Saturday, November 3, 2007

Awful Announcing - My Turn

As a Baton Rougean, I watched CBS's coverage of the LSU - Alabama football game with great interest. Commentary by the broadcast team of play-by-play man Verne Lundquist, analyst Gary Danielson and sideline reporter Mary Wolfson was generally OK. I was especially impressed when Nick Saban agreed with Wolfson's assessment of the first half--that the Tide started poorly because they were too emotional over the the Saban-LSU pregame hype. I didn't know that a coach was allowed to tell a reporter "you're right" straight up. Still, Danielson made a statement in the second half that I thought might qualify as Awful Announcing.

In the second half, there was an apparently fantastic catch by an Alabama wideout along the right sideline--a headlong dive and fingertip grab that appeared at first to be a good catch--that's how it was called on the field. Still it was close enough to warrant a review in the booth. Several looks at the replay made the call seem much more questionable than it appeared at first. It could have been that the receiver used the ground the maintain control of the ball, or maybe he did get his hands under the ball. Getting the call right was certainly a matter of millimeters.

Danielson tried to illustrate the closeness of the call by proclaiming that "If there were five replay officials, they'd have four or five different calls." I was stumped. I mean, the vote might have been three-to-two one way or the other (the call on the field was overruled), but I couldn't see more than two possible calls--good catch or incomplete. The receiver never lost the ball--there couldn't have been a fumble. The play was nowhere near either the sideline or goal line. It was well past the yardage needed for a first down. No one kicked the ball, so it couldn't have been a field goal.

I know that live commentary is a dangerous business--LSU play-by-play man Jim Hawthorne notoriously called the wrong receiver's name on the Bluegrass Miracle catch at Kentucky several years ago (he actually called the name of a defensive back whose number was only one off the number of the actual receiver, Devery Henderson. Another sidelight--LSU modified the tape from the broadcast so that Hawthorne got the call right for eternity)--but it seems like a veteran commentator like Danielson could do better than this.

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