Media Circus (cont.)
4. Notre Dame's victory over USC on Saturday drew a 10.3 overnight rating, part of a huge Saturday of college football on ABC that included Ohio State's win over Michigan (6.3 overnight) and Florida's victory over Florida State (5.6). Notre Dame-USC produced the highest overnight rating for any college football game this season. For a look at how many viewers a Notre Dame-Alabama national championship might draw, click here.
4a. Great work from ABC game producer Bill Bonnell and director Derek Mobley during the Notre Dame-USC game. The ESPN duo showed a freeze frame of Irish redshirt freshman quarterback Everett Golson shuffling the football away from its laces, which is the opposite of most quarterbacks. Analyst Kirk Herbstreit explained to viewers why Golson did it over Bonnell's and Mobley's visuals, making for great television.
5. Highly recommend this fantastic piece on Falcons rookie linebacker Pat Schiller hanging on to the fragile hope of a professional football career, as told by his uncle, Charles Siebert.
6. A couple of weeks ago I wondered why CBS had ceded the conversation to ESPN around the Alabama-LSU game when CBS owned the broadcast rights to the SEC showdown. CBS had zero pregame presence on site and very little social chatter from its staffers. While talking with CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus on another story, I asked him why his network ceded the ground. His response:
"First of all, I would say it is great for us that ESPN was promoting our game. Certainly one day the CBS Sports Network will be in that position to do College GameDay-type programming. Remember, we are only a couple of years into the new strategy of making the CBS Sports Network a fully distributed, relevant live network. I am not so much concerned about ceding it to ESPN because ESPN right now is an incredibly powerful media force and they will be able to mount initiatives like that better than we can because of their scale and size. We will certainly get there at some point.
"What was pleasing to me was about that week was CBS had the No. 1 college football game in the nation on the CBS Television Network. So figuring out ways to take our big events and extending it to the CBS Sports Network is a huge priority. We have done it with the Masters. We did it with the U.S. Open [tennis]. We did it with the PGA Championship. We'll do much more with the Super Bowl. It is part of our strategy and at some point in certain areas we will obviously be competitive with ESPN, but I'm not going to say we will be equal with ESPN in the near future or distant future because we just won't be. And that's not a negative. ESPN is promoting our big event. That's just the way the media landscape is working.
"So when I see on any college football game that we are doing and GameDay is there, my first reaction is great. My next reaction is not that they are trying to piggyback on a game I have the rights to. My reaction is that if they are there, it makes the game bigger and it's an admission on their part that we have the best game of the weekend. That's great for ESPN, CBS Sports and for college football fans."
6b. Speaking of CBS, the network's Thanksgiving Day broadcast of Houston's win over Detroit earned an average overnight household rating of 15.2, the second-highest-rated Thanksgiving Day game for CBS since the network re-acquired NFL broadcast rights in 1998. (The highest was Miami-Dallas last year.)
7. Strong work from the NFL Network's Kurt Warner on 49ers quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Alex Smith.
Said Warner: "Week 12 of a season is not the time that you start playing with potential. Potential is for training camp, preseason, for figuring out during that period of time, 'Does he allow us the opportunity to win?' Alex Smith, what he's done over the last two years for this football team, this is a mistake in not starting him. He needs to be the guy and it's going to be tough if Kaepernick doesn't play well today and now you're coming back saying, 'Alex, we're going to put you back in there.' "
7a. On the same topic, ESPN's Cris Carter has already declared Kaepernick a future star: "One thing you don't have to worry about is [Niners coach Jim] Harbaugh losing the team because [Kaepernick] is a future star in the league. The wide receiver room, I think they're pretty happy."
7b. Fox NFL Sunday analyst Jimmy Johnson is also on the Kaepernick bandwagon. "Without question, Kaepernick is the guy to be the starter," Johnson said. " You can be safe and good or take a chance and maybe be great. Kaepernick won't be as consistent, but he gives you a chance to throw the ball down the field. If he's going to be ready for the playoffs, you've got to play him now."
7c. His colleague Terry Bradshaw stuck up for Smith: "I'm steamed if I'm Alex Smith," Bradshaw said. "I've done nothing to hurt our football team. He has no reason to bench him, absolutely none."
7d. NBC's Tony Dungy ( "I'm playing Colin Kaepernick") and Rodney Harrison ("San Francisco has found their starting quarterback, and they're the most physical team in the league.") are clearly on Team Kaepernick.
7e. If you can stomach Sterling Sharpe's nonsense, the NFL Network's Michael Lombardi has an excellent breakdown of the coaches and GMs on the hot seat here.
7f. Fox Sports analyst Charles Davis showed again this weekend that he is a talented broadcaster. He worked Stanford's win over UCLA with Gus Johnson on Saturday, and less than 24 hours later Davis called the Falcons-Bucs game alongside Thom Brennaman because Brian Billick was out with a bad back.
8. So no apologies for Craig James, no apologies for "The Decision," no apologies for the carnival barking on First Take every morning, but ESPN college football analyst Jesse Palmer is forced to apologize for turning down the University of Texas' hook 'em horns hand signal upside down on the air? The Bachelor took one here for the business interests of Bristol.
9. ESPN's Countdown opened Sunday by referring to analyst Mike Ditka's return after his mild stroke last weekend. Said Ditka: "I'm glad to see myself back, believe me." Very honest TV.
9a. Readers of this column know my feelings on Chris Berman, and my issues with his enabling the NFL power structure over the years and his lack of journalistic bona fides for events (such as the NFL draft) that demand more edit chops than entertaining. He certainly has his defenders in Bristol, and I've heard from plenty of them over the past couple of weeks. On Sunday, Markman emailed me about Berman's preparation and I told him I'd be happy to pass it along.
"I just sat with the guy and he showed me his notebook from this week," Markman wrote. "He talked to like 10 coaches, seven GMs and an owner to prepare himself for today's show. No one else can do that. No one."
9b. ESPN's Rachel Nichols fronted a terrific feature on Giants coach Tom Coughlin and his relationship with the parents of Boston College safety Jay McGillis, who played for Coughlin as a collegian and died in 1992, seven months after doctors diagnosed him with leukemia. Coughlin calls McGillis' parents four times each year to keep their son's memory alive. The producer on the piece was Mike O'Connor. Terrific work, and worth watching here.
10. MLB Network president Tony Pettiti declined comment when SI.com inquired about Keith Olbermann's stint last week on the network's Hot Stove show. Olbermann's passion for baseball is well known -- he writes a blog for MLB.com -- and I liked what I saw from his interaction with co-host Brian Kenny. Olbermann was self-deprecating and knowledgeable. This would be a good fit for Olbermann and MLB Net (no matter how long it lasted). If I can reach Olbermann this week, I'll update.
10a. CBS Sports Radio announced on Monday that Brandon Tierney, Tiki Barber and Dana Jacobson will host the network's new morning show weekdays from 6-9 a.m. ET. Good to see former ESPN-er Jacobson land another national gig. The show will launch on Jan. 2, 2013.
10b. The daughter of ESPN NFL insider Ed Werder has had a rough year battling a brain tumor that damaged her speech, eyesight and movement on her right side. But things appear to be getting better for Christie Bomer. Her story.
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