The Labor Day weekend means a bounty of college football is ushered in … and Joe Davis is needed for two FS1 broadcasts this weekend, taking him off the Dodgers starting tonight and likely through the weekend …
But there is a serious side to all this:
== Ed Cunningham sat with a New York Times reporter at Legends Sports Bar in Long Beach, near his home, and explained why he won’t be doing games this season for ESPN or ABC as he has the last 20 years — he can’t watch players keep getting head injuries.
“In its current state, there are some real dangers: broken limbs, wear and tear,” Cunningham said. “But the real crux of this is that I just don’t think the game is safe for the brain. To me, it’s unacceptable.”
Cunningham may be the first leading broadcaster to step away from football for a related reason — because it felt wrong to be such a close witness to the carnage, profiting from a sport that he knows is killing some of its participants, writes John Branch in this piece.
It does help — a lot — that Cunningham, 48, is busy as a film and TV producer (an Academy Award winner in 2012) and also said he was upset when a slew of his colleagues were recently let go at ESPN. Cunningham was a center on the University of Washington’s 1991 national championship team and played five years in the NFL with Seattle and Arizona.
But he has walked away from a nice salary and a fall of Saturday events on his own principles.
== Don’t be underwhelmed by the Pac-12 Network’s choice to have Roxy Bernstein, Anthony Herron and Lewis Johnson call USC’s opener in the Coliseum against Western Michigan with a 2:15 p.m. Saturday kickoff.
It’s another test in how the network will try to tighten up the length of the games with shorter halftimes so pay attention. And a test at how far the Pac-12 Net can stretch its talent.
Returning to USC’s 710-AM coverage for his 18th straight season is Pete Arbogast on play by play — in addition to six seasons he did in the late ’80s and early ’90s, he’s past the 25-season mark — with John Jackson as the analyst for the fifth season and Jordan Moore on the sidelines. Arbogast and Jackson have been in the booth now five seasons together since Paul McDonald went off to follow his son’s college careers (Matthew could start for Boston College as a true freshman this season). Jackson also did sidelines from 2005-2012.
The four-hour pre game and two-hour post game includes Travis Rodgers, Chris Fisher, Dennis Thurman and Rachel Frain.
== USC-Western Michigan is jammed into a four-game schedule for the Pac-12 Net on Saturday, which begins as early as possible with Portland State at Oregon State at 11 a.m. (Jim Watson, Jeremy Bloom), and then trying to make sure Southern Utah at Oregon (J.B. Long, Yogi Roth) starts by 5:15 p.m., followed by Northern Arizona at Arizona at 8 p.m. when the temps are hopefully in the low 100s.
The hot news in that last one: Because the Pac-12 Net also has teams assigned to games Thursday and Friday, they need more play-by-play people, and they’ve branched out with Kate Scott becoming the first female to do a conference football game. Her story somewhat parallels that of Beth Mowins, who will get to do the Chargers-Broncos game on the back end of ESPN’s first Monday Night Football doubleheader on Sept. 11.
Scott, a Fresno native, Cal grad and San Francisco resident who has called Pac-12 and West Coast Conference basketball, made some news by doing play-by-play for two San Francisco 49ers exhibition games last season. She has also done a variety of sideline, analysts and play-by-play assignments on soccer, volleyball, field hockey, rugby, softball and water polo. She also anchors sports on KNBR-AM (680) weekday mornings.
Glen Parker is Scott’s analyst for NAU-UA.
== Our Q&A with incoming Pac-12 Network president Mark Shuken and how his background could end the freeze of distribution on DirecTV. The conference also announced today how it plans to tighten up games (non-conference for now) that are broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.
== Fox’s Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt and Jenny Taft have the call for UCLA’s opener against Texas A&M on Sunday (4:30 p.m., Channel 11).
Josh Lewin returns on for his second season of play-by-play for the radio feed that moves this week to AM 1150 (not to conflict with the Dodgers’ broadcast on KLAC-AM 570) with analyst Matt Stevens (starting his 19th season) and sideline reporter/analyst Wayne Cook.
== Because they can, ESPN has Kirk Herbstreit as a booth analyst on three games in five days this weekend:
– Ohio State at Indiana (Thursday, 5 p.m., ESPN, with Dave Flemming and Laura Rutledge)
– Florida State vs. Alabama at the new stadium in Atlanta (Saturday, 5 p.m., Channel 7, with Chris Fowler, Maria Taylor and Tom Rinaldi)
– Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech, also at the new Atlanta dome (Monday, 5 p.m., ESPN with Rece Davis and Maria Taylor)
No. 5 on our sign countdown: Like a sprained ankle, Corso ain’t nothing to play with pic.twitter.com/GiHBdptpIx
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) August 29, 2017
== As the just-turned 82-year-old Lee Corso works his 30th season on the ESPN’s “College GameDay” crew, there is this story, with this quote, from longtime producer Lee Fitting that is very fitting:
“To this day there’s no question in my mind that all the great things that coach adds to the show outweigh those times when his tongue may get tied or he stumbles on his speech or he stumbles over a few words or has trouble getting something out. And the times when he does struggle to get some words out, the way in which Kirk and Rece and Desmond and David help coach along, pick up that slack, makes up for it.”
Corso, who joins Rece Davis, Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and David Pollack for their first remote in Atlanta on Saturday at 6 a.m., signed a new “multiyear deal” last May to stay with the show. He probably signed it with his pencil.
The “GameDay” show will start its 25th year of emanating from a college campus/stadium. This show is the 328th time on the road, 11th in Atlanta.
At this year’s Sports Emmy Awards in May, “GameDay” also won its fourth consecutive Emmy for Outstanding Studio Show Weekly and its seventh overall.
Games of note for Thursday:
= Tulsa at Oklahoma State (4:30 p.m., FS1, Joe Davis, Brady Quinn)
= North Dakota at Utah (4:30 p.m., Pac-12 Net, Guy Haberman, Yogi Roth)
= New Mexico State at Arizona State (7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Net, Roxy Bernstein, Anthony Herron)
Games of note for Friday
= Washington at Rutgers (5 p.m., FS1, Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt)
= Colorado State at Colorado (5 p.m., Pac-12 Net, Ted Robinson, Chad Brown)
= Utah State at Wisconsin (6 p.m., ESPN, Adam Amin, Dusty Dvoracek, Molly McGrath)
= Boston College at Northern Illinois (6:30 p.m., CBSSN, Jason Horowitz, David Diehl)
Games of note for Saturday
= Kent State at Clemson (9 a.m., ESPN, Beth Mowins, Anthony Becht, Rocky Boiman)
= Akron at Penn State (9 a.m., Channel 7, Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore, Quint Kessenich)
= Maryland at Texas (9 a.m., FS1, Justin Kutcher, Petros Papadakis, Mark Helfrich)
= Cal at North Carolina (9:20 a.m., ACC Network, Tom Werme, Dave Archer)
= Youngstown State at Pitt (10 a.m., ACC Network, Robert Lee, Dustin Fox … you need more subtext to this? Try this link)
= UTEP at Oklahoma (12:30 p.m., Channel 11, Joe Davis, Brady Quinn)
= Michigan vs. Florida at Arlington, Tex., (12:30 p.m., Channel 7, Joe Tessitore, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe)
= Temple at Notre Dame (12:30 p.m., Channel 4,Mike Tirico, Doug Flutie)
= Appalachian State at Georgia (3:15 p.m., ESPN, Mike Patrick, Tommy Tuberville, Paul Carcaterra)
= Louisville at Purdue at Indianapolis (4:30 p.m., Channel 11, Tim Brando, Spencer Tillman)
= BYU vs. LSU in New Orleans (moved from Houston) (6:30 p.m., ESPN, Bob Wischuen, Brock Huard, Allison Williams)
= Montana State at Washington State (7:30 p.m., FS1, Brian Custer, Ben Leber)
One more game of note for Sunday
= West Virginia at Virginia Tech (4:30 p.m., Channel 7, Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Todd McShay)
== Because the Rams-Chargers exhibition game from the Coliseum last Saturday did a strangely low 1.4 national rating and attracted just more than two million total viewers as a CBS telecast airing locally on KCBS-Channel 2 (with Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts, rather than the local telecast with either broadcast crew that the teams have been using), it’s interpreted by some that no one cared about this L.A.-L.A. rivalry. Or, the Mayweather-McGregor “fight” going head-to-head at some point was of more interest.
Fair enough on a wide-screen basis. But the real number to measure such L.A. interest? The L.A. market number, which was a 3.7 with a 9 share for KCBS. A station spokesman said that rating “is in line” with the 3.9 it has averaged on three Rams exhibition games so far in August. The 3.9 average is also better than the 3.5 average from three Rams’ games on KCBS last summer.
== The final week of the exhibition season has:
= Andrew Siciliano, Marshall Faulk and Daniel Jeremiah doing the Rams at Green Bay (Thursday, 4 p.m., Channel 2)
= Spero Dedes and Dan Fouts doing the Chargers at San Francisco (Thursday, 7 p.m., Channel 7)
= Beth Mowins and Matt Millen on Raiders hosting Seattle (7 p.m., Channel 5, replayed at 11:30 p.m.)
== Backlash from Fox’s hiring of Michael Vick on its FS1 “Fox NFL Kickoff” show is predictable, but fits into the network’s history of taking on those with some sort of troubled past that brings along a little controversy.
“We feel he has an incredibly bright future as an analyst,” said Fox Sports chief John Entz after the announcement was made official this week. “He has stayed close to the game and has many relationships with today’s current coaches and players. We feel he can bring a truly unique perspective that intrigues and engages our viewers.”
Vick joins a team with Charissa Thompson, Tony Gonzalez, Dave Wannstedt and Colin Cowherd starting at 8 a.m. each NFL Sunday on Fox’s FS1 channel.
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
== ESPN starts its nine-week game coverage of high school football with St. John’s College of Washington D.C. at Concord De La Salle (ESPNU, 8 p.m.)
But based on national rankings, the game of the day has been sealed up by Prime Ticket, with its exclusivity to have the first pick of games in the CIF-Southern Section.
With that, Sam Farber, John Jackson and Chris Rix will call Mater Dei (No. 1 in its MaxPreps Xcellent 25 national poll) against No. 2 Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas on Friday at 7:30 p.m. for Prime Ticket. The OCVarsity analysis is here.
Mater Dei quarterback JT Daniels is a USC recruit; Bishop Gorman quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson is headed to UCLA.
The other gmaes on the Fox Prep Zone streaming Friday at 7 p.m.:
= Oaks Christian vs. Edison (David Gascon and Jeff Tolcher)
= Rancho Cucamonga vs. Norco (Dennis Ackerman and Brock Vereen)
= Santa Margarita vs. Loyola (David Caldwell and Tony Moskal)
= Vista Murrieta vs. Mission Viejo (Paul Westphal and Chris Hale)
== Fox Sports Go, the live streaming app for Fox Sports West/Prime Ticket, and FoxSportsGo.com, also alsol have a live stream of the Honor Bowl — five high school football games at Cathedral Catholic High of San Diego from Friday to Saturday.
The schedule: El Cajon Christian vs. Boron at 4 p.m. Friday, followed by San Diego’s Cathedral Catholic vs. Orange Lutheran at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday has La Mesa’s Helix Charter against Lancaster Paraclete at noon, followed by Serra High of Gardena against Punaho of Hawaii at 4 p.m. and Corona Centennial against Florida’s IMG Academy at 7:30 p.m.
== FanGraphs.com takes the local baseball ratings numbers to new levels of bar graphs and dot-related charts.
== ESPN reports ratings for Japan’s win in Sunday’s Little League World Series finale over Texas were 2.1, up 24 percent from 1.7 from 2016. The U.S. title game on Saturday did a 2.0 rating, up from 1.8 last year. ABC did three games averaging a 1.9 metered market rating, up from 1.6 last year, with live streaming up 89 percent (24,200 from 12,800) over 2016.
== Nostalgia alert: NBC brings back Ken Squire and Ned Jarrett to join the NASCAR broadcast from Darlington, S.C., along with retro graphics from the 1980s as it covers this race Sunday at 3 p.m. on NBCSN. Rick Allen, Steve Letarte and Jeff Burton are also on the call, with Dale Jarrett.
== The aftermath of last weekend’s Mayweather-McGregor fight, which Showtime plans to re-air Saturday at 9 p.m., includes a class-action lawsuit for poor production and delivery, promises for “full refunds” for those who can verify that they couldn’t watch it, and claims that up to 100 million were able to pirate the feed.
== ESPN has Ian Darke, Taylor Twellman, Julie Stewart-Binks and Sebastian Salazar for the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying contest against Costa Rica live from Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., on Friday at 4 p.m. Bob Ley, Kasey Keller and Herculez Gomez are on site for the studio pregame starting at 3:30 p.m.
== Fox Sports has nine hours of coverage from the NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis from Thursday-Monday. Dave Rieff and Tony Pedregon call it with Jamie Howe, Bruno Massel, John Kernan and Amanda Busick. FSI has live qualifying Sunday at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Final rounds are Monday at 8 a.m. on FS1 and 10 a.m. on Channel 11.
== USC announced today that among the 18 picked to be part of the 12th class of the USC Athletic Hall of Fame, longtime sports information director Tim Tessalone will be inducted as its annual media member recognized. The group will be honored at the Nov. 4 USC-Arizona game and inducted on May 19, 2018.
The Tessalone bio as issued from the school notes he is “USC’s longest-tenured sports information director, serving since 1984 (the USC graduate began as a Trojan assistant SID in 1979). During his time, he and his staff have publicized 45 national championship teams, 266 Olympians and 21 Academic All-Americans, and in football 82 All-Americans, 210 NFL draftees and five Heisman Trophy winners. He has served as media coordinator at 17 championships hosted by USC and worked more than 450 Trojan football games, including 28 bowls (12 Rose Bowls). The USC sports information office has won more Football Writers Association of America “Super 11” awards than any school. He is a member of the College Sports Information Directors of America and FWAA Halls of Fame.”