Channel 11: N.Y. Giants at Minnesota (with Kenny Albert, Moose Johnson and Tony Siragusa) instead of San Francisco-St. Louis, Atlanta-Tampa Bay, New Orleans-Carolina or Chicago-Detroit.

10 a.m., Channel 2: Pittsburgh at Miami (with Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf) instead of Indianapolis-Buffalo, New England-Houston or Jacksonville-Cleveland.

1 p.m., Channel 2: Baltimore at Oakland (with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms) instead of Kansas City-Denver or Tennessee-Seattle.

1 p.m., Channel 11: Philadelphia at Dallas (with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman) instead of Green Bay-Arizona or Washington-San Diego.

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5:15 p.m., Channel 4: Cincinnati at N.Y. Jets (with Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Andrea Kremer).

Now go back up to that photo of George Bailey and see, without consulting with Uncle Billy, how big a deal it is having two former USC QBs — Palmer or Sanchez — sneaking a sideline hotdog in the midst of a prime-time contest.

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Our Daily Dread: The (not unexpected) Sunderland backlash

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Abby and Zac Sunderland pose with Jesse Martin, left, the Australian 16-year-old who holds the record for youngest nonstop unassisted circumnavigation, which he completed in 1999. Zac held the unofficial record for youngest assisted trip, which was unofficially broken by British teen Mike Perham a few months after Zac’s return last July. Abby is preparing for a nonstop, unassisted route but could change plans before — and after — she launches next week. Another Australian, Jessica Watson, is in the middle of a unassisted circumnavigation.
Photo by Lisa Gizara/ GizaraArts.Com

Reaction to Tuesday’s selection of Zac and Abby Sunderland as the Daily News’ Sportspersons of the Year (story linked here) wasn’t done as a way to generate degenerative responses to the Thousand Oaks teenagers’ abilities to sail around the world solo. But it’s no surprise that’s what can and has happened.

Instead of celebrating their ability to follow a dream — accomplishing it, as far as Zac goes, and planning for it, in Abby’s case — it’s easier to criticize the parents from afar, without having all the facts, reacting from an emotional place of prejudgement.

Sure, we doubt we’d allow our son or daughter to go off on such a dangerous adventure. But it’s because we know our kids aren’t equipped for such a challenge. Zac and Abby are. They’ve proven it to their parents. That’s all that matters.

What else do you need to know, other than all the pertinent information?

Still …

A “disgusted” grandmother from Northridge writes:

“I think the Sunderland parents should be punished for child abuse; encouraging truancy and then should be surgically or otherwise sterilized so they cannot have anymore children (I think the piece said they had 7 kids and she is pregnant).
I don’t know what the parents motivation is (but would bet there is money involved somewhere…..the stated more altruistic goals are, in my opinion, hogwash) but I am appalled at all of this and for the Daily News to name the children as sportspersons of the year is almost enough to make me cancel my subscription (but I won’t because I appreciate the thorough high school sports coverage).”

She’s right. She doesn’t know the parents’ motivation, but why stop from assuming with wild generalizations? Want to ask the parents themselves? Their motivation is nothing more than having their kids be happy, be safe and be good people.

And have faith.

From “Sheesh” in L.A.:
“Child endangerment, pure and simple, and the LADN is encouraging it with this “award.” Hopefully all goes well with the upcoming trip, but there are plenty of pirates out there who would really like to meet this young lady.”

Again, what you don’t know: Abby won’t to do the non-stop, unassisted trip if it endangers her life. She’s not reckless, as her mother has said. If she has to stop, make repairs, take a different route — she says on her blog that’s what she’ll do. The “record” isn’t the primary motivation.

From the tail end of today’s T.J. Simers’ column in the L.A. Times (linked here):

“The Los Angeles Daily News named Zac and Abby Sunderland, the kid sailors, Los Angeles Sportspersons of the Year. What’s next — naming the Sunderlands’ mother and father L.A.’s Parents of the Year because no one knows how to endanger the good health of their children as they do?
Abby hasn’t even started her trip, and she’s part of the duo named L.A.’s Sports-
persons of the Year? Ahead of Kobe Bryant, who led the Lakers to a championship?
“In announcing the newspaper’s selection, reporter Tom Hoffarth likened the Sunderlands’ honor to one given jointly to Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart years ago.
‘Zac and Abby Sunderland, for reminding us how to dream big no matter what the obstacles,’ wrote Hoffarth, ‘are just as worthy dual recipients. Maybe even more so.’
What a joke. By the way, Hoffarth is known best for his humor writing.”

Thanks for the shout-out all the way from Washington, D.C.
The Sunderland story inspired a column out of Simers 15 days ago (linked here), and enough reader response to fill another column space five days later (linked here). If only for that, Simers should appreciate the Sunderland’s accomplishments.

One of his readers’ reactions: “Say (Abby) doesn’t make it and there’s some tragedy at sea, is the world any worse off for losing a 16-year old girl with a zest for living AS SHE SEES FIT? I think her death would be more meaningful than most 16-ish mall rats, who you seem to admire and raise. Say she does make it, chances are she’s more interesting for the rest of her life and full of life than your over-protected mall rat will ever be.”

Another wrote: “These Sunderland kids, and parents, are not afraid of greatness and all greatness comes with risk. . . . they have taken life and death into their own hands and learned to value life, and learned that life is only valuable if you take some chances.”

That, in a dingy, is what we are communicating. And celebrating.
And, no, I don’t have any other snarky comments to add to it.

One more thing: Here’s an excerpt of an email from Zac and Abby’s mother, Marianne, sent to us after the story ran:

“So many times people get caught up in the danger or the drama or suspicious thoughts about Laurence and I. Abby’s quote (in the story, an excerpt from her blog) brought tears to my eyes as I realized that someone finally got it! It is about encouraging dreams not only in our own kids but in anyone else who has a dream.”

Abby’s blog post back in July, after seeing Zac return from his 13-month journey, for those who didn’t see it:

“I had begun to think that dreams are meant to be no more than dreams and that in reality dreams don’t come true. Then my brother left on his trip. It was amazing to see all the support that he got from around the world and to see how everyone worked together to help make his dream reality. Watching him do this really made me believe that I could too.”

Do you encourage your kids to dream, or squash them because it doesn’t fit into your plans, or what others might think of you?

Do you encourage your kids to think their dreams through, or belittle them because you don’t know enough about what the realities entail?

Do you love your kids enough to set them free and live their own lives, trusting they’ve listened to your advice, pro and con, and have the faith to follow through on a goal?

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Photo by Lisa Gizara/ GizaraArts.Com
More photos by GizaraArts at Abby Sunderland’s website: http://abbysunderland.com/photo-gallery.php

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More on Zac and Abby Sunderland, the ’09 DN Sportspersons of the Year

Following up on today’s column (linked here):

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== Follow Abby Sunderland as she nears the launch date of her five-month non-stop tour of the world aboard her new vessel, Wild Eyes (linked here)

== Follow Zac Sunderland as he contemplates his next trip, and takes advanced orders for a DVD documenting his around-the-world voyage (linked here)

== The June 15 ESPN Magazine cover piece on Zac’s trip (linked here)

== And as to why the Sunderland family — which includes 12-year-old Toby, 11-year-old Jessie, 6-year-old Lydia, soon-to-be 5-year-old Katherine, 2-year-old Ben and another on the way this summer — lives, in all places, land-locked Thousand Oaks, Marianne Sunderland explains:

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“We lived for a long time in Marina del Rey, but it really wasn’t kid-friendly,” Zac and Abby’s mother explained. “We were going to church in Simi Valley and someone told us about about how nice it was to live around there. We had just sold our last boat and were looking for a fixer-upper when a house came up (in Thousand Oaks). It’s great for the family. It’s not so great for (husband) Lawrence, because it’s a heck of a commute.”

Laurence, a shipwright who repairs and delivers boats, usually takes Pacific Coast Highway through Malibu canyon to get to his working sites, which include Marina del Rey, Santa Monica and as far as Long Beach.

As for which of the Sunderland kids is the one to most worry about, Marianne didn’t hesistate: “My 2-year-old (Ben) is likely to grab a hammer and run off with no fear.”

Stay tuned for the 2025 Daily News Sportsperson of the Year: Ben Sunderland.

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Coming Tuesday: The 2009 Daily News Sportspersons of the Year

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Abby and Zac Sunderland, the 2009 Daily News Sportspersons of the Year. Staff photo by John McCoy.

Who in the name of Los Angeles made the biggest impact on our sportsworld in 2009?

Kobe Bryant, for delivering the Lakers’ 15th NBA title to Los Angeles? Phil Jackson, for breaking the record with his 10th world championship as an NBA coach?

Nope, and nope..

Zenyatta, for delivering an emotional victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic against a field of 11 male horses at Santa Anita to stay perfect and retire undefeated?

Close, but she’s no Cigar.

Zac Sunderland did something no other human did when, at 17 years old, he sailed the world’s oceans solo. The Thousand Oaks teenager left Marina del Rey in the summer of ’08 and returned 11 months later, 20 pounds lighter, a bit worn for wear, but with an adventure none of his friends ever experienced. Pirates, sleep deprivation, repairs to his 36-foot Intrepid that would seem ridiculous.

It added up to Zac being co-Daily News Sportsperson of the Year.

As Chris Jones wrote when he did a piece on Zac for the covery story in the June 5 issue of ESPN The Magazine: “(Zac) discovered a new resilience, gleaned from the humidy-swollen Mark Twain collection he had stored in his cabin, with its invocations to live an extraordinary life, to believe that something larger is waiting if we just lift our fat asses off the couch.”

Zac has to share the award with his 16-year-old sister, Abby.

She said she had the idea, three years ago, to sail around the world. Unassisted. And by herself. It’s just that her older brother had the money saved up first to do it.

Now it’s her chance.

While trying to have already left, Abby’s plans have been updated to where she’ll be leaving Marina del Rey sometime next week. According to her latest blog entry (linked here), she’s still getting her 40-foot vessel, Wild Eyes, with the right equipment, freeze-dried food and homework books.

As if she’ll really have many waking hours to dedicate to reading.

Tuesday, read more about the siblings separated by 23 months but with one big thing in common: Big dreams.

One accomplished his. The other is about to.

“I think they’re pretty typical brother and sister,” says their mother, Marianne. “He teases her, she teases him, but ultimately they look out for each other.”

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Your third week of college football bowl TV choices: The brutality of the Brut Sun Bowl on New Year’s Eve … they still make Brut?

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If only the Hai Karate Bowl existed — which is probably what Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno will be wearing when their bowls go head-to-head on New Year’s Day morn:

TONIGHT:

== Independence Bowl, Shreveport, Louisiana: Texas A&M vs. Georgia, 2 p.m., ESPN2, with Ron Franklin, Ed Cunningham and Jeannine Edwards

TUESDAY:

== EagleBank Bowl, Washington, D.C.: Army UCLA vs. Temple, 1:30 p.m., ESPN, with Bob Wischusen, Brian Griese and Rob Stone

== Champs Sports Bowl, Orlando, Fla.: No. 15 Miami vs. No. 25 Wisconsin, 5 p.m., ESPN, with Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe

WEDNESDAY:

== Humanitarian Bowl, Boise, Idaho: Bowling Green vs. Idaho, 1:30 p.m., ESPN, with Eric Collins, Brock Huard and Heather Cox

== Holiday Bowl, San Diego: No. 20 Arizona vs. No. 22 Nebraska, 5 p.m., ESPN, with Chris Fowler, Craig James, Jesse Palmer and Erin Andrews

THURSDAY:

== Armed Forces Bowl, Fort Worth, Tex.: Houston vs. Air Force, 9 a.m., ESPN, with Dave Lamont, J.C. Pearson and Cara Capuano

== Texas Bowl, Houston: Navy vs. Missouri, 12:30 p.m., ESPN, with Mark Jones, Bob Davie and Quint Kessenich

== Chick-fil-A Bowl, Atlanta: No. 11 Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee, 4:30 p.m., ESPN, with Sean McDonough, Matt Millen and Holly Rowe

== Sun Bowl, El Paso, Tex: No. 21 Stanford vs. Oklahoma, 1:30 p.m., Channel 2, with Craig Bolerjack, Steve Beuerlein and Sam Ryan

== Insight Bowl, Tempe, Ariz.: Iowa State vs. Minnesota, 2:30 p.m., NFL Network.

FRIDAY:

== Outback Bowl, Tampa, Fla.: Northwestern vs. Auburn, 8 a.m., ESPN, with Dave Pasch, Bob Griese, Chris Spielman and Rob Stone

== Capital One Bowl, Orlando, Fla.: No. 13 Penn State vs. No. 12 LSU, 10 a.m., Channel 7, with Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Erin Andrews

== Gator Bowl, Jacksonville, Fla.: Florida State vs. No. 16 West Virginia, 10 a.m., Channel 2, with Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and Sam Ryan.

== Rose Bowl: No. 7 Oregon vs. No. 8 Ohio State, 2 p.m., Channel 7, with Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit and Lisa Salters

== Sugar Bowl, New Orleans: No. 5 Florida vs. No. 3 Cincinnati, 5:30 p.m., Channel 11, with Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick

SATURDAY:

== International Bowl, Toronto: South Florida vs. Northern Illinois, 9 a.m., ESPN2, with Mike Gleason, John Congemi and David Amber

== Papajohns.com Bowl, Birmingham, Ala.: South Carolina vs. Connecticut, 11 a.m., ESPN, with Dave Neal, Andre Ware and Cara Capuano

== Cotton Bowl, Arlington, Tex.: No. 19 Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss, 11 a.m., Channel 11

== Liberty Bowl, Memphis, Tenn.: Arkansas vs. East Carolina, 2:30 p.m., ESPN, with Ron Franklin, Ed Cunningham and Jeannine Edwards

== Alamo Bowl, San Antonio, Tex.: Michigan State vs. Texas Tech, 6 p.m., ESPN, with Mike Patrick, Craig James and Heather Cox

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Our Daily Dread: As if sports needs its own TMZ.com site … ask, and you idiots shall receive

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Pictured, right: A bucket of scum.

Now, continue…

According to credible sources, and resources beyond our wildest dreams on the Internet machine, we have nothing new to add on the breaking news that TMZ.com has a sports site (linked here).

Others, however, want to report on it. We will allow that.

Starting with the Sports Business Daily, and linking directly to the New York Times (linked here), the headline “TMZ Site Dedicated to Sports Is Expected” seems already outdated. Again, see the TMZ link above. It’s there.

The Tiger Woods story, regrettably, has pushed this need for more athletic rumor mongering. We’re all trying to measure ourselves up to Tiger’s game. Now we have a scoreboard.

The NYT says a TMZ spokesperson would not comment on the report that the gossip site plans to launch a new Web site dedicated to sports in the coming months.

Or, yesterday.

It quotes former ESPN Ombudsman Le Anne Schreiber as believing that TMZSports.com will create additional competition for fans who crave ‘celebrity scandal, sports-style.’ She described how ESPN especially “would be faced with a difficult decision over how far to go to cover the unsavory side of sports.

“If another outlet caters to the celebrity approach, ESPN cedes that territory and loses eyeballs. But if they directly compete, they risk altering their own mission as a sports media entity.”

The NYT also quotes Deadspin.com editor A.J. Daulerio as saying he’s not worried that his site … would be hurt by TMZ.

“I don’t want to get into a bidding war with them. … If I’m going to pay for something, it has to help our traffic in the long run,” he said.

On to ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser, who on the most recent “Pardon The Interruption” calls TMZSports.com a “gamechanger. … Athletes are going to hate this. They’re going to see what it’s like to have been a politician or an actor or actress in this country for many, many years. The scrutiny is going to be amazing, and all their peccadilloes will be reported. … Obviously through Tiger Woods, they know that there is a demand. They’re going to send the paparazzi out.”

Added Michael Wilbon: “I don’t know that TMZ is going to be interested in your average lineman who wouldn’t even be known outside his own city.”

Who else can we steal quotes from?

Oh, on SportingNews.com, Dan Levy wrote the new site will “be fantastic.”

Those are the words we were looking for.

On Deadspin.com, Daulerio wrote (linked here) under the headline: “TMZ Sports: Prepare For The Next Great ‘Tabloid War’ Or Something”:

“Does this mean that every single person on the planet with a raunchy photo of athletes drinking or sliming over women will now run over to TMZ first because they’ll offer some payment for these types of photos? Yikes. … If I have to start being more aggressive about using this burlap sack of scuzz money I have sitting on my desk, then so be it.”

Adds Brooks Melchior on SportsByBrooks.com (linked here):

“So why is (Harvey) Levin is starting TMZSports.com? If you have to ask that question, this must be your first visit to SbB.
“Look at ESPN. With the majority of our only truly national sports network’s revenue derived from contractual agreements to broadcast NFL, MLB, NBA and NCAA hoops and football games, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that ESPN’s news reporting operation could be compromised by those financial arrangements.

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“Say a sports blog breaks an original story that portrays one of ESPN’s league partners in an unflattering light. Because ESPN doesn’t have to fear another national network competitor widely distributing that blog’s story – because no such competitor exists – why would ESPN acknowledge the story? (Happens every single day, friends.)
“That’s where TMZSports.com will come in. Harvey Levin doesn’t have to worry about a college football broadcast contract worth hundreds of millions when investigating Charlie Weis’ on-the-record claim that Pete Carroll was living with a grad student in Malibu. Levin doesn’t have to worry about getting press credentials to future USC games, or getting access to Carroll for interviews.
“Most importantly, Levin has the desire and the ability to distribute what he finds out about Carroll’s living arrangement to a large enough audience that the story will break through into the mainstream. Something independent sports blogs with huge scoops are largely incapable of.”

It’s the end of the sports journalism world as we know it, and I don’t feel fine finally being able to say: Nice knowin’ ya.

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Play it forward: Dec. 21-27 on your L.A. sports calendar

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TODAY

According to those who can do the math, New York’s football Giants (7-6) have some kind of shot at one of the two wild-card spots in the NFC — even though Green Bay and Dallas, at 9-5, are looking much better now. All it would mean is that Eli Manning turns it up a notch, leads New York on a giant run and, just before anyone expects anything special, a trip back to the Super Bowl as a huge underdog against an undefeated team … this time, Indianapolis, led by the other Manning. It could happen.
NFL: New York Giants at Washington, 5:30 p.m., ESPN.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich recorded his 700th career victory when San Antonio defeated Indiana on Saturday. No. 701 should be very, very dicey. Last meeting: Spurs won, 115-90, on Dec. 13. It wasn’t that close.
NBA: Clippers at San Antonio, 5:30 p.m., Prime Ticket, 980-AM.

TUESDAY

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Coming off the stunner against Tennessee, the Trojans basketball team heads to Hawaii — a place the football team would probably rather be — for three games before starting the Pac-10 season. It could be worse. The Trojans hoopsters could actually be playing Western Michigan at Western Michigan.
College basketball: USC vs. Western Michigan in the Diamond Head Classic at Honolulu, 2 p.m., ESPNU, 710-AM. Also: USC plays either Northeastern or St. Mary’s on Wednesday (either 1 p.m. or 3 p.m., ESPNU) and plays on Friday, TBA, on ESPN2 or ESPNU.

The loss to the Irish wasn’t so bad, right?
College basketball: UCLA vs. Colorado State, Pauley Pavilion, 7:30 p.m., 570-AM, uclabruins.com

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The bowl game USC could have been playing in if it lost to Oregon State during the regular season at the Coliseum … instead, that looks like a pretty decent win against the Beavs now. To think, Oregon State would have been in the Rose Bowl had it defeated Oregon in its finale regular-season game. College football: Las Vegas Bowl: No. 18 Oregon State vs. No. 14 BYU, 5 p.m., ESPN.

Stu Lantz is back in the rotation. Should see as much, if not more, playing time at Adam Morrison did on the last road trip. And there’s no snow storms in the forcast to push the tipoff back a couple of hours, or to a different city.
NBA: Lakers vs. Oklahoma City, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSN West, 710-AM.

Last meeting, Rockets won, 102-85, on Dec. 2. It wasn’t that close.
NBA: Clippers at Houston, 5:30 p.m., Prime Ticket, 980-AM.

WEDNESDAY

Another bowl game USC could have been playing in if Cal had defeated lousy Washington squad in the final Pac-10 game as schedule. How did the Huskies manage to spoil it for everyone?
College football: Poinsettia Bowl, San Diego: Cal vs. No. 23 Utah, 5 p.m., ESPN.

THURSDAY

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A Christmas Eve filler: Santa hosts “SportsCenter.” Not really, but you can buy this ornament from any Hallmark store. Meanwhile, ESPN has “SportsCenter: A Decade of Moments,” a 90-minute retrospectice, co-hosted by Hannah Storm and Dari Nowkhah.
Special: “SportsCenter: A Decade of Moments,” ESPN, 1:30 p.m.; ESPN2, 6:30 p.m.

A real Christmas Eve treat: Listen to Vin Scully call an NFL playoff game. Here’s the catch: Dwight Clark makes a really good play near the end.
(If you need the broadcasting background on this CBS telecast, Wikipedia explains: It is often mistakenly assumed that Pat Summerall and John Madden handled the call on CBS … Summerall instead handled the call of the game on CBS Radio with Jack Buck, while Vin Scully and Hank Stram (CBS’ “B team” for NFL broadcasts in 1981) called the game on television. Meanwhile, John Madden was off to Detroit to prepare for his Super Bowl telecast with Summerall. Hank Stram returned to his normal position as the color analyst on CBS Radio alongside Buck for the Super Bowl, while Summerall and Madden teamed for the first of eight Super Bowls together.
NFL: 1981 NFC Championship game: San Francisco vs. Dallas, NFL Network, 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

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FRIDAY
This here is Angel. She’s a Laker girl. Appearances by Angels on Christmas are a good thing. So is seeing Shaq bringing LeBron, frankincense and myrrh to the nationally-televised party for all the new HDTV sets.
NBA: Lakers vs. Cleveland, Staples Center, 2 p.m., Channel 7, 710-AM.

Another Christmas Day treat: Last meeting: Suns won, 109-107, on Oct. 28. It shouldn’t have been that close.
NBA: Clippers at Phoenix, 5 p.m., Prime Ticket, ESPN, 980-AM.

San Diego, on a nine-game winning streak, visits Nashville to face a Titans team that started 1-6 but has won seven of its last eight and has a sniff of a wildcard spot. As long as Vince Young is still calling the signals, why not?
NFL: San Diego at Tennessee, 4:30 p.m., NFL Network.

Remember the “Tuck”?
NFL: 2001 AFC Divisional playoff game: Oakland at New England, NFL Network, 9:30 a.m.

How much time you got on your Tivo? Eighteen-plus hours? Let er rip.
MLB: All nine episodes of Ken Burns’ documentary “Baseball,” MLB Network, 3 a.m.

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SATURDAY
What nut job would have predicted this for USC’s football team at the start of the season? Aside from the fact that Joe McKnight has offered to drive as many teammates as he can fit in his ride over to Candlestick Park Pac Bell Park AT&T Park for this all-important matchup against the Eagle Scouts of Boston College, we wonder how many will also purchase this roasted, but unsalted official sweatshirt for $44.95 — which we believe is the same cost of the remaining tickets to the actual exhibition game.
College football: Emerald Bowl: USC vs. Boston College, 5 p.m., ESPN, 710-AM.

Your Pacific-Division leading Kings are back after a nine-day break for holiday, losers in two of their last three (all on the road).
NHL: Kings at Phoenix, 6 p.m., FSN West, 1150-AM.

Paul Westphal (not Paul Westhead) has these other Kings with a respectable 12-14, with a 10-3 record at Arco Arena, or whatever they’re calling that facility in the state capital.
NBA: Lakers at Sacramento, 7 p.m., Channel 9, 710-AM.

SUNDAY

The Cowboys, coming off a victory against previously-undefeated New Orleans, have a 4-9 Redskins team up next that is 0-4 against NFC East opponents.
NFL: Dallas at Washington, Channel 4, 5:15 p.m.

Again, the Giants try to stay relevant.
NFL: Carolina at N.Y. Giants, Channel 11, 10 a.m.

First meeting of the season between these storied franchises. Same old story for one. And the other. The Celtics’ Eastern Conference best record so far includes a 12-1 road mark.
NBA: Clippers vs. Boston, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., Prime Ticket, 980-AM.

Somehow, this last game before the Pac-10 schedule begins didn’t make the local TV lineup.
College basketball: UCLA vs. Delaware State, Pauley Pavilion, 1 p.m., 570-AM, uclabruins.com.

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Your second week of college football bowl TV choices: Does USC’s band and cheerleaders get to march in the Emerald Bowl Pride Parade through San Fran?

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The best thing about this week’s slate of games: The San Francisco Giants’ home field gets torn up by football players. Maybe Barry Zito would be more effective with no mound drawn on the field.

It’s also “Hurray for the Pac-10″ week. Oregon State, Cal and USC can do them proud. Or, as proud as one conference can have with only one BCS participating team.

TUESDAY:

== Las Vegas Bowl: No. 18 Oregon State vs. No. 14 BYU, 5 p.m., ESPN, with Rece Davis, Lou Holtz, Mark May and Todd Harris

WEDNESDAY:

== Poinsettia Bowl, San Diego: Cal vs. No. 23 Utah, 5 p.m., ESPN, with Mike Patrick, Craig James and Heather Cox

THURSDAY:

== Hawaii Bowl, Honolulu: Nevada vs. Southern Methodist University, 5 p.m., ESPN, with Terry Gannon and David Norrie

FRIDAY

== Little Caesars Bowl, Detroit: Marshall vs. Ohio, 10 a.m., ESPN, with Pam Ward and Ray Bentley

== Meineke Car Care Bowl, Charlotte, N.C.: No. 17 Pittsburgh vs. North Carolina, 1:30 p.m., ESPN, with Bob Wischusen, Bob Griese, Chris Spielman and Quint Kessenich.

SATURDAY

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== Emerald Bowl, San Francisco: No. 24 USC vs. Boston College, 5 p.m., ESPN, with Joe Tessitore, Rod Gilmore and Todd Harris

SUNDAY

== Music City Bowl, Nashville, Tenn.: Kentucky vs. Clemson, 5 p.m., ESPN, with Sean McDonough, Matt Millen and Holly Rowe

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The Media Learning Curve: Dec. 11-18

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Chuck Ross, the managing director of TVWeek.com who, according to his bio, has been involved in the TV business ever since he sold cable TV subscriptions in Santa Monica door-to-door way back in the mid-to-late 1970s, posted a “guest” blog on the company site (linked here) that offers a new marketing approach for someone like Tiger Woods.

Sex, it seems, sells.

Writes Ross:

According to the book “Advertising in America,” the rules that govern the use of sex in advertising were pretty much established by Elliott White Springs back in the late 1940s. He owned a textile company called Spring Mills. …Springs biggest contribution to the effective use of sex in advertising was “The Tease.” … The key, here, is that for the ad to be most successful, one should NOT reveal too much.

Author and sociologist Philip Slater once said, controversially: “If we define pornography as any message from any communication medium that is intended to arouse sexual excitement, then it is clear that most advertisements are covertly pornographic.”

The key there is the word “covertly.”

So here’s the irony. When we see Tiger Woods advertising a product, we are imaging him to be what we know of him from his golf performances. Competitive. Strong. Virile. Smart. All of those things that also make him, of course, sexually attractive.

But this is also a country steeped in Puritanism. Founded by believers in that movement. So when we actually find out that Woods is also a very sexual Tiger, in the most explicit terms, and outside the bounds of his marriage at that, well, the gig is up.

I have the utmost respect for Nike founder Phil Knight, and the success he’s built, and his reading of the marketplace. He said the other day that when all is said and done with the Tiger Woods story we’ll look back at the current scandal and see that it was just a blip in Woods’ career.

Yes, Americans are incredibly forgiving, especially with athletes. But I’m not so sure we nor Madison Ave will be when it comes to Woods’ future power as an endorser for most products.

I just don’t think we’ll ever again listen to Woods say how wonderful a product is and think to ourselves, “That’s Grrrrrrrreat!”

More from the Media Learning Center (which used to be sponsored by Accenture, but they’ve stupidly pulled out, it says at the story linked here)

== Is Tiger really getting a mulligan from the networks that cover golf, or are they just trying to cover the sport as it’s played on the course (linked here).

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== If Tiger had been in a plane that crashed into the Twin Towers eight years ago, could it be even bigger for the New York Post? (linked here). The streak increased another day with this Friday cover:

== How ESPN’s Rick Reilly mails it in, reading the closed captioning on his TV set (linked here).

== ESPN.com’s Bill Simmons actually find stuff that he left out of his recent 700-page book (linked here).

== Why people in Iowa will need to drive their tractors to Miami to see the Orange Bowl, since their local TV won’t be worth a dang (linked here).

== Your Week 15 NFL TV schedule in L.A.: Why the NFL Network still cares (linked here).

== Your first week of college football bowl games (3 up, 31 to go) (linked here).

== Only four more months before Donald Trump pretends to golf well on Golf Channel (linked here).

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== Even as she stands in this GQ photo taken by a professional photographer in a pretend locker room, ESPN’s Erin Andrews is going to fight the peepers with hotel reform (linked here). Let us know how that goes.

== AND FINALLY:

== A post on Deadspin.com (linked here):

SI “Out Of Touch” For Mocking Around The Horn, Says Newspaper Columnist Who Fears Computers

Last year on a Bob Costas HBO special, Al Michaels referred to (without naming names) ESPN’s “Around the Horn” as “gasbags on parade.” The L.A. Times’ Bill Plashke defends the honor of the self-proclaimed “Show of Competitive Banter” a multi-Twitter post that, frankly, would have been best ignored. Because then no one would have posted this photo:

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I’m honored to be one of those gasbags, and thankful that so many people allow us to parade into their lives…

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