Notre Dame Simply Felt That It Deserved National Attention


At least, Notre Dame knows a bad deal when it sees one.

Notre Dame didn’t bolt from the College Football Assn. television package simply for the sake of money. It went out on its own and signed with NBC because it saw the flaws in what ABC was planning to do with college football, beginning in 1991.

The problem is, ABC ended up with more college football than it can handle.

Already in place was a contract with the Pacific 10 and Big Ten conferences. By adding the 64-team CFA package, a logjam was created.

So many games, so little airtime.

Unlike ESPN, ABC isn’t able to televise tripleheaders. On most college football Saturdays, ABC is limited to one game per market.


What ABC planned to do was televise as many as five or six games, each on a regional basis.

For instance, ABC planned to show Notre Dame, for the most part, only in parts of the Midwest. Meanwhile, it would show a Big Ten game in other parts of the Midwest, a Pac-10 game in the West, an SEC game in the South, and so on.

Notre Dame believes it deserves national exposure and rightfully so.

National exposure is what NBC offered, plus a hefty sum of money.

The ramifications of what Notre Dame has done will be far-reaching. Other schools, namely Miami, Syracuse and Pittsburgh, reportedly have made inquiries about doing the same thing.

The latest development is that ABC and ESPN are renegotiating with the CFA because it didn’t deliver what it had promised.

ABC had originally agreed to pay $42 million a season during the five years of its contract with the CFA. Without Notre Dame, it is offering to pay $35 million a season.

The new offer might trigger a battle between CBS and ABC for the CFA package. CBS’ deal with the CFA, which expires after the 1990 season, gives it the chance to match any offer under $40 million a year.


Stay tuned.

Of the nearly $40 million NBC is paying for Notre Dame football over a five-year period, $15 million will go to opponents visiting South Bend, Ind. That breaks down to $500,000 a game.

USC plays at Notre Dame three times during the term of the contract, so that’s $1.5 million.

Under the setup in place through the 1990 season, USC would get $300,000 for playing at South Bend, or $900,000 for playing there three times.

You can’t simply say USC is now better off by $600,000, since it is undetermined how USC and Notre Dame will split the pot for their two games at the Coliseum during the term of the NBC contract, which covers only Notre Dame home games.

But it does appear that USC is among the beneficiaries of Notre Dame bolting from the ABC-CFA deal.

Did Notre Dame mislead ABC? Did the CFA? Or did ABC simply bungle things?

Probably a little of all three.

The way things have been going at ABC Sports, one might think Pee-Wee Herman is running the department.


Before the CFA fiasco, it hadn’t been able to make a major deal since January 1984, when it agreed to pay $309 million for the 1988 Winter Olympics, a deal that turned out to be a big money-loser.

ABC did manage to wrest the Rose Bowl away from NBC a few years ago, but NBC simply countered by putting the Fiesta Bowl opposite it.

ABC was shut out of three Olympic negotiations, lost baseball and missed out on opportunities to get either the NCAA basketball tournament or the NBA.

And now it loses Notre Dame football to NBC, and conceivably could lose the whole CFA package to CBS.

Oh well, at least ABC was able to make a deal this week with a new spring football league. A few crumbs are better than nothing.

Century off mark: Westside cable viewers were seething Wednesday night when Century Cable cut off TNT’s coverage of the Golden State-Philadelpia NBA game with the score tied and a minute to play.


Cablevision of Northridge reportedly did the same thing.

Following Golden State-Philadelphia on TNT was the Lakers’ game against Chicago, which has to be blacked out in Los Angeles. But Century, a major system, and possibly some smaller systems such as Cablevision of Northridge, went dark at about 7:20, well before the start of the Laker game.

Bill Rosendahl, Century vice president, said steps will be taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again. “In the future we will not rely on a computer to make the switch,” he said. “We will have someone live monitor the situation.”

Now if only all cable systems would follow Century’s lead.

Charleye Wright is up to his old tricks, lifting newspaper stories and passing them off as his own.

On his 7:25 a.m. sports segment on KIIS-FM Tuesday, it was a Times story on Steve Garvey signing with Prime Ticket.

“The deal hasn’t been announced yet,” Wright told his audience, “but you can count on it.”

George Allen, Hank Stram and Barry Switzer play themselves on ABC’s “Coach” Tuesday night.

They’re all at a coaches’ clinic in Memphis attended by Coach Hayden Fox, the show’s main character.

The segment was taped before Allen became coach at Cal State Long Beach.

“I was considering the job at the time and asked Barry Switzer for his advice,” Allen said. “He said, ‘Are you crazy? Absolutely not. You can’t win there.’


“I’ve often thought about what his reaction was when I took the job.”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will make a guest appearance on the Fox Network’s “21 Jump Street” Monday night.

Abdul-Jabbar plays an athletic director at a school where a basketball player dies of a cocaine overdose.

Abdul-Jabbar’s video, entitled “Kareem: Reflections From Inside,” recently was named best sports video of 1989 at the International Film and Video Awards in New York.

Richard Crystal, brother of Billy, produced the video.

TV-Radio Notes

Beginning in 1991, when Notre Dame is home, you will get Irish football at 10:30 a.m. on NBC, and then usually a Pacific 10 game at 12:30 p.m. on ABC. ESPN and Turner will carry CFA games, and Prime Ticket will have 3:30 p.m. Pac-10 telecasts. The best of the CFA games will belong to ABC but will rarely be shown in Los Angeles. ESPN and Turner will have to take what’s left.

TNT’s “All-Star Saturday Night,” which offers coverage of an NBA Legends game, a three-point shootout and a slam-dunk contest, begins at 5 p.m. . . . CBS’ All-Star game coverage Sunday begins at 12:15 p.m. It is preceded by a half-hour pregame show with Pat O’Brien as host.

ABC’s “Who’s the Boss” Tuesday night will deal with a timely topic. Guest star Sean Kanan plays a money-grubbing major league baseball player. Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda makes a cameo appearance. . . . Channel 13 will use runner Lisa Weidenbach as an analyst on its Los Angeles Marathon coverage March 4. She replaces Nancy Ditz.


For those starved for baseball, there are plenty of college games this weekend. ESPN will cover a tournament at Boardwalk & Baseball, near Orlando, Fla., with Florida State, North Carolina, LSU and defending national champion Wichita State participating. Wichita State plays LSU today at 12:30 p.m. . . . There’s also college baseball on SportsChannel America this weekend, beginning with Miami at South Florida, delayed, at 10 tonight. . . . Steve Garvey will make his Prime Ticket debut Sunday, working the 1 p.m. Pepperdine-UCLA baseball game with Geoff Witcher.

SportsChannel Los Angeles has named Lynn Woodard as its new general manager. She replaces Chuck Velona, who resigned in December. Woodard, a native of Los Angeles, has been involved in the cable industry in various capacities for 10 years.