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Schenkel Is Unfulfilling as a Fill-In

UCLA will be back on ABC Saturday when the Bruins play Washington State, but Keith Jackson, instead of Chris Schenkel, will do the play by play.

Last Saturday, when ABC televised UCLA-Arizona, Schenkel--the one-time voice of ABC’s college football who came back to do some fill-in work--had a few problems.

Schenkel once called Darryl Henley Darryl Henry. Arizona receiver Derek Hill once was Darryl Hill. It was the Wildcats of Arizona State. And the UCLA band was the Arizona band.

He pronounced La Canada the way you would the country. And Canyon Country was Canyon County.

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Danny Thompson scored UCLA’s first touchdown, but Schenkel kept saying it was scored by Maury Toy. Near the end of the game, obviously trying to think of Thompson, Schenkel said, “The boy who caught the first touchdown pass (pause) Thompson.”

On a penalty early in the game against a UCLA player for a crack-back block, Schenkel noticed the signal from an official and, taking it literally, said the penalty was for “touching the shins below the knee.” Say what? Even after the official said what the penalty was for, Schenkel called it a cut- back block.

He later called an illegal motion penalty a shift penalty.

He said the Bruins were leading only 7-0, after the Bruins had had the ball only once.

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He said Arizona had a chance for a 3-point field goal. Is there any other kind?

Schenkel called Arizona Coach Dick Tomey a wonderful guy. Why? “He’s a wonderful golfer,” Schenkel noted. But then, everything is wonderful to Schenkel. After sideline reporter Jack Arute did an interview with Olympic diver Michele Mitchell, Schenkel’s comment was: “What a wonderful face!”

There’s nothing wrong with being a nice man, but Schenkel’s golly-gee approach gets to be a little much. He said that if his two kids were younger, “I’d have one go to Arizona, the other to UCLA.” Aw, give us a break.

Schenkel also did a little name dropping. After he mentioned that Arizona’s Alonzo Washington, a transfer from Gavilan Junior College in Gilroy, Calif., had broken O.J. Simpson’s state rushing records (actually, those records were broken years ago), Schenkel said: “And I’ll bet The Juice is watching this game.”

As UCLA’s Alfredo Velasco prepared to kick a 50-yard field goal, Schenkel said, “He went to my pal Ben Agajanian’s kicking school.” After Velasco’s kick was good, Schenkel added, “Ben Agajanian, his coach, must be jumping for joy.”

At one point, Schenkel said to commentator Dick Vermeil that Troy Aikman “reminds me of a man you coached and a mutual friend, Jim Plunkett.” He never explained that Vermeil was Plunkett’s quarterback coach at Stanford.

After Aikman threw a soft pass to Corwin Anthony on a 55-yard touchdown pass play, Schenkel said: “You know, our affiliate’s call letters are KGUN. Talk about a gunner (it actually sounded as if he said gummer). There is one. Aikman has thrown for 3 touchdowns.”

Schenkel forgot to point out that KGUN is in Tucson. Someone from the station probably asked Schenkel to give it a mention. But what a strange way to do it.

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A number of times, Schenkel got ballcarriers and tacklers confused. One time he said: “Darryl Lewis caught the ball. (Pause.) Rather, Mike Farr caught the ball, covered by Darryl Lewis.”

He earlier said a pass was intended for Mel Farr, the name of Mike’s father, who played in the 1960s, and his older brother, who was a running back on last year’s team. Vermeil tried to hide Schenkel’s mistake during the replay by referring to Mike Farr as “Mr. Farr.”

All game, Schenkel seemed to have trouble finding the right words. For example, he’d call a play a pay.

He said UCLA was leading by a “14-0 margin of lead.” Commenting on what a beautiful day it was in Tucson--every day must be beautiful to Schenkel--he said: “It’s 78 degrees, a cooling breeze coming off this 2,100-elevation town. . . . It not only grows, it’s sprawling, but when you come here, it grows on you and you want to come back.”

Actually, the elevation is 2,400.

Schenkel would have been in more trouble without a spotter and a game program. About the only information Schenkel provided was what anyone can get out of a program--name, number, height, weight, year in school and hometown.

Schenkel admitted, as time was running out, that “this was not an easy game to do.”

His reasoning? It was lopsided. “You feel for the team with the fewer points,” he said.

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You had to feel for Schenkel, too. The Wildcats weren’t the only ones overmatched.

TV-Radio Notes

HBO will televise the Julio Cesar Chavez-Jose Luis Ramirez lightweight unification title fight at the Las Vegas Hilton Saturday night at 7. Chavez (61-0, 49 knockouts) is the World Boxing Assn. champion and was voted 1987 fighter of the year by the Boxing Writers Assn. Ramirez (101-6, 82 knockouts) is the World Boxing Council champion. Jim Lampley and Larry Merchant will call the fight. Their broadcasting colleague, Sugar Ray Leonard, is busy preparing for his own fight Nov. 7 against Donny Lalonde, so Mike Tyson’s trainer, Kevin Rooney, will be a guest commentator. Tyson, by the way, will be at the fight and will be interviewed by Merchant during the telecast.

The Chavez-Ramirez fight is the first of three major boxing shows coming up in Las Vegas. The other two will be televised on pay-per-view cable. On Nov. 4, also at the Hilton, unbeaten International Boxing Federation champion Michael Nunn of North Hollywood will defend his title against Juan Roldan. Thomas Hearns also will fight on this card, but despite what commercials running on cable channels say, his opponent is not Fulgencio Obelmejias, who had to drop out because of an injury. Hearns is now fighting James Kinchen. The price of the card is $19.95. The price of the Leonard-Lalonde fight three nights later at Caesars is $29.95. More cable companies are carrying the Nov. 4 card than the Nov. 7 card.

It seems that nothing goes right for the Clippers. They finally land a top-notch basketball commentator, Hubie Brown, and he is whisked away by CBS. Brown, hired by CBS this week as Billy Cunningham’s replacement, will not be allowed to fulfill his 20-game Clipper commitment. Brown must work for CBS exclusively, even though Tom Heinsohn was permitted to work Boston Celtic cable telecasts when he worked for CBS. Heinsohn’s objectivity was questioned, and Ted Shaker, the executive producer of CBS Sports, said that’s one reason Brown had to sign an exclusive contract.

It was good to hear that CBS football commentator Terry Bradshaw is OK. A Pittsburgh television station reported that he had a tumor near his heart, but Bradshaw has since been given a clean bill of health. He’ll work Sunday’s 10 a.m. Ram game at New Orleans with Verne Lundquist.

The early betting line on which network will bid the highest for the 1992 Summer Olympics has CBS as a slight favorite over ABC, with NBC a distant longshot. Negotiations are tentatively scheduled to begin in late November. . . . NBC is moving Paul Maguire out of the “NFL Live” studio and pairing him with Marv Albert as a commentator. . . . Albert’s old partner, Joe Namath, will team with Tom Hammond. . . . ESPN’s 5 o’clock Sunday night football telecasts open this weekend with Washington vs. Houston, with new commentator Joe Theismann working with play-by-play man Mike Patrick.

Although it’s only the exhibition season, the Lakers’ Chick Hearn is already in midseason form. . . . Add Hearn: He shows his interviewing skills in a series, “On Vacation With the Lakers,” now being carried by Prime Ticket weeknights at 5:30. Tonight’s segment features former Laker Kurt Rambis, and Monday’s features Jerry Buss. A must-see is the Magic Johnson segment next Thursday. . . . Who goofed? KMPC’s Jim Healy Wednesday night criticized the Forum and the Country Club in Reseda for not paying tribute to Henry Armstrong at their boxing events. Then he said there would be a tribute at promoter Don Fraser’s Irvine Marriott show Thursday night. But the first caller to Joel Meyers’ “Sportsline” pointed that there actually had been a moment of silence for Armstrong at the Forum. Oops.


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