Press Coverage: Rooting for Storylines, Picking Games You Call, Griese in the Booth and More

Press Coverage is a new feature on TSB that will (usually) run every Monday covering what you missed in the world of sports media over the weekend. ↵

↵No Cheering In the Press Box ↵

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↵Have you noticed that whenever Melanie Oudin plays, Dick Enberg seems to be openly rooting for her? When Oudin defeated Maria Sharapova this weekend, Enberg was pulling for the young American like he was calling the Miracle on Ice game against the Soviets. ↵

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↵That said, can you blame him? Oudin is a great story and Enberg has always been a 'rah rah' guy in the booth. One just has to wonder how the match would be called if Joe Buck were sitting with John McEnroe and Mary Carillo. Or what about Mike Tirico or Jim Nantz or Dan Hicks openly rooting for a young golfer – an amateur even – to outplay Phil Mickelson or Ernie Els on the back nine on Sunday. Would it sound out of place? Is there something about the across-the-net nature of tennis that makes rooting for one side more understandable? Or is it excusable because she's only 17 years old? Or because she's so gosh-darn plucky? ↵

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↵Usually, those calling the event want to stay impartial. Along those lines, I've long noticed that on pregame shows, the color analyst calling the game never makes a pick. On PTI, when Tony Kornheiser and Ron Jaworski were breaking down Monday Night's matchup, neither would make a pick. This weekend, before Lee Corso put a giant elephant head on to pick Alabama over Virginia Tech on ESPN's College Gameday, Chris Fowler made a point to explain that Kirk Herbstreit would not be making a pick because he was calling the game. ↵

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↵Why not? Herbie would be in the best position to make a pick. He's studied film all week to prepare for the game. He's interviewed the coaches and players. Why leave it to pundits who are just watching on TV like the rest of us when you can have a pick from someone who knows more about the matchup? ↵

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↵I asked that question to ESPN PR and both college and pro football PR people have explained that they don't think ESPN has a hard policy about making picks when you are calling the game, explaining, "I think it's more of a general rule that our folks try to follow." ↵

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↵A longtime broadcaster at one of the major networks told me the same: ↵

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↵⇥"There is no policy that you can't 'pick' the game that you're calling- but most broadcasters look to avoid it because of the headaches that come with it (reaction from the teams, fans, local media.) ↵
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↵So the play-by-play guys can root for players and 'storylines,' but the analyst who's paid to give his opinion won't tell us who he thinks will win? As long as we've got that straight ... ↵

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↵Bud Collins Out at ESPN? ↵

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↵The US Open marks the end of the tennis season, and it might mark the end of Bud Collins at the WWL as well. Per Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal: ↵

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↵⇥Just heard ESPN dumping Bud Collins after Open; are they nuts, he is the only analyst that in any way remotely different; their loss, and fans too ↵
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↵We echo that sentiment here at TSB. More on the story as it develops. ↵

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↵Griese Following In His Father's Footsteps, Again ↵

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↵When the crew was released for Monday's Rutgers-Cincinnati game to open the BIG EAST season and I saw Griese penciled in, I just assumed ESPN had veteran announcer Bob Griese doing two games this week. ↵

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↵When the game started, I was surprised to see that it wasn't Bob, but his son Brian, doing the game for the WWL. And you know what, he was pretty good. At the start of the game, the younger Griese seemed a bit nervous, tripping over a few comments, but the more he got into the game, the more comfortable he seemed. Working with Bob Wischusen, Griese more than held his own, and despite a few color analyst fall back clichés, seemed to be a natural at the role. Since there was plenty of time to discuss the job during the game, as the play on the field was less than competitive, Griese spoke about the new gig, saying during the third quarter: ↵

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↵⇥"This is awesome, to be on campus. You know what I love about college football is the atmosphere, the fans, the tailgating, the young kids who you don't know what they're going to do. You don't know if they're going to play well or play bad, but they're going to play with passion. ↵⇥

↵⇥"I'm looking forward to the next 25 years in the booth, where I feel a lot better. Not getting hit all the time. " ↵⇥

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↵There was a point in the fourth quarter where I forgot it was Brian and thought it was Bob, their voices sounded so similar. And if his first game was any indication, we'll be looking forward to the next 25 years as well. ↵

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↵Brent Musburger Was on a Boat ↵

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↵I'm not sure how many markets this happened in, but if you sat down to watch the first weekend of college football on Saturday and turned on ABC in the Philadelphia market, the announcers sounded like they were under water. The entire day, the audio for the games sounded compressed throughout the day, which included the announcers at the games and the audio feed from the studio. ↵

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↵First, I reached out to ESPN PR, as the WWL handles all the production for ABC's sports telecasts. They hadn't heard of any issues and checked with their production team who didn't report any issues either. Next, I asked the Twitterati, to see if the problem was isolated to just my TV. According to some replies to my query, the ABC feed in the Philadelphia seemed to have terrible audio compression issues that made the games sound virtually un-listenable. Per one reply on Twitter from @jlynds: ↵

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↵⇥@OntheDLpodcast Sounds a little like T-Pain delivering highlights for me. ↵
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↵It's probably a good thing Penn State played on the Big Ten Network or there would have been a lot more complaints, and someone at the local affiliate would be 'straight flipping copies' today. ↵

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↵Mr. Tony Is Back ↵

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↵Tony Kornheiser came back to the radio waves today. His show, on ESPN980 in Washington DC began at 10 a.m. ET and runs every Monday through Friday from 10-12. The show will be streaming online and will be podcasted every day. ↵

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↵Say what you want about his stint on Monday Night Football, but there is nobody better at radio than Kornheiser. Nobody. ↵

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↵On a personal note, this is exciting for me, as I most likely wouldn't have a somewhat successful podcast – or any of what I'm doing now – if it weren't for Kornheiser. His show illustrated how sports talk radio, or at least tangential sports talk on radio, can be different. It can be smart. It doesn't have to be lowest common denominator or 'shock jock' radio. Tony has been very good to me, appearing almost monthly on my show to belittle me and eat pretzels in my ear while we try to talk about everything from sports to politics to American Idol. ↵

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↵Considering many of Tony's listeners came over to my show in his absence, I guess, in a way, I'm his competition now. Man, he's gonna bury me like cheese. ↵

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↵Welcome back, grampa. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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