No official column online or in print this week, so just filter through these items of note:
== Count us as surprised by the CBS/Turner Sports had the onions to officially announce this week that Bill Raftery and Grant Hill would effectively replace Steve Kerr and Greg Anthony as Jim Nantz’s analysts on the NCAA Final Four and April 6 national title game.
Raftery has put 33 years into calling NCAA Tournament games and 23 years on radio during the Final Four. The 71-year-old is well deserving of the elevation to this perch after all these seasons. His long-time commitment to CBS, while also doing games for ESPN and, lately, Fox Sports 1, on the Big East is finally being rewarded.
“I’ve been there a long time,” he said of the Final Four in an interview with USA Today.
“Unfortunately when I coached (at Seton Hall, from 1970-81) I couldn’t get my team there so I’m making it up for it now.”
Raftery would have been the likely choice to replace Kerr. But with Hill, however, he has only worked in the studio and still seems to be getting his broadcasting feet wet. The former Duke star parlayed a famous college career into 18 NBA seasons, his last with the Clippers in 2013. Raftery actually called some of Hill’s games at Duke, including the 1994 Final Four when Hill’s Duke team was in it.
You’re not asking us, but someone like Reggie Miller would have made a bit more sense than Hill for the third chair. Unless TNT saw too much of a conflict with him doing NBA games — which would not make sense because Kerr had the same issue a year ago.
Kerr since left the group to coach the Golden State Warriors to the best record in the Western Conference this season; Anthony was suspended by CBS after his arrest last month for prostitution solicitation and he entered a not guilty plea in the case this week.
The new Nantz-Raftery-Hill will appear for the first time on the Big Ten tournament semifinals and title game March 14-15, which does not give the trio much time to find its chemistry.
== Has anyone been able to explain yet how Sir Nick Faldo went bangers-and-mash on his Super Bowl pick — correct team and score — hours before the game was played, as it stood there in graphic form on the CBS’ PGA Tour telecast from Scottsdale that morning? Maybe he gets his rightful recognition when he joins Golf Channel on the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open from Torrey Pines on Thursday at noon.
(When I pointed this out to Jim Nantz earlier this week via email, he replied: “Just one of the many reasons why Her Majesty deemed him worthy of Knighthood.”)
FYI: A year earlier, David Feherty correctly predicted the Seahawks would win Super Bowl XLVIII — and even had the 43-8 win over Denver right.
== The day after, Cris Collinsworth still couldn’t believe the Seahawks’ play call. And the media sure piled on. And on. And on. And on. And on. And on, even with the Today show flying Matt Lauer to Seattle for an ‘exclusive’ followup?
== How did Al Michaels figure out off the top of his head that little-known New England rookie Malcolm Butler made the game-saving interception at the end of the game? He explains on an interview this week with the Mighty 1090 in San Diego. But Michaels won’t finish the conversation until he talks about minor-league hockey and how the NHL top affiliates are dotting Southern California cities.
== NBC Sports’ own “Pro Football Talk” blog gives Super Bowl producer Fred Gaudelli another opportunity to dispute a Deadspin take on why the network decided to cut away from the touchdown celebration by Seattle’s Doug Baldwin. “In every telecast there are always decisions we would like to have back,” says Gaudelli. “This isn’t one of them.”
Our only issue with this decision is there was no verbal explanation by the broadcasters why the Seahawks were given a 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration. It kind of glossed over that aspect.