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This Is Brought to You by Absolutely No One

When I recently started dropping hints in the newspaper about being underpaid, I took for granted none of the bosses at The Times would take notice, but I’m disappointed to report that no one else inquired about buying the naming rights to Page 2, thereby improving my financial situation.

This week’s story about officials turning down $520,000 to name the Big Ten rivalry, the “SBC Michigan-Ohio State Classic,” is probably not going to help.

I took notice, though, that SBC was willing to pay each school $260,000 for one game, one day of exposure and for a game that most folks probably aren’t going to be all that excited to watch this year.

I write four days a week, 52 weeks a year, and while it’s clear I’m overworked and need to get out and play more golf, it also goes without saying that most folks probably aren’t all that excited about reading every day, but for that amount of exposure, $260,000 is a bargain.

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Unfortunately, there are going to be a lot of people who applaud the Ohio State-Michigan decision, supporting the notion of maintaining tradition and the purity of sport, and if that ever catches on, I have a feeling there really will be a name change on Page 2.

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WHEN WORD leaked that a deal was in the works to sell the naming rights to the Ohio State-Michigan game, the folks back in the hinterlands reacted angrily, calling and e-mailing officials until both schools announced there would be no deal. Imagine how they would react if they were subjected to Page 2 four days a week.

You have to draw the line somewhere, of course, was the prevailing opinion, “and good for them,” said Sports Editor Bill Dwyre.

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Dwyre and I met again at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, sitting side by side -- which meant I had to listen to all his stories, when a rep from the Vitalis Sun Bowl gave us brochures. We also got pamphlets from the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl. I noticed Dwyre was using a notebook either sponsored by the Las Vegas Review-Journal or stolen from the Review-Journal.

Everyone knows bowl games have sold themselves to the highest bidder, but you know UCLA and USC would never stoop so low as to sell the naming rights to their annual big game because it might interfere with the deal they already have in place with Lexus.

And they certainly wouldn’t sell it for $260,000 -- when they are already each receiving $375,000 for the Lexus Challenge, a phony competition designed to give Lexus year-round exposure with both schools.

UCLA and USC are in the fourth year of a deal with Lexus, but the idea of their selling naming rights to their game is ludicrous.

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UCLA is already busy giving thanks on the scoreboard each week to Gatorade, Easton, SBC, Cingular (isn’t that double-dipping?), Kinko’s, Adidas, Wilson, Panasonic, Big 5 Sporting Goods, Carl’s Jr., Sirius Satellite Radio, American Airlines, Mi Piace Kitchen, Newport Rib Company, Mann Theatres, Met-RX, The Lakes at El Segundo, Stamps.com, MBNA America, PacifiCare, XTRA Sports Radio and FSN. Another major sponsor might leave no room to post the game’s score.

USC is different, as you might imagine. It wins more, and it also decorates the Coliseum in advertisement banners -- inside and out.

The advertisements in the Rose Bowl belong to the Rose Bowl. And when it’s time for the New Year’s Day game, fans who look toward the north scoreboard will notice Honda, Farmer John, Toro, Cola-Cola, Starbucks, some bottled water (I couldn’t read the label), Bud and King Taco. Ah, the Granddaddy of them all.

You go to a stadium today, and an advertising campaign breaks out. Pauley Pavilion might be ancient, but it installed rotating ads along the official scorer’s table that continue to flip over during the game. That distraction might explain why the team can’t shoot very well.

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You can see how important it is to draw the line somewhere. When UCLA passed out caps to fans Saturday, school officials made sure “UCLA” was in bigger letters than the “SBC” on the back of the caps.

I understand the immediate reaction to applaud the decision not to sell the naming rights to rivalry games, but upon further reflection, it’s a mistake. If you want to draw the line somewhere ... a check for $260,000 would go a long way in treating the effectiveness of the six beer advertisements adorning the Rose Bowl walls, as if college kids need a reminder to drink more.

And I can tell you this: if someone bought the naming rights to Page 2 for $260,000, there’d be no need for me to drink any more.

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THE BOSTON Parking Lot Attendant has agreed to be interviewed on today’s 9 a.m. edition of XTRA Sports (690 & 1150) “Simers Says.” Surprisingly he didn’t insist on only being interviewed by the daughter, Miss Radio Personality. The Dodger owner said he would take all questions, such as “What the heck were you thinking when you approved getting rid of Ross Porter?”

He has some explaining to do, all right, but at least he’ll be in a good mood after his favorite baseball team won the World Series.

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TODAY’S LAST word comes from Mike Garrett:

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“Someone e-mailed to say they read in the News-Press that Garrett was asked at a Glendale YMCA Quarterback Club meeting if T.J. Simers might one day be inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame along with previous media members who already have been selected.” Garrett reportedly said, ‘I can tell you that T.J. will never make it into our Hall of Fame.’ ”

It’s a good thing you can’t believe everything you read in the paper.

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Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers.

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