The Final Four has become too big of an event to ever become old hat, but let's just say that the CBS crew that will telecast this year's event has developed a comfort level with the games and the surroundings.
That doesn't mean that coordinating producer Bob Dekas, who will head up the production team that telecasts this year's event Saturday and Monday from Indianapolis, doesn't get surprised.
Dekas was in Birmingham last weekend when Arizona unceremoniously bounced Kansas, the heavyweight favorite, from the proceedings at least three rounds earlier than most projected.
"It was a big shock for us to lose Kansas. I think we felt that was going to be a big story for us, but there are others," said Dekas the other night.
Indeed, there will be other stories, from Arizona's giant-killer act to the chance for Kentucky to repeat, from North Carolina's rebound from the near-dead to Minnesota's introduction to the big time.
And the spot, the RCA Dome, is a good one, Dekas said. He visited the dome in November for a preseason doubleheader and was shocked at the level of interest.
"People are basketball-crazy there and that can only help the broadcast. This was only an opening doubleheader and the place was sold out. It's really a great place for basketball," said Dekas.
Dekas has a steady team at his disposal, with director Bob Fishman, one of the best in the business, at his side in the truck.
For this year's Final Four, Dekas has planned to add a second super slo-mo camera, in addition to the one that is manned at the half-court spot where announcers Jim Nantz and Billy Packer will sit. The second camera, to be posted low in the end zone of the RCA Dome, should provide isolation shots of players as well as zone defenses.
Dekas said the network has also added robotic cameras to be posted behind the backboards to give viewers slam dunk looks as well as other perspectives. Tune in Saturday and see if it all works.
The nominees are in
The latest Sports Emmy nominations were announced yesterday, and there were a few surprises among the bunch.
For one, the reigning winner for outstanding studio host, ESPN's Chris Berman, was shut out of the field, which consists of NBC's Greg Gumbel, Bob Costas and Jim Lampley and ESPN's Big Show duo of Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann.
The other surprise was that ESPN's Dick Vitale was not nominated as best analyst. Instead, the nominees are Mary Carillo of CBS, Fox's Howie Long, Joe Morgan, who split time with both NBC and ESPN, the outspoken Johnny Miller of NBC, and Cris Collinsworth of NBC and HBO.
Costas was also nominated as best play-by-play announcer, along with NBC colleagues Dick Enberg and Marv Albert, Fox's Pat Summerall and ABC's Keith Jackson.
We'll have more nominees next week in this space.
Lots of bull
You've got to hand it to the folks at Fox. When they go bizarre, they do it mondo.
The network that brought you animals attacking each other and humans during the February sweeps, will provide the first live prime-time network rodeo event next Saturday, in the "Bullriders Only World Championship" from Las Vegas, with host Terry Bradshaw, a longtime cattleman himself.
We're told that the evening's highlight will be a "much anticipated" rematch between Terry Don West, the reigning Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association champion, and "Bodacious," a 2,100-pound load of tenderloin who is the only bull ever banned from competition for being too dangerous and described by Bradshaw as the "Michael Jordan of bulls."
West's challenge is to stay atop Bodacious for a mandatory eight seconds. Your challenge is to sit through the one-hour program without wondering what happened to your self-respect.
Channel 2 will have a live one-hour Orioles preview special at 8 tonight from Bohager's, with Sports Illustrated writer Tim Kurkjian on hand, along with a live shot with new shortstop Mike Bordick from Florida and a tribute to Jackie Robinson.
Pub Date: 3/27/97