College football Week 13 in the L.A. TV market: This isn’t SportsCenter

45cc0a737cc4c66d6cb9f15595622e45If you were ambivalent about Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Todd McShay calling last week’s USC-UCLA game for ESPN, perhaps you have an opinion now.
One less indecisive.
One more problematic.
The trio has been asked to do a repeat performance at the Coliseum for ESPN’s coverage of No. 12 USC (8-3) vs. Notre Dame (4-7) at the Coliseum (Saturday, 12:30 p.m.).
McShay loves these kinds of assignments so he can show how much he knows about ranking talent.
Griese doesn’t seem to care one way or another.
Levy has always been one of our stick-around-and-watch favorite “SportsCenter” anchors, and as a play-by-play man, we continue to hold his studio work in high esteem. You can’t call a game as if you’re reading from a “SportsCenter” script. Or going off-topic so much so that it appears the game in front of you is a distraction. Or trying to talk chummy stuff with Griese to show the audience you actually know each other.
Leave it to Levy to continue to gleefully mention last week that USC quarterback Sam Darnold’s grandfather was once the Marlboro Man commercial spokesman, but never give his name. Not even in a graphic later about Darnold’s athletic lineage.
(Or was it the producer’s call to not mention his grandfather’s name? You know we have ways of finding this stuff out if you just ask Twitter):

Then there was this post by famed statman Marty Aronoff:

If you added the wins, losses and ties of the USC-UCLA series, you’d come up with 84, true. But that was the 86th meeting, because USC vacating the wins in 2005 and ’06 didn’t count in that W-L-T total, but they were actually played. Tickets were sold. People attended. Believe us, it happened.
So FYI from the press notes: Notre Dame and USC are meeting for the 88th time coming up. The Irish lead the series 46-35-5, not counting USC’s 2005 win that was vacated as well because of NCAA sanctions.

== The rest of the Pac-12 rivalry games that matter this weekend (in order of importance) when it comes to whether or not USC represents the South Division in the Dec. 2 Pac-12 Championship game at Santa Clara:
= No. 22 Utah (8-3, 5-3) at No. 9 Colorado (9-2, 7-1), Saturday at 4:30 p.m., Channel 11 (Joe Davis, Brady Quinn, Jenny Taft)
= No. 5 Washington (10-1, 7-1) at No. 23 Washington State (8-3, 7-1), Friday at 12:30 p.m., Channel 11 (Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt, Shannon Spake)
= Arizona State (5-6, 2-6) at Arizona (2-9, 0-8), Friday at 6:30 p.m., ESPN (Dave Lamont, Ray Bentley, Quint Kessenich)
= Oregon (4-7, 2-6) at Oregon State (3-8, 2-6), 1 p.m., Pac-12 Network (Roxy Bernstein, Glenn Parker, Kate Scott)
Oh, and then there’s:
= UCLA (4-7, 2-6) at Cal (4-7, 2-6), 4 p.m., ESPN2 (Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore, Quint Kessenich)
= Rice (3-8) at No. 24 Stanford (8-3), Saturday at 5 p.m., Pac-12 Network (Ted Robinson, Yogi Roth, Cindy Brunson)

== More rivalry games worth setting time aside for:
Saturday morning/afternoon kickoffs, as they should be:
= No. 3 Michigan (10-1, 7-1) at No. 2 Ohio State (10-1, 7-1), Saturday at 9 a.m., Channel 7 (Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Samantha Ponder, Tom Rinaldi) Note: ESPN College GameDay starts at 7 a.m. EDT/4 a.m. PDT for a five-hour show from outside Ohio Stadium. This is the sixth time the show has originated from the site of the Michigan-OSU game (’97, ’02, ’03, ’06 and ’07).
= No. 13 Auburn (8-3, 5-2) at No. 1 Alabama (11-0, 7-0), Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Channel 2 (Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson) Continue reading

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Obama calls Scully ‘an old friend’ during Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony

As he remarked about the remarkable life of Vin Scully on Tuesday afternoon, after having already done short biographies on more than a dozen other activists, entertainers, scientists and historical figures in the room, President Barack Obama admitted he might not have been the best emcee for this Presidential Medal of Freedom recognition.
“I thought about him doing all these citations,” Obama said of the Dodgers’ retired broadcaster, “which would have been cool, but …”
The White House East Room erupted in laughter.
“I thought, we should make him sing for his supper.”
Obama then tried a brief Scully imitation, saying, “Up next …,” which drew more applause.
More at this link …




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Play It Forward Nov. 21-27: When will pigskin replace turkey as the official meat of Thanksgiving?

notre-dameuscWe’re still thankful for rivalry post-turkey meetings — even though USC-UCLA came and went too fast, Yale denied Harvard a fourth straight Ivy League title, and all the SEC teams ate cupcakes last Saturday to bulk up for their head-to-head, do-or-die encounters.
With Michigan-Ohio State (Saturday, 9 a.m., Channel 7), we got Jim Harbaugh and his 10-1 No. 3 Wolverines up against Urban Meyer and his 10-1 No. 2 Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium, and neither may end up in the Big Ten championship game the following week (Penn State-Wisconsin looms). And neither may end up in the College Football Playoff Final Four?
How does that work?
With Alabama-Auburn (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Channel 2), we focus on whether or not the 11-0 No. 1 Crimson Tide have anything left to prove, before going into the SEC championship game, or the CFP semifinals and then the championship game (Jan. 9, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., if your hostel reservations still haven’t been made.) Or will someone have a flashback to that 2013 Iron Bowl game-winning missed field goal (does that even make sense)?
With Colorado-Utah (Saturday, 4:30 p.m., Channel 11) and Washington-Washington State (Friday, 1:30 p.m., FS1), we’ve got the 9-2 No. 10 Buffaloes, 4-9 and 1-8 in conference last year, just one conference loss this year (to USC), with a shot at winning the Pac-12 South and going to the conference title matchup against the winner of the 10-1 No. 6 Huskies and 8-3 Cougars?
Then there’s USC-Notre Dame (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., ESPN). Brian Kelley best visit a local church before entering the Coliseum.
More of the week ahead at this link.

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Sunday media: Gotham Chopra’s “Religion of Sports” journey has many kindred spirits

new-1120_spo_ldn-l-media-1120When the Chicago Cubs won the World Series last month, some saw that as a sign of the apocalypse. All that was missing were frogs dropping from the sky.
Gotham Chopra understood.
taudiencenetworkcelebratesreligionsports4ufobvj7aqql“I grew up a Red Sox fan so I know what it’s like to be part of a cursed franchise,” the filmmaker said the other day. “Red Sox Nation suddenly wakes up one day and they’re part of the institution that was organized overnight. It’s a very different experience. Neither better nor worse, just different.”
The difference is, experiences like that have fueled Chopra’s curiosity into immersing himself in what became a six-part documentary series called “Religion of Sports,” which debuted this week on DirecTV’s Audience Network, with the first episode also available on the official website.
“I’m fascinated by the Cubs,” Chopra continued, “and saw the parade they had afterward and heard it described as the eighth-largest gathering of human beings in the history of civilization.
“Maybe there’s no better example, and no greater proof, that sports is a religion.”
See what he did there?
fullsizerenderIn the current issue of Sports Illustrated devoted to football in America these days, a poll question asks: Is football more important than your ….
The answer “Religion,” as you can see, far out did “family” and “job.” Maybe beause football replaces religion in some way, shape or form with more than one of every four people, if you’re to believe these results.
The bulk of the Q-and-A with Chopra, the son of famous New Age spiritual leader Deepak Chopra, is at this link, but we have more below:

Q: This series isn’t so much about the glorification of sports stars as deities, it’s more on the culture of sports. But there is this worship of sports figures as gods. How might that be a whole different documentary?

A: Yeah, for sure. I’m careful about that as someone who has worked with a lot of athletes and has got to see how what they do on the field, or track or pitch. I’m a dad and can be with my 9-year-old son and say, ‘Look at this performance.’ It’s human potential performed. It’s mythic. But off the field, you don’t know these people, as human beings who deal with all the challenges. And sometimes because they’ve been so focused on this one aspect of their life, they’re off-the-field persona can be difficult, challenging, dark. I’m very conscious of all that and try to steer away from it. Because there clearly is a danger to that. Continue reading

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Weekly media notes version 11.18.16: After further review, looking somewhat live at a Musburger tribute to Scully

In addition to media notes posted on, we have these to offer before the weekend arrives:

== Neither Brent Musburger nor ESPN really gave anyone a heads up that the 77-year-old broadcaster would be calling the first half of last Saturday’s Mississippi-Texas A&M college football game for the SEC Network in a one-man booth.
The inspiration? He just received the Vin Scully Award for sports broadcasting career achievement in a ceremony at Scully’s alma mater of Fordham University earlier that week and some had brainstormed this could be a way for Musburger to pay tribute to Scully, by doing what Scully had done in the baseball booth — calling a game solo. That also meant his usual booth analyst, Jesse Palmer, would start the game working on the sidelines along with Kaylee Hartung.
Musburger also did a tribute at the top of the show talking about broadcasters he has admired while growing up in Montana – Bill Stern, Lindsay Nelson … and Scully, with whom Musburger did MLB All Star Games on the radio in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

It should be noted that during Scully’s days as an NFL broadcaster for CBS, he never worked alone, but had analysts such as Hank Stram and John Madden by his side.
But we get the point.
“You can’t fully appreciate the talent of Vin Scully until you fly solo in the booth, regardless of what sport it is,” Musburger said after that game. “And I had the full support of Jesse Palmer and Kaylee Hartung on the sidelines and our experienced and talented hands in the truck.”
Scully said this week he “never heard a word nor was I aware of” what Musburger did. “Wow, I wish I had seen it. The only football I watched last Saturday was every play of the USC-Washington game,” Scully said in some astonishment. “I’m very happy Brent got that award. A good crew of men made a very good judgement about giving that to him.”

== Our story on Scully’s reaction to hearing the news that he’ll be traveling to the White House next week to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award. Also worth noting is the reaction White House press secretary Josh Earnest had after telling Scully about the honor.
A response late Wednesday night from another Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the former UCLA and Lakers star who continues to write pieces for Time Magazine and was profiled last week by SCNG’s Mark Medina:
 “Receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom would be an honor under any circumstances, but receiving it from President Obama, who has fought so tirelessly to bring about social justice for everyone, makes it that much sweeter. I’m especially proud to be sharing this award with some of the people who have influenced my life. This acknowledgment invigorates me to continue the battle until everyone shares the great bounty of opportunity that this country has to offer. I’m hoping it will inspire others to do the same.” 

== ESPN announced Thursday its plans for MLB Opening Week 2017, and it includes televising the Dodgers’ 1 p.m. season opener on Monday, April 3 against San Diego from Dodger Stadium. Just don’t expect to see if if you still don’t have SportsNet LA, because it’s subject to blackout in L.A. (but not San Diego).
What is exclusive, the network says, is its coverage of the Cubs’ first home game of the season, Monday, April 10 against the Dodgers at 5 p.m., which includes the World Series pennant ceremony.
The Cubs are also featured on ESPN’s first MLB telecast of the season, Sunday, April 2, when they start at St. Louis (5:30 p.m.). Two games, however, come on that day before it — N.Y. Yankees at Tampa Bay (10 a.m., ESPN) and San Francisco at Arizona (1 p.m., ESPN2).
The Angels’ April 3 opener at 7 p.m. at Oakland is also on the ESPN2 schedule that will run side-by-side with the FSW feed.
More at this link.

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