Media column version 02.06.15: A notebook, written on onion skin, and whatever’s left of Hannah Davis’ groincloth

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.”
635585554461327138-USP-NCAA-BASKETBALL-LOUISVILLE-AT-PITTSBURGH-70305400Raftery 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.

IMG_2955== 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.

== In light of the story about how the Atlanta Falcons pumped in crowd noise during their games, Michaels recalls a similar issue when he covered the 1987 Twins-Cardinals World Series.

doug-baldwin-dump-1== 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.

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Buck the stereotypes: Brazilian domination and the Pro Bull Riding tour returns to Anaheim

p2_story_MoraesEight years ago, we recall having an intriguing hotel-room sit down with pro bull riding star Adriano Moraes. It sticks with us because of how deep this athlete got about his faith, his immortality and his pride in what he was accomplishing, considering his roots from poverty in Brazil.

Turns out, they’ve put up a statue of Moraes in front of the PBR headquarters in Colorado (above).

“That son of a gun did good…I am not scared of saying he is the greatest guy that ever rode bulls until somebody proves me wrong, but they haven’t done that yet,” says a beaming Moraes, who was world champion three times, during an episode of Showtime’s “60 Minutes Sports” that airs tonight at 10 p.m.

This also comes up as the PBR Tour makes its annual visit to the Honda Center in Anaheim this weekend. Brazil’s Valdiron de Oliveira won last year’s Anaheim stop, with countrymen Emilio Resende and Claudio Crisostomo finishing second and third. Five of the top-10 riders last season on the PBR were from Brazil.  Five of the last seven world champions have been Brazilian.

Americans may outnumber Brazilians on the PBR Tour, but as far as who is the toughest, U.S. rider JB Mauney says in the piece about the riders from Brazil: “They don’t give up. They don’t quit. They try hard every single time. And in my eyes, that’s what a cowboy is.”

Moraes, who first rode on the PBR tour more than 20 years ago, says in the story with reporter Bill Whitaker: “Most of us, like me, I was born on a shack of dirt floor, didn’t have running water, didn’t have electricity and I made it to this.”

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Play It Forward: Feb 2-8 on your sports calendar — John Force more than equals mass times Funny Car acceleration

1444-000709THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

DRAG RACING: NHRA WINTERNATIONALS
Details/TV: At Pomona Fairgrounds, Thursday-Sunday:
PC1-450x225Never thought we’d admit it, but the most-missed reality show from our DRV stash is the one a few years back called “Driving Force.” It lasted just two seasons, but in the process, Funny Car legend John Force became the A&E Network’s funny man, appearing to be a flame out as the high-profile dad of a high-octane family. Maybe it didn’t look like he could handle being the father of four girls – especially three daughters who followed him into the sport – but that was the charm of it. Dude really tried. Somewhere in the mess was John’s wife, Laurie. She lived in the family house in Yorba Linda with the daughters, while John lived in a condo up the street because “he’s impossible to live with,” she said on the show. ESPN described the series as “Charlie’s Angels in fire suits going head-to-head with a dysfunctional dad who’s a cross between Ozzy Osbourne and A.J. Foyt.” Not to mention someone who looked as batty as Gary Busey constantly thrown under the family bus.
driving-force_L If there were another Family Force reality show in the makings – and they’ve supposedly reconnected with some Hollywood types to look into that – this would have been a great way to reset it, in the 2015 NHRA season opener. Here’s the storyline: The 65-year-old Force, who is the all-time NHRA wins leader (141) and 16-time champion, was dethroned from the Funny Car division last year by Virginia cattle rancher Matt Hagan. But he ditches his former ride and comes in with supped-up Chevy Camaro, wanting to defend his Winternationals title and telling everyone: “There isn’t anyone who loves drag racing more than I do. I’m like a little kid. I feel like I’m 16 years old again. … I’m a bad hombre when you put me in a fire suit.” Now can you not be fired up? ESPN2 has the Sunday finals airing on tape at 4:30 p.m.

la-sp-sn-nhra-force-chevrolet-20150115-001THE REST OF THE WEEK:

The latest list put out by Scout.com of its Top 25 signing day high school football classes has listed USC at No. 5 in the country, best in the Pac-12, and UCLA at No. 13, second in the conference. We’ll find out Wednesday … The Clippers are at Oklahoma City (10 a.m., Channel 7) and the Lakers are at Cleveland (12:30 p.m., Sunday) when the 57th Grammy Awards takes place at Staples Center … the Kings’ road trip includes a stop at the White House before visiting Washington’s Capitals (Tuesday, 4 p.m., FSW) … And if you’re apt to take the bull by the horns, then the Pro Bull Riding stop in Anaheim over the weekend is where to go. More at this link.

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Media column version 01.30.15 — What are the odds NBC’s Al Michaels gets into compromising position with Super Bowl XLIX prop bets?

What will be in this week’s media column:

Already, some media TV types are expressing a disdain that deflated footballs are hijacking their Super Bowl conversations.

On Tuesday’s NFL Live ESPN studio show, Herm Edwards barked: “This is an embarrassment for the league. You’re talking 5,000 media members (the number of credentials issued by the NFL for this game). And we’re talking about a situation that happened about a football. We shouldn’t have to discuss this anymore.”

B7_iCpLCAAA5LeaESPN’s Tom Jackson added: “I am like the Patriots, I am tired of talking about it. I am through talking about it for the rest of the week.”

What if someone was putting money down that you would talk more about it all?

When NBC’s Al Michaels parked himself between Jimmy Kimmel and Edward Norton last Thursday and mentioned that he’d been given information that Vegas bookmaker Bovada.lv had a unique prop bet, his eyes lit up a bit.

“There’s a proposition that asks how many times will Michaels and (Cris) Collinsworth say ‘deflated balls’,” Michaels mentioned. “The over and under is 2-and-a-half. Bet the over. We can control that.”

Or can he?

We’re going to look more into that proposition, and others, in this week’s column.

What else we wanted to get to:

== How about the odds that Michaels can make it to every media outlet in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl?

Before he paid his latest visit with the BS Report  — taped last Friday, released this last Monday, appearing above — he logged in a piece with NRP’s “Fresh AIr” (Dave Davies in for Terry Gross) and endured Q-and-As with MMQB.com and Rich Eisen‘s smarm-cast.

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Play It Forward Jan. 26-Feb. 1: How Patriotic would it be to mess with game balls on a Super Sunday?

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

Patriots coach Bill Belichick, greets Seahawks coach Pete Carroll after their 2012 regular-season game in Seattle. The Seahawks won 24-23 in Russell Wilson's rookie season.  (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Patriots coach Bill Belichick greets Seahawks coach Pete Carroll after their 2012 regular-season game in Seattle. The Seahawks won 24-23 in Russell Wilson’s rookie season. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

 
SUPER BOWL XLIX: SEATTLE vs. NEW ENGLAND
Details/TV: At Glendale, Ariz., Sunday at 3:30 p.m., Channel 4

Official game balls for Super Bowl XLIX sit in a bin before being laced and inflated at the Wilson Sporting Goods Co. in Ada, Ohio last week. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski) ORG XMIT: OHRO103

Official game balls for Super Bowl XLIX sit in a bin before being laced and inflated at the Wilson Sporting Goods Co. in Ada, Ohio last week. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

We feel cheated.
For the 49th edition of the Super Bowl, we were all pumped up for an appearance by the 49ers. Instead, they miss the playoffs and run their coach off – what’s their deal? (They’ll host Super Bowl 50, so now’s the time to refocus). Then, consider how much electricity there would have been in the air-conditioned University of Phoenix Stadium if the AZ Cardinals and Carson Palmer had been able to stay healthy and wealthy, and could have claimed a home-desert advantage. The Rams deflated our hopes long ago – not just as a franchise, but in pretending they might come back to L.A. So in the end, the NFC West team that merits our attention is Pete Carroll’s crew, which guarantees that we’ll have a ball – at the proper PSI requirements, of course.
Maybe the Seahawks are a slight underdog to win their second consecutive title, but it’s perfect timing to become their 12th, 13th and 14th man right now – if that’s within the rules. Should Carroll pull off back-to-back Super Bowl wins, we will be far more impressed than when Bill Belichick did it 10 years ago with the ’04 and ’05 Patriots. And those, friends, are the last Vince Lombardi trophies that Belichick has hoisted, thanks to bad karma. (See: Spygate, 2007). Carroll’s Seahawks will have polished off the AFC’s No. 1 seed two years in a row if they win here, and his redemption will come against the franchise that lost faith in him back at the turn of the century.
20superbowl2-articleLargePatriots owner Robert Kraft said firing Carroll in 1999 after just three seasons (and a 27-21 record) was one of the toughest decisions he has had to make since buying the team: “A lot of things were going on that made it difficult for him to stay, some of which were out of his control. And it began with following a legend (in Bill Parcells).” So who replaced Carroll at New England? Belichick, who went 5-11 his first season there in 2000. Kraft has only hired two coaches on his watch as the Pats owner: Carroll, who left the NFL and started his nine-year run at USC in 2000, and Belichick, who has since become the winningest coach in postseason history. “It’s a little bit personal because we were there and it’s a great place and I have great respect for what they have done, the family, what they have pulled off over the years,” Carroll said this week about facing the Patriots. “The Kraft family, they’ve done amazing things, historic things in the league and in the last 15 years or however long it’s been … They’ve been the best of the best and they’ve proven it. So we’re fortunate to get a chance to get to play a team like this and a club like this.”

richard-sherman-tom-brady-u-mad-bro-1Whoever wins this game has to do it fair and square – like when the Seahawks stunned  the Patriots, 24-23, back in October of 2012, as rookie quarterback Russell Wilson threw for two TDs in the last eight minutes to overcome a 23-10 deficit. Tom Brady’s career-high 58 pass attempts weren’t enough, and it led to that inspirational picture of him with Richard Sherman and the “U MAD BRO?” tweet.
If things aren’t on the up-and-up this time, there’s could be a lot more madness. Things could get blown out of proportion. A Super Bowl that’s ready for its AARP card certification might not have the patience to withstand that. Just like a regulation football, it needs to have the utmost bladder control.

THE REST OF THE WEEK:

IMG_2865Since we frequently hold conversations with Siri on our iPhone, we had cause to ask the simple question: What is your favorite NBA team? Without much of a pause, she  responded …. well, you can read it yourself here. Siri could show up with a bag over her head in Madison Square Garden when the Lakers face the New York Knicks on Super Bowl Sunday (11 a.m., TWC SportsNet) and still be pretty much incognito. How soon does she switches allegiances to the Lakers? … The Clippers hit the road for eight straight on Wednesday, including a stop in San Antonio (Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN) against a Spurs team they haven’t figured out the last four meetings … The Kings come back from the All-Star break playing host to Chicago (Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN) and then go on a five-game road trip, beginning in Boston (Saturday, 4 p.m., FSW) … UCLA has its hands full with Utah (Pauley Pavilion, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., ESPN2) and Colorado (Saturday, 7 p.m., Pac-12 Network) … Tiger Woods promises to appear at the PGA’s Waste Management Open in Scottsdale, Ariz., (Thursday-Sunday) right in the heart of the Super Bowl crowd … The rest of the week linked here.

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