Davis Proves His Friends Right

Many aspiring football players dream of playing in the NFL. Many former football players dream of landing jobs in broadcasting.

The odds of achieving either goal are long.

So when Charles Davis, a four-year starting defensive back at Tennessee in the mid-1980s, began telling friends about 10 years ago that he wanted to get into broadcasting, skepticism would have been natural.

But that wasn’t the case with Davis, at the time an assistant athletic director at Stanford, dealing with marketing and sponsorships.


“We knew if anyone could do it, it was Charles,” said Mike Izzi, a Stanford colleague who is now an associate athletic director.

And Davis did.

He will be the commentator on TBS’ national telecast of Saturday’s USC-Stanford game, working with Ron Thulin.

Besides being TBS’ lead football commentator, Davis has done a variety of other jobs for Turner Broadcasting, including NBA sideline reporting.

Davis, who lives in Orlando with his wife and two children, also works Arena Football League telecasts for NBC, college basketball and baseball telecasts for Southern regional networks, and is a frequent contributor to the Golf Channel.

He said he got the broadcasting bug in graduate school at Tennessee when a friend asked him to do some work for the campus television station.

With a degree in political science and a master’s in history, Davis tried coaching. In 1989, he was on a University of Pacific staff that included Walt Harris, now the coach at the University of Pittsburgh; Jon Gruden, coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Hue Jackson, the former offensive coordinator at USC who is now coaching Cincinnati Bengal receivers.

But after one year at Pacific, Davis was recruited by Harvey Schiller to work with the U.S. Olympic Committee. Then came three years (1994 to ’96) at Stanford, followed by a stint with Disney World in Orlando, where Davis began pursuing local broadcasting jobs on the side.

He became director of the PGA Tour’s Disney Golf Classic in 1998 but by 2000, Davis was getting enough broadcasting work that it became his full-time profession.

And his far-fetched dream had come true.

Advantage, ESPN

Two USC games on ESPN this season were seen in an average of 2.2 million homes nationally. When the Trojans were on TBS last season against Arizona, that game was seen in 769,000 homes. The average for three USC games on FSN last season was 671,000 homes.

Helping ESPN’s average was that USC’s opener against Virginia Tech was the only game on that night. It also helped that USC was starting the season ranked No. 1.

USC is not scheduled for any more ESPN appearances.

Bye, Bye Bruno

Tony Bruno, a mainstay at the Fox Sports radio network, is out, and there apparently was no send-off or announcement on the air.

His contract was up and he couldn’t come to terms on a new one, according to Steve Betesh, the executive producer of the Los Angeles-based national morning show carried by XTRA (690 and 1150).

Former Kansas City pitcher Mark Gubicza filled in with Andrew Siciliano this week, and Chris Myers will fill in for four days next week. A permanent replacement is expected to be named Oct. 4.

Short Waves

For those wondering about a starting time for the showdown involving USC and California Oct. 9 at the Coliseum, an announcement is expected Monday. More than likely it will be a 12:30 game on ABC.... Jim Brown is featured on the first episode of a new season of “Beyond the Glory,” being shown Sunday at 8 p.m. on FSN. Danny Glover narrates.

ESPN is always fishing for different programming, and maybe it has hit on something. Beginning next week, ESPN will televise a shark-fishing tournament on four successive Tuesday nights at 5:10 p.m. The tournament was held in July off the coast of Massachusetts.

Off-beat TV is everywhere -- even on the halftime show of “Monday Night Football.” Beginning next week, ABC will air a periodic feature called “You’ve Been Sacked,” featuring practical jokes.... HBO reports that 1 million viewers paid for the pay-per-view showing of Saturday’s Bernard Hopkins-Oscar De La Hoya fight, with proceeds totaling $56 million.

“Big Break II,” a Golf Channel reality series allowing amateur golfers a chance to win a spot on the Nationwide Tour, makes its debut Tuesday at 6 p.m. Among the 10 contestants is Californian Sean Daly, 23, a former professional baseball player from Visalia whose career was cut short by a finger injury.

Roger Lodge, the morning host at KMPC (1540), is being honored this morning as honorary mayor of Cerritos, his hometown, and Monday he’ll be on ESPN as the host of a pilot, “ESPN-Trivial Pursuit,” at 1:30 p.m. It will be repeated at 3:30 on ESPN2. Lodge’s nationally syndicated show, “Blind Date,” begins its sixth season Monday. The show has a new time slot in L.A. -- 1 a.m. on Channel 13.

In Closing

KSPN (710), the Angels’ flagship station, will have a 24-hour pregame show leading up to tonight’s game against Oakland. The show, featuring John Ireland and Steve Mason, started at 6 p.m. Thursday and concludes tonight at 6.

Talk about overkill.