Orlando's Charles Davis was in fine voice Monday night as a Fox-TV analyst for the BCS-sponsored collegiate national championship game.
By halftime, he was doing little more than heaping praise on Florida. But no matter the outcome, he could have been left speechless -- not because of what happened on the field but because of polyps on his vocal cords.
"The biggest gig of my life," said Davis, "and I almost lost it."
So much for that game plan when you give up a TD on the opening kickoff. But Davis looked prescient when the Gators came back with a pair of quick TDs to take a lead they never relinquished.
Florida's script was much like the one Davis was forced to use. A terrible start but a satisfying conclusion.
Polyps. Sounds like something you'd find on the menu in a French restaurant, but Davis found them on his vocal cords. And the timing was awful as he had just been hired by Fox Sports President Ed Goren to be one-third of a hastily conceived "championship broadcast team" for the network's somewhat odd multimillion-dollar buy-in at the collegiate bowl level.
Disaster struck for Davis last month during the BCS Selection Show, his debut with play-by-play guy Thom Brennaman and analyst/Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez. "I could barely talk," Davis said this week. "I sounded like Peter Brady of The Brady Bunch during his puberty episode."
Davis went through puberty a long time ago. He didn't need that embarrassment again. Fox Sports sent Davis to Dr. Edward Kantor, a "doctor to the stars" in Beverly Hills, to "have my polyps cut off." Ouch. Then nine days under strict doctor's orders to not say a word. Nine days of not knowing if "the greatest gig of his life" would end in the sound of silence.
Not to worry. His first words to Dr. Kantor: "Thank you."
And Monday night, Davis talked almost as easily as the Gators scored.
Critiquing the show
Quickly putting together a team without superstars tied to other networks could not have been easy. Fox gets a strong grade for its overall show. Play-by-play veteran Brennaman, known primarily for baseball coverage, was quick and enthusiastic. Davis, using his years of experience with Sun Sports and TBS, did an excellent job of providing insight. Only Alvarez rested on his reputation, providing little more than PSOs -- Profound Statements of the Obvious.
Camera and sound were excellent, although initially Fox did not provide much of the "pageantry" it had emphasized was the difference between college and pro ball. However, the network rediscovered the crowd reaction shot just before halftime.
Call it A-minus as a production, much less than that as a competitive game.
NOBODY ASKED, BUT . . .
Wasn't it strange that the college championship game was played in a stadium named after a university that doesn't have a football program? The University of Phoenix paid $154.5 million for naming rights to the home of the NFL's Arizona Cardinals. The payoff is next year when the Super Bowl comes to town.
You want to "tweak" the BCS again? Do something about calling this game "the Bowl Championship Series national championship game." Doesn't have the same ring as Super Bowl, does it?
Buckeyes Coach Jim Tressel got $200,000 in his Christmas stocking for getting to the title game -- and would have won the right to renegotiate his $2.6 million contract by winning it.
Each player got a satellite radio, a watch and other stuff, but according to the NCAA, the bling couldn't exceed $500 in value. Why? Not enough money involved?
The Cheap Seats return Wednesday. Jerry joins Lynn "Hitman" Hoppes and Steve Elling to talk a little more about the title game at 9 a.m. during Keep'n Score on 740 The Team. Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org or 633 N. Orange Ave., Orlando 32801. And have a nice day.