Like everyone else, ESPN college football analyst Mike Gottfried is waiting to see just how good Maryland really is, and whether the Terps, who meet Georgia Tech tonight (8 o'clock, ESPN), deserve their lofty No. 17 ranking.
"I'll know that after I watch them," Gottfried said from Atlanta yesterday. "They beat a team [North Carolina] that I thought had a chance to be a Top 25 team. If you beat a team that could be a Top 25 team, maybe you're a Top 25 team yourself."
Perhaps, but to stay in the Top 25, Gottfried believes Maryland needs to win a tough game.
"If they get by this game, you have to start looking down the road at some big things," said Gottfried. "But if they happen to stub their toe, and they might because this [Georgia Tech] is a team that is similar, then you may have to rethink some things."
Gottfried, who is paired with Maryland native Mike Patrick, thinks the Terps' opportunism, especially their knack for capitalizing on turnovers, is the major factor in the team's remarkable turnaround.
"What really has gone well for [the Terrapins] is that they're forcing turnovers and getting something out of them. They are feasting on mistakes, and Georgia Tech is going to have to get the running game going and try to keep that Maryland offense off the field," said Gottfried.
Gottfried, who coached at Pittsburgh, thinks Maryland coach Mark Duffner made the right choice by installing Scott Milanovich at quarterback, even with the Terps' 4-0 start. "It's a tough decision and I'm sure he [Duffner] had to anguish over it," said Gottfried. "He [Milanovich] is the better quarterback and he figures that he wants to make his team stronger. Some coaches don't like fooling with a good hand, but I think as long as Brian Cummings is a team player, there shouldn't be a problem."
Koken on the Caps
Home Team Sports has tapped Al Koken to handle play-by-play for its 30 Washington Capitals telecasts this season, the network announced this week.
Koken, who has been with HTS since 1984, had been a Caps color analyst until 1990, when he was shifted to pre-game and between-periods host duties, a role he'll continue with HTS' Washington Bullets games.
Koken will be paired with analyst Craig Laughlin. Dave Johnson, who anchors the network's sports update desk shows, along with doing play-by-play on college basketball, soccer, lacrosse and volleyball, will take over Koken's hosting duties. The Caps' first HTS telecast will be Sunday, when they play host to Montreal.
Apparently not content to have taken the NFL away from CBS and having nosed it out for the NHL, Fox has horned in on CBS' figure skating franchise.
The upstart network has reached agreement with the International Skating Union to carry five events in the "Skate International Champions Series," with amateur, world and Olympic champions scheduled to appear.
Fox's first telecast, "Skate International of Canada," will air Nov. 5, with the French championship coming on Thanksgiving Day, after football. The series will culminate with two telecasts -- one in prime time -- in late February.
The Deuce, you say
ESPN, which has the rights to Sunday baseball telecasts, as well as special playoffs to decide ties on either Monday or Tuesday, has announced that it will carry any important games Sunday.
But there's a twist. If a game is set for the early afternoon Sunday, it will be seen not on ESPN, but on ESPN2, which would be a first. The switch would occur because ESPN is committed to carrying a NASCAR race.