What’s included in this week’s version of the sports media column (linked here):
What’s not included:
== Rock on: The new John Clayton ESPN SportsCenter piece has generated more than 2 million YouTube hits (linked here). ….but how does it rank among the USA Today best of all-time? (linked here).
== And now, a real blooper reel:
== Baltimore Ravens radio voice Gerry Sandusky has to keep explaining that he’s not the former Penn State assistant coach, as Rick Reilly explains (linked here). Why he won’t change his name? “I’m not going to turn my back on my mother and father,” he says, the later of whom was a former NFL assistant coach.
== Only 1,000 folks in Houston are watching the Astros on TV last Sunday, up against the NFL? Why not sign Roger Clemens for the final Sunday of the year? (linked here).
== Bob Costas is big enough to slam NBC for showing “Animal Practice” debut during the Olympics closing ceremony on the Conan O’Brien TBS show, leaving them both slamming the peacock (above)
== Surely, Costas has better ways to spend his time than being on “Real Time With Bill Maher,” yet he’s scheduled to be included in tonight’s episode (10 p.m.), pretending with the others to laugh at Maher’s monologue.
== It’s not just our awful opinion that Erin Andrews has been awful on Fox’s CFB pregame show that, thankfully, continues to get pre-empted by unrealistic sports programming windows leading in (linked here).
== And finally: Andrews tweeted out this photo earlier in the week with the reponse: “Not a good night for the girl.” We are to assume she lost a bunch of tic-tac-toe games on a dining room table cloth. We are to hope this isn’t the extend of her knowledge of Xs and Os:
Scott Wolf tweeted out recently from @InsideUSC == I am happy to say my football practice ban was lifted after talks with Pat Haden and area sports editors. Practice policy talks continue … I want to thank everyone (journalists, fans friends) for their messages of support today
The Original Blog post:
What could backfire on Lane Kiffin must be good enough for his former Trojans coaching mate Steve Sarkisian.
As Kiffin, head coach of USC’s football program, continues to refuse to give injury updates on his team — and has made good on a threat to ban reporters from reporting them by misguidedly punishing Daily News reporter Scott Wolf this week — Sarkisian, the head coach at the University of Washington, laid down a similar edict today.
Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times reported today (linked here that the media, as well as “all visitors,” are, in the words of the university, “hereforth prohibited from reporting on strategy or injury-related news observed during practices. No players or coaches will have any comments on injuries and any such information.”
Sarkisian added that he wasn’t going to “comment on injuries anymore. I’m not. No one in our organization is. It’s just a competitive disadvantage for us when other teams don’t and we do, so that’s going to be the road we take.”
They did not issue any ultimatums to media members that did report on injuries, but you can assume it’s likely to be what USC and Kiffin are doing in making an example out of Wolf, who did not report on an injury witnessed at practice.
A Washington spokesman said this policy is the same at USC, Stanford, Oregon and Washington State. It is known that UCLA coach Jim Mora also does not disclose injuries on his team.
The backlash to the Wolf banning comes via Twitter, many of them from reporters who also cover USC:
Michael Lev at the Orange County Register: Last yr Kiffin gave basic INJ report: Out, limited or full practice. We asked for same + suggested no elaboration/follow-up. We were denied.
Bruce Feldman at CBSSports.com: Not sure banning media from practice is hot idea. Can end w/ them digging for stories more troubling than inj reports
Gary Klein at the L.A. Times: Kiffin/Sarkisian were assistants for USC teams that had pretty successful run under Carroll, who had no draconian policy re injury reports.
Stewart Mandel from SI.com: Coaches don’t have to tell reporters anything. That’s their right. But to punish someone for reporting something that’s true? Not cool.
Also from Mandel: Dear Kiffin + Sarkisian: Nick Saban gives reporters detailed injury report. Ala doesnt seem to suffer competitive disadvantage
Dennis Dodd at CBS Sports: If other LA media report USC kicker’s injury, do they get banned too? No one in press box. USC cannot afford the bad publicity.
Richard Deitsch at SI.com: Banning reporters only ends up producing bad PR. An adult at USC needs to end this nonsense.
Art Spander: I guess Lane Kiffin learned something from Al Davis: How to threaten the writers
Marc Isenberg: @DufresneLATimes With you 100%. Used to be NCAA wanted to injuries disclosed to “protect the integrity of the game.”
More from Isenberg: Fav line re media from Fred Claire (fmr adjunct @ Annenberg, where I heard this line!!): “Don’t argue w ppl who buy ink by the barrel.”
Chris Dufresne at the L.A. Times: USC also has the right to close practice and put barbed wire around field. Bill Snyder did this at K-State years ago! Come on, SC.
Also from Dufrense: I will boycott USC football on Sept. 22 by HAVING DirectTV…..!
Chris Mannix at SI.com: All LA media should boycott Trojans’ next home game.
Kevin Modesti at the Daily News: Disagree. Others should keep trying to inform public, as Scott does.
Ryan Abraham at insidetroy: I can tell you this, way more people know about Andre Heidari’s surgery now than right after Wolf reported it.
Scott Enyeart: I’ll say this about the new media policies at USC and UW: Pete had practices open for 9 years, was never a “competitive disadvantage”
Jay Posner at the San Diego Union Tribune: We learned this from years of problems with Chargers & closed practices: We think fans care about this, but sadly, they don’t.
Adds Modesti: True, it won’t turn USC fans against Trojans. But for others, might it contribute to an unflattering image of USC?
We could report on more of the hirings by Time Warner Cable SportsNet, as we already have, or we could wait until the network makes things official by issuing a press release.
So here’s a paraphrase of the release:
James Worthy, Chris McGee, Dave Miller and Mike Trudell are joining the network’s on-air team, said Mark Shuken, Senior Vice President and General Manager of TWC Sports Regional Networks.
Time Warner Cable SportsNet launches on October 1, along with its sister network Time Warner Cable Deportes.
TWC will have SportsNet on Channel 403, and the Spanish-language version on Channel 481.
So far there are no any other carriers signed up. Prepare for that to stay the same until after Oct. 1.
“As a sports network new to Southern California viewers, our number one priority is to connect directly with fans and we’re confident that James Worthy, Chris McGee, Dave Miller and Mike Trudell will tell the stories fans want to hear while narrating the games they can’t miss,” said Shuken. “They are all well-known and respected by Southern California sports fans because they have the expertise and insight to give our viewers an immersive Lakers viewing experience.”
Worthy, who had been working as a studio analyst on KCAL-Channel 9, will do the same at TWC SN. Perhaps he’ll do some more homework this season. Or at least learn how to pronounce some of the guy’s names.
McGee, who worked nine years at Fox Sports West, will be a studio anchor. Miller, a contributor on KSPN-AM 710, will be a studio analyst and reporter. Trudell, covering the team for Lakers.com, will stay on as a sideline reporter.
Heidi Watney, as reported earlier, was hired but then unhired.
A TWC SN spokesperson said: “Heidi Watney and Time Warner Cable Sports have reached an agreement that allows Heidi to leave the organization to pursue other opportunities. Both parties entered into their original agreement some months ago with the best of intentions, but as Time Warner Cable Sports has evolved toward its official launch, the talent needs of the network have been altered. Heidi and Time Warner Cable Sports have parted on good terms. Heidi is extremely talented and TWC Sports expects that she will have great success in her next role and throughout her entire career. We wish her well in her future endeavors.”
It was previously announced that Bill Macdonald and Stu Lantz would stay as the play-by-play and game analysts.
What has yet to be announced is John Ireland’s role for the network. Ireland remains the radio play-by-play man for games on KSPN-AM (710).
According to the warranty, it’s time for an ESPN 50,000-episode tune up.
That usually means replacing the struts and checking for gas leaks. Rotating the hosts. Recalibrate the bearings. Check for loose deposits.
Yet ESPN says it will be a relatively low-key event when it presents what has been determined to be its 50,000th episode of “SportsCenter,” at 3 p.m. Thursday.
The only thing planned is having Chris Berman read a piece that he did on the late Tom Mees (linked here) reflecting back on when they did the 10,000th episode sometime in the mid-’80s.
“That’ll be the only mention,” ESPN senior vice president and executive producer of “SportsCenter” Mark Gross said. “That’ll be it.”
When has ESPN ever done something monumental in an understated way?
Part of this show will revisit the first episode on Sept. 7, 1979, with George Grande’s opening.
“We didn’t know if we’d last 50 days, 50 months, let alone 50,000 ESPN ‘SportsCenters’,” Grande said recently.
The other part should be a moment of silence to let viewers reflect on what this means some 33 years later.
It means that “SportsCenter” is the most televised show in the history of broadcast TV. Or cable TV. Or any soap opera, news magazine or test pattern.
“To me, ‘SportsCenter’ is a show that our viewers have complete ownership of,” said Gross. “I don’t know any other show out there that can say the same thing. The viewers’ expectations of what should be on it, the quality of the show, the people and the highlights are exceptionally high – which is great. That philosophy hasn’t changed all that much since the start. The landscape may have changed dramatically, but we’re still do it the same way today.”
Anchors have come and gone. A few have stayed. Graphics have been refined. Highlights are more than just high-def, but also YouTube viral.
Copy cats on Fox, CNN or something called CNN-SI have also tried to challenge for the same kind of audience, but they’ve disappeared. Local sportscasts have all but shrunk in importance, and definitely in time allotted per half-hour.
Instead, ESPN estimates 18 million a day watch an episode of “SportsCenter.”
“The goal has always been to make ‘SportsCenter’ where ever and whenever sports fans want it,” said Gross. “Whether it’s TV, phone, iPad . . . the ultimate goal is as the world changes every day to get it to viewers. Beyond that, it’s important to personalize it. If you just want the Dodgers, Angels, Lakers and Clippers, they’ll ask, ‘How can I do that’?”
How ESPN has done it all these years later is place “SportsCenter” on more than just four times a day on one channel. It’s everywhere, in every form. Still promoted in creative ways (see John Clayton’s latest version) with a formula as basic as apple juice.
“The bread and butter is still the highlights,” said Gross.
Highlights that, these days, may have already been seen by millions before they even get on the air.
“When something happens in a game now, the highlight can be on Twitter within five minutes,” said Scott Van Pelt, an anchor since 2001.
“To watch this all grow from afar is thrilling,” said Charley Steiner, the Dodgers’ radio play-by-play man who most notably anchored “SportsCenter” from 1988 to 2002. “What has changed 14 years later? Only everything. … It’s mindboggling to think back to when I got there and where it is now. The only thing we share is the name and the dissemination of information.”
One of the major expansions of the “SportsCenter” brand was opening an ESPN studio across the street from Staples Center two years ago, and having the 11 p.m. PT/2 a.m. ET “SportsCenter” emanate from there.
“It’s made us better, more well rounded certainly,” said Gross. “Some believe we still have an East Coast bias, but we have a team of people working in L.A. to ensure we don’t have that. We’re always talking to them about the time, about the show, what they’re producing and what they’re watching. It’s made us far more diverse with having a show based in L.A.”
As for Steiner, no matter how long he remains in the Dodgers’ organization, some still think he’s an ESPN employee because of that “SportsCenter” brand attached to him.
“I never had any intention on being on TV; I still consider myself a radio guy who had a 14-year diversion,” said Steiner. “I just gave it a shot (at ESPN). I had no idea how long it would last or what the impact would be.
“I will say that it’s also astonishing how many young athletes now, and even some fans, have no idea I ever worked at ‘SportsCenter’.”