Above: When the 2015 NCAA men’s tournament bracket came out, the JW Marriott in Indianapolis hung one out on the side of its building. Aside from being suspicious of any stay at a Marriott from now on, we’ll take this is an indication that the tournament is still building toward bigger things. Otherwise, go with #brackeTALLogy.
What’s on tap for Sunday:
We’re trying to fill out our NCAA Tournament bracket early.
(Anyone have a 3D printer? They had a version of the bracket last year on one of them new contraptions, and while we’re not sure it looked cool, it was such a perfect use of new technology gone sideways that we’re apt to see a 4D version this year. If that makes any sense).
We’ve targeted a few things related to how CBS/Turner will cover this year’s dance, starting with the bracket reveal in a two-hour show in Sunday (Channel 2, 2:30 p.m.) and heading into whatever they’re calling the first full day on Thursday and Friday, which we suspect will still involved USC, could still involve Long Beach State, but won’t include UCLA. It otherwise promises to be pretty wide open.
“It obviously helps to have a UCLA, with its heritage, or a USC, or going north, Stanford because you want a West Coast presence when so many of the games are played late in the evening,” CBS Sports chair Sean McManus told us Wednesday while in L.A. for network meetings. “But from a ratings standpoint, you don’t see as much of an impact in the L.A. market as you might a Big Ten market or SEC or Big 12. That has really not been a huge issue with us as far as having a Southern California presence.
“(With Louisville on NCAA probation and not able to participate), that’s a real loss for us and the tournament. I had dinner last night with the men’s committee chair Joe Castiglione (the Oklahoma athletic director) and next year’s chair Mark Hollis (the Michigan State AD) and they say they’ve never seen a situation where it’s this wide open as it is this season, and the bubble has never been bigger. There will be some controversy in who gets in, and that’s never a bad thing when it comes to this, but they have a very difficult job to be fair and make sure the right teams get in. A lot of it projecting how they think they’ll play going forward as well. There’s no Kentucky like last year or with a Duke team in the past. There are probably 10 or more teams that can win it, and that’s the storyline going in. We’ve had the best regular season ratings in 22 years, so we know those stories like Georgia State or Valparaiso will continue to come up and set the bar high for us.”
What’s best suited to run here and now:
== We have a previous post this week about the Pac-12 Network’s distribution philosophy amidst the frustrations on watching the men’s basketball conference tournament. The conference announced late Wednesday that Cox Communications added the Pac-12 Network in California and Arizona, at least temporarily.
Said Pac-12 Net president Lydia Murphy-Stephans said in a statement: “This is great news for our fans. We continue to work with Cox to make sure Pac-12 Network is available to fans in their entire footprint in HD.”
= Also this week, a post about the “reveal” by KSPN’s Steve Mason.
As a post script: Mason did text us back Wednesday, and in talking about the reaction others had to his news: “The world is a much kinder place than I thought. My faith in humanity has been restored. Seriously.”
== The NCAA Tournament broadcast teams announced by CBS and Turner who’ll start calling games with the Tuesday/Wednesday “first four” games, and then the Thursday/Friday and Saturday/Sunday rounds at the very least:
=Jim Nantz is with Bill Raftery and Grant Hill (plus Tracy Wolfson) as the A-team, through to the NCAA semifinals and finals on TBS this season, their second year together after doing it on CBS in 2015.
The others who’ll go forward to the first and second weekend:
=Verne Lundquist-Jim Spanarkel (Allie LaForce)
=Brian Anderson-Steve Smith (Dana Jacobson)
=Kevin Harlan-Reggie Miller-Dan Bonner (Lewis Johnson)
Those who have first weekend duties only:
=Ian Eagle-Chris Webber-Len Elmore (Evan Washburn)
=Spero Dedes-Doug Gottlieb (Ros Gold-Onwude)
=Andrew Catalon-Steve Lappas (Jamie Erdahl)
=Carter Blackburn-Mike Gminski (Jamie Maggio)
Those missing from last year: Marv Albert, who asked to concentrate just on the NBA; Rachel Nichols, who returned to ESPN, and Craig Sager, still recovering from cancer and keeping an NBA schedule for TNT.
Last season, Gottlieb worked with Eagle, and Webber and Elmore were with Albert. Also Dedes was with Gminski and Maggio, and Johnson did sidelines for the Anderson-Smith team.
The 37-year-old Blackburn effectively replaces Albert. Blackburn seemed to have been a CBS golden boy a few years back in 2008 and 2009, working tournament games with Jay Bilas. But he then defected to ESPN. He’s back in the loop on first two-round games after having come back to work at CBSSN.
Gold-Onwude, a former Stanford standout who has worked for the Pac-12 Network and ESPN, has been added as a reporter for the first time, as is Washburn.
Catalon-Lappas (Erdahl) do Tuesday’s first-round game on truTV, with Blackburn-Gminski (Maggio) on the Wednesday game, also buried on truTV. This “first four” studio show from Atlanta will have Matt Winer with Wally Szczerbiak, Seth Davis and Swin Cash.
Cash, the WNBA All-Star who won championships two times at UConn, joins the studio show for the first time.
For the Sunday selection show, it’s Greg Gumbel and Ernie Johnson co-hosting from CBS’ studios in New York, as well as for the first week of the tournament. They are joined by Clark Kellogg, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley.
For the second week, Johnson goes to the Turner Atlanta studios with Gottlieb added to the crew in New York.
Johnson does the studio coverage from Houston during the semifinals and finals with Barkley, Smith, Kellogg, Miller, Davis and, somehow, Gumbel fits in there.
When it’s said and done, CBS will have 21 games — starting with the first and second rounds, the Sweet 16 and the Elite Eight.
Turner will have 46 games across TBS, TNT and truTV. That includes TBS taking 21 of them, including the Final Four on April 2 and the title game on April 4.
TNT has 12 games and, remarkably, truTV gets 13 games in the process.
Both TNT and truTV will be involved in a “Team Stream” coverage during the Final Four and championship game, focusing on local-based broadcasting of the teams involved.
== ESPNU has the NIT bracket announcement Sunday at 5:30 p.m.
== ESPN thought enough about Jay Bilas’ schedule this week that it put the whole thing in graphic form ... so we could know what he’s doing which day?
== ESPN has the women’s NCAA Tournament bracket announcement on Monday at 4 p.m. and somehow manages to format it into a one-hour show. Kevin Negandhi hosts it with Kara Lawson and Rebecca Lobo. ESPN and ESPN2 will carry all 63 games of the tournament starting next Friday.
== Prime Ticket has all four quarterfinal games of the Big West men’s basketball tournament from Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, capped with Long Beach State-UC Riverside at about 8:30 p.m. (with Mark Rogondino, Corey Maggette and Rahshaun Haylock). Rogondino/Maggette (Haylock) also have Cal Poly-UC Irvine at 6 p.m. Kevin Barnett has the noon and 2:30 p.m. games with Maggette and Haylock featuring UC Davis-UCSanta Barbara and Fullerton-Hawaii.
ESPU picks up the semifinals Friday (6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m., both with Dave Pasch and Paul Biancardi) and ESPN2 has Saturday’s final (8:30 p.m., Pasch and Biancardi)
Prime Ticket also has Saturday’s 3 p.m. Big West women’s championship game with Kevin Barnett, Tammy Blackburn and Lindsey Thiry with Long Beach State possibly still in the hunt.
== How would potential California state champion Chino Hills fare in a national tournament after all this local stuff is done? We won’t know.
== Stuff worth reading as we wait impatiently for the brackets to come out that seem to touch on all aspects of this event:
= “March 1939: Before the Madness: The Story of the first NCAA Basketball Tournament Champions,” by Terry Frei (Lyons Press reprint edition, 260 pages, $16.95). The original hardbound edition came out in 2014, but the story of how Oregon emerged as the first college basketball champions hasn’t changed, as written by the Denver-based journalist who was raised in Eugene, Oregon, as his father, Jerry, spent 17 years on the Ducks’ football team coaching staff. Oregon’s win in this event was direct competition with Long Island University winning the NIT, in its second year, and considered to be more “champion-worthy.”
= “Indentured: The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA,” by Joe Nocera and Ben Strauss (Portfolio Publishing, 384 pages, $30). Think Sonny Vacaro, Ed O’Bannon and Ramogi Huma. The former shoe company rep who became an NCAA whistle blower, the former UCLA 1995 champion who set into motion the antitrust ruling about his likeness used in a video game, and another UCLA grad who started the National College Players Association and is pushing for collective bargaining rights for players (and who we first met in 2010). As the authors point out very early in the book: “The NCAA’s long-standing insistence that amateurism is the ‘core value’ of college sports has always been more than a little hypocritical –with the NCAA … television contract with TBS and CBS for the rights to the men’s basketballl championship bring in around $900 million a year … with athletic conferences owning their own lucrative all-sports cable networks; with coaches making … $10 million (Mike Krzyzewski).” The title comes from the second appendix of the book, “National Letter of Indenture: How College Athletes are Similar to and in Many Ways Worse Off Than, the Indentured Servants of Colonial Times,” by Andy Schwarz and Jason Belzer. Also covered here in some depth: The NCAA case against UCLA’s Shabaz Muhammad and former USC football coach Todd McNair. The book has the endorsement of Buzz Bissinger, Frank Deford, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob Costas.
= “The Legends Club: Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Valvano and an Epic College Basketball Rivalry,” by John Feinstein (Doubleday, 416 pages, $27.95). You never get cheated by a Feinstein college basketball history book. And did you know: Feinstein got his start in real writing at The Chronicle, the Duke University student paper (where future CBS Sports president Sean McManus was working at the same time as a news room reporter). Feinstein knew all three men involved in this book — starting with Smith in 1976, when the Tar Heels were in a 24-2 season led by Mitch Kupchak and Walter Davis. By 1980, Duke hired Krzyzewski and North Carolina State, nine days later, hired Jim Valvano (and Feinstein was then at the Washington Post). Nice education. The issue with any Feinstein book: Pages and pages. Great stuff, but it’s almost like a bio on all three pillars of North Carolina basketball.
== When SportsNet L.A. had its Wednesday 7 p.m. edition of “Access SportsNet: Dodgers,” it had to rely on Angels’ coverage from their Fox Sports West feed, otherwise you’d get no highlights from that day’s Dodgers-Angels exhibition game from Tempe, Ariz. Because that one of the games SportsNet L.A. didn’t air this spring.
As a result, there’s a logo overlap in the upper right corner that served no one’s purpose but to tell viewers: Really? Someone thought this looked OK? What’s the double meaning?
Friday’s edition of “Access SportsNet: Dodgers” could do the same thing — the Dodgers and Angels play again at the Dodgers’ Glendale, Ariz., home base, which FSW has, but SportsNet LA doesn’t. So far, when SportsNet L.A. hasn’t aired a Dodgers exhibition game that day, it does the next worst thing — bringing in video that was shown on the in-house videoboard. There’s not a lot of great camerawork going on there, to say the least. But you get what you borrow, along with Orel Hershiser’s apologetic explanation as to why the clips lack a lot of storytelling.
== “Fearing that a continuing dispute will prevent 900,000 (New York) Comcast customers from watching regular-season Yankee games, the YES Network is beginning a campaign Wednesday to try to persuade affected fans to switch to providers like Verizon Fios and DirecTV,” writes Richard Sandomir in the New York Times this week.
“We’re telling people that this isn’t going to settle,” Tracy Dolgin, the president of the YES Network, said in a telephone interview. “Hope is not a strategy. You have to find another provider.”
Sounds like a solid strategy.
Radio spots recently in sports-talk stations in L.A. have been featuring a Time Warner Cable message suggesting viewers of DirecTV and AT&T switch over to TWC to see the Dodgers’ SportsNet LA (with a $300 incentive card dangling in front of them).
Again, DirecTV … right in the middle of the muck.
Comcast was originally the company that tried to buy out TWC. Now, it’s Charter awaiting final FCC approval, with plenty of anti-trust strings attached to the broadband element in all this.
== The Fox Sports/FS1 national MLB schedule released Thursday morning starts with the Angels playing host to Texas on Thursday, April 7 (7 p.m., FS1) and the has the Dodgers at San Francisco on Saturday, April 9 (1 p.m., FS1). The slate going through Oct. 1 has the Dodgers and Angels on seven times each (never against each other) for either Fox-Channel 11 or FS1. The two outlets have 71 game windows established (39 on FS1) in addition to more than 2,200 on regional networks that Fox owns, including the Angels on FSW. Joe Buck and John Smoltz are the new A-team.
== The Galaxy didn’t release information until Tuesday of this week that TWC SportsNet and TWC Deportes would be covering the team’s MLS game Sunday in Colorado, a 4 p.m. start. Joe Tutino is back for his third year on play-by-play, former Galaxy star Cobi Jones returns for his fifth season as the analyst and Kelli Tennant is the sideline reporter. This is the fifth season of Galaxy games on TWC, with 17 scheduled to air on the local cable channel.
For the “Access SportsNet: Galaxy” pre- and post-game shows, TWCSN will have former Galaxy stars Landon Donovan and Clint Mathis share the studio roles with host Chris McGee. Donovan’s first appearance will be May 11.
On TWC Deportes, Martin “El Pulpo” Zuniga and Samuel Jacobo are on the call.
Since the former “The Beast 980” had been the Galaxy’s previous radio home, with Fred Roggin actually calling games, that relationship has dissolved. The Galaxy will be audio streaming their games on www.lagalaxy.com.
The Galaxy season opener last Sunday was on UniMas. Select Galaxy games this season will be on ESPN and FS1, while UniMas has two more exclusive broadcasts.
== In the process of posting columns on the TopRank.com website related to the upcoming Manny Pacquaio-Tim Bradley April 9 fight, former Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Dwyre wrestled in his latest about how he justifies writing about boxers’ concussions versus those suffered by NFL players. It’s a very interesting internal journalistic debate, one sparked by reader input.
== Circling back to the Ralph Lawler star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony last Thursday: One current and many former Clippers players were present. Any reason why his longtime broadcast partner, Michael Smith, wasn’t there to share a snapshot? No show for any of the other Clippers broadcasters who are part of their TV or radio production? Not even any Fox Sports West execs?
== While on Dan Patrick’s syndicated radio show this week to promote new episodes of his Golf Channel interview show, David Feherty was told by the host they’ve considered taking the show to Dublin, Ireland, and doing some remotes from the legendary Guinness brewery.
“You know there’s an old story about the Guinness brewery,” Feherty began, “about Murphy and Flanagan, cleaning the top of the vat. And Murphy fell in and drowned.
“At the inquest, the judge asked Flanagan, ‘Did Mr. Murphy die instantly?’ And Flanagan said, ‘No he got out twice to go to the bathroom.'”
After Patrick finished laughing he said: “That’s OK, I’m fine with that.”
We bring it up because we heard this joke originally told over the radio, on KLAC-AM (570). The engineer dumped the last line of the joke, hearing it ahead of the seven-second delay, and fearing the listeners couldn’t handle it?
We picked the joke up in full by watching the replay of the show on NBCSN.
== Kevin Harlan, Brent Barry and Ric Bucher have the call on the Lakers-Cavaliers game for TNT on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Then Mike Breen is paired with Hubie Brown and Heather Cox to do the Clippers-Cavaliers game, also from Staples Center, on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on Channel 7.
== ESPN says it has figured out a deal to keep Mike Ditka on its NFL coverage, but now only as a “contributor” to SportsCenter rather than as a studio host, starting in September. They’ve signed the former NFL star and Chicago Bears coach to a two-year deal. He has been with ESPN since 2004.
This announcement earlier in the week came not long after the network said Matt Hasselbeck, who announced his NFL retirement on Wednesday, would join ESPN as an analyst on “Sunday NFL Countdown” and “Monday Night Countdown.” Hasselbeck’s brother, Tim, has been an NFL studio analyst since 2008. ESPN added former NFL star Charles Woodson to its “Countdown” shows earlier this year.
Ditka and Keyshawn Johnson would be the departing “Countdown” hosts in this new arrangement.
== Can a broadcaster get kicked out of a college basketball game by the refs? And then be allowed to come back? Apparently so.
== ESPN launches its latest “30 for 30” doc (again, we can’t find a new ‘brand’ for this?) with one on the Duke lacrosse scandal from 10 years ago called “Fantastic Lies.” SI.com’s Richard Deitsch goes into it much deeper than we care to even want to go, despite all the fantastic reviews on it so far.
== Tom Hammond hosts with Ato Boldon, Lewis Johnson, Todd Harris, Craig Masback and Adam Nelson as the analysts on NBCSN’s coverage of the USATF Indoor Track and Field Championships from Portland starting Friday at 8:30 p.m and continuing live Saturday at 5 p.m.
== Now that it’s official, when you’re considering possible media landing spots for Peyton Manning, of course you’ve got to start with the CBS booth, and Phil Simms’ job. As AwfulAnnouncing.com has done. And we did back during Super Bowl 50.
== “It’s becoming more and more clear that being loud and controversial is more important than being nuanced and thoughtful (in today’s media),” writes an AwfulAnnouncing.com guy who is apparently miffed that the Chicago Tribune just played him.
== ABC has brings back Scott Goodyear for his 15th year and Eddie Cheever for his ninth, along with Allen Bestwick, to call the first IndyCar Series race of the season from St. Petersburg, Fla. (Sunday, 9:30 a.m., Channel 7). Jon Beekhuis, Rick DeBruhl and Dr. Jerry Punch are in the pits.
ABC will have four IndyCar races on ABC this season, including the 100th Indianapolis 500 (May 29), two days of Indy qualifying (May 21-22), the event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (May 14) and two races from Detroit (June 4-5).
The 42nd Grand Prix of Long Beach (April 17), the third race of the year for the IRL circuit, will be on NBCSN.
== Interesting idea by Sports Illustrated, as a way to relaunch its SI Vault, by producing nearly two hours of video to promote its new “100 Greatest Moments in Sports History” project, launched Tuesday.
The 1980 U.S. Olympic win over the Soviet Union was the SI pick for the No. 1 “moment,” followed by Jackie Robinson breaking the MLB color barrier in 1947 and Jesse Owens winning four gold medals at the 1936 Summer Olympics.
Others with local ties that did make it:
No. 34: The 2006 college football national title game between Texas and USC
No. 40: Magic Johnson comes back after HIV announcement to play in the 1992 NBA All-Star Game
No. 46: Bill Walton’s 21-of-22 shooting night in UCLA’s 1973 title game win
No. 62: Kirk Gibson’s 1988 Game 1 home run in the World Series for the Dodgers.
No. 63: John Wooden’s 10th and final NCAA championship for UCLA in 1975.
No. 66: Lakers rookie Magic Johnson starts at center in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals against Philadelphia
No. 84: Mary Lou Retton’s perfect “10” in the floor exercise at the 1984 L.A. Summer Olympics
“Infamous” moments that didn’t make the list. It’s explained here.
And with the new SI Vault comes easier accessibility to the magazine’s writers of the past. Like former L.A. Daily News sports editor and columnist Joe Jares.
== And finally:
== As far as the Erin Andrews’ civil lawsuit victory she had a jury deliver this week, put us in the same opinion pool with what the New York Daily News’ Gersh Kuntzman wrote about the award “making a mockery of pain and suffering.”
We realize that, when everything calms down, she may “only” receive $6 million for all she’s put herself though.
And, if we had a daughter that was on the other side of this, yes, it should be a wake-up call for hotels (why stay in a Marriott from now on?) and it sends a chilling effect about who’s responsible for their own safety and security
There are plenty who also think $55 million isn’t enough.
Yet, there are even more signs that she doesn’t get it.
As the Associated Press pointed out: Andrews “appeared to sign an autograph for at least one juror.”
Maybe the juror is one of the 700,000 who’s been a fan of hers since this TMZ exclusive report — posted three years after the stalking incident.
(And as far as we can tell, the peephole video is still in circulation on the Internet somewhere, plus the website FunnyOrDie.com continues to post a parody of the whole thing … why weren’t they sued as well?)
The laugh-out-loud postscript is a piece by the Andrews’ home-town team at the Tampa Trib that claims everyone is “messing with the wrong person” in this situation. We can only go by many who have worked with her recently and in the past who know she’s not really one who can laugh at herself, or else this whole court followup would have never happened. And we’re still the one remembered as writing the “harshest critique” of her ever. Nothing has changed.
Even if it’s the opposite, apparently, of what the Tampa Trib was attemptiing.
So if this episode brings closure, fine. But it won’t. It’s never enough.