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Not Much Fanfare as CBS, Brookshier Go Separate Ways

With little fanfare, Tom Brookshier and CBS officially parted company this week. The network’s No. 1 pro football commentator from 1975 through 1981, Brookshier was a play-by-play announcer through last season. Now he is gone.

A CBS source said it was a case of the network’s cooling on Brookshier and Brookshier’s displeasure with his assignments. He didn’t work any national telecasts last season. The source said it was mutually agreed that Brookshier would “retire.”

Brookshier got into hot water with the network in 1983 when, doing a college basketball promotion during a football telecast, he jokingly said of the Louisville basketball team: “They have a collective IQ of about 40, but they can play basketball.”

Apparently, Brookshier never was able to get back into good graces after that.

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Other CBS football announcers who are gone include Wayne Walker, who left to become the San Francisco 49ers’ radio commentator; Dan Dierdorf and Gary Bender, who both signed with ABC; and Johnny Morris, who may be popular in Chicago but wasn’t popular with CBS executives, who decided not to renew his contract.

CBS will have all new announcing teams next fall, with the exception of the No. 1 duo of Pat Summerall and John Madden.

The new teams will be Dick Stockton and Terry Bradshaw, Verne Lundquist and Dick Vermeil, Tim Ryan and Joe Theismann, and Tim Brant and Hank Stram.

Jack Buck, Jim Hill and James Brown will be used on play-by-play as needed, with commentators yet to be named.

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The team of Buck and Stram will return to “Monday Night Football” on CBS Radio, which wrested the rights away from NBC.

Jim Hill update: Channel 2 and Hill apparently are close to a new deal, since CBS, which owns Channel 2, announced that Hill will be one of its NFL play-by-play announcers this season.

“The network part has been worked out,” said Hill’s agent, Ed Hookstratten. “As soon as we get a chance to sit down with Bob Hyland (Channel 2’s general manager), we should be able to work out a deal.”

There was talk that Hill might be headed to Channel 7, which irked that station’s lead sportscaster, Ted Dawson.

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“All I know is my job is secure,” Dawson said, as if there were such a thing as security in the television business.

Should active players and coaches be used as commentators? That question came to mind Tuesday night at the end of WTBS’ telecast of the Detroit-Boston playoff game.

Doug Collins, coach of the Chicago Bulls who was working the game as a commentator, never mentioned that it was an inbounds pass by Detroit’s Isiah Thomas that Larry Bird had picked off before feeding Dennis Johnson for the winning basket.

Not until the game was over--and after a long commercial break--was the name Isiah Thomas mentioned. And then by play-by-play announcer Bob Neal.

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Collins was critical of the Pistons, as well he should have been, but why didn’t he identify Thomas? Was it because he didn’t want to embarrass Thomas, who is one of the most respected and popular players in the NBA, and a player whom Collins will be coaching against in the future?

Maybe it was just an oversight by Collins, who has worked for CBS in the past and is an excellent basketball commentator. Efforts to reach Collins, Neal and WTBS’ coordination producer, Kimberly Belton, were unsuccessful.

Whatever, one could easily conclude that Collins, as an active coach, was not able to speak freely.

New show: ABC’s “Monday Sportsnite” begins a scheduled 14-week trial run next Monday night. The midnight-to-1 a.m. show, bucking the last half hour of Johnny Carson and the first half hour of David Letterman on NBC, will have Al Trautwig as host.

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“This is not a highlights and scores show,” Trautwig said. “It’s going to be an entertainment show with a central sports theme.”

Trautwig has done some pretty outlandish things during college football telecasts.

He searched for, and found, a bayou fisherman deep in swampy Louisiana marsh just to give him a pair of tickets to the Sugar Bowl.

He had the physics department at Alabama attempt to destroy a football, using hydraulic pressure, laser beams and liquid nitrogen. “They failed,” Trautwig said.

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He ordered a pizza on the air while on the sideline at last season’s Baylor-USC game.

And he brought in a truckload of sand, palm trees and lounge chairs during a rainstorm at the Miami-Pitt game at Pittsburgh. “We wanted the fans in Pittsburgh to get a feel for what it would have been like to be watching the game in Miami,” Trautwig said.

His off-the-wall approach may go over better late at night.

Producer Joel Feld said that Monday’s first show will offer a feature on Dwight Gooden, a preview of the Belmont Stakes, which just happens to be on ABC next Saturday, and guest appearances by North Carolina State basketball Coach Jim Valvano and model-marathoner Kim Alexis. Guess which one is there to add sex appeal.

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There will also be a weekly fan segment, which the first week will focus on Dodger fans Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda.

Monday night baseball: ABC’s first Monday night baseball telecast of the season next week will be the Angels at New York. Game time is 5:07.

The announcers will be Al Michaels and Jim Palmer.

Michaels’ again will be the lead announcer, with Palmer and Tim McCarver the commentators. Palmer will work American League games, McCarver, National League games. Newcomer Gary Bender will handle play-by-play on some regional telecasts.

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ABC, which has dropped Sunday afternoon baseball, will televise only eight Monday night games this season.

TV-Radio Notes ESPN is offering 55 hours of French Open tennis coverage, beginning at 6 a.m. daily. NBC will cover Sunday’s matches and the women’s and men’s finals next weekend. Channel 4 is offering its own five-minute highlights special Sunday at 7:55 a.m., leading into NBC’s coverage. . . . Vic Braden, director of the Coto de Caza Tennis College in southeast Orange County, will offer 50-second tennis tips during NBC’s coverage Sunday and next weekend. . . . ESPN begins its College World Series coverage today with a doubleheader, Oklahoma State vs. Arizona State followed by LSU vs. Florida State, beginning at 2 p.m. The cable network will carry as many of 15 games live. The commentators include Joe Morgan and Jim Kaat. . . . The 1988 Seoul Olympics will be televised by NBC, but the Olympic trials leading up to the Games will be carried by ABC, that network announced Thursday.

HBO offers live coverage of Saturday night’s Mike Tyson-Pinklon Thomas fight at Las Vegas. Also on the card is a heavyweight bout between Tony Tucker and James (Buster) Douglas. The telecast begins at 7 p.m. Sugar Ray Leonard, who has once again retired from boxing, will join Barry Tompkins and Larry Merchant at ringside. . . . Tyson will also be featured on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” Saturday at 4:30 p.m. when, in a taped piece, he takes a look at heavyweights of the past. . . . FNN/SCORE, a service of the Financial News Network, has a new weekly show, “Gil Clancy’s Boxing Journal,” on Wednesday nights at 9.

The AT&T; Baseball Challenge, taped last October at Angels Stadium in Palm Springs, will be shown on NBC’s “SportsWorld” Sunday. The baseball skills of some of baseball’s top stars are tested. . . . The San Bernardino Spirit, the successful new entry in the Class-A California League, will be featured on “This Week in Baseball” on Channel 4 Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Among the Spirit’s players are pitcher Todd Hayes, who is deaf. . . . The Dodgers once again will appear on NBC’s “Game of the Week” Saturday. Their game with Philadelphia at Dodger Stadium will begin at 12:15 p.m.

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