Vermeil, Musburger pad Army-Navy gate


The TV Repairman:

What should go a long way toward assuring a sellout at the Meadowlands tomorrow when Army and Navy collide for the 94th time is that the voices on ABC's noon coverage will be Brent Musburger and Dick Vermeil. Can fans up that way run the risk of having their enjoyment almost assuredly ruined by these two?

To put it mildly and despite what USA Today says, the guys have not had a good year calling the collegians. In fact, they've been downright horrible with the analyst making endless references to how these scholar-athletes project as pros, and the Mushman constantly attempting to come across as Mr. Folksy. Brent, you're not warm.

The second game of the double dip, beginning at 3:30 p.m., has Florida taking on Alabama for the SEC title and the host spot in the Sugar Bowl. Poor Keith Jackson. The voice of college football will no doubt be talking up the Alabama-Florida victor taking on the highest-rated and "most deserving" team available, West Virginia, "right here on ABC." Meanwhile, the net's accountants are hoping and praying ratings king Notre Dame gets the call.

With regard to these games and the biggie for the Rose Bowl slot pitting Wisconsin and Michigan State in Tokyo at 11:30 p.m. on ESPN, the way collegiate games have been going lately, it has been risky letting one's eyes wander or one's physicality get misplaced for the purpose of raking leaves.

Think about it. Boston College nips Notre Dame with a field goal after the Irish had recovered from a two-touchdown deficit to take a lead in the last minute. . . . Florida State scaring the daylights out of Notre Dame late . . . Ohio State-Wisconsin . . . West Virginia-Miami, etc. As Jackson might say, "It's been a good'un."

* CBS has an interesting Olympic Superfest tomorrow (1 p.m.), the USA vs. Russia in hockey, followed by luge from the February Games site, Lillehammer, Norway. The show that follows at 3:45 ain't bad either: top-rated Kentucky taking on Indiana and the guy in the bulging red sweater in bounce-ball.

* Next time you see John Madden, ask him what he meant when he said recently that bulbous running back Ironhead Heyward "has soft feet."

* Some network or cable system should give Phoenix Suns bad boy Charles Barkley a weekday afternoon talk show. Sir Charles could roam the studio audience, punching or spitting on people to his heart's content.

* How soon will it be before either "Current Affair" or "Hard Copy" lands tapes of Olympic skating star Katarina Witt's bedroom romps, which she alleges the former East German secret police recorded when it was a Communist state? And who is bidding for the distribution rights this very moment?

* Back at the start of the NBA season, folks at TNT said bravely that their ratings wouldn't dip below those of fishing shows with the retirement of Michael Jordan. Maybe even some of them believed it. The way it works out, somebody obviously knew what they were talking about. Heading into tonight's big-man bonanza -- San Antonio vs. Orlando at 8, Charlotte vs. Denver at 10:30 -- the cable's ratings are running 17 percent ahead of last year's. And, get this, the ratings for two Chicago Bulls games have been up substantially, fans no doubt wondering if the team is even going to bother to show up. Houston's Hakeem Olajuwon will be in the studio for the second game after disposing of the Atlanta Hawks earlier.

* HBO has a solid boxing twin bill tomorrow (10:15 p.m.), heavyweights Michael Moorer (33-0) and Mike Evans (29-7) trading bombs after featherweights Greg Vargas (29-3) and Kevin Kelley (36-0) have flitted around the ring for a half-hour.

Devotees of the "sweet science" also have a goodie to check out Tuesday on HBO (10:15 p.m.) when "In This Corner . . . Boxing's Little Giants" starts its run. The hour show looks at Sugar Ray Robinson, Benny Leonard, Roberto Duran, Willie Pep, Henry Armstrong and Sugar Ray Leonard.

* That was some move Channel 13 made on "Expansion Tuesday," sending a reporter to a bar for reaction to Baltimore's emasculation in mid-afternoon. Now think about it, who or what is bellying up at that hour -- CEOs, college professors, career women?

WJZ also did an interview with a newspaper reporter, who ranted long and loudly about how "we" [Baltimore] had been done in. Is objectivity passe?

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