THIS WEEK’S BEST BETS: SUPER BOWL 50 Details/TV: At Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, Sunday at 3:15 p.m., Channel 2 Yo, pizza man. How’s your delivery this Super Bowl Sunday? Peyton Manning supposedly told New England coach Bill Belichick after the recent AFC title game that “this might be my last rodeo.” The implication is that Manning’s Super Bowl appearance could also be the last time we see him in a Broncos uniform – kind of like what John Elway pulled on us years ago. Denver (14-4) didn’t really get this far because of the 39-year-old Manning, but almost in spite of him as he missed a batch of games with a foot injury before coming back in the last regular-season game, and then leading the team to a pair of playoff wins. Carolina (17-1), meanwhile, relied heavily on Cam Newton’s legs and arm – and swagger. The Manning-Newton show will be the headline grabber. They are No. 1 overall NFL picks – the first time a Super Bowl has featured that — yet more than 13 years apart in age, and maybe more in perception. This isn’t just a preference of cardboard pizza over some healthy Greek yogurt. Newton has already taken ownership of the storyline that he’s not really embraced by national fans of the game, saying: “I’m an African-American quarterback that may scare a lot of people because they haven’t seen nothing that they can compare me to.” Manning, who won Super Bowl XLI with Indianapolis nine year ago, can be compared his younger brother, Eli, who already has two Super Bowl rings. Their pocket-passing technique somehow survives. “It seems like every year they say the pocket passer is a dying breed,” he said when asked about it. “I kept saying, ‘I hope that’s not true. I will be out of a job and my brother will be pretty close behind me.’ ”
In this Nov. 27, 2011, photo, injured Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning meets with Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton after a game in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast, File)
ALSO THIS WEEK: COLLEGE BASKETBALL: UCLA at USC Details/TV: At Galen Center, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
USC’s Jordan McLaughlin gets around UCLA’s Tony Parker during the Trojans win at Pauley Pavilion on Jan. 13. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)
The Trojans’ impressive 89-75 triumph over the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion ended a six-game losing streak to their rivals and was highlighted by freshman Chimezie Metu (Lawndale High) going inside on Thomas Welsh and scoring 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting and taking eight rebounds. That was all coming off the bench. The Trojans also shot 45 percent from the arch (9 of 20) while UCLA was just 21 percent (4 of 19, including Bryce Alford’s 1-for-6 effort). UCLA only had Tony Parker (27 points and 12 rebounds) to brag about. But that could be different now. Parker came off the bench last Saturday when the Bruins (13-9, 4-5) tried a new look against Washington State, allowing sophomore Jonah Bolden to start instead. The Trojans (17-5, 6-3), who should be back in the Top 25 this week, are trying to build on their 13-0 Galen Center record so far this year.
THE REST OF THE WEEK Wednesday is set aside for national signing day — when high school football players officially make their college choices … The Kings and Ducks meet at Staples Center for Round 2 of the season series on Thursday (7 p.m., NBCSN) … More at this link
Jack Whitaker, center, who did play-by-play of what it referred to now as Super Bowl I, discusses that game along with Super Bowl 50 broadcasters Phil Simms, left, and Jim Nantz while in Pasadena recently. (Francis Specker/CBS)
If it’s simple perspective you need, Jack Whitaker can still bring it.
At age 91, he offers just a few words, perhaps a sentence or two. There’s no need for stanzas within an opus. That might be more a function of his current physical limitations, but this legendary TV essayist was never one to waste his breath anyway.
Spending his retirement in Rancho Mirage, Whitaker accepted an invitation from CBS’ Super Bowl 50 crew to come to Pasadena recently. The network had a glitzy promotional presentation to make before a mass of TV writers, trumpeting all its plans for the game coverage, along the extended pre-game, and all the special post-game programming afterward. Whitaker could be used, it was thought, as someone not to flout his fame, but more to provide a frame of reference.
Because, remember, Whitaker did the second-half play-by-play of the 1967 “World Championship Game” from the L.A. Coliseum. Very few today even recall that situation.
Funny thing, Don MacLean was talking on the radio the other day about an embarrassing incident he had once during his early NBA days.
More than 20 years ago, the former Simi Valley High and UCLA basketball star was in his third season with the Washington Bullets, but on the injured list with a left quad injury and had missed a couple weeks’ worth of games.
He was coming out of a restaurant one night and ended up punching someone – right in the face. He looked down and figured out his right hand was broken.
He wasn’t feeling really smart at that moment. Any of that sound familiar, Blake Griffin?
And the moral of the story, from MacLean’s perspective: “Sometimes you get put in bad situations. I’m not going to say what a dumb thing it was and how stupid he is because I did the same kind of thing at the same age he is now.”
Leave it to the rest of us to caption this thing in its proper form, then. Is there a proper emoji that Griffin should be texting to DeAndre Jordan right about now? More on these and other questions of the week at this link …
From the roof of the L.A. Coliseum in Jan., 1967, watching what was called “The World Championship Game, AFL vs. NFL,” broadcasters Jack Whitaker, far right, and Frank Gifford (with the headset) are in the CBS booth at the press box. In foreground is announcer Ray Scott. (CBS Photo Archive)
As Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated pointed out in a recent Q-and-A with CBS’ Jim Nantz, there are only six living broadcasters who have called a TV network Super Bowl since the first one at the Coliseum in 1967: Jack Whitaker, Dick Enberg, Al Michaels, Greg Gumbel, Joe Buck and Nantz, who will be at Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7.
Those gone, but hardly forgotten: Ray Scott, Pat Summerall, Curt Gowdy, Jack Buck and Frank Gifford, along with reporters and analsyts like Jim Simpson, Charlie Jones, Tom Brookshire, Kyle Rote, Al DeRogatis, Don Meredith …
Wait a second, Whitaker is still around? You bet he is. The 91-year-old made a special appearance as part of CBS’ Super Bowl 50 song-and-dance in Pasadena recently before a ballroom of TV writers and became an endearing figure of what sports broadcasting used to be.
We had the opportunity to sit with Whitaker as well and talk about some perspective he could lend to this golden anniversary of a game that he called — the second half of it, at least, for CBS — and what the primitive circumstances were that he dealt with at the time.
It’s one thing to read about his well crafted recollections in his 1998 autobiography “Preferred Lies and Other Tales: Skiming The Cream of A Life In Sports.” But it’s another to hear it again from Whitaker as he is today.
What’s worth posting here and now:
== On the news Wednesday that Sinclair Broadcasting has purchased Santa Monica-based Tennis Channel for $350 million, the Wall Street Journal reports that “the deal is a sign of the increasing pressure on independent cable channels like the Tennis Channel to merge with bigger players as the pay-TV distributors who carry their programming consolidate.” Sinclair Broadcasting owns 164 television networks and 422 channels in 79 TV markets. It also owns the American Sports Network, which recently televised the Arizona Bowl and had it air on KTLA-Channel 5 in the L.A. market. It was one of the three bowl games — of a total of 41 — not to air on ESPN. The stations owned closest to L.A. are in Fresno, Bakersfield and Las Vegas.
Tennis Channel “is vastly under-compensated and under-distributed relative to the value it brings to its viewers. It was the only independently-owned major sports network left,” Sinclair CEO David Smith said in a statement.
Because of debt Tennis Channel owes, Sinclair estimates the value of the channel to be about $65 million presently.
Former tennis coach and musician Steve Bellamy, married to former USC tennis standout Beth Herr, founded Tennis Channel in 1999, ramped up to a launch in 2003 that we covered, and got DirecTV to carry it in April, 2007. Bellamy also went on to form the Ski Channel and the Surf Channel.
Last year, Kodak named Bellamy as its president of motion picture and entertainment.
Tennis Channel is in the midst of live coverage of the Australian Open.
== For those who may have missed all the awards given out Monday by the Southern California Sports Broadcasters at their annual banquet:
= The Dodgers’ Vin Scully won for play by play in radio (KLAC 570-AM, for his three-inning simulcast) and TV (SportsNet LA, which likely many of the members don’t even have access to). Scully has won the radio award 13 times and the TV award 18 times since it was first given out in 1991, with the proviso that anyone who wins three years in a row isn’t eligible for the fourth year, so …
= The Dodgers’ Orel Hershiser won for game analyst on TV (SportsNet LA) with Rick Monday as the analyst on radio (KLAC)
= The Dodgers’ Jaime Jarrin was best foreign-language play-by-play for his radio work at KTNQ-AM (1020). The Lakers’ Pepe Mantilla was best foreign-language radio colorman. On TV, the Lakers’ Adrian Garcia Marquez was voted best foreign-language play-by-play with the Angels’ Jose Mota as foreign-language analyst.
= The Kings’ Patrick O’Neal was best TV pre- and post-game, and said as he accepted that he was sure this had nothing to do with the fact he just joined the group’s board of directors.
= KNX was the best sports news team
= KCBS/KCAL was the best sports TV team
= Steve Mason and John Ireland were named best sports-talk show (KSPN 710-AM).
Dodgers/USC team photographer Jon SooHoo has a gallery of photos from the event (including the one above).
KABC-Channel 7 posted this story about Rob Fukuzaki’s induction into the group’s Hall of Fame, as the Kings did as well for Jim Fox’s induction.
== College basketball broadcasts upcoming:
= Gus Johnson and Steve Lavin have the UCLA-Washington game from Pauley Pavilion on Thursday at 7 p.m. for Fox Sports 1.
= Spero Dedes and Mike Montgomery get USC playing host to Washington State for the Pac-12 Network (Thursday, 7:30 p.m.).
= Montgomery joins Jim Watson for USC playing host to Washington on Saturday for the Pac-12 Network at noon, followed by Roxy Bernstein and Bill Walton doing UCLA-Washington State from Pauley Pavilion (Saturday, 4 p.m., Pac-12 Net).
= ESPNU has Bernstein and Corey Williams calling Loyola Marymount at BYU (Thursday, 8 p.m.).
= ESPN2 has Beth Mowins and Brad Daugherty at Pepperdine-BYU (Saturday, 7 p.m.)
== Among those awarded Golden Mikes for work done in 2015 at last Saturday’s ceremony at the Universal Hilton was Thousand Oaks’ Cal Lutheran campus station KCLU (1340-AM/88.3-FM) in “Best Sports Reporting” category.
A 3 minute, 40 second piece submitted entitled “L.A. Still Without Pro Football, But Ventura County Has Cowboys, Rams This Week” captured the moment when two NFL teams trained in Oxnard last August that captured fans anticipation of the league’s return to Southern California.
News director Lance Orosco, a Sherman Oaks resident who won in six categories at the Golden Mike ceremony, did this piece as well. But that is hardly a surprise at this point.
Orosco has been at KCLU since 2001 and winning awards like this with some regularly.
In 2010, he won a national Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association for “Best Audio Sports Reporting” in the small market division for his profile on Tony Malinosky, the 100-year-old Oxnard resident who was the oldest living Dodger at the time (he died in Feb., 2011).
== KCLU is in the “B” division for the Golden Mike awards, which designates that it has five or fewer staffers. Those in the “A” division are for six or more staffers. Such as KNX 1070-AM, which won in five categories. But there was no “Best Sports Reporting” award given to an “A” division group for this category by The Radio and Television News Association of Southern California because the judges didn’t deem any of the entries up to the “standard of excellence” it establishes for each category. With that in mind, consider the winner of the “Best Sports Segment” — the soon-to-be disappearing team at The Beast 980 (KFWB AM), which won for its Sept. 16, 2015 Wednesday morning entry delivered by update man Sam Farber.
That was not a particularly newsworthy day, notes “The Beast” 980 program director Tom Lee of what was included in the prize entry. It had info about the Dodgers’ 16-inning loss at home against Colorado, the Angels win in Seattle, and blind snapper Jake Olson’s first official practice at USC with a quote from Cody Kessler.
“I think it was a very good representation of what a great job Sam does on the updates, using audio, concise writing and crisp delivery,” said Lee.
Farber said it the piece was “in short, what I try to do any given day on any given update — give the relevant stats, information and stories about L.A.’s favorite teams.” He said it was “definitely a station award, but the update segment we sent in was mine and the RTNA was very kind to add my name to it while they were handing it out. All that said, I can’t speak highly enough about my teammates here at The Beast. It will be very sad when it comes to a close.”
Still nothing new about what the Clippers will do with their game broadcasts if the new owners of KFWB go ahead as planned and switch the format to foreign language in the coming weeks.
== Clippers guard J.J. Redick has gotten himself involved in a weekly media project during the season that may end up with a better circulation than the team’s upcoming radio games. DGital Media and Yahoo Sports have “The Vertical Podcast With J.J. Redick” and Yahoo NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski that will post new episodes every Thursday. The organizers say that Redick will be the first active NBA athlete to host a regular podcast. It’s available on iTunes, Stitcher and the TuneIn audio platform.
During “The Vertical Podcast with Woj” that posted Wednesday, Redick appeared to announce his new show, but he did not address the Blake Griffin situation since it was taped before that news came out on Tuesday morning.
== NBCSN has Doc Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, Jeremy Roenick and Pierre McGuire calling the NHL All Star Game on Sunday from Nashville (2 p.m.) with the new 3-on-3 format. Liam McHugh, Mike Milbury and Keith Jones are pre- and post-game.
Is the game relegated to the cable channel because NBC is busy with other major sports coverage? Perhaps. KNBC-Channel 4 has the European Figure Skating Championships on tape from Slovakia from 1-to-3 p.m. at this time with Tanith White, Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski, followed by “paid programming” filling out the rest of the day.
The Saturday skills competition airs on NBCSN at 4 p.m. with Kenny Albert, Olczyk, McGuire and Roenick.
== ESPN has the “Monday Night” crew of Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and Lisa Salters on the NFL Pro Bowl from Honolulu (Sunday, 4 p.m.). Let it also be known that Chris Berman wormed his way to Hawaii to host a “Postseason NFL Countdown” show at the game starting at 2 p.m. with the rest of the crew — Suzy Kolber, Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson – in the Bristol, Conn., studio.
To make the exhibition game more viewer-friendly, ESPN says it will have mikes on all the quarterbacks, a wireless camera on the referee, locker room access and in-game interviews with Salters.
== Super Bowl week has a way of bringing out the worst in bangwagoning programming, even by the networks not involved in the game’s broadcast itself.
Take NBC’s Tuesday version of NBC’s “Hollywood Game Night,” which includes NFL play-by-play man Al Michaels and the NFL Network’s Rich Eisen.
You’ve been warned. And watch the alcohol intake.
== In the wake of letting Greg Norman go as their lead golf analyst, Fox went ahead and named Paul Azinger as the replacement this week. Fox’s upcoming golf assignments include the 116th U.S. Open at Oakmont just outside of Pittsburgh, the U.S. Women’s Open at Cordevalle, just north of San Jose, and the U.S. Senior Open in Columbus, Ohio. Azinger will do those events as well as the U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills Country Club in Michigan and the 2017 Walker Cup at Los Angeles Country Club.
Still nothing concrete about Norman’s exit, but aside from that recently referenced Q-and-A that SI.com’s Deitsch did with CBS’s Nantz, Nantz also gave his overview of the Fox-Norman situation:
“When Greg was the No. 1 ranked player in the world, [he] had a very strong tie with [former CBS golf producer Frank Chirkinian]. I can tell you Greg made many, many appearances in the 18th tower when he played in a tournament and was not in one of the last groups. We never had anyone more giving of his time to come up to the tower and put on his headset and tell us what had happened. I always thought he was brilliant. Basically, he got to work one tournament last year. I know all those guys there and I truly wish them well. I talked to Joe [Buck] leading up to the Open and [I’ve known Fox producer] Mark Loomis for a long time. So we don’t know what happened there. I am curious. It takes time for people to be together in any sport on the air, to be able to establish continuity and chemistry. When I interview coaches and players, sometimes you can see who is really gifted at rolling out a sound bite and saying it in a way that has never been heard before—interesting ways in making you think. I worked a lot with Greg over the years and I don’t know why they parted ways. I always had a lot of respect for what he offered when he came to his tower.”
== Dottie Pepper joins CBS’ golf coverage for the first time as a course reporter at this weekend’s Farmers Insurance Open from Torrey Pines as the network opens its golf coverage season.
With Nantz immersed in the Super Bowl coverage, Bill Macatee takes the anchor spot with Nick Faldo in the 18th tower for the network coverage Saturday and Sunday at noon. Ian Baker-Finch, Gary McCord and Peter Kostis are also in this crew that will resume with the AT&T Pebble Beach event the week after the Super Bowl, then come to Riviera Country Club for the L.A. PGA Tour stop.
== A tribute to the late Barney Hall, a voice of NASCAR. “He was auto racing’s answer to Red Barber or Vin Scully,” writes ESPN’s Ryan McGee. “While others shouted over the action, he described the action as if he was reading us all the greatest bedtime story ever.”
== The next MLB Network minidoc: “Holy Cow! The Story of Harry Caray,” which premieres Tuesday at 9 p.m., narrated by actor and Cubs fan William Petersen. Here’s a clip.
== And finally:
After seeing the trailer appear in commercial spots during the College Football Playoff championship game on ESPN two weeks ago, we had been anticipating more attention to the late-January release of the movie “Greater,” on the football career of former University of Arkansas walk-on Brandon Burlsworth.
But the latest is that the film’s distributors have pushed it back to summer because of increased attention to the “Rudy”-like flick — most likely from those TV ads.
A football movie in the summer? If it’s not coming out now, wouldn’t it be best to wait until the fall instead? Otherwise, it makes as much sense as releasing a movie about NFL concussions on Christmas Day.
Lakers’ Kobe Bryant watches the second half of a game against Golden State last November. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET: NBA: LAKERS at CLIPPERS Details/TV: Staples Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket, TWC SportsNet Since the Clippers have won the last eight straight and 12 of the last 13 in this stuffy Hallway Series, the urgency to have them face off for