CBS took the expected one step further yesterday when it not only named Jim Nantz as its prime-time host for the 1998 Olympic Winter Games from Nagano, Japan, but also extended his contract through 2002.
In addition, the network announced that Nantz, 38, who currently calls college football and basketball for CBS as well as anchoring its golf coverage, will leave the football booth to anchor a weekly 30-minute college football studio show.
"I'm thrilled that this day has arrived. I started with CBS when I was 26 years old and I feel like I've grown up at this network," Nantz said.
Nantz, who also will contribute to CBS News, has been a cornerstone of the network since he joined in 1985, but was recently heavily wooed by ABC.
Industry sources said ABC dangled a potential anchor slot on "Good Morning America," and a position as host of major sports events including its Triple Crown coverage. Also, it was rumored that ABC News chairman Roone Arledge telegraphed Nantz earlier this week in a last-gasp effort to get him away.
Nantz would not comment yesterday on the specifics of his talks with ABC, but said he had "vacillated a great deal" for a half-year.
"Ultimately, I decided that I'm living out a job that I could only dream of as a little boy. In the end, I felt like this is the place I needed to be," he said.
Said CBS Sports President Sean McManus: "There's no finer talent in the world of sports broadcasting than Jim Nantz."
Chasing the Cup
You can generally take a game analyst's pre-championship series proclamation that the coming competition will be tight and without a clear favorite with a grain of salt. After all, if they told the truth, that Team A has no business on the same planet with Team B, you wouldn't watch, now would you?
There may be an element of truth to the blather surrounding this year's Stanley Cup Finals, pitting Detroit and Philadelphia, because the Red Wings and Flyers appear to match up evenly enough to portend a fabulous final.
"For the first time in the playoffs, it's impossible for me to pick a favorite," Fox's John Davidson said. "Philly has the advantage at center ice, but Detroit's wings counter Philly's center strength. The blue lines are close and goaltending is close."
Meanwhile, ESPN's Bill Clement and Barry Melrose are each picking the Flyers in seven games, but with a clear reluctance to choose either team, given that they seem to be so evenly matched.
The series begins at 8 tomorrow on Fox (Channel 45) with Davidson and Mike Emrick on the call and Joe Micheletti reporting, while James Brown and Dave Maloney anchor the pre-game and intermission programs.
We'll have more on ESPN's coverage next week.
With an Emmy for its coverage of last year's World Series on the mantel, Fox launches its second season of Saturday afternoon telecasts, promising to push the technological envelope even further.
For instance, although the network had permission to place microphones on managers and coaches last year, not all of the skippers agreed to use them. However, baseball's Executive Council has ordered any team that appears in a Fox game to allow at least one coach or manager to be miked.
Also, the network plans to experiment with a lipstick-sized camera attached to a hockey-style catcher's mask for the All-Star Game.
"MLB and television haven't always embraced each other," said John Filippelli, Fox's senior coordinating producer for baseball. "They see what other sports give their rights holders, and MLB sees that it's time to step up. The cooperation, particularly in the last year, has been unprecedented, and we'll do everything we can to justify that cooperation."
Tomorrow's Cleveland-Orioles game (Channel 45, 1 p.m.) is one of four regional Fox telecasts, and features John Rooney and Jeff Torborg with the call.
Around the dial
CBS (Channel 13) airs a 150-meter match race between sprinters Donovan Bailey and Michael Johnson from Toronto's SkyDome at 5 p.m. Sunday for the unofficial title of the world's fastest man.
CBS and ESPN kick off their coverage of the College World Series this weekend. CBS will air tomorrow's game between Miami and UCLA at 3 p.m. Meanwhile, ESPN begins its telecasts this afternoon with the Stanford-Auburn matchup at 3: 30 p.m., followed by Rice-Louisiana State at 7: 30. The network will debut its own technological wrinkle, displaying a thumb-sized camera built into an umpire's mask.
Speaking of ESPN's baseball coverage, the network's "Sunday Night Baseball" series visits this weekend, as a certain former Orioles radio announcer makes his first appearance at Camden Yards since that little unpleasantness last fall. We'd tell you who he is, but we hear that the mere mention of his name is, well, a sore subject in some spots around town.
Know someone who bears a resemblance to Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda?
Well, the Trahan, Burden and Charles advertising firm is looking for such a person to fill in for the coach during a commercial shoot at Memorial Stadium on Sunday and Monday. If you have the time and the inclination, call the agency at 410-986-1103 today, so they can give you the once-over.
Pub Date: 5/30/97