It seems that the Chicago Bears' Head Coach Lovie Smith, General Manager Jerry Angelo, and QB Jay Cutler each reportedly turned down requests last week to be interviewed by Bob Costas for the NBC-TV pregame show prior to its Sunday Night Football telecast from Chicago.
When I first heard that, I had 2 immediate reactions. First, I thought about the seemingly hundreds of on-air hosts and commentators that NBC presents to us within the 4 1/2 hours each Sunday night during the NFL season, and figured they would hardly struggle for opinion and comments about the game. Next, I thought about how some athletes have regularly shunned media interviews over the years while the 3 people in this story have done their fair share.
Yet, the Chicago Sun-Times, in "reporting" this story, had its own angle. It seems that NBC-TV decided to interview a couple of Sun-Times writers for the pre-game show instead of the key player, head coach, or General Manager. Therefore, the "story" in the Sun-Times and on its web site was really a column disguised as a promotional piece for the newspaper.
It came across as a double negative. I can't believe that NBC-TV with all of its resources actually preferred putting a couple of newspaper writers on its pregame show over and above interviews with other Bears players. If other Bears players wouldn't talk, then present more interviews from the Philadelphia Eagles (the opponent) and from their endless line of commentators. It's OK to casually mention that key personnel of the Bears chose not to appear, and move on with the telecast.
I thought that I could learn what the writers have to say during the week leading up to the game. Anyone around the country can read them on SunTimes.com. Were they saving something important for NBC that they weren't putting in their own columns or reports for the newspaper? I hardly think so. But I also fault NBC for relying on other "media" which in effect competes with them by also reporting on the game they were televising. NBC has enough on-air personnel to easily fill up the 90 minutes leading into the kickoff. If they couldn't get the team personnel they wanted, they did not have to go after other media.
After learning of this, even though I planned to watch this game, I waited and tuned in about 5 minutes before kickoff.
Meanwhile, CBS-TV is already enjoying the ratings success for the entire NFL season, noting that nearly 90% of available advertising during the coming February 7 Super Bowl has been sold. Even in this challenging economy, the network reports that sales are well ahead of the pace when it last televised the Super Bowl in 2007.
MLB Network continues to bring on the classic baseball telecasts during this stretch of time following the World Series and leading into the Winter Meetings in early December.
For Thanksgiving weekend, the network will air a series of All-Star Game telecasts. This will include the 1971 game with the monster homerun in Detroit by Reggie Jackson, even though their cameras missed where the ball actually hit. Eight of the games are scheduled to air for the first time on MLB Network. These are the 1982, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2000 games.
In addition to 3 NFL telecasts on Thursday (Thanksgiving), the NBA national packages bring us plenty of hoops this week. In addition to ESPN airing Wednesday and Friday NBA games and the usual Thursday doubleheader on TNT (holidays not withstanding), NBA-TV adds to the mix this week.
On Tuesday (11/24) it will be Oklahoma City at Utah at 9:00 ET, on Saturday (11/28) it will be Charlotte at Washington at 7:00 ET, and on Sunday (11/19) it will be Boston at Miami at 6:00 ET.
Speaking of NBA telecasts, who would have thought that if Clippers' voice Ralph Lawler were to miss his first game in 25 years, it would have been due to a suspension? Lawler and analyst Michael Smith were suspended from last Friday's (Nov. 20) telecast on Fox Sports Prime Ticket as a result of comments on last Wednesday's (11/18) telecast vs. Memphis. Reportedly due to ONE viewer's complaint about their comments about Grizzlies center Hamed Haddadi being from Iran.
CHICAGO: Congrats to WMAQ-TV Channel 5 sports reporter Peggy Kusinski on winning a Midwest Emmy Award for her reporting work.
NEW YORK: Even with the rise in TV sports ratings this year, it takes teams worth watching to further the cause. Word is that the Knicks' horrible start has already resulted in a 28% TV ratings reduction on MSG Network over the same period last season. When the Knicks didn't exactly set the NBA on fire either. However, they are not at the bottom of this ratings drop. The New Jersey Nets, still winless at press time, have already seen a 41% drop on YES telecasts compared with the same period last year.
SAN FRANCISCO: It has been a struggle over the years for the Oakland A's to find a radio station they can stay with and that would stick with them. There have been a couple of seasons when they A's have bought time on limited power stations. Yet, that seems to have changed. KTRB 860 and the team have agreed on a 10-year extension to carry the A's, including up to 20 spring training broadcasts.
The A's broadcast team also returns for at least 2010. Ray Fosse returns for his 25th season in the booth, now handling color commentary and pre-game programming. Ken Korach returns for his 15th season in the booth, while Vince Cotroneo begins his 5th season.
CINCINNATI: University of Kentucky basketball fans on the Northern Kentucky side will like Insight Cable presenting a "free preview" of CBS College Sports channel this week. Just in time for Kentucky's games in the Cancun (Mexico) Challenge basketball tourney games on Tuesday and Wednesday. So nice that some subscribers won't have to pay to see those games instead of having to fly down to Mexico.
NASHVILLE: WGFX 104.5 The Zone has brought back ESPN Radio, even if for overnight and some weekend hours only. However, there is positive in this. The sports station wants to limit ESPN programming due to being "live and local" for much of its day. ESPN Radio was not available locally in Nashville since July when another FM station known as The Fan dropped sports programming.
Here is the college football regional and national schedule for the coming week, with times Eastern:
Tuesday, Nov. 24
7:00: Ball St. at Western Michigan, ESPN2
Thursday, Nov. 26
4:00: Tuskegee at Alabama St., ESPNU
8:00: Texas at Texas A&M, ESPN
Friday, Nov. 27
11:00: Rutgers at Louisville, ESPN2
11:00: Temple at Ohio U., ESPNU
12:00: Illinois at Cincinnati, ABC
2:30: Alabama at Auburn, CBS
3:30: Nebraska at Colorado, ABC
7:00: Pittsburgh at West Virginia, ESPN2
10:15: Nevada at Boise St., ESPN2
Saturday, Nov. 28
12:00: Clemson at South Carolina, ESPN
12:00: North Carolina at N.C. State, ESPN2
12:00: South Carolina St. at Appalachian St., ESPNU
3:30: Virginia Tech at Virginia, ABC
3:30: Florida St. at Florida, CBS
3:30: Miami (Fla.) at South Florida, ESPN
3:30: Boston College at Maryland, ESPNU
7:00: Arkansas at LSU, ESPN
7:00: Tennessee at Kentucky, ESPNU
8:00: Notre Dame at Stanford, ABC
8:00: Georgia at Georgia Tech, ESPN2
10:30: Navy at Hawaii, ESPNU