Raveling Out of Coaching, Not Basketball


Anyone who has ever heard George Raveling deliver one-liners at a service club luncheon or dazzle the media at a news conference or explain basketball in insightful layman terms knew someday he would work in television.

If ever there was a coach destined for television, it was Raveling. He was either going to become another Billy Packer--or another Jay Leno.

He has decided to go the Packer route and this season will be an analyst on college basketball games for Prime Sports, mostly working with Barry Tompkins; do some games for a Midwestern cable packager, and also do studio work and game analysis for CBS.


“What I’m really enjoying the most about all this is learning a new trade,” he said. “Coaches get into this business with a false sense of security. They know the game, they understand the game, but they don’t understand broadcasting.

“Everyone is very nice to me, but what I tell them is, ‘Don’t be afraid to soil my ego if I’m doing something wrong.’ ”

Raveling, who was in coaching for 31 years, most recently at USC, said he’s in broadcasting for good, that there is no chance he will return to coaching.

His coaching career ended after he was seriously injured in a car accident Sept. 25, 1993. He says he is 100% again, but he was laid up for quite a while.

“At the time, I was looking for a way to get out of coaching,” he said. “It was time for me to exit. It had become just too much wear and tear, and it wasn’t as much fun.”


Raveling said he was naive about broadcasting when he began.

“I didn’t even know you needed an agent,” he said.

He has one now, the same New York agency that is handling Terry Donahue, and has a full schedule of assignments.


This weekend, Raveling and Tompkins will work two games for Prime--Arizona at Stanford on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and Oregon State at Oregon on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Next Thursday it’s Stanford at UCLA at 7:30 p.m.

Raveling won’t be working any USC games. He said that he, Pat McClenahan, Prime’s head of programming; and Tom Hansen, the Pacific 10 commissioner, all agreed it wasn’t a good idea, at least not this season.

Raveling said he tries to follow a pretty simple formula when announcing games.

“First of all, you are a second set of eyes for the viewer,” he said. “Second, I approach games as though me and my play-by-play announcer are just a couple of guys sitting in a bar watching a game. And thirdly, you have to never forget you’re there to answer any fundamental questions a viewer might have, and do it so anyone can understand it.

“I watch football games and sometimes think football announcers talk in a language of their own. I mean, what is the red zone? They might as well be talking Italian.”


On Thursday, after returning from Illinois, where he worked a Georgetown-DePaul game, Raveling read in his morning newspaper that a high school coach was being accused of asking a teacher to raise a player’s grades.

“This isn’t something that happens on a wholesale basis, and I think it is wrong to suggest that it does,” Raveling said, “but it does happen.


“A player I coached was accommodated throughout high school, and then when he played for me he never worked up to his potential. He always thought, if anything goes wrong the coach will fix it.

“That’s a dangerous message to send to athletes.

“Once a professor called me to tell me one of my players wasn’t showing up for class and he was going to have to flunk him. He was worried that would make him ineligible. I told the professor if the player deserves to flunk that he should flunk him.

“I said, ‘If he wasn’t showing up for practice, I’d kick him off the team.’ ”


It didn’t go over too well with UCLA fans that Thursday night’s Pacific 10 Conference opener at Washington State wasn’t televised locally. This won’t either: Saturday night’s game at Washington won’t be on Prime Sports until 11:30 p.m. because of a King game and “Press Box.” Making matters worse is UCLA’s flagship station XTRA’s awful reception in the Los Angeles area. The game comes in clearer on KMAX-FM.

Speaking of KMAX, the station’s new owners, Odyssey Communications, plans to change the format of the station from all sports to music on March 1.

“I’m really disappointed because I thought KMAX was starting to really come around,” KMAX talk show host Joe McDonnell said.

TV-Radio Notes

Kurt Rambis, who will work as a basketball commentator for Prime on a few games this season, is paired with Chris Marlowe on Pepperdine-Boise State on Saturday at 5 p.m. . . . ESPN will show 31 college basketball games over the next two weeks and ESPN2 will show 24. If you subscribe to ESPN’s Full Court package through DirecTV, you can get an additional 94 games over the two weeks, or 149 in all. . . . DirecTV, which services subscribers who have one of the new 18-inch satellite dishes, is offering the CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer tournament on a pay-per-view basis. The tournament, featuring teams from North, Central and South America, is scheduled to begin Wednesday.


ABC’s Peter Alliss, who is working the Mercedes Championship at La Costa, has been named best golf commentator by Golf Digest. Alliss’ former BBC colleague, the late Henry Longhurst, was named second. CBS’ Ben Wright, who got himself in hot water with comments about lesbians in women’s golf, was not among the 12 listed. . . . A decision regarding the future of Wright at CBS may come next week.

Fox and NBC were all set with plans for NFL playoff pregame shows this weekend, and then came the Don Shula resignation, causing some last-minute scrambling. . . . The USA network’s boxing shows, beginning their 15th season Tuesday with a Larry Holmes fight, have been trimmed from two hours to one. Announcers Al Albert, a brother of Marv, and Sean O’Grady begin their 10th season together. . . . Arnold Palmer, co-founder and chairman of the Golf Channel, will appear on the network’s “Golf Talk Live” program Monday at 5 p.m. to reflect on the first year of the Golf Channel, which is still not available on most cable systems. . . . Joe Castellano, who has been announcing Rancho Cucamonga Quake games on radio, has been hired by the Syracuse Chiefs, the Toronto Blue Jays’ triple-A team.