In appreciation: How Vin Scully, at age 87, has a sense of the big picture, and Sangri-L.A. is all ears

13c1652af36511e1974722000a1c24bc_7On my mental iPod/way-back machine, Vin Scully probably gets the most search and playback requests these days.

You know how the marvelous mind works. You hear something, and it reminds you of something else. You hit memory mode and hope the audio files arranged in this neurotransmitting system are uploaded to the right version.

So now we’ve hit pause, because Father Time has called another timeout.

The Dodgers’ Hall of Fame broadcaster and city of Los Angeles treasure turns 87 on Saturday. The kinetic brain energy kicks into motion again. Hopefully, the batteries are charged. Continue reading

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Media column version 11.28.14 — The Leinart slant on USC-ND, from the seat of a Fox Sports chair

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.
2005_01_21_MATT_LEINART_LARGELeinart 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. Continue reading

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Gooble, gobble, gobbledegoop: How Sterling, D’Antoni, Nash, Voynov and Chivas USA headline our turkey table for 2014

147742_600Donald Sterling got a really nice mention in the year-end issue of GQ magazine, the one focused on its “Men of the Year” accolades.

Sure, this comes with a giant asterisk, because the nefarious list that the former Clippers owner made was far from gentlemanly. He was one of 25, along with sporties such as Derek Jeter, Roger Goodell, Dwayne Wade and the Brazilian soccer team, lumped into a lineup of “The Least Influential People of 2014.”

Deadspin.com’s Drew Magary wrote about Sterling in that piece:

“The racist/slumlord/pervert/nudist ex-NBA owner displayed a remarkable lack of power in 2014. He failed to keep his girlfriend from recording him saying a bunch of horrible (stuff) about black people. He failed to keep the NBA team from taking over his Los Angeles Clippers. He failed to keep his wife from selling the Clippers to that bald guy from Microsoft. He failed at every attempt to sue his way back into ownership. He failed to win even a shred of our sympathy in a hilariously misguided interview with Anderson Cooper. And the best part is that it all caught him completely off guard.”

147837_600And we’d always thought of Sterling as more of a scatter-shooting guard than an off guard, but we get the point.

Thursday, when we give overwhelming thanks for all the things we are supposed to appreciate in our lives, we know there is a tomorrow when we’re trying to calculate our depreciation of our Friday assets: The Tupperware container of crushed cranberries, a bag of off-green green beans with Bac-o-Bits and two cans of yams that didn’t even get opened.

The leftovers.

boro-sterlingSterling, in our L.A. sports world of 2014, has become one of those leftovers. Because we’re so over him.

On our scale of 1-to-10, he’s the No. 1 person we’ll be referring to 10 years from now in analogies of something that’s gone incredibly wrong.

We serve him up as the main course on our turkey day. On a tarnished sterling platter, obviously. All ready to be a leftover.

Say, why not make this a real pity party? For those who did such a spectacular job in falling from grace in L.A. this year, and likely to be gone for good from our line of sight in the future, take a spot at our November Nine table with the cornucopia of rotting gourds as the center piece:

Mike D’Antoni:
The former Lakers coach is best served cold, as our minced-meat appetizer. That’s because of the way he was carved up repeatedly by Kobe Bryant during the course of a 67-win, 87-loss staycation over two seasons. He came in as Mike Brown’s relief man, picked over Phil Jackson, yet it came to an inglorious end when the 63-year-old walked away from the organization in April because he wasn’t given a contract extension. The latest reports is he’s still looking for a gig, but turned down going back to his alma mater, Marshall University. Maybe they played too much defense to his liking.

nashSteve Nash:
Care for some extra gravy on those Nash-ed tater tots? Careful lifting the heavy ladle. It could lead to major back-to-back back issues. The future Hall of Famer who is the oldest NBA player under contract – he turns 41 in February – isn’t come back any time soon. Nor is the coach of his current employer waiting for a return call any more. Next time you want to send a letter of apology to unnerved Lakers fans, at least wait until this team puts together a three-game winning streak. In other words, never. Continue reading

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Play It Forward Nov. 24-30 on your sports calendar: Don’t discount UCLA’s Black Friday date with Stanford

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

Eric Kendricks, Remound Wright Alex Gallardo/AP Eric blows past ucla. AP

Remound Wright gets past Eric Kendricks during Stanford’s win over UCLA last year. (Alex Gallardo/Associated Press)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 14
UCLA vs. STANFORD
Details/TV: Rose Bowl, Friday at 12:30 p.m., Channel 7:
UCLA-Bruins-Stanford-CardinalPrior to last Saturday’s UCLA-USC contest, FiveThirtyEight.com prediction master Nate Silver gave the Bruins a marginal 8.2 percent chance of making it into four-team NCAA playoff bracket selected on Dec. 7. By Sunday morning, the percentage inched up to 14. “That may undersell the Bruins’ chances, however,” Silver writes. “If they beat both Stanford and Oregon, their chances will be about 50 percent, according to the model.” Will you take those odds? First things, first. Win here, and the Bruins clinch the Pac-12 South – their third in four seasons – and a meeting on Dec. 5 in Santa Clara against the second-ranked Ducks (who Silver pegs at 75.7 percent to make the final four, 44.2 percent to make the title game and 24.5 to win it all). But a UCLA loss ends any Pac-12 title shot, a probable Top 10 finish and a respectable 9-3 record going into the bowl season. Stanford (6-5, 4-4 in the Pac-12 North) finally became bowl-eligible by knocking off rival Cal last week behind four rushing TDs from Remound Wright (above). All five Cardinal losses came, at the time, against ranked opponents, including USC (13-10 in Week 2) and Notre Dame (17-14 in Week 5). The only real squirrely thing here is that UCLA has lost six in a row to Stanford, including last year’s Pac-12 title game. So on this Black Friday, would it behoove the Bruins to pull out those black “L.A. Midnight” jerseys that created such the fashion buzz with last season (and not the dirty gray “L.A. Steel” ones they wore earlier this season against Arizona)? So on this Black Friday, would it behoove the Bruins to pull out those black “L.A. Midnight” jerseys that created such the fashion buzz with last season (and not the dirty gray “L.A. Steel” ones they wore earlier this season against Arizona)?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 14
USC vs. NOTRE DAME
Details/TV: Coliseum, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Channel 11:

The week before the USC-Notre Dame game in 2012, Sports Illustrated decided to wake up the echos.

The week before the USC-Notre Dame game in 2012, Sports Illustrated decided to wake up the echos.

This battle for the Jeweled Shillelagh two years ago at the Coliseum was pretty bizarro – the top-ranked Irish’s 22-13 win completed a 12-0 regular season and secured a place in the BCS title game. The loss by unranked USC pushed the team to 7-5, a far cry from the program ranked No. 1 in the preseason AP poll. Sophomore quarterback Everett Golson threw for 217 yards and Mante Te’o had a key interception against freshman fill-in Max Wittek, as Matt Barkley was injured from the week before UCLA game. This Irish team may have had some national title aspirations when it started the season 6-0, winning by a combined score of 207-103 and climbing to No. 5 in the AP poll going into Week 8. Since then it has lost four of the last five — and even the win over Navy in that stretch wasn’t real impressive. The senior Golson has thrown for 27 TDs so far and is top 10 in the country with more than 3,000 yards passing, but he also has 12 interceptions. As for USC, previously suspended cornerback Josh Shaw plays in his last – and only – home game this season and will be introduced with the other seniors before the game. What’ll the response be?

Galaxy midfielder Robbie Rogers jumps over Sounders midfielder Micheal Azira during the second half of the Galaxy's 1-0 win on Sunday at Stubhub Center.  (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Galaxy midfielder Robbie Rogers jumps over Sounders midfielder Micheal Azira during the second half of the Galaxy’s 1-0 win on Sunday at Stubhub Center. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

MLS PLAYOFFS: WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
GALAXY at SEATTLE
Details/TV: Leg 2, At CenturyLink Field, Sunday at 6 p.m., ESPN:
The Galaxy’s previous two trips to Seattle before their 60,000 fans this season produced a 3-0 Monday night win in late July (the Sounders were missing star center back Chad Marshall because of injury, and Clint Dempsey only got off two shots) and a 2-0 loss in the regular-season finale in late October (40 fouls were called and five yellow cards issued). If Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and Omar Gonzalez remain the guardians of the Galaxy, already up with a 1-0 win in the first leg, we’ll see how they step it up, knowing the winner of this gets home field against either New England or New York in the Dec. 7 MLS Cup. The second leg of Revolution-Red Bull series takes place Saturday (noon, NBCSN).

THE BEST OF THE REST:

UCLA’s basketball team travels to Paradise Island near Nassau in the Bahamas to play in the “Battle 4 Atlantis” tournament, opening up against Oklahoma on Wednesday (11:30 a.m., ESPN), with a shot of playing North Carolina, Florida and/or Wisconsin when it ends on Friday …  California Chrome makes his final appearance of the thoroughbred season in the $300,000 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar (Saturday at 4 p.m.) … The Kings and Chicago Blackhawks face off for the first time since last summer’s Western Conference finals (Staples Center, Saturday at 7 p.m.) … The Thanksgiving Day NFL slate includes Chicago-Detroit (Channel 2, 9:30 a.m.), Philadelphia-Dallas (Channel 11, 1:30 p.m.) and Seattle-San Francisco ( 5:30 p.m., Channel 4) … Week 14 of the college football season has Arizona State-Arizona (Friday, 1:30 p.m., Channel 11), Oregon-Oregon State (Saturday, 5 p.m., Channel 7), Mississippi State at Ole Miss (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Channel 2), Auburn at Alabama (Saturday, 4:45 p.m., ESPN) and Michigan at Ohio State (Saturday, 9 a.m., Channel 7) … the Clippers end their seven-game road trip at Utah (Saturday, 6 p.m.) … a link to the rest of it here.

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It’s Out of the Question: Buffalo wings it to Detroit, and L.A. goes dark again in NFL decisions

Workers clear snow from the field at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday in Orchard Park, N.Y. Snowed out at the stadium, the Bills are in Detroit to play their "home" NFL game against the New York Jets on Monday night.  (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

Workers clear snow from the field at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday in Orchard Park, N.Y. Snowed out at the stadium, the Bills are in Detroit to play their “home” NFL game against the New York Jets on Monday night. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

Catch any of that chill blowing through Los Angeles this weekend?

That’s the NFL giving us the cold shoulder. Again.

Before Buffalo shuffled off to Detroit to play its previously under-the-Doppler radar Week 12 contest against the New York Jets of New Jersey, the result of more erratic climate-changing snowfall in the N’East, why didn’t anyone at the league offices even considered sending Orton Party of 52 to our sleepy little outpost instead?

If only to demonstrate how much the city and/or league misses each other’s in-the-grasp moments?

Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus speaks with the media after practice at the Detroit Lions' indoor  training facility in Allen Park, Mich., on Saturday.  (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus speaks with the media after practice at the Detroit Lions’ indoor training facility in Allen Park, Mich., on Saturday. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

The good ol’ Coliseum, unused and unspoiled this weekend, may have even filled to beyond half capacity with just L.A.-transplanted fans of two N.Y.-area teams. They could have even made a nominal donation to get in.

In Detroit, they’re giving all the tickets away for free for anyone who wants to attend the Monday night matinee at Ford Field. First come, first serve.

And L.A., you’ve been served again.

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Media column version 11.21.14 — The Jackson family values start to tug on allegiances during USC-UCLA week

43ad60cd35874a9567bf051101683a9eWhat made it into this week’s media column, posted here:

John Jackson will be on the sideline for Saturday’s USC-UCLA game at the Rose Bowl. Not the John Jackson who’ll be in the radio booth on the Trojans’ coverage for the rivalry game on KSPN-AM (710).
imagesIt’s his son, John III, a freshman at Mater Dei high school — who has accepted a recruiting invite from UCLA. Bruins baseball coach John Savage wants to gauge his interest in the program, even though the Class of 2018 member and starting quarterback on the freshman football team has yet to start his high school baseball career. The Jackson Family Values will be a topic of discussion here, as well as John II’s approach in covering this contest 25 years after he left the USC program.
Jackson’s week isn’t just focused on USC-UCLA — he  also has to be in Valencia on Friday night to call the Upland-Hart CIF-SS high school football quarterfinal playoff game for Fox Sports West at 7:30 p.m.

What is best suited to be read in this spot:

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Q&A: Al Michaels books his career journey on growing up wanting to be like Scully but discovering other ‘Miracles’ along the way instead

 

Are they trying to get Al and Linda Michaels on the Staples Center "Kiss Cam" during a Kings game?

Are they trying to get Al and Linda Michaels on the Staples Center “Kiss Cam” during a Kings game?

If Al Michaels had decided to write a book about his life as network broadcaster just five years ago, it would have been missing the ultimate opening chapter.

LARGE0062314963The autobiography that comes out Tuesday called “You Can’t Make This Up: Miracles, Memories and the Perfect Marriage of Sports and Television” ($28.99, HarperCollins, 288 pages) leads off with Michaels recounting the joy he and three generations of his family encountered sitting at Staples Center on June 11, 2012 – watching the Kings win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

It reminded him about how he felt about sports as a 6-year-old growing up in L.A., where he eventually attended the first Kings game in 1967 back at the Long Beach Arena.

He wrote:

“I’ve covered a couple of thousand sports events all over the world. I’ve called Super Bowls and World Series and NBA Finals, the Summer Olympics, the Winter Olympics – and have hosted the Stanley Cup Final. A number of years ago, a colleague at ABC figured out that I’ve appeared on live prime-time network television far more than anyone in history. But from day one, I’ve always tried to follow the advice the legendary sportscaster Curt Gowdy once gave me: Don’t ever get jaded.

“The Kings have helped take care of that. … When I go to a game, I don’t bring a media credential – I bring a ticket. I don’t have to prepare notes or try to gather nuggets of information in the locker room beforehand – I go straight to my seat. When I’m on the air, I work to be impartial. With the Kings, I can just be another fan who lives and dies with a team.”

SMALLBzO8USsIEAATn21 The Kings have thanked him not once, but twice now with special Stanley Cup visits to his home in Brentwood, so he and wife, Linda, their families can prolong the celebration.

Michaels, who turned 70 last week, could have been the Kings’ first colorman had owner Jack Kent Cooke not given the job to long-time friend Ed Fitkin to partner with Jiggs McDonald in the late ‘60s. In fact, Michaels once told us the story about how when he moved to L.A. as a 14-year-old in 1958, CBS did a game of the week and “I couldn’t wait for it. That was the only fix.” The Western Hockey League finally came to the L.A. Sports Arena.

But still …

“There was this annual thing that Gil Stratton used to do at Channel 2 every year where he’d read a letter asking Santa for certain things, and incorporate letters from viewers,” Michaels once told us. “I wrote a letter to Gil in 1959. And for some reason I didn’t use my real name. I signed it ‘George Exmont.’ I wanted Santa to bring us a National Hockey League team. He read it on the air in his newscast. My brother (David, five years younger) and I went wild. I loved Gil, because he was the only guy in town that gave you an NHL score.”

That story actually didn’t make it into the book. It was a story Michaels told us some 20 years ago for a piece we did on him for a Kings game program.

But Michaels, in his ninth season calling “Sunday Night Football” for NBC after 20 years of “Monday Night Football” for ABC,  remembers many other moments when the course of TV and sports history could have gone on a different path. He explained in a Q-and-A:

539wQ: We’ll skip to a chapter near the end of the book: You describe a meeting in a restroom with Lakers owner Jerry Buss. It’s 2003, at halftime during the Lakers-Spurs Game 5 playoff game — the Derek Fisher, 0.4-second finish – and you’re in San Antonio covering it for ABC with Doc Rivers as your analyst. Buss isn’t sure if Phil Jackson is going to come back to coach after the season. Rivers, fired from Orlando just a few games into that season, just agreed to coach the Boston Celtics the next year. So you run into Dr. Buss, and he admits to you that if Rivers hadn’t signed with Boston, he’d have been his first choice to coach the Lakers if Jackson left – which he did eventually. You’ve got this piece of information, finally decide to tell Rivers about what Buss said . . . and he gets quiet. “You know, I’m not sure if the ink on that Celtics contract is totally dry,” Rivers says. Did you think he might have changed his mind and gone after the Lakers job had things played out differently? Continue reading

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Play It Forward Nov. 17-23 on your calendar: As far as city ownership goes, UCLA’s claim is USC’s issue

1385873743000-USP-NCAA-Football-UCLA-at-Southern-California-001THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

USC at UCLA
Details/TV: Rose Bowl, Saturday at 5 p.m., Channel 7:
7945776The master scoreboard shows UCLA has won just 30 of the previous 83 meetings. But since Bruins coach Jim Mora has figured out a way to go 2-for-2 in his first two seasons running the program, there are no doubts left about any kind of monopoly swing. “UCLA runs L.A. now,” Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley could say with supreme confidence after he threw for 208 yards and ran for two touchdowns in a 35-14 win at the Coliseum last season — UCLA’s biggest margin of victory over USC since 1970 in a game where the Trojans came in favored by a field goal. Perhaps as a direct result of that, USC has its third different head coach on the sidelines in the last three years for this matchup.
Uscvictorybell-thumb-500x375-8722UCLA’s jump from No. 18 to 11 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, perhaps changing for the better when the latest is announced Tuesday, plus its home-field advantage, gives it a reasonable favored status — a field goal, by most oddsmakers. Plus, all that recent history thing, too. What other incentive is there to win? UCLA takes this one, and the last one against Stanford, and it wins the Pac-12 South. USC wins this one, and Arizona State loses one of its final two games, and the Trojans have the division title.

THE BEST OF THE REST:

GalaxyMLS PLAYOFFS: WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS:
GALAXY vs. SEATTLE:
Details/TV: Leg 1: At Seattle, Saturday at 2 p.m., ESPN:
In the Landon Donovan-lives-to-play-another-round scenario, the Galaxy yielded the right to have home field for the second leg by losing to the Sounders in the season finale, 2-0, on two late goals by second-half substitute Marco Pappa. A 2-2 draw forged with Seattle in the next-to-last game of the season just a month ago came after the Galaxy had carved out a 2-0 lead at halftime. In their playoff history, the Galaxy have won the two previous series against the Sounders in 2010 and 2012.

BOXING: MANNY PACQUIAO vs. CHRIS ALGIERI
Details/TV: At Macau, China, Saturday at 6 p.m., HBO PPV ($69.95)
A month before this scheduled date to defend his WBO welterweight title, Pacquaio was playing in a pro basketball game in his native Philippines. “After he does (this fight), if he wants to try out for the New York Knicks, that’s OK with me,” said promoter Bob Arum. The 35-year-old Pacquaio (56-5-2, 38 KOs), still the lone congressional representative from the Sarangani Province of the Philippines, said basketball is good training for his footwork and balancing. Besides, the games are on Sunday, and he’s not training for fights on Sunday. Algieri (20-0, 8 KOs) always has his bachelor of science degree in Health Care Management and a Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition to fall back on. Chew on that.

Also:
The Clippers must figure out Chicago (Staples Center, Monday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket) before heading out on a seven-game, 11-day road trip that starts in Orlando, Miami and Memphis …Long Beach State meets up with UCLA at Pauley Pavilion (Sunday, 7 p.m., Pac-12 Net) after facing Xavier and Kansas State … More at this link.

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It’s Out of the Question: When is class in session for USC-UCLA game?

Joyce and Tom Jackson hang out in the Rose Bowl tailgate section  before the UCLA-USC game in 2012.  (Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer)

Joyce and Tom Jackson hang out in the Rose Bowl tailgate section before the UCLA-USC game in 2012. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer)

Aren’t you the guy who got your really nice blue-and-gold UCLA jacket kinda messed up trying to jump-start my car after someone pushed it into a golf-course sand trap next to the Rose Bowl on a dark and rainy night after a football game a few years back?

200_sMa’am, can I thank you again for the way you cleverly passed your Trojan hat around Section 21 at the Coliseum that time when you  realized I had just ordered a half-dozen hot dogs from a vendor for my family, but I apparently lost my wallet when I was just up at the restroom and I couldn’t pay the bill, so you rallied a bunch of USC fans around me to help with donations?

Maybe you can question the loyalty of a UCLA or a USC fan during rivalry week. But nothing rivals those actions-speak-louder-than-words moments when respect, integrity and dignity cross over all that cross-town battle babbling.

But now we need words, so here’s this week’s call to action as the 84th edition of this Game that Prefers to Be Nameless comes up in Pasadena: In 84 words or more, can you give us a story about someone who fits the bill of an upper-crust, ambassador-at-large supporter for either the Bruins or Trojans football programs? First-person, third-person, or any person accounts of something recalled that might help re-establish etiquette standards leading up to and surrounding this contest?

Maybe this request stems from apparent systemic problems that ridiculously come up this time of year, mostly presumed to be student-conduct issues – you may have seen that the Joe Bruin statue on the UCLA campus was already sprayed “SC runs LA” in red paint. The answer is to put the giant bear back “in hibernation,” surrounded by plywood. The coach John Wooden statue is also under duct-taped wraps, just like the Tommy Trojan statue on the USC campus. Student guards are posted to sleep overnight on a constant watch, because the surveillance cameras pointed everywhere can’t catch everything.

Oh, those wacky pranksters. No harm, no foul. Hardy har hijinx.

We’re still dealing with this felony vandalism garbage?

qx8ofgh7tbhe1oql2ambYou’ve now been charged with finding the moral compass in the haystack. Apparently there aren’t enough examples of what sportsmanship looks like. Kids being kids doesn’t cut it.

So, tell us your experiences of a USC-UCLA moment when someone made their mark doing something with class instead of crass.

Pledging allegiance to the Trojan Republic or Bruin Democracy is not so much about how you’d like to be remembered. Isn’t this more about how you should not be forgotten?

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Media column version 11.14.14 — How former UCLA coach Ben Howland says answering reporters questions gave him prep work to a TV analyst job at NBCSN

Remember the time during the 2013 Pac-12 basketball tournament when Ben Howland was so upset about an official's call he tossed his jacket into the crowd? That'll make for good TV with his new role at NBCSN. (Photo by USA Today)

Remember the time during the 2013 Pac-12 basketball tournament when Ben Howland was so upset about an official’s call he tossed his jacket into the crowd? That’ll make for good TV with his new role at NBCSN. (Photo by USA Today)

What made it into this week’s column linked here:

Former UCLA basketball coach Ben Howland may not be in the Dick Vitale bubble conversation about gregarious, made-for-TV game analysts, but that’s the path of least resistance that he’ll take for the 2014-15 season — NBCSN will announce today that he’s been hired to do a package of Atlantic 10 and Colonial Athletic Association games, starting with the Barclays Center Classic event in Brooklyn (Virginia, Vanderbilt, La Salle and Rutgers) on the day after Thanksgiving.

On the eve of a full-court scramble of the first night of college basketball on TV — ESPN and the Pac-12 Networks are the ones to have blazing Friday — we’ve talked to Howland, who is also returning as a studio analyst on Fox Sports 1, about how this works into his schedule a full season removed from Westwood, still living in Santa Barbara, and no doubt still considered a viable coaching candidate somewhere.

What seems just about right to log in here:

== We’re in full agreement with Deadspin.com about declaring Daniel Tosh the winner based on scientific evidence for how rebuttal rip-off of ESPN’s “Sports Science,” in response to how an ESPN fellow stole his “web redemption” segment for that singer who tripped and fell while doing the Canadian national anthem. When we saw the “Tosh.0″ episode as it ran on Comedy Central Tuesday, we couldn’t want to see the blowback. We did appreciate the one responder to the Deadspin.com post who wrote in headline style: “Guy Whose Entire Show Is Ripping Off Other People’s Content Upset That Someone Ripped Off His Content.” That’s how it works in today’s world o’ borrowing. And ESPN says it did not do anything wrong in trying to offer a snarky response.

== NBCSN says this morning that Wednesday night’s Kings-Ducks game from Anaheim had a 1.01 rating in L.A. — the second-best rating for an NHL regular-season game in the L.A. market on the cable channel. The first: Last season’s Kings-Ducks game from Dodger Stadium (2.38 rating). Better perspective: The 1.01 rating is more than 400 percent better than what the Ducks did on an NBCSN game in L.A. last season (0.2) and nearly 100 percent better than what the Kings did on NBCSN games in L.A. a season ago (0.55).

== More on the Dead-o-Spin radar: “The funniest man at ESPN” is, of course, Norman Chad, having just wrapped up the World Series of Poker for his 12th year at the network calling this thing. Almost as funny is how it took 4,400-plus words to quantify that obvious fact in a profile on him posted Tuesday about Chad.

== We choose to lay out and let you read these Grantland Dictionary: Sportscasting Edition entries to the fullest. Continue reading

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