It will be another good weekend of football viewing, including a Raider/Ram doubleheader, since the Rams sold out Sunday’s 1 p.m. game with the San Francisco 49ers Thursday, enabling Channel 2 to televise it.
Channel 4 will televise the Raiders’ road game against the Washington Redskins at 10 a.m.
There’s no third National Football League game Sunday because the Rams are at home.
Had the Rams not sold out, Los Angeles probably would have gotten a dog, Minnesota at Tampa Bay, CBS’ only other 1 p.m. game.
The best of the college fare Saturday is Ohio State at Washington on Channel 2 at 11:30 a.m., Michigan at Notre Dame on Channel 7 at 12:30 p.m., and Illinois at USC on WTBS at 4 p.m.
Al Michaels is off to a solid start on “Monday Night Football,” but partner Frank Gifford still stumbles at times, getting names and teams mixed up.
Apparently, Gifford all of a sudden fancies himself a wordsmith, using such words as discombobulate and delineate. Is Gifford trying to be another Howard Cosell?
Also, Gifford is a little bland, basically humorless and seems reluctant to criticize. One good thing about Gifford, however, is that he is not offensive and comes across as a generally nice person. In time, he may adjust to his new role as analyst and learn to relax.
As for the camera work, does director Chet Forte really think those end-zone angles are appealing? That’s the view people get in the cheap seats.
Ratings game: The Dallas-New York Giants game Monday night got a 21.2 national Nielsen rating, fifth highest for a Monday night opener. All of the five top-rated openers have been Cowboy games.
The L.A. rating was a 24.0, best sports rating of the weekend here. The Raiders Sunday drew a 19.3, the Rams a 13.3 and the Dodgers a dismal 4.9.
A poor match: Jack Buck, when teamed with Hank Stram, usually does decent work. But working with Joe Theismann on last Sunday’s Ram-St. Louis Cardinals game, Buck wasn’t himself. He rambled at times and tried to ham it up. Maybe he thought he had to carry Theismann.
Theismann may turn out to be a fine commentator since he is naturally glib, but Sunday he seemed ill prepared. He talked a lot without saying much.
A good match: Bob Trumpy has come a long way and now may be NBC’s best football commentator. He and Don Criqui, who worked last Sunday’s Raider-Bronco game, are an outstanding team.
Trumpy knows the game and relates information that most viewers don’t know. For instance, when Marcus Allen fumbled the ball forward about four yards, Trumpy knew that a rule change this year returned the ball to the point of the fumble.
Trumpy apparently is one former player who has the work habits of a former coach. Thoroughness and overall knowledge are what generally make former coaches such as Stram, John Madden and Dick Vermeil the best commentators.
Best show: For sheer entertainment, the Raiders have the Rams beat.
Were Buck and Theismann kidding when they kept referring to the Ram-Cardinal game as an exciting one?
With an ultraconservative approach and a broken-down quarterback, the Rams make for dull viewing.
The ABC announcers for the Michigan-Notre Dame game will be Keith Jackson and Tim Brant. The good news here is that viewers will be spared having to endure newcomer Corey McPherrin, whose work with Lynn Swann on last Saturday’s UCLA-Oklahoma game was sophomoric and error-filled.
A sampling: McPherrin once called the UCLA team the “Bruin constituency.” He must have meant contingent. Another time he referred to Terry Donahue as Phil Donahue, although he corrected himself. And on a key play he had Oklahoma in a third-and-10 situation when it was actually a third-and-one.
Overall, McPherrin’s network debut was unimpressive.
Swann, for his part, invented a new word, referring to the “physicality” department, and several times got Oklahoma’s Lydell Carr confused with Lydell Mitchell, former Penn State running back who played for the Baltimore Colts and San Diego Chargers.
One more thing: Why does ABC insist on sideline reporters at college football games? Their interviews and comments just clutter the telecasts.
Recommended viewing: Two new shows on ESPN--"Scholastic Sports America,” which made its debut last Saturday, and “Magic Years in Sports,” which was first televised last Monday--are both excellent.
“Scholastic Sports America” is the first weekly national show devoted to high school sports. The 30-minute show, with host Chris Fowler, reports on achievements of individuals and explores issues concerning high school sports.
“Magic Years in Sports” is a 13-part series of looks back at memorable moments in sports. It’s a must for nostalgia buffs.
“Inside the NFL” on HBO is back for its 10th season and is better than ever. The show, televised on Thursdays at 7 p.m. and repeated on Fridays at 7 p.m. and again Saturdays at 10 a.m., includes a “Where Are They Now?” each week.
This week, Dave Kopay, who manages a retail linoleum outlet in San Francisco and speaks to community groups about homosexuality, will be on the segment. Next week it will be former Ram Tom Mack, a foreman at a nuclear power plant in Palo Verde, Ariz.
Said Ross Greenburg, the show’s producer: “When we went to the power plant to tape Tom, the people there weren’t even aware he was a former NFL player.”
Also new to the show this year are Drew Pearson’s “Cover Story” features and Howie Long’s “Player Diary.” Of Long’s work, Greenburg said: “He’s a natural, a broadcasting superstar in the making.”
Broadcast Notes Pat Summerall, beginning his 25th year as a pro football announcer, and John Madden will work the telecast of Sunday’s Ram-49er game. . . . ABC has announced that it will televise USC-Baylor Sept. 20 at 12:30 p.m. from Waco, Tex. Originally, it was scheduled as a night game. The Trojans’ game Sept. 27 against Washington at the Coliseum will be televised by WTBS at 4 p.m. . . . How good is Fresno State, the only unbeaten Division I-A team last season with an 11-0-1 record? Prime Ticket viewers will get a chance to check out the Bulldogs Saturday night. Their game against Oregon State will be televised live at 7. Fresno is coming off a 55-2 victory over Montana State. . . . Fresno State will make four other appearances on Prime Ticket and two on ESPN this season. . . . Prime Ticket will televise USC’s game at Arizona Nov. 1 live and will televise Notre Dame-SMU Nov. 8 on tape-delay. . . . The USA network opens an 11-game schedule Saturday with California at Boston College at 9 a.m. . . . The ESPN game Saturday at 4:30 p.m. will be Texas A&M; at LSU. Next Saturday it’s Penn State at Boston College.
The San Diego Cable Sports Network will televise three San Diego State home games, pay per view, to Cox Cable and Southwestern Cable subscribers. The first telecast will be Sept. 20, when San Diego plays host to UCLA. The three-game package costs $24.95. Individual games cost $9.95. The announcers are Joe Buttitta, former KTLA sportscaster, and Bob Babich, former Charger and Cleveland linebacker. Coincidentally, both are now banking executives. . . . Add San Diego: Dennis Shaw, former San Diego State and Buffalo Bills quarterback, is the commentator for Aztec radio broadcasts on KSDO (1130), working with play-by-play announcer Ron Reina. . . . Ross Porter has signed a long-term agreement to serve as play-by-play announcer on Nevada Las Vegas football and basketball games on both radio and TV. He will continue on Dodger broadcasts. . . . New show: “Sports Life Styles” will make its debut on Channel 7 Saturday at 5 p.m.