Tomorrow will be the climax of what has been a pretty good week for CBS' Michele Tafoya, if her voice will just cooperate.
Tafoya, who is scheduled to call the action for the Purdue-Vanderbilt women's basketball game (Channel 13, 1 p.m.), has tackled sideline reporting duties for both the Sun and Fiesta bowls in the past six days while fighting off a flu-like virus.
"I'm getting it back," Tafoya said of her voice yesterday from her hotel in Nashville, Tenn. "When we got to El Paso [site of the Sun Bowl], everybody was getting sick, and the day before the Fiesta Bowl, I had nothing. I've had more tea than a human should consume. I think I'm at about 95 percent."
The Purdue-Vanderbilt game will be the first of a women's doubleheader. In the second game, Tennessee plays host to defending champion Connecticut in a rematch of last season's title game.
The doubleheader was no doubt arranged before CBS gave up the rights to the women's Final Four to ESPN, and will almost certainly take a pummeling in the ratings because of the NFL playoffs, airing on Fox and NBC.
But it's a big deal to Tafoya, 31: It's her first play-by-play assignment for the network, after doing men's and women's basketball radio in Charlotte and Minneapolis.
Tafoya, who joined CBS a year ago, has done well in studio and sideline assignments, but is looking forward to tomorrow's game as an opportunity to branch out at the network level.
"I feel extremely fortunate to get this opportunity," said Tafoya. "Sometimes, in this business, you can take for granted the chances you get, and I never will. Maybe in five years, I'll be jaded, but right now I'm so appreciative of the chance. It feels like your rookie season, when you're getting better, but you still make mistakes, and they still feel you have potential and give you the ball."
The playoff plan
For this weekend's NFL divisional playoffs, NBC and Fox have heavy-duty plans for pre-game shows.
Fox will send Jimmy Johnson to San Francisco to examine the 49ers' defense 30 minutes before the defending champions meet Green Bay tomorrow at 4 p.m. On Sunday at noon, Pam Oliver will chat with Dallas' Barry Switzer, Troy Aikman, Emmitt -- Smith and Michael Irvin about how, through all the turmoil they've encountered, the Cowboys are just three wins from the championship, in a march that begins with a game against Philadelphia.
Tomorrow at noon, before the Buffalo-at-Pittsburgh game, NBC's Ahmad Rashad will talk to Steelers coach Bill Cowher and some of his players about their rebound from the disappointment of last season's AFC championship-game loss and their slow start this year. Sunday's show, at 3:30 p.m., will have Greg Gumbel chewing the fat with Indianapolis quarterback Jim Harbaugh, while Paul Maguire talks up Kansas City coach Marty
Schottenheimer before the teams meet at 4 p.m.
Measuring sex appeal
HBO analyst Nick Buoniconti apparently touched a nerve on last week's "Inside the NFL" when he insisted that no one really wanted the Indianapolis Colts to beat San Diego in the AFC wild-card game, adding, "The Colts aren't a sexy team."
After the Colts beat the defending conference champions, Harbaugh fired at Buoniconti, saying, "Being sexy has nothing to do with winning a football game." The two men continue their banter on tonight's show, in which Harbaugh adds to the debate with the aid of the 1972 Miami Dolphins team yearbook. Tune in
at 7 p.m. and find out who's right.