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Doubting Thomas Only Half Right

All-American linebacker Broderick Thomas of Nebraska maintained all along that West Virginia had no business playing Notre Dame for the national championship and that Mountaineer quarterback Major Harris was overrated.

“There are a lot of quarterbacks better than him,” Thomas said a few weeks ago. “Notre Dame will probably win by more than 3 touchdowns, maybe by 40-some points. West Virginia hasn’t played anybody. They ain’t got a prayer.”

Thomas should have stopped there.

But he added, “Notre Dame ought to be playing Miami or us, but I don’t think anybody wants to play us. I know Notre Dame doesn’t.”

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West Virginia, although dominated by Notre Dame, lost by only 13 in Monday’s Fiesta Bowl. Nebraska lost by 20 to Miami in the Orange Bowl.

Mystery Hit: At halftime of the Fiesta Bowl, West Virginia Coach Don Nehlen told NBC sideline reporter Reggie Rucker that Harris had been injured on the game’s first play.

The NBC people in the production truck went back and looked at the first play and saw nothing that indicated Harris getting hurt.

So they started looking at other plays. They looked at the second play. Nothing. Then they looked at the third play. Bingo! There it was, Jeff Alm and Frank Stams throwing Harris down on his left shoulder.

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NBC showed the play early in the third quarter.

This year’s Rose Bowl was the first televised by ABC.

Some other Rose Bowl firsts, courtesy of Bud Tenerani, longtime NBC publicist, who switched hats and helped out ABC for this:

--The first radio broadcast: 1927, when Stanford and Alabama tied, 7-7.

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--The first national telecast: 1952, when Illinois routed Stanford, 40-7. The first nationally televised sports event was the 1951 World Series.

--The first color telecast: 1962, when Minnesota beat UCLA, 21-3.

--The first satellite coverage: 1968, when USC beat Indiana, 14-3.

In 1967, the Sugar Bowl was the first sports event ever televised via satellite. It was sent to Hawaii. The second was the World Series of Golf, which went from the United States to Great Britain. The 1968 Rose Bowl was the third.

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The Buffalo Bills are headed for a meeting with Cincinnati in the AFC championship game, but nose tackle Fred Smerlas hasn’t forgotten what things were like in 1985, when the team went 2-14.

“I remember the empty locker room,” he said. “The only person taking pictures of me was my father.”

Miami Nice: The city is spending more than $2 million preparing for the Super Bowl, hoping to make it a nice place to visit. About $125,000 is being spent to train cab drivers in good manners and supply them with special uniforms.

Trivia Time: Who were the Miami Killer Bees?

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Joe Gergen of Newsday, looking ahead to the Super Bowl, noted: “It will not feature a single member of the Zendejas family, second only to the Rockettes in number of quality kickers.

Trivia Answer: The Killers Bees were 6 members of the Dolphins’ defensive unit that played in the Super Bowl 6 years ago against Washington. All of their last names started with the letter B. They were defensive linemen Kim Bokamper, Bob Baumhower and Doug Betters, linebacker Bob Brudzinski and safeties Glenn and Lyle Blackwood.

Quotebook

Mychal Thompson of the Lakers: “When Xavier McDaniel plays against Orlando Woolridge, it’s a coach’s dream--X vs. O.”

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