What made it into this week’s media column, posted here:
John Jackson will be on the sideline for Saturday’s USC-UCLA game at the Rose Bowl. Not the John Jackson who’ll be in the radio booth on the Trojans’ coverage for the rivalry game on KSPN-AM (710).
It’s his son, John III, a freshman at Mater Dei high school — who has accepted a recruiting invite from UCLA. Bruins baseball coach John Savage wants to gauge his interest in the program, even though the Class of 2018 member and starting quarterback on the freshman football team has yet to start his high school baseball career. The Jackson Family Values will be a topic of discussion here, as well as John II’s approach in covering this contest 25 years after he left the USC program.
Jackson’s week isn’t just focused on USC-UCLA — he also has to be in Valencia on Friday night to call the Upland-Hart CIF-SS high school football quarterfinal playoff game for Fox Sports West at 7:30 p.m.
What is best suited to be read in this spot:
== When John Jackson ran out of eligibility playing football at USC — he was a graduate student in 1989 — he was the school’s all-time leader in receptions (163), receiving yards (2,379), most catches in a game (11), longest TD reception (87 yards), set a Pac-10 record for catching passes in 37 consecutive games and set a Notre Dame opponent record with 14 catches for 200 yards.
In the 25 years since then, Robert Woods has nearly doubled Jackson’s career-reception mark. His career yards puts him 12th all time. Most catches in a USC game? Nelson Agholor had 13 in the first half last week against Cal.
All Jackson’s other records have been broken as well. And in Saturday’s USC-UCLA game, Agholor stands to pass Jackson on the career reception and yardage list.
Others like Keyshawn Johnson, Dwayne Jarrett, Johnny Morton and Marquis Lee have vaulted past Jackson in the last two-plus decades. It’s not as if Jackson played with quarterbacks who couldn’t throw — future NFL QBs Rodney Peete and Todd Marinovich were tossing the ball then — but it was a whole different game, and different USC philosophy of offense as well.
“I have a different appreciation for the players who have passed me, obviously because the game has changed so drastically with the numbers of balls thrown per game,” Jackson said. “I might have been the last person picked to be any kind of career stat leader at USC because of my size (5-foot-11, 185 pounds), but I pride myself on how I had my best games against the best opponents. When we were playing a school like Utah State in those days, I had little interest in being out there. We’d just run and I’d be blocking the whole game, then sit by halftime. Now those are the games when players seem to wrack up the most passing and receiving yards. I wish we had the bubble screen in our playbook back then. It was never a choice. I’d love to play in this style of offenses today.”
For what it’s worth, Jackson also set the school record for stolen bases on the baseball team with 52, playing his sophomore-to-senior year. That, too, has been erased since by Mark Smith and Seth Davidson.
== Jackson knows all about the two quarterbacks that he’ll be analyzing in FSW’s Hart-Upland playoff game Friday. In a FSW “Year of the Quarterback” feature program that has run this season, Jackson sat down, watched film and played catch, with Upland’s Tyler Hilinski and Hart’s Brady White. And here’s video proof:
== Saturday marks the 23th and final USC-UCLA football game that Bruins radio play-by-play man Chris Roberts is assigned to call — he’s retiring this spring after the basketball season ends.
The first one he did: John Barnes’ improbable performance in leading UCLA past USC at the Rose Bowl in 1992.
The first seven that he did — all UCLA wins.
The one he seems to remember most: The double-OT Bruins win in 1996, by a 48-41 count. But not for what you may remember.
“The Pac-12 Network featured that game the other night, and it was pretty cool to watch it again — but I made an horrendous mistake during that one,” Roberts remembered Thursday morning after attending UCLA’s practice, and nearly 12 hours before he’d be calling the Bruins’ basketball game at Pauley Pavilion against Nicholls State. “That was the first year of the overtime format. Skip Hicks scores a touchdown on UCLA’s first possession of the second overtime, and I start saying, ‘Bruins win! Bruins win!’ Nope, we had to led USC have a turn. I’m thinking it was sudden death.”
Another one etched in Roberts’ mind: USC’s 50-0 victory over UCLA in 2011.
“I was talking to (broadcast partner) Matt Stevens about this recently — you have the game, then the post-game, and as a professional broadcast, there’s the basic rule to go to every break giving the score,” said Roberts. “It’s 50-0 early in the fourth quarter. You already felt terrible for (UCLA coach Rick) Neuheisel and UCLA, but every time we had a break — ‘it’s 50-0.’ How many times can you keep repeating that score?”
Roberts says he isn’t looking at this game with any bittersweetness attached to it.
“There’s nothing nostalgic about this last one, because I’m thinking, ‘They need to win this, then next week (vs. Stanford), then if they play Oregon in the Pac-12 championship, then … I’m looking at it that way. And from there I’m looking forward to basketball as well. Maybe it’ll be different when we get through this whole season.”
Because UCLA has the Stanford contest on Nov. 29, Roberts won’t be traveling to the Bahamas for the Bruins basketball team participating in a three-appearance tournament during the Thanksgiving holiday. Dave Marcus and Tracy Murray will call those games for KLAC-AM (570) starting with UCLA-Oklahoma on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. (also on ESPN2)
== The ABC crew of Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe has drawn the assignment for USC-UCLA from the Rose Bowl (Saturday, 5 p.m., Channel 7).
== ESPN’s College GameDay goes to the 131st renewal of “The Game” between Yale and Harvard with its first visit to Cambridge, Mass, from the Dillon Quad on the Harvard campus. Will Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit stick around and call the game that kicks off just a half hour after the three-hour show ends? Nope. Randy Moss and Ross Tucker have it on NBCSN at 9:30 a.m. Fowler and Herbstreit get on the Disney jet and go instead to … Knoxville, Tenn., for No. 20 Missouri at unranked and 5-5 Tennessee (4:45 p.m., ESPN).
Among the other college games worth messing with the DVR this weekend:
= Washington State at Arizona State, 10 a.m., Pac-12 Network, with Kevin Calabro, Yogi Roth and Lewis Johnson (yes, 11 a.m. kickoff in Tempe, Ariz.)
= Arizona at Utah: Saturday, 12:30 p.m., ESPN, with Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore and Jessica Mendoza
= Stanford at Cal, 1 p.m., Fox Sports 1, with Joe Davis, Joey Harrington and Kris Budden
= Colorado at Oregon, 1:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network, with Ted Robinson, Glenn Parker and Jill Savage
= Oregon State at Washington, 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network, with Roxy Bernstein, Anthony Herron and Guy Haberman.
== Wonder how many in the inner-city have access to HBO? A profile of the Watts Bears, a youth football and track program drawing from Nickerson Gardens, Jordan Downs and Imperial Courts projects that was launched in 2011 by the Community Safety Partnership that brings the L.A. police department and L.A. Housing Authority to help eliminate an anti-police culture, will be profiled on the next episode of HBO’s “Real Sports” (debuts Tuesday, 9 p.m.). Correspondent Carl Quintanilla has the story. More background from an L.A. Times story done on the team from 2013.
== In addition to Fox Sports West’s high school football playoff coverage of Upland vs. Hart in Valencia on Friday (7:30 p.m., with Jackson partnered up with Fred Salas, since Mark Rogondino is on the road with the Clippers), the games that FSW is streaming on Prep Zone are (with 7:30 p.m. kickoffs):
= Long Beach Poly at Crespi (Ross Porter with Tony Moskal)
= Centennial vs. Mater Dei at Santa Ana Bowl (Paul Westphal and Chris Hale)
= Bishop Amat at JSerra (Dennis Ackerman and James Washington)
= Big Bear at Templeton (Dave Caldwell and Chris Galippo) — the key to this one: As a result of the large Southern Section region, Big Bear has to travel nearly 300 miles to go to Templeton, near Paso Robles.
The CIF-SS semifinals are Nov. 28 with the finals on Dec. 5-6.
== Fred Salas and Holly McPeak have the call on the Redondo-Mater Dei CIF girls volleyball Division 1AA finals from Cerritos College (Saturday, 8 p.m., live on Prime Ticket). Other division finals on the Prep Zone include Div. 2AA South Torrance vs. Village Christian (Saturday, 1 p.m., with Salas and Paul Westphal) and Div. 4AA La Reina vs. Alta Loma (Friday, 7:30 p.m., with Justin Alderson and Kristen Olsen)
== Adrian Healey, Taylor Twellman and Monica Gonzalez are on ESPN’s crew for Sunday’s 2 p.m. Galaxy-Seattle MLS Western Conference final Leg 1 contest from StubHub Center. Alexi Lalas is also on-site for studio segements.
== As part of Al Michaels’ tour of NBC shows to get the word out about his breezy new book, “You Can’t Make This Up” — our Q-and-A with him posted last weekend prior to Tuesday’s launch — his appearance on “Late Night: with Seth Meyers gets into how he actually did make things up, and affected the credibility of the Arizona Republic. Ah, those ASU pranksters (and it gives us an opening to recall the story Michaels once told us about his “George Exmont” prank, included in the lead to that Q-and-A we had):
== The yet-to-be-named L.A.-based sports website that ESPN has hired Jason Whitlock to head up in an effort to give more African-American voices a platform on race and cultural issues – Whitlock has referred to it as the “black Grantland” — announced three editorial hirings, with another one that apparently isn’t ready to officially confirm yet.
Jesse Washington, a Yale grad and recently Associated Press national writer on race and ethnicity, will be based on the East Coast. Danielle Cadet, a Northwestern grad from “The Huffington Post Black Voices” site on news coverage, will be a senior editor. Ryan Cortes, a Florida Atlantic grad and multimedia journalism grad recently out of Florida Atlantic, will be a staff writer working at the site’s offices in LA Live near Staples Center, where ESPN has its major West Coast presence.
Longtime Washington Post columnist Mike Wise, who his paper’s website points out is “bald, middle-aged, and also white,” has told his employer that he’s leaving to join Whitlock’s project, but ESPN said that hasn’t been finished yet on its end.
In August, ESPN named Amy DuBois Barnett, a former editor-in-chief at Ebony magazine and Brown University graduate, as the site’s executive editor.
Previous writing about the site that raise intrigue and disputed purpose have come from Deadspin.com’s Greg Howard and ESPN’s own ombudsman Robert Lipsyte.
== Surely, Whitlock’s site, were it up now, could get into the ramifications of this strained Tiger Woods-Dan Jenkins dynamic. Woods shot back at Jenkins for a Golf DIgest article he did about his “fake interview,” thanks to Derek Jeter’s Players Tribute site: “I’ve given lots of interviews to journalists in all that time, more than I could count, and some have been good and some not so much. All athletes know that we will be under scrutiny from the media. But this concocted article was below the belt.” Of course, had Woods not responded to it, as he was advised to do by his advisers, the whole thing wouldn’t have made much news, as Ed Sherman of ShermanReport.com points out.
== Fox’s USGA tournament championship coverage starting in 2015 will include the Golf Channel’s Steve Flesch, Julie Inkster, Shawn O’Donoughue and Corey Pavin at various events as analysts for the production that complement the lead team of Joe Buck and Greg Norman. Brad Faxon, Holly Sonders and former USGA executive director David Fay are also part of the Fox crew previously announced.
== David Feherty’s fourth season “Feherty” on Golf Channel concludes with a piece on PGA Tour pro Zach Johnson (Tuesday, 7 p.m.), followed by interviews with Clippers head coach Doc Rivers (Dec. 2) and sportscaster Dan Patrick (Dec. 9).
== Brett Haber and Justin Gimelstob call the Tennis Channel’s coverage of Switzerland vs. France in the Davis Cup finale starting Friday at 5 a.m. from Lille, France. Roger Federer has never been on a Davis Cup title team despite having 17 Grand Slam singles titles and an Olympic gold. Doubles matches are Saturday at 6:30 a.m. with the remaining singles on Sunday starting at 4 a.m.
== What kind of stuff would they be showing on “ESPN Illegal” if it was a legal channel? Would DirecTV even pick it up? The latest episode of “South Park” has the answer: Bull fighting, dog fighting and … we don’t want to give away the ending but we’re not looking at Chinese restaurants the same any longer.
== So John Feinstein may still keep his CBS Radio show. Or maybe not.
== The Seattle Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch can get a headline for returning a fan’s lost wallet, and then not want to talk about it. Too modest? When he doesn’t care to talk to the media about his real job — or even when he does, by phone, to the NFL Network — it costs him a fine by the league because it’s in the rules. It is an act of defiance? So, if he just talked, it wouldn’t be much of a story, right?
== Howie Long, Tom Jackson, Joe Theismann and Matt Millen are voices that help fill the next installment of “A Football Life,” where the larger-than-life former L.A. Raider Lyle Alzado (Friday, 6 p.m., NFL Network) is examined. Also included is his brother, Peter; sister Janice, first wife Sharon and fourth wife Kathy. “Take all the things of Lyle Alzado and throw them out the window because here is the one thing that he always was and it was the most consistent thing in his life,” says Millen. “Lyle had a good heart.” Shows in this series are available on the NFL Now video service: NFL.com/now.