Do not ponder lightly the clip above — that’s Tracy Morgan, as Brian Fellow in “Safari Planet” — as you read the following press release that fell into our in basket this morning:
Building on the success of the network’s rebrand and content transformation, Animal Planet has announced a new show with Mike Tyson, currently known as TAKING ON TYSON, where the former heavyweight champion of the world will take audiences inside the intensely competitive and bizarrely fascinating world of pigeon racing.
Slated to film this spring in New York City and debut in early 2011, the show will give audiences an insider’s look at pigeon rearing and racing, a sport that is far from the mainstream.
The novice pigeon racer Tyson goes toe-to-toe against several individuals in hopes of being crowned a champ all over again.
Tyson has a deep passion for the birds and raised pigeons all his life. In fact his first-ever fight as a child was in defense of his birds. But this show will follow his first foray into racing them competitively. So for the first time in years, Tyson enters a sport as an underdog.
“Tyson’s passion for his pigeons takes my breath away,” marvels Marjorie Kaplan, president and general manager of Animal Planet Media. “For years, he has been inspired by these birds that he feels have the ‘biggest heart’ in the animal kingdom.”
“I’m honored to be a part of this monumental show on Animal Planet,” said Tyson. “I feel a great pride acting as an official representative for all the pigeon fancier’s out there. I want people to see why we love these birds. It feels good returning to the rooftops of the city where it all started for me – New York.”
So, is Mike Tyson an accredited zoologist? Anything above a sixth-grade education? Got any red-tailed pigeons? Didn’t think so.
How CBS’ times and talent match up for the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, slotting the Jim Nantz/Clark Kellogg team first off in Jacksonville, Fla., so they can see Duke, Louisville, Cal and Wisconsin … CBS will soon release what their lineup will be for KCBS-Channel 2 — most likely focusing on a) the Pac-10, b) San Diego State and c) the best game … Or you can sign up for DirecTV’s Mega March Madness ($69, linked here) and get every contest … As well as sign up for the NCAA’s March Madness on Demand (linked here) for online viewing:
==9:20 a.m. in Oklahoma City: Florida vs. BYU (with Kevin Harlan and Dan Bonner) ==9:25 a.m. in New Orleans: Notre Dame vs. Old Dominion (with Dick Enberg and Jay Bilas) ==9:30 a.m. in Providence: Villanova vs. Robert Morris (with Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery) ==11:30 a.m. in San Jose: Vanderbilt vs. Murray State (with Spero Dedes and Bob Wenzel) ==Approx. noon in Oklahoma City: Kansas State vs. North Texas (with Harlan/Bonner) ==Approx. 12:10 p.m. in New Orleans: Baylor vs. Sam Houston (with Enberg/Bilas) ==Approx. 12:20 p.m. in Providence: Richmond vs. St. Mary’s (with Lundquist/Raftery) ==Approx. 2 p.m. in San Jose: Butler vs. UTEP (with Dedes/Wenzel) ==4:10 p.m. in Oklahoma City: UNLV vs. University of North Iowa (with Harlan/Bonner) ==4:15 p.m. in New Orleans: Kentucky vs. East Tennessee State (with Enberg/Bilas) ==4:20 p.m. in San Jose: Marquette vs. Washington (with Dedes/Wenzel) ==4:25 p.m. in Providence: Georgetown vs. Ohio (with Lundquist/Raftery) ==Approx. 6:30 p.m in Oklahoma City: Kansas vs. Lehigh (with Harlan/Bonner) ==Approx. 6:35 p.m. in New Orleans: Texas vs. Wake Forest (with Enberg/Bilas) ==Approx. 6:40 p.m. in San Jose: New Mexico vs. Montana (with Dedes/Wenzel) ==Approx. 6:45 p.m. in Providence: Tennessee vs. San Diego State (with Lundquist/Raftery)
== 9:15 a.m. in Buffalo: West Virginia vs. Morgan State (with Gus Johnson and Len Elmore) == 9:25 a.m. in Milwaukee: Xavier vs. Minnesota (with Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel) == 9:30 a.m. in Jacksonville: Temple vs. Cornell (with Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg) == 11:30 a.m. in Spokane: Purdue vs. Siena (with Tim Brando and Mike Gminski) == Approx. noon in Buffalo: Clemson vs. Missouri (with Johnson/Elmore) == Approx. 12:10 p.m. in Milwaukee: Pittsburgh vs. Oakland (with Eagle/Spanarkel) == Approx. 12:15 p.m. in Jacksonville: Wisconsin vs. Wofford (with Nantz/Kellogg) == Approx. 2 p.m. in Spokane: Texas A&M vs. Utah State (with Brando/Gminski) == 4:10 p.m. in Buffalo: Gonzaga vs. Florida State (with Johnson/Elmore) == 4:15 p.m. in Milwaukee: Oklahoma State vs. Georgia Tech (with Eagle/Spanarkel) == 4:20 p.m. in Spokane: Michigan State vs. New Mexico State (with Brando/Gminski) == 4:25 p.m. in Jacksonville: Duke vs. Arkansas Pine Bluff/Winthrop (with Nantz/Kellogg) == Approx. 6:30 p.m. in Buffalo: Syracuse vs. Vermont (with Johnson/Elmore) == Approx. 6:35 p.m. in Milwaukee: Ohio State vs. UC Santa Barbara (with Eagle/Spanarkel) == Approx. 6:40 p.m. in Spokane: Maryland vs. Houston (with Brando/Gminski) == Approx. 6:45 p.m. in Jacksonville: California vs. Louisville (with Nantz/Kellogg)
Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
NBA: Lakers at Golden State, 7:30 p.m., Ch. 9, ESPN:
As for bewaring those ides of March . . . Don’t blink. A sweet 16 games left in the regular season — the part L.A. fans must refer to as “pre-post-season” — and 10 of them, including the next two, are on foreign soil (although the finale against the Clippers is technically a road game). Shannon Brown stepped up for the injured Kobe Bryant during their last meeting against the Warriors and scored 27 in a 104-94 win. The Lakers have averaged nearly 120 points in three previous games against Golden State, or about 18 over their average.
College basketball: NCAA women’s basketball tournament selection, ESPN, 4 p.m.:
A mere 64 teams (not 65) get in, and three will probably be from the Pac-10 (Stanford, UCLA and USC, with ASU and Cal waiting nearby). None will beat UConn, riding a win streak that’s just ridiculous. (Although our sources tell us that Nebraska is also undefeated). The games start Saturday. And, yes, ESPN has its own women’s bracket bracketologist, named Charlie Creme (linked here).
NBA: Lakers at Sacramento, Channel 9, 7 p.m.:
These Kings may be some 25 games behind the Lakers in the Pacific Division, and third from the bottom in the Western Conference, but they’re .500 at home (16-16) going into Sunday night’s game against miserable Minnesota.
College basketball: NCAA men’s basketball play-in game, ESPN, 4:30 p.m.:
Pardon the interruption, but it’s Arkansas Pine-Bluff trying to bluff its way past Winthrop in Dayton, Ohio for the right to get dumped Friday by Duke. And you still want 96 teams? ESPN2 counter programs against this with a first-round game from the NIT. Flip a coin.
NBA: Clippers vs. Milwaukee, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket, ESPN:
ESPN decided it was interested in this game enough to add it to its schedule just last week. As to why we like the Bucks to make the playoffs: Defeated (LeBron-less and Shaq-less) Cleveland on March 6, 92-85. Defeated Boston three nights later, 86-84. Defeated Utah on Friday, 95-87 to win their fifth in a row and 11th in the last 12. Milwaukee has moved from ninth to fifth in the Eastern Conference standings and is 20-2 when it holds an opponent under 90 points. As to why the Clippers won’t make the playoffs: Teams like Milwaukee on their schedule.
College basketball: NCAA men’s basketball tournament, first round, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Channel 2:
Grab a cup ‘o joe, a few Red Bulls and a scraggly bear claw at the local Dunkin Donuts, then head to Providence’s Dunkin Donuts Center to watch the annual event start with Richmond stunning St. Mary’s. Other Round One wins we’re banking on for Day 1: Washington washes out Marquette in San Jose; Florida buries BYU in Oklahoma City and Notre Dame looks like its old self against Old Dominion in New Orleans. And did you know: On this day 57 years ago, Indiana won the 15th NCAA men’s basketball title, knocking off Kansas 69-68. And where is Indiana in today’s launch of the annual tournament? Crying in its coffee cup.
NHL: Kings vs. Chicago, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
If all goes well, Bob Miller returns after his shin-dig with shingles. And so does Jonathan Quick, with a new kid.
College basketball: NCAA men’s tournament, first round, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Channel 2:
Round One one-and-doners, con’t: Cal waits out Louisville in Jacksonville, Fla.; Ohio State destroys UCSB in Milwaukee, Utah State (one of the 10 mid-major at large teams) staves off Texas A&M (one of the 24 power conference at large teams), and over in Buffalo – you read it here first – No. 16 seed Vermont sucker punches No. 1 West seed Syracuse, the team that the Catamounts threw under its bus back in ’05 during their last appearance. Something says this will be the year a 16 finally beats a 1.
NBA: Lakers vs. Minnesota, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Welcome back Kurt Rambis and the T’wolves, otherwise known as the New Jersey Nets of the Western Conference.
NHL: Kings vs. N.Y. Islanders, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Last time they played: A shootout in Long Island in Feb., 2009, on Jack Johnson’s game-winner.
College basketball: NCAA men’s tournament first round, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Channel 2:
Back to New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Providence and San Jose for round two.
Running: Los Angeles Marathon, 7 a.m., Channel 5:
Year 25 of the Great Angeleno Footrace now starts in the Dodger Stadium parking lot, makes a loop around the facility, veers down to City Hall, goes up Sunset to Hollywood and Vine, hits Rodeo Drive, winds through Century City, under the 405 in Westwood, and a sprint to the Santa Monica pier. The Stadium to the Sea course has drawn a lot more interest than before, and perhaps there’ll be no more talk of holding in May. There are just more than 200 legacy runners — those who’ve run in the previous 24 events — and in excess of 1 million spectators will be along the route to hand out coffee and donuts to the participants.
College basketball: NCAA men’s tournament first round, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Channel 2:
Gotta wrap this thing up and figure out the Sweet 16 travel plans before “60 Minutes,” except on the West Coast.
Exhibition baseball: Dodgers vs. Cleveland in Glendale, Ariz., 1 p.m., Ch. 9:
Vin Scully makes his 2010 exhibition debut in the booth, and we hope he makes note of the fact that on this day in 1934, Babe Didrikson, less than two years after she won the javelin, set a world record in the 80-meter hurdles and had to accept the silver medal in the high jump during the ’32 Olympics at the L.A. Coliseum, pitched an inning for the Philadelphia Athletics in an exhibition game against the Brooklyn Dodgers. She walked the first batter, hit the second and got the third to hit into a triple play. She poses here with former A’s great Jimmie Foxx.
NBA: Clippers vs. Sacramento, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Prime Ticket; Lakers vs. Washington, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., FSW:
Another two-games-in-one place deal, but considering the participants, there’s not a lot of incentive to make it a double-header day at the downtown office supply store.
Extracting sports from non-traditional sports sources, so you don’t have to:
== From the April issue of Men’s Journal, a piece by Matt Taibbi called “8 Ways to Save Baseball,” which include ideas about adding a salary cap, expanding rosters and use instant replay and time controls:
“Save the Whales: Now that the steroid era is supposedly over and second basemen no longer have to look like Siberian cage fighters, can we please bring back really gross fat guys with bad facial hair? The best we’ve got now are Prince Fielder, Boof Bonser and maybe Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton (whose biggest competitive advantage is that he looks like he’s carrying a humongous dump in his pants). . . . That’s why blossoming fan favorite Pablo Sandoval is so important to the sport – not only is he the only hitter on the Giants who can reach the warning track, but he might be the only guy left in the league who’s at risk of having a meatball fall out of his glove during play.”
== From the April issue of Penthouse, a piece by Ed Condran called “Glory Days?” which, in addition to examining nicknames, style and money, wonders if baseball was better with drugs back in the day or not:
Yesteryear: Amphetamines and cocaine were the drugs of choice in the dugouts during the 70s and 80s. . . . Even the Pirate Parrot mascot, for crying out loud, was implicated for buying cocaine and introducing the players to the drug dealer. Who says mascots are no fun? Today: It’s well documented that ‘roids were the rage during the ’90s and early aughts. . . . The upshot is that an entire era’s statistics and Hall of Fame credentials have been thrown into doubt. Advantage: Yesteryear. Not to promote or glamorize amphetamines or cocaine, but, hey, steroids diminish ability in the bedroom. Penthouse could never be onboard with something like that.
Technical difficulties, or whatever they’re calling it, resulted in today’s sports media column not making it onto the website. More efforting today didn’t produce any positive results.
So here it is:
With a boogle of TV networks and cable partners trying to weasel their way into the mix, the NCAA’s recent trial balloon on how to expand the men’s basketball tournament to as many as 96 participants as early as next year has definitely added some fever to the usual frenzy leading into Sunday’s annual selection show.
Ripples of angst began last December when the Sports Business Journal revealed that the NCAA was trying to decide on opting out of its current 11-year, $6 billion deal with CBS this summer and rework the parameters to where it could ad more teams – as few as three or as many as 31 more. The current CBS-NCAA back-loaded deal has three years and $2.131 billion left on it, so there’s a lot still at stake in messing around with the magic.
Last month, SBJ obtained a proposal that the NCAA sent to potential broadcast rights bidders, pushing an “over-the-air” network to partner with a cable channel to package the bloated bracket, with more than half of the games going to cable.
A logical assumption would be that CBS — which has been doing this since 1982 when it wrestled it away from NBC after its 13-year run — retain the rights and add TBS/TNT in a joint bid. It also has CBS College Sports as a cable partner in 38 million homes that it uses most effectively this time of year.
However, those at ESPN/ABC, which just did a lucrative deal with the NCAA that moves most of the major bowl games to cable, and at Fox/FSN are very much alive in the live auction, depending on the new dynamics.
Once that information trickled out, a swell of backlash came from wave upon wave of media members who felt they had to preserve whatever integrity was left on an event that was once thrived with a modest 32-team dance card.
Dan LeBatard, aka Flounder, writes in a recent Miami Herald column (linked here) that today’s sports journalism does, sadly, need quotes around it.
“Sports journalism” … Can’t live with it, can’t get used to it…
Writes Dan, with more not-so-air quotes:
” ‘Evolution’ and ‘progress’ are not always synonyms. The electric toothbrush is an example of that. So, too, our ability to now get dinner at the gas station. But because survival is the strongest instinct, in humans and in business, sports journalism is being forced to evolve into selling its principles and fairness (its soul, in other words) in exchange for clicks and cash, a trafficking not that far removed from porn.
(Porn is more honorable, actually. At least there, the participants agree to the transaction and get paid.)”
It goes on:
“There’s also an interesting generation gap growing between old media, which is either aging or dying, and new media, which gets stronger by the day. Today’s kids — and kids are what make everything popular — don’t seem to be as judgmental as their parents. They want to see Portland center Greg Oden naked and the drunk photos of Texas center fielder Josh Hamilton just for the voyeuristic pleasure in it, not necessarily to judge it. And old media can’t keep ignoring those kind of desires, not if it wants to survive. It is hard not to notice that newspapers keep going out of business while TMZ Sports is scheduled to open this year.”
Unfortunately, one of the comments left at the bottom of this column is:
“I’d say that this recycled column indicates you’ve run out of things to talk about, but that would imply you once had something to say. (YAWN)”
That said, Jayson Frye’s writingon the Indiana University National Sports Journalism Center site (linked here) takes the new media approach into another direction:
News has never spread more quickly or in so many different ways. But the ability to break news so quickly has robbed that news of much of its competitive value. Scoops were once jealously guarded with an eye on tomorrow’s newsstand – the goal was a day on which you had a story your competitors didn’t, and a second day on which your competitors had to acknowledge through gritted teeth that you’d had it first. But that game is disappearing because of the Web. Web publishing reduced the life expectancy of most scoops to hours. Twitter has now reduced it to minutes . …
Like a lot of digital developments, this sounds awful at first – another cherished journalistic tradition tossed on the ash heap. But while we’ll be nostalgic about the era of routine scoops and exclusives, I don’t think readers will miss it all that much – because breaking news will become the short-lived raw material from which sportswriters are free to craft more interesting and memorable things.
Thus, the more logical conclusion: No matter how much it seems TMZ will zap us of “journalism,” the nature of the new-media beast is that there will remain a need — even greater — for more indepth coverage.
Coverage that, by nature as well, will clean up the mess that other fast typers have created.
Other stuff to wrap your mind around from this week’s stuff:
== New Angels TV man Victor Rojas explains in depth why he left the MLB Network for this gig (linked here).
== ESPN ombudsman Don Ohlmeyer explains it all (linked here), including why taped Olympics are cool.
== ESPN exec on Olbermann v. Simmons: “We have moved on from the KO Era. His colleagues at MSNBC no doubt appreciate Keith’s management talent .” But he doesn’t deny, Olbermann points out, that Simmons is a word-salad tosser (linked here)
== Does Stephen A. Smith have reason to fear showing up in a Philly 76ers locker room? (linked here) Or could he just pull a Mariotti and just no-show?
Dick Enberg, who was Merlin Olsen’s broadcast partner on many Rose Bowl telecasts for NBC in the 1980s, has offered up these thoughts through the CBS press department, the day after it was announced that Olsen had died of cancer at 69:
“God doesn’t create perfect men, but he came mighty close when he brought us Merlin Olsen. He was athletically GREAT and just as GOOD as a man. He personified the Greek ideal of a “sound mind in a sound body.” How privileged I was to call his games as an All Pro, Hall of Famer-to-be Los Angeles Ram, and then to work at his side in the broadcast booth for 12 years. He was meticulous and thorough in his preparation, lessons he had learned as an all A student in high school and college. He was perhaps the brightest to ever play his position in the NFL.
“He was just as generous as a broadcaster as he was tough as a defensive tackle. I was privileged to be his TV colleague and his friend. I seriously doubt that I shall ever meet another that will measure up to his complete character. He was every part of a gentle giant.”
Enberg will be calling the final of the Pac-10 tournament for CBS on Saturday before moving onto the first round of the NCAA Tournament next week, then beginning his newest venture: Play-by-play for the San Diego Padres on about 100 games this summer.
Gramatically, that’s how it should read in the super market.
Not “or less.”
Anyway, some get around that problem by rephrasing it.
Some get around it by just adding to it. Like the NCAA. To spin off today’s dizzying display (linked here):
== The lineup of this weekend’s top-end college basketball games:
Patriot League championship, 1:45 p.m., ESPN2, with Jon Sciambi and LaPhonzo Ellis
Big East semifinals, 4 and 6 p.m., ESPN, with Sean McDonough, Jay Bilas and Bill Raftery
Big West semfinals, 6:30 and 8:30 p.m., ESPNU, with Chris McGee and Bob Valvano
Pac-10 semifinals, 6:30 and 8:30 p.m., FSW, with Steve Physioc and Marques Johnson
Conference USA championship, 8:30 a.m., Channel 2, with Gus Johnson and Dan Bonner
American East championship, 9 a.m., ESPN2, with Bob Wischusen and Tim Welsh
Big Ten semifinals, 10:30 a.m., Channel 2, with Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship, 11 a.m., ESPN, with Allen Hopkins and Stephen Howard
Southland Conference championship, 1 p.m., ESPN2, with Lou Canellis and Mike Kelley
Pac-10 championship, 3 p.m., Channel 2, with Dick Enberg and Bob Wenzel
Big 12 championship, 3 p.m, ESPN, with Brent Musburger and Bob Knight
Mid American Conference championship, 3 p.m., ESPN2 with Ron Franklin and Mark Adams
Big West Conference championship, 5 p.m., ESPN2, with Dave Flemming and Bob Valvano
Southwestern Athletic Conference championship, 5:30 p.m., ESPNU with Charlie Neal and Daymeon Fishback
Big East championship, 6 p.m., ESPN with Sean McDonough, Jay Bilas and Bill Raftery
Western Athletic Conference championship, 7 p.m., ESPN2 with Terry Gannon and Stephen Bardo
ACC championship, 10 a.m., ESPN with Dan Shulman, Dick Vitale and Erin Andrews
SEC Tournament championship, 10 a.m., Channel 7, with Brad Nessler and Jimmy Dykes
Atlantic 10 championship, 10 a.m., Channel 2, with Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery
Big Ten championship, 12:30 p.m., Channel 2, with Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg
Selection show: 3 p.m., Channel 2, with Greg Gumbel, Greg Anthony, Seth Davis, Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg.
== CBS College Sports Network will offer a free preview of its channel through April 5 in hopes more college basketball fans stumble onto it. The channel currently has 38 million home penetration but it could get to more than 56 million homes with this offer to cable operators.
== Fox Sports West will videostream two of the women’s Pac-10 tournament quarterfinals today from Galen Center — USC vs. Oregon at 5 p.m. and UCLA vs. Washington State/Oregon State at 7:15 p.m. Go here to watch them (linked here). Saturday’s semifinals (2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.) are on FSW, with a possible USC-UCLA matchup in the later window. Jim Watson, Mary Murphy, Lisa Leslie and Anne Marie Anderson are on the call. Stanford and UCLA — the only two Pac-10 teams in the Top 25 of either men’s or women’s polls — are on target to play in Sunday’s 3 p.m. final.
== HBO’s next “Real Sports” (Tuesday, 10 p.m.) sends host Bryant Gumbel out to look at three instances where male sportswriters decided to transgender into female. Two are still around – Christina Kahrl of Baseball Prospectus and Bobbie Dittmeier of MLB.com — but the third, the late Mike Penner / Christine Daniels from the Los Angeles Times — will be discussed in his/her absence.
== Jim Lampley, Max Kellerman, Emanuel Steward and Harold Lederman will call Saturday’s Manny Pacquiao-Joshua Clottey welterweight title fight from Cowboys Stadium in Irving, Tex., on HBO pay-per-view starting at 6 p.m. Suggested retail price: $49.95.
== Tennis Channel begins coverage of the BNP Paribas Open from Indian Wells on Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. and run weekdays at noon through March 21. There will be more than 90 hours of live matches and 70 hours of repeats during the event. Tracy Austin, Brett Haber and Cari Champion do the women’s matches; Jason Goodall, Doug Adler and Robbie Koenig are on the men’s matches. Tonight’s “Hit for Haiti” exhibition featuring Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Martina Navratilova, Lindsay Davenport, Steffi Graf, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Justine Henin will air at 7:30 p.m.
== The blackout has been lifted in the Angels-Cleveland spring training game today (4 p.m., delayed from a noon start), so the MLB Network will be able to carry this one on its network, using the Sports Time Ohio broadcast.
== KLAA-AM (830) afternoon host Jeff Biggs and producer Jason Brennan will join listeners in a head-shaving event for the Monrovia-based St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which raises money for childhood cancer research. The event takes place Saturday at noon at Thowbacks, down the street from Angel Stadium. More info (linked here)
Somehow, in the middle of the college basketball season, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has time to do a radio show.
“Basketball and Beyond with Coach K,” the weekly show on Sirius XM, brought former CBS college basketball analyst Billy Packer about the idea of expanding the NCAA tournament.
Coach K: “We’ve had a lot of discussion over the last month about [the fact that] the NCAA can opt out of the CBS contract. Something’s going to happen. And it’s probably going to make somebody more money or cost somebody more money. So is this a time for more inventory? In other words, is this a time for expansion?”
Packer: “I think the 64 [team format] makes an awful lot of sense … But this decision is going to be a decision made strictly on finances …
“Division I men’s basketball is now generating in excess of 90 percent of the total gross revenue that the NCAA brings in. And so those three weeks in March pay for the other 87 championships. here are only a couple of other championships that have any income generation whatsoever. And now you have CBS with this huge loss that they’re incurring due to broadcasting the games and what the rights fees have become and there is nothing you can do about it. There is no more additional inventory if you are going to play with 65 teams …
“It’s an incredible decision that [the NCAA has] to make. As a businessman, if I’m the NCAA do I rather have, for the short term, three years, would I rather have the roughly $600 million a year from CBS and then realize I’m going to have to make a change thereafter, and that change thereafter may be approaching numbers that are nowhere near that number? … If you’re another bidder why do you want to go, particularly in this economic climate, why would you want to go to the rights fee that CBS is paying?
“So it’s a tough decision to make. Do you want to opt out and give up that short term really good money that’s coming in? Or do you want to make your adjustment now? I think that will be the key to this decision. It will have nothing to do with ‘Is the tournament neater?’ It may have something to do with the NIT … They run the NIT and that is a financial loser for them. So by eliminating the NIT and bringing those teams into the NCAA [tournament] they would eliminate a loss and create more inventory.”
We’ll see what else we can shine onto this topic in Friday’s media column.
Merlin Olsen, known as much as a member of the Rams’ Fearsome Foursome as he was Father Murphy on TV, died Wednesday night at a Los Angeles hospital after a battle with cancer. He was 69.
Olsen was diagnosed with mesothelioma last year, and he had filed a lawsuit against NBC Studios, among others, claiming exposure to asbestos caused the cancer.
The Rams’ first-round draft pick in 1962 out of Utah State, where he was the Outland Trophy winner, the burly, bearded defensive tackle combined forces with Deacon Jones, Lamar Lundy and Rosey Grier to form one of the most feared defensive lines in NFL history. The Rams set an NFL record for the fewest yards allowed during a 14-game season in 1968.
A 14-time Pro Bowl participant, Olsen remains the Rams’ all-time leader in tackles with 915. His last game was with the Rams in the 1976 NFC title game, a 24-13 loss.
The NFC defensive lineman of the year in 1973 and the NFL MVP in 1974 was voted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982. He is also in the College Football Hall of Fame.
After his retirement he comfortably seguayed into TV work, first in acting with a role on “Little House on the Prairie,” then starring in his own series, “Father Murphy,” from 1981 to 1983.
He also had a long run in the 1980s as a NFL and college football game analyst on CBS and NBC. He and Dick Enberg were the regular broadcasters for NBC’s Rose Bowl through almost the entire decade. He was also a visible spokesman for FTD flowers.
Utah State honored Olsen in December by naming the football field at Romney Stadium “Merlin Olsen Field.” The school did so during halftime of a basketball game because it didn’t want to wait until the 2010 football season knowing how ill Olsen had become. Olsen attended the ceremony but did not speak, only smiling and waving as the fans cheered.
Utah State is also planning a statue of Olsen at the southeast corner of the stadium.
The Rams also honored Olsen during a game Dec. 20, with a video tribute narrated by Enberg. Olsen did not attend because of his health. His name was already part of the Ring of Fame inside the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis along with other franchise standouts.
In 2007, Olsen was inducted as a “Fearsome Foursome” member into the Coliseum’s Hall of Plaques that are arranged in the peristyle entrance. Coliseum general manager John Lynch said Olsen was “especially moved by the installation of the plaque,” done so on the 70th anniversary of the team. (linked here)
In his lawsuit filed last year in L.A. against NBC, Fox and others, Olsen said his mesothelioma “is a vicious, painful, and invariably fatal malignancy” and there is no known cure.
Olsen and his wife Susan were suing for unspecified damages.
== In 2007, we picked Olsen to represent No. 74 on the All-Time L.A. Sports Roster (linked here). He was also Sports Illustrated’s choice for the all-time sports No. 74 (linked here)
== Olsen’s Wikipedia bio (linked here)
== Olsen’s Pro Football Hall of Fame bio (linked here)
== The lawsuit Olsen filed in December (linked here)