No official media column this holiday week. Except that, for Vin Scully’s 87th birthday landing on Saturday, we’ve got a special appreciation column in the works.
What else is there to note this weekend:
== One of the things Matt Leinart has been asked to do on Saturday is lead the USC football team out of the Coliseum tunnel and onto the field prior to the Channel 11 mandated 12:30 p.m. kickoff against Notre Dame. The USC Heisman winning quarterback said he’s on it.
He might as well. Fox has him committed to its pre-game (noon), halftime and post-game coverage — as well as making himself accessible on the sideline for broadcasters Gus Johnson and Charles Davis during a game that fell into Fox’s broadcasting lap after ABC/ESPN passed on it.
Leinart has a playing partner on the field Saturday as well in former Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn. Both will be part of a feature that Fox has plans to tape having them relive the 2005 Trojans-Irish game in South Bend, Ind., made famous by Leinart getting pushed into the end-zone by Reggie Bush for the game-winning touchdown in a 34-31 decision (video above).
“I still get a lot of people wanting to ask me about that game, or the Rose Bowl against Texas,” Leinart said this week. “What they don’t seem to remember is how that game really was inconsistent, back and forth, mistakes — it’s just that the last five minutes were epic. I know going in it was huge for both teams, a rivalry game, in a beautiful place to play, and it ended awesome for us. It’s funny how people will say that’s the best game they’ve ever seen. The Rose Bowl (2006 national title game, 41-38 Longhorns victory) was a much better game.”
The 31-year-old Leinart says getting into the studio for Fox and FS1 to do college football analysis has been enjoyable, but a bit tougher than he’d have thought. His mind is still plugged into the workings of the NFL, having last suited up for the Oakland Raiders in 2012.
“The hardest part is having been out of college so long,” he said. “Names and teams and all that are a tougher transition. But I do love the college game, and it’s a great fit for me. A different kind of challenge. My name has much more relevance in the college game — and the commercials (for Dish Network) I’ve been in have been fun to do on that, too. Live is good for me. I’m enjoying retirement and being a dad and having a foot in with the college game, and even the NFL.”
Anthony Davis calls himself the “Notre Dame killer” when he signs things USC-related. But consider:
As a sophomore in 2003, Leinart threw for four TDs and 351 yards in a 45-14 win at Notre Dame.
As a junior in 2004, he threw for five TDs and a career-high 400 yards in a 41-10 win over the Irish at the Coliseum.
Then came the 2005 game — 301 more yards passing, no TDs and two picks. But then …
Leinart also had a 3-0 career record against UCLA, and sees this game as a way to end the season on a more positive note.
“They were playing for something last week, still alive in the Pac-12, and now they have a Notre Dame team that’s on a downhill slide from a media perspective,” said Leinart, who can contribute to that perspective now. “Some may say this game has lost its luster and doesn’t matter, but from my standpoint, it’ll always be a rivalry game, and one more chance for the kids to finish with a win against a good team and build toward a bowl appearance, erase that sour taste from last weekend. Speaking on behalf of USC, it’ll be a tough game. UCLA put it to them, but they have to put that aside and enjoy what this game is all about.”
== Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman and Todd McShay are the ABC team for UCLA-Stanford from the Rose Bowl on Friday at 12:30 p.m. on Channel 7.
== Congrats to Verne Lundquist, on the call for CBS’ Mississippi State-Ole Miss contest (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Channel 2) with Gary Danielson, who will be feted with a one-hour documentary prior to kickoff that celebrates his 50 years in broadcasting. The special, airing at 12:30 p.m., goes with the title “In Your Life,” and hits upon his call of Christian Laettner’s last-second shot for Duke to beat Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA basketball tournament, as well as calling Jack Nicklaus’ birdie putt at the 1986 Masters. A preview clip of the doc. Lundquist, who started at KTBC-TV in Austin, Tex., in 1963, joined CBS in 1982.
== ESPN brings back Brent Musburger to call the Alabama-Auburn game (Saturday, 4:45 p.m., ESPN) with Jesse Palmer. It’s Brad Nessler and Todd Blackledge doing Oregon-Oregon State (Saturday, 5 p.m., Channel 7).
Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit will do Florida-Florida State (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., ESPN) from Tallahassee, Fla., after spending the morning in Tuscaloosa, Ala., for “College GameDay” outside Bryant-Denny Stadium prior to Auburn-Alabama.
== To cap the first of a five-year deal to carry Canadian Football League games, ESPN2 has Sunday’s 102nd Grey Cup — 9-9 Hamilton vs. 15-3 Calgary — from Vancouver at 3:30 p.m.
== The next edition of HBO’s “State Of Play” called “Culture Shock” tackles the physical toll that the NFL has facing it with lawsuits and long-term injuries from former players. The 30-minute doc from Peter Berg and Sarah Aubery debuts Tuesday at 10 p.m.