Monday, January 28, 2013

The infamous Tom Brookshier "Evidently" interview after Super Bowl 6

Here is a clip of the postgame interviews conducted by Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier from the CBS telecast of Super Bowl 6 on 1/16/1972 after the Cowboys defeated the Dolphins 24-3.

This postgame show is best remembered for the extremely awkward interview that Brookshier conducted with Cowboys running back Duane Thomas who had not been talking to the media. The exchange starts at the 6:59 mark. After some rambling, Brookshier asked a rather inane question and Thomas uttered the classic one-word response of "Evidently". After a round of laughter, the clearly nervous Brookshier then redirected a different form of the question to Jim Brown before coming back to ask Thomas another question. Eventually Brown stepped in to speak on behalf of Thomas and essentially brought the interview to a conclusion. The entire sequence was quite bizarre and it haunted Brookshier for years.

The televised locker room interview scene looks quite amateurish compared to what one would see today. During the interviews, you can see many other media members milling around in close proximity. Multiple times you can see someone obstructing the camera shot of the interview. And Thomas and Brown both exit and walk right in front of Brookshier while he is still speaking. It was also interesting to hear both Summerall and Brookshier refer to the location as the "dressing room".

The 9:47 mark of the video has the original footage of the Ray Scott call of the touchdown run by Thomas. Scott and Summerall were the announcers on the CBS telecast.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The 1968 UCLA-Houston "Game of the Century"

This Sunday marks the 45th anniversary of the "Game of the Century" between UCLA and Houston at the Astrodome. That game on Saturday 1/20/1968 was the first prime time national telecast of a college basketball game. And it was almost certainly the most significant telecast in the history of the sport. To illustrate the state of college basketball on TV at the time, consider that the Final Four was not yet on network TV.

Houston coach Guy Lewis had the idea to schedule it at the Astrodome making this the first ever college hoop game played in a dome. The court was set up in the middle of the stadium meaning all fans were quite a distance from the action. The 4:00 minute mark on this documentary provides a great visual of the court position. The floor was imported from the Los Angeles Sports Arena. The event drew a record 52,693 fans.

Heading into the game, UCLA was ranked #1 and Houston #2. Both were unbeaten. UCLA featured Lew Alcindor and Lucius Allen, and was coached by John Wooden. Mike Warren (later of Hill Street Blues fame) also started for the Bruins. Houston was led by Elvin Hayes and Don Chaney. Behind 39 points by Hayes, the Cougars defeated the eventual national champion Bruins 71-69 and ended their 47-game winning streak.

ABC showed some interest in televising the game in the afternoon on Wide World of Sports. But Eddie Einhorn acquired the television rights and decided to syndicate the game in prime time on his TVS network. Einhorn lined up 150 stations in 49 states throughout the country. Some of these stations signed up on the day of the game.

Dick Enberg was the play-by-play announcer for the 9 pm ET telecast. At the time, Enberg was the UCLA broadcaster. The analyst was retired NBA star Bob Pettit. In his book Oh My!, Enberg labelled this game "the most important sports event I've ever called".

Interest in the game kept growing to the point that Einhorn was actually fielding phone calls while the game was in progress from companies wanting to buy TV ads. He handwrote ad scripts on the fly and handed them to Enberg to read on the air during timeouts.

Here is a clip of the surviving footage from the historic TVS telecast (end of 1st half and entire 2nd half). It also contains snippets from some of the commercials. The video quality is quite decent considering the time period.

The telecast of this landmark game increased interest in college basketball and helped make it more than a regional sport. It also led to some additional nationally syndicated college basketball games on TVS and eventually on the Chesley network which owned the ACC rights. By the next season, Enberg became the lead announcer for TVS and called a number of subsequent national games that Einhorn produced, many of which featured UCLA.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The 1973 ACC Super Sunday college basketball telecast

40 years ago today, one of the most significant events in college sports TV history took place - the first Super Sunday college basketball TV game. On Sunday 1/14/1973, the ACC and the regional Chesley network produced a national telecast of the NC State at Maryland game on the day of Super Bowl 7.

At the time, college basketball was primarily a regional sport and schools almost never played on Sundays. However, the ACC and TV rightsholder C.D. Chesley decided to schedule this matchup on Sunday, line up 145 stations throughout the country (with help from the Hughes Sports Network), and syndicate this game nationally.

The idea was to provide a sports viewing option to lead fans into the Super Bowl pregame programming. The basketball game started at noon ET so it would end well before the Dolphins and Redskins kicked off at 3:30 pm ETChesley originally considered televising this game nationally on Saturday 1/13, but believed he could clear more stations for a Sunday telecast.

The game spotlighted the top two teams in the ACC. Maryland was ranked #2 and featured Tom McMillen, Len Elmore, and John Lucas. NC State was ranked #3 and led by David Thompson and Tom Burleson. All five of these players would become first round NBA draft picks.

Ray Scott and Billy Packer were the announcers for this historic telecast. Even though Jim Thacker was the primary play-by-play announcer on the regional Chesley network, the ACC felt that the unique national stage for this game required a more recognized announcer such as Scott to be the lead voice. Scott of course was a high-profile NFL broadcaster who had called three Super Bowls for CBS. Chesley did include Thacker on the telecast for sideline features.

This game also put Packer in front of a nationwide audience for the first time. The first national network TV deal for the sport was still three years away, but this telecast helped position Packer for the analyst role on that package.

The event worked out perfectly for Chesley as NC State won a thrilling contest 87-85 behind 37 points from Thompson who burst onto the national scene that afternoon. An estimated 25 million TV viewers watched the game, exceeding Chesley's expectations.

A year later, the ACC and Chesley again televised a game nationally on Super Bowl Sunday between the same two schools. That Maryland at NC State game on 1/13/1974 started at 1 pm ET with Thacker and Packer on the call. Scott broadcast the Super Bowl on CBS later that day.

The ACC has a long history of Super Bowl Sunday telecasts and it all started in 1973.

Friday, January 4, 2013

NBCSN four-part series on Business of the NFL

NBC Sports Network is launching a four-part series on the Business of the NFL which chronicles the business decisions throughout its history which led to the explosive growth of the league. Part 1 of the Star Spangled Sundays series documents how the NFL used television to significantly boost the popularity of pro football and overtake baseball as the #1 sport in the United States. This initial 60-minute episode Rise of a Colossus debuts on Tues 1/8 at 10 pm ET with multiple replays scheduled.

The interview subjects include the following from a TV perspective: Bob Costas, Al Michaels, Don Ohlmeyer, David Hill, and Steve Bornstein.

The subsequent episodes in this series (subtitled Brand NFL, Labor Pains, and Super Sunday) will premiere each Tuesday in January on NBCSN.