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Hard facts on Orange about to leave bad taste in many mouths


THE GEARS of the Bowl Championship Series machine will grind to a halt for another year come Sunday, when we learn who will be matched in the Orange Bowl for college football's supposed national championship.

But there are three unbeaten teams at the top of the BCS poll - plus another two in the top eight - and even for someone who got through four years of college without taking a math course, it's clear this formula doesn't quite add up. (Or divide down. Or whatever. As I said, no math credits.)

"This is what the presidents of the universities said they wanted," ABC analyst Gary Danielson said in a teleconference this week.

And the BCS certainly keeps the discussion flowing when it comes to college football, something Danielson can appreciate.

"I think it's great from September to Jan. 2 ... but it comes out with a bad ending," he said.

Before we get to that bad ending - too many unbeatens who haven't matched up in the postseason - there is still the matter of getting through tomorrow's games.

ABC (WMAR/Channel 2) carries three important BCS matchups: No. 12 Virginia Tech at No. 10 Miami (1 p.m.), which will decide the Atlantic Coast Conference title; No. 1 Southern California at UCLA (4:30 p.m.), in which the Trojans will try to finish unbeaten; and No. 2 Oklahoma vs. Colorado (8 p.m.) in the Big 12 championship game, with the Sooners also seeking a perfect regular season and a secured spot in the Orange Bowl.

The team apparently headed for an offseason of tilting at windmills, No. 3 Auburn, faces No. 15 Tennessee on CBS (WJZ/Channel 13) tomorrow at 6 p.m.

On Sunday, the BCS bowl matchups will be unveiled on ABC in a 5 p.m. program. And if you're unhappy about how the BCS works out the title game, you may not necessarily be thrilled with how the other bowls will come out, either.

"The BCS was not created to slot the top eight teams," Danielson said. " ... It was created to get the top two teams in a bowl."


ESPN's Tom Jackson has taken to sporting a monochromatic look during the network's NFL studio shows. It's a fitting choice.

Jackson is far less colorful than some of ESPN's high-voltage NFL personalities, such as Michael Irvin and Mike Ditka. But the discerning viewer listens to Jackson. The former NFL linebacker knows his stuff and makes his points. Unlike Irvin, Jackson can actually articulate what he means. Unlike Ditka, his views aren't tied up in a tough-guy persona. Plus, who knows what color is coming next?


WMAR sports anchor Keith Mills has been off the air for the past few weeks, but Channel 2 general manager Drew Berry said Mills will return next weekend. Berry would not comment on the reason for Mills' absence, calling it a "personnel matter." ...

Fred Hickman joins ESPN as a SportsCenter anchor this month. Back in the day - as those of us too lazy to look up dates like to say; OK, it was in the 1980s and early '90s - Hickman combined with Nick Charles to make CNN's Sports Tonight a classy nightly sports show that provided a lower-key alternative to SportsCenter. Hickman has been working for the YES Network. ...

See a familiar face behind the bench cheering on the Terps during the Maryland-Wisconsin game Tuesday? The tall fellow was UM alum and SportsCenter's Scott Van Pelt. Now, some may think this a breach of professionalism and journalistic objectivity. Others may quote Brian Wilson and say, "Be true to your school." And still others may say SportsCenter needs a Maryland counterweight to Stuart Scott's Carolina Blue.

Contact Ray Frager at ray. frager@baltsun.com.

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