Petros Papadakis has a mind that runs faster than his legs ever did as a USC tailback, even though he could run the 40 in 4.4 seconds. He talks nonstop, and he’s more than a little goofy.
When he smiles, which is a lot, you’d swear he could have been Adam Sandler’s double as Bobby Boucher Jr. in “The Waterboy.”
It’s no wonder he has been hired by Fox Sports Net and KMPC (1540). He’s perfect for broadcasting. He’s a Jimmy Kimmel or Jay Mohr type, only he also can see the game as a former player.
Papadakis and former UCLA quarterback Matt Stevens, the Bruins’ radio commentator, this week began a season-long stint as college football analysts on Fox Sports Net’s “Southern California Sports Report.”
And Papadakis and Tim Ryan will serve as co-hosts of the Trojan pregame shows on KMPC, USC’s new flagship radio station, beginning with Saturday’s opener against San Jose State. The pregame show starts at 2:30 p.m., the game at 3:30.
During Papadakis’ debut on the “Southern California Sports Report,” he said, among other things, that UCLA last year “couldn’t have tackled my mother.”
Asked off the air about the comment, he said, “My mom is a big lady, she doesn’t go down easy.”
You just never know what he is going to come up with next. There was more than a page and a half of Papadakis quotes in last year’s USC football media guide. And there was a section on the USC Web site, usctrojans.com , last season called “Me, Myself and Petros” in which Papadakis could talk about anything that popped into his mind.
His real first name is Petrakii; Petros is Peter in Greek. Maybe he should have majored in Greek philosophy. He graduated as an English major in June.
“I was confused when I first went to college,” he said. “I could read books, so I decided to major in English. I was the only football player they ever had in the English department.”
He describes himself this way: “I’m a walking contradiction. I’m the only person in the world who can sit on the fence and watch himself go by.... I’ve always been a little bit eccentric.”
He played only one year of high school football.
“I was a strange kid in high school,” he said. “I had long hair, wore black and was not good with the ladies. Basically, I was insecure.”
He rushed for 2,026 yards and scored 22 touchdowns as a senior for Peninsula High in Rolling Hills Estates, but UCLA and California were the only schools that recruited him. And then UCLA reneged. So he went to Cal, but quit after five days of practice. He ended up at USC, where his brother Taso and father John played, and was a team captain last year as a senior.
He says he always will work part-time as a waiter at his family’s Greek restaurant in San Pedro but still hopes to play pro football. He first faces more surgery on a shattered foot that sidelined him for the 1999 season and curtailed his productivity last year. However, he did score three touchdowns against San Jose State.
He thinks the Trojans will be much better this season under Coach Pete Carroll.
Asked about Paul Hackett, he said: “For one thing, with Hackett we had a 500-page playbook last year that no one could understand. For another, he wasn’t a people person. He wasn’t inspiring and he was really hard to play for. It seemed he was always [angry] about something.
“Everybody is a lot happier now.”
While USC will be on Fox Sports Net 2 Saturday at 3:30 p.m., UCLA’s game against Alabama at Tuscaloosa, Ala., will be nationally televised on ESPN at 4:45.
And ESPN has chosen Tuscaloosa as the site for the debut of its expanded 90-minute “College GameDay” pregame show. It begins at 7:30 a.m.
Lee Corso, who begins his 13th year on “GameDay,” has questions about the Bruin defense. “That has been the main problem since the loss to Miami two years ago,” he said.
“They keep changing coordinators and don’t change the players. Maybe they need to re-evaluate their recruiting.”
Because the Dodgers take precedence on UCLA flagship station KXTA (1150), Saturday’s game will be carried by XTRA (690).... Pete Arbogast begins his second stint as USC’s radio play-by-play announcer Saturday, having replaced Lee Hamilton. Paul McDonald returns as commentator, with Ryan working the sidelines....ABC is televising Miami-Penn State to most of the nation Saturday at 5 p.m., while the West Coast and Big Ten country get Wisconsin at Oregon. That means viewers here will miss an emotional moment when Penn State defensive back Adam Taliaferro is honored before the game at Penn State. Taliaferro was thought to be paralyzed for life by an injury he suffered against Ohio State last year but has since ditched his wheelchair and crutches and plans to walk or jog onto the field....Fresno State makes its second consecutive Sunday night appearance on ESPN2, this time taking on Oregon State at Fresno.
Steve Simpson, local sales manager at Fox Sports Net, has been promoted to vice president and general manager, the top position at the regional sports network.... Attention prep fans: Fox Sports Net and Long Beach Poly High, after some bumps in the road, Thursday reached an agreement to televise the Jackrabbits’ game against Concord De La Salle on Oct. 6.... Angel announcers Steve Physioc and Rex Hudler will abandon the press box and broadcast Tuesday’s game against Kansas City from the Diamond Club at Edison Field.... Channel 7’s Bill Weir, on Shaquille O’Neal’s toe surgery: “He cried wee wee wee all the way home.”
You know about the Golf Channel, which has been around for seven years and reaches half of the nation’s cable households. Now comes word of plans to launch the Tennis Channel next year. Lead investor Frank Biondi, former head of Viacom and Universal Studios, said between $30 million and $100 million has been committed to the project.... Wedding bells: Jill Arrington, who is working the U.S. Open for CBS as a features reporter, recently married longtime boyfriend Dean Campbell, a talent agent, at the Bel-Air Hotel. Yahoo Sports and FANSonly have teamed on a venture that allows college football fans to access more than 13,000 live and archived video events through sports.yahoo.com . Saturday, fans can access live radio broadcasts for every game involving Associated Press top 25 teams.... NBA.com TV, available on DirecTV, will be on location during the WNBA finals, providing viewers with a behind-the-scenes look.
Although it is being called an audition, Kevin Malone is all but in as a new sports talk show host at KSPN (1110). After he and partner Dave Stone fill in for vacationing Joe McDonnell and Doug Krikorian next week in the 3-6 p.m. slot, they’ll take over the 1-3 slot.
Not to be negative, but Malone was better Thursday, when he was talking baseball, than he was in his debut Wednesday when he chose to critique the local print media.
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Look Who’s Talking
Sports figures to be featured on TV and radio, today through Thursday:
Mark Cuban-- “The Last Word With Jim Rome,” tonight, 5:30 and 11:30, Fox Sports Net
Bob Toledo, safety Marques Anderson, tight end Bryan Fletcher-- “Southern California Sports Report,” tonight, 10, Fox Sports Net
Hasim Rahman, Fres Oquendo-- “Rich Marotta’s Neutral Corner,” tonight, following Dodger postgame talk, KXTA (1150)
DeLisha Milton, Latasha Byears-- “NBA Inside Stuff,” Saturday, 10:30 a.m., Channel 4
Terrell Owens-- “NFL Under the Helmet,” Saturday, 11 a.m., Channel 11
Dusty Baker, Elgin Baylor, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Misty Hyman (sports superstitions, part two)--" Irv Kaze , " Saturday, 6 -7 p.m., KRLA (870)
Tony Stewart-- “NASCAR This Morning,” Sunday, 7:30 a.m., Fox Sports Net
Vassiliy Jirov, Johnny Tapia, trainer Al Mitchell, Sugar Ray Leonard-- “Ringside With Johnny Ortiz,” Sunday, 8-11 p.m., KSPN (1110)
Junior Seau-- “Up Close,” Tuesday, 2:30 p.m., ESPN, 11:30 p.m., ESPN2
Mia St. John, “Fear Factor” host Joe Rogan-- “Sports Roundtable,” Tuesday, 9 p.m., Fox Sports Net 2
Elton Brand-- “Morning News,” Wednesday, 7:20 a.m., Channel 5
Lawrence Taylor-- “Up Close,” Wednesday