TV's college football fare is only that

Maybe the guys selecting the college football matchups for big-game exposure late in the season should take a peek at what's playing on the campuses these days. ABC has the Michigan-Ohio State game tomorrow at noon and, later, ESPN sends along the Pitt-Penn State and Southern Cal-UCLA meetings at 4 and 7:30 p.m., respectively.

While by no means mismatches, all three games have clear-cut favorites -- Penn State is favored by 21 1/2 points, Michigan and USC by at least a touchdown. Apparently, the only reason the games are on is they've always been on, and possess too many boisterous alumni.


This offers the question, will any of the other time-honored rivalries such as Harvard-Yale, which is pick 'em, or Harvey Mudd vs. Pamona-Pitzer ever get the grand exposure? Probably not. Fortunately, ABC checks in with Miami-Syracuse at 3:30 p.m., which should be a keeper.

* Enthused that heavyweight champ Riddick Bowe's manager Rock Newman has expressed an interest in fighting in the Washington area, the Capital Centre set up a rap for yesterday. Recall, Muhammad Ali had two title bouts in Landover, against Alfredo Evangelista and Jimmy Young, but that shouldn't be held against the building.


* The Baltimore Spirit (uh, that's indoor soccer) has added another game to its Home Team Sports list: vs. Cleveland, Jan. 10. The Spirit is on twice in December: vs. Detroit, Dec. 6 and vs. Denver, Dec. 13.

* NHL coaches are already beefing about the mandated 70-second breaks for commercials during games on ESPN. There are four per period, commensurate with other sports, and the brains behind the bench maintain it breaks up the tempo of games. So what's new?

All games have been affected by the intrusion of TV, but then there is the infusion of money to be considered, isn't there? Fact is, televised games have always carried four commercial breaks per period and, previously, they were accomplished in 50-second breaks in the action.

Speaking of hockey on the tube, it is suggested Kenny Albert work a little more caffeine into his diet as his voice and emotions have been nearly as flat as the play of the Washington Capitals on HTS lately.

Speaking of delays, perhaps the most enjoyable pro football game to watch is one of those 4 p.m. jobs with a bunch of late-running 1 p.m. games in progress. The network won't break for commercial until the earlier games have joined in, making for the largest audience possible for advertisers. There was just 30 seconds left in the first quarter of the late game last Sunday when the first commercial came. Of course, the second period was wall-to-wall breaks.

* Now that you've seen the Evander Holyfield-Bowe fight either on pay-per-view, HBO or in the vivid accounts offered by newspapers, can you believe one of the judges assigned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission had the bout all even after 10 rounds? They say his check was made out to Blind Pugh.

* The titles sound imposing -- the Virginia Slims Championships and the ATP Tour Championships -- but tennis on the tube this weekend as college football heads for the wire seems slightly out of place. ABC moves in for the women's final from New York on Sunday (1 p.m.), Monica Seles already having wrapped up

No. 1, while ESPN has the men from Frankfurt, Germany, today (2-4 p.m.), tomorrow (12:30-3:30 p.m.) and Sunday (4-7 p.m.) with Jim Courier and Stefan Edberg still dueling for the coveted top spot.


Still on tennis, Pam Shriver's First National Tennis Classic is all set for Tuesday at the Baltimore Arena (6:30 p.m.), but a couple of the contestants, Gabriela Sabatini and Mary Joe Fernandez, won't be on hand until it's time to play since they're doing another charity event (for Hurricane Andrew victims) in Miami the day before.

* A video covering the PGA Championship at Bellerive in St. Louis in August was ready for distribution Sept. 11, but doesn't have an 800 number yet. Wonder what the golf folks figure the appeal will be now or in the future.

* You had to like what ESPN college football analyst Gary Danielson had to say about the Heisman Trophy race: "I would vote for linebacker Marvin Jones of Florida State. He's the best football player in a very average year for offensive stars [the guys who annually make off with the statue]."

* Have you ever noticed former Orioles announcer Tom Marr and talk-show host Rush Limbaugh have never been seen, photographed or appeared on the same stage together? And as far as the O's play-by-play job on WBAL Radio is concerned, no, Les Kinsolving is not being considered for the post (drat!).

* There's obviously more fact than fiction to that old "America's Team" claim concerning the Dallas Cowboys. Now that the Pokes are back in the thick of things, NFL Properties reports their gear is moving big once again, climbing from No. 8 to the runner-up spot behind Al Davis' "Just win, baby" bunch. Wait until folks notice the Raiders are a middle-of-the-pack club despite their pride and poise. The Indianapolis Colts rank last among the 28 teams.