In addition to the expanded and updated post on dailynews.com/sports about Bill Raftery’s new line of T-shirts on top of his prep for Friday’s UCLA-Kentucky NCAA men’s basketball tournament game in Memphis, Tenn., that CBS will air, we have these news of note:
== Raftery talks earlier this month with the New York Post on his 50 years of NCAA Tournament memories.
== Upcoming layoffs have some ESPN employees in a “panic of biblical proportions?” Let’s not oversell this. It’s the reality of business and the media. Those who think they are immune are living in a parallel universe.
In fact, ESPN continues to appear to be expanding beyond its means. The net announced Thursday that it has gone ahead and named Suzy Kolber, Samatha Ponder and Trey Wingo as a three-way compromise to host its NFL studio shows after the reassignment of Chris Berman, a personnel change that has been rumored for some time.
“They each have a unique style and approach, yet they all share a passion for the game of football that is evident to viewers,” said Stephanie Druley, ESPN Senior Vice President, Studio and Event Production, in Thursday’s announcement release. “We look forward to this group being the face of our NFL studio coverage for many years ahead on ESPN.”
Ponder, more associated lately with ESPN’s college football coverage, has the most visible role, taking over “Sunday NFL Countdown.” Bob Ley was the original host in 1985, Berman took it over a year later and has done it the last 32 seasons.
Ponder posted a message on the ESPN media site this morning.
Kolber, a co-host with Berman on “Monday Night Countdown,” has the entire show to herself now at the site of each week’s contest.
Wingo will wing it at the NFL Draft, starting with the April 27 event in Philadelphia.
== Alan Oda of LARadio.com has collected more information following up on the announcement Tuesday made on the KLAC-AM (570) airways about personality Vic “The Brick” Jacobs undergoing treatment for Stage 3 colon cancer.
Jacobs told listeners in the 3 p.m. hour of the Petros And Money Show on Tuesday. The station has a website link for those who want to post videos of encouragement for Jacobs, 64, who says he has completed the first round of treatments and will take time away.
From a profile we did on him in 2004, to one in 2015 by ViceSports.com and another from TribeMagazine.com. For those who need to get caught up to speed by the man, the myth, and the radio legend.
Some recent Twitter posts:
hearing that @vicfeelingyou (Vic Jacobs) is fighting stage 3 cancer. horrible news, but we are all hoping he can recover! Hang in there!
== In a 2013 video resume, Larry Burnett goes over many of his career highlights and then concludes:
“I’m not fishing for compliments here. I’m just a hard working guy who takes his job seriously, but makes his job fun. And I admit it — I’m very proud of what I have accomplished and in my abilities to inform and entertain. But I am more excited to tackle whatever new challenges lie ahead.” Four years later, Burnett continues his challenge, lured into a different direction now.
The former ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor, WNBA Sparks play-by-play man and lately host of his own radio show, Burnett has sold his home in Agoura Hills and he and his wife are moving to Reno, Nev., next week to be closer to his daughter and three small grandchildren — but also to continue his career in sports broadcasting.
After 26 years in Southern California, Burnett declared in a Facebook.com post via his Twitter account he was “on the move and making changes” and ready to part with some of his sports memorabilia during a sale at his home last weekend.
“I just got a point where I couldn’t make a living and we just decided to make the move,” said Burnett, who just turned 65. “This isn’t a retirement. I want to work. I’m going up there on faith and the knowledge that it’s time to make a change.”
A New Jersey native, Burnett had a five-year run as an ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor in the late ’80s before coming West to be part of the inaugural Prime Ticket “Press Box” shows on Dr. Jerry Buss’ burgeoning Southern California sports cable channel. That lasted six years.
Within a year, Burnett tried play-by-play with the WNBA’s Sparks, paired up with Ann Meyers Drysdale. At one point, he was doing more than 30 games a season, many on simulcasts. But the schedule was cut back and he was eventually let loose in 2014, without given a reason, after 16 seasons. He was calling the Lakers’ D-League Defenders games in recent years as well.
Burnett also did the Lakers’ pregame, postgame and halftime host on radio back at 570-AM, occasionally filling in on play-by-play with Mychal Thompson. He’s also done Pepperdine basketball and baseball.
As a sports media consultant, Burnett started his own company called TB4US (Think Before You Speak) accessible through his Web site (www.larrybsports.com). Burnett’s latest project, the “Open Season” radio show, was one he self-produced and bought time on KCAA-AM. He stopped doing the show, which had created 80 episodes for on a year and a half, as of a month ago.
“It’s been a cool ride — this is the longest place I’ve lived anywhere,” he said. “It’s very disappointing that I haven’t had a sniff of much work in quite some time. If I was gainfully employed and doing well, it would be harder to get me to leave. I’m resolved to this decision to be close to my daughter and grandkids after missing so many family events over the years because of work.
“I’ve chased my dream and had a great run. I can’t complain about anything other than I want to keep working, I think I’m still good at it, and I’m not interested in retiring.”
Burnett’s run at “Press Box,” starting in Oct. of 1990, was part of a revolutionary approach to extended local sports news shows. Burnett, Alan Massengale and Glenn Walker were the main anchors for the program that gave local viewers an expanded nightly dose of sports coverage at 10 p.m., often right after live game broadcasts, and before the local network affiliates did their 3-to-5 minute pops. That was a six-year ride when ownership changes happened and Fox bought the cable channel and started dumping salaries.
“I remember the last night of ‘Press Box,’ I couldn’t think of anything profound to say except, ‘I’m Larry Burnett, and the next time you see me behind a mike, I’ll be working the drive through window and Taco Bell’,” Burnett recalled.
“And you know, that may still happen.”
== Spero Dedes, Steve Smith and Len Elmore (with reporter Ros Gold-Onwude) have the call of USC’s “First Four” NCAA men’s tournament contest against Providence on Wednesday at approx. 6:15 p.m. on truTV. The crew also calls the North Carolina Central-UC Davis contest at 3:40 p.m.
Should USC advance to the official first round in Tulsa, Okla., against SMU (Friday, approx. 12:10 pm.), Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller and Dan Bonner (with Dana Jacobson) have the call again on truTV.
Debbie Antonelli, left, fist bumps a cameraman before the start of the women’s basketball game between Duke and Notre Dame at the ACC tournament championship on March 5. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)
The story that doesn’t need to be a story leading into the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament involves the hiring of the first female game analyst in more than two decades. Deb Antonelli, whose resume speaks more than for itself, including the last six years of doing ACC men’s games for ESPN, is “well spoken, says things that are well thought out, has a good depth of knowledge on the men’s and women’s games, does great analytic work and it’s really a case that this is a good fit,” said Howard Bryant, CBS Sports executive producer and senior VP of production.
Her broadcast team will be very familiar — Carter Blackburn and Mike Gminski, her current ACC partners – and also feels very caught up on teams from the Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC because of studio work every Tuesday on ESPNU.
If timing is everything, Antonelli, who has also been with CBS for this event as a sideline reporter and been working for years on women’s games for CBS Sports Net, should have been on the network’s radar long ago. She’s thankful the call has come now, because it’s not something she’s been lobbying for. More at this link ... Also: A similar take by the New York Times …
Lace yourself up in Lonzo Ball’s multi-colored sneakers for a bright shining moment.
Your puffed-up pops seemed to be everywhere and beyond, rhapsodizing about your incredible upside to every bemused media outlet, but like a Kars4Kids ad, walking that very fine line between having his words speak louder than your actions.
You deal with it how?
More motivated or mortified?
Extra energy or excessive embarrassment?
Admit to acting humbled or humiliated?
Who’s the adult in the room? More at this link. ….
Charles Barkley, left, struggles with the touch-screen technology during last year’s NCAA Tournament bracket announcement show on CBS.
In addition to the news posted online about the 10-game Dodgers schedule on KTLA-Channel 5 becoming official, and how CBS plans to tweak Sunday’s NCAA men’s tournament bracket show from two hours to a 90-minute format to avoid last year’s problems, here are more things worth getting circulated:
== Less than two months after Brent Musburger retired from his ESPN broadcasting career to help his family start a Las Vegas-based sports gambling media company, ESPN has managed to bring him back as a betting expert as part of what it calls a 24-hour Tournament Challenge Marathon spanning Monday afternoon to Tuesday evening.
Is that really the look ESPN wants to bring to this event coverage?
The progression of shows related to college basketball tournament bracket picking starts with with the NCAA women’s tournament selection show at 4 p.m. (Maria Taylor, ANdy Landers, Kara Lawson, Rebecca Lobo) and it runs until 7 p.m. Tuesday with a variety of shows that rotate from Bristol, Conn., L.A. Live and Las Vegas. Rece Davis hosts, it with Jay Bilas, Seth Greenberg and Jay Williams appearing as often as possible.
“For that two-day span leading up to the First Four, all people want to talk about is who did you take in your bracket, and we will give great insight on how to fill it out,” said Davis in a press release. “It will be a great challenge to keep Jay, Seth and Jay, who are cranky enough when well-rested, on point when they are sleep deprived. But it’s for a good cause – helping people win their group in the Tournament Challenge.” Jalen Rose and David Jacoby will take the midnight-to-3 a.m. slot from the LA Live studios on Tuesday to keep the chain of shows continuous.
The Vegas element will include a set on the rooftop of the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and include Musburger, who, according to ESPN’s press release, “will offer his Vegas betting insight.” Dick Vitale and Kenny Mayne will also be in Vegas.
Even the 10 a.m. episode of “Outside the Lines” with Bob Ley on Tuesday will be tournament focused with Bilas, Greenberg and Williams incorporated.