With all of the talk recently about the Los Angeles Kings and their Stanley Cup Playoffs run, local LA stations are getting in on the act and covering the Kings. Unfortunately, that's resulted in situations like the Kings getting confused for the Sacramento Kings basketball team by the local news stations. The Kings (obviously) are a little perturbed, and have released an infographic that will prove very valuable for local news stations looking to give them coverage in the future.
Hopefully, that will clear things up for any media members in the Los Angeles area who want to talk about the Kings, but just don't know where to start and want to sound like they know what they're talking about. The Kings travel to Phoenix tonight to take on the Coyotes in game five of the Western Conference Finals, and are just one win away from the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Summer Olympics are almost here and NBC is beginning to roll out information with regards to their coverage plans for the games. NBC already announced the live online streaming of every event from London, which is a dream for those of you hardcore Olympic fans that don't want to wait for primetime. Recently, NBC announced the cable television plans for the Olympics on four networks that will carry action - Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC, and NBC Sports Network. Here's a guide on what you'll see on which network and who will bring you the action...
Host: Pat O'Brien Sports: Tennis
Bravo will air 56 hours of tennis coverage live from Wimbledon July 28-August 3 in the morning and afternoon. Veteran television personality Pat O'Brien has worked five Olympics for CBS and NBC, hosted Access Hollywood and The Insider, starred in explicit, drunken voicemails, and controversial e-mails. His television career keeps coming back from the dead like it's leading a zombie apocalypse. And honestly, the role of Olympic host is right in his wheelhouse. Tennis is one of the stronger sports in terms of attracting top athletes and the Wimbledon setting is unmatched. With the competition being set aside on Bravo, it will definitely be one worth following throughout the Games.
Host: Fred Roggin Sports: Boxing
CNBC will be the home for Olympic boxing coverage for the fourth time. CNBC will air 73 hours of men's and women's boxing from London July 28-August 12. The network will air delayed coverage from 5-8 PM ET and live coverage on the weekends. Fans of Olympic boxing and curling will certainly be content with Roggin's return for his seventh Olympic Games. This is a formula that has worked for NBC's Olympic coverage in the past and they've returned to a reliable setup for CNBC once again.
Host: Kelly Tilghman Sports: Badminton, Basketball, Soccer, Wrestling, etc.
MSNBC will offer an ambitious 155.5 hours of Olympic coverage over 19 days of the Games from July 26-August 12 including 18 medal rounds and 20 sports. The Olympics take over MSNBC from 9 AM-6 PM ET on weekdays and even more action on weekends. The biggest news from MSNBC's corner of the Olympic universe is Tilghman working her first Olympics. Tilghman's presence is a sign of the Comcast/NBC conglomerate in action as she slides over from Golf Channel. In spite of a few notable incidents, I've always like Tilghman's work at GC. She can be one of the breakout broadcast stars of the Games given MSNBC's impressive portfolio of coverage.
NBC Sports Network
Hosts: TBA Sports: Team USA, Basketball, Soccer, etc.
The Olympics are a godsend for the startup all-sports network with an almost unfathomable 292.5 hours of coverage from July 25-August 12. NBCSN offers all day coverage from 4 AM-8PM ET most days and will cover many events live. The question of hosts is an important one though. Could Michelle Beadle stop by the network and add another boost or will we have to bear through Erik Kuselias? Will the network highlight NBCers like Bill Patrick, Liam McHugh, and Russ Thaler or perhaps look at someone else in the Comcast family? With the Games in London, MLS announcer Arlo White is a darkhorse option and another name to keep an eye on as a rising star at the network.
Most importantly though, NBCSN will draw in a cascade of viewers as the predominant home for Team USA. It's a brilliant strategy for NBC Sports Group to put the events and teams and athletes we most want to see on the network that needs those eyeballs while stocking the network with the most Olympic coverage ever seen.
As we've documented on this blog recently, soccer in the United States is a growing force on television. Despite some minor technical glitches, FOX did nothing to embarrass themselves this year in broadcasting the Champions League final between Chelsea and Bayern Munich. Honestly, the fact that FOX's coverage wasn't a major story coming out of the game has to be a definite victory for the network as it seeks to make itself the current and future destination for soccer in this country. And while ratings were down from last year's titanic clash between Man U and Barcelona, they were up from 2010 and still quite respectable.
With FOX stabilizing their coverage of the Champions League and promoting the EPL to new heights, they have shown the commitment necessary to be taken seriously by U.S. Soccer fans. Of course, ESPN has proven themselves as a major destination as well with their award-winning World Cup coverage and EPL action. And even MLS has an opportunity to grow in its new home with NBC Sports Network. At no time has the sport of soccer ever been in a more favorable place for the present and future than it is right now. But, what if I told you much of the work put in to growing the game on these channels might be at risk? That a new television force may be laying in wait to turn the entire landscape of soccer on American TV upside down. And what if I told you that force that could change soccer as we know it was... Al Jazeera.
That's right. All credit is due to The Gaffer at EPL Talk for being all over this story from the very beginning. But even the most hardcore of soccer fans might find themselves asking why an Arab news network would care about televising international soccer in America? Well, the Qatari-based network has already been making news in Europe with its expansion into starting up sports networks. In France, Al Jazeera has bought rights to televising the Champions League and Ligue 1, France's top domestic league, for their new beIN Sports networks. Here in the States, Al Jazeera is making plans to create a noticeable footprint with an American sports channel, and it's looking at basing its new network on as much soccer as it can get its hands on, including possibly the English Premier League. In fact, it's already started.
Of the three ESPN free agents that have dominated the news recently (Scott Van Pelt, Erin Andrews, and Michelle Beadle), only Beadle has left ESPN for the possibly greener pastures of NBC. Van Pelt has stayed put and Andrews has remained very quiet since her ESPN contract expired. Beadle ultimately left the nest of ESPN to explore a career in both sports and entertainment, which NBC has revealed it will allow her to do across multiple network platforms. The details include:
-becoming a correspondent for Access Hollywood based in New York City
-appearing on NBC's coverage of major events like the Olympics, the Triple Crown, and the 2012 NFL Kickoff extravaganza
-having some type of yet to be finalized programming built around her at NBC Sports Network
Most interesting though was finally getting to hear straight from the horse's mouth. Beadle had this to say in NBC's press release:
"I am thrilled to join the NBCUniversal family and to have the opportunity to work alongside many of the most talented and accomplished individuals in the business," said Beadle. "This gig is the perfect blend of the two things I am most passionate about - sports and pop culture. I look forward to getting back to New York City and immersing myself into a myriad of NBCUniversal platforms, while trying to kick ass and have some fun along the way."
Perhaps no other paragraph perfectly sums up Michelle Beadle, or better explains why she couldn't stay at ESPN. At NBC Beadle will be a presence in the sports world with greater visability at marquee events. Plus she doesn't have to spend an hour a day next to Cowherd. However, NBC Sports Network would be wise to come up with some new programming for Beadle sooner rather than later, before her fans forget about her new home.
Perhaps most interesting though is the fact that the release leads with Beadle's involvement with Access Hollywood. As Beadle's tenure at NBC moves along, it wouldn't be a surprise at all to see her footprint in the entertainment industry continue to grow. The major question for NBC and NBCSN will be whether or not the same is true on the sports side.
Brian Powell began the tradition of the Pam Ward Chronicles in September 2007 with these words - "We're going to start the Pam Ward Chronicles tomorrow and I need you to add a comment when you hear any announcer say something dumb, crazy, off-the-wall, or just plain wrong."
It's fair to say none of us would be here at AA 2.0 without the Pam Ward Chronicles. However, the true impact of the Pammies isn't really about Pam Ward at all, even though they bear her name through leading the college football world in those off-the-wall comments.
The Pammies are an opportunity for college football fans to come together and have a forum to document those comments and announcers. It stands as the place where we laugh, shake our heads, and keep a watchful eye on the things announcers say during a given week.
So, it's only fitting that in our goodbye to Pam Ward College Football Announcer, we take a look back at all the best Pammies quotes from Pam herself. That's why we're here after all! Pam Ward won the Pammies crown in 2008 and 2009, finished 3rd in 2011, and took home the top spot in our weekly countdown an impressive 10 times over the years. The awards that bear her name won't be the same without her, but they will continue to chronicle all the crazy, off-the-wall, funny, and erroneous things announcers and television personalities say about college football.
Without further ado, here are Pam Ward's Greatest Hits...
Last week, it was revelaed Golf Channel's Morning Drive co-host Erik Kuselias would be reassigned to Comcast/NBC sister station NBC Sports Network. Kuselias had been the co-host of Golf Channel's morning talk show Morning Drive since January 2011 when he left ESPN. At the time of the news, Stephanie Wei blasted Kuselias and viewed the reassignment as a sign Kuselias ultimately failed at the Golf Channel. Sports by Brooks tweeted the reassignment was in fact a demotion that had something to do with Kuselias' off-screen behavior.
It turns out Kuselias' reassignment has made him one of the faces of NBC Sports Network. NBC announced Friday that Kuselias would be named the full-time nightly host of the NBCSN flagship studio show NBC Sports Talk, replacing Russ Thaler (who is reportedly staying with NBC). The announcement was met with something less than widespread enthusiasm...
Erik Kuselias has been named the primary host of NBC Sports Talk. Which means I will not be watching NBC Sports Talk.
Kuselias has had his detractors for a long time, going back to his starring role in AJ Daulerio's scorched earth policy against ESPN in 2009. A year and a half later, another Deadspin report featured Kuselias in an affair with his Golf Channel co-host Holly Saunders (the two are now engaged). With all the rumors and reports surrounding Kuselias away from the television screen, he has developed a seedy reputation that translated to this growing distaste regarding his on-screen persona.
I'm rather ambivalent to Kuselias. He's got a smooth delivery and he does have some talent. However, something just never sits right with me when I'm watching Kuselias. It goes back to his ESPN days when he was ESPN's utility infielder. When he substituted on Mike & Mike he tried to be Mike & Mike, when he substituted on The Herd he tried to be Cowherd, when he substituted on First Take he tried to be Skip Bayless, etc. There was a car salesman vibe that came from whatever on-screen void he was filling. In the big picture, it seems like a sideways step for NBC Sports Talk. Instead of cultivating someone like Russ Thaler or Liam McHugh into the role, or nabbing a big name from outside, they've gone with someone who many will see as an ESPN/Golf Channel retread who hasn't stuck in one place for very long.
With those 13 simple words, our world changed forever. Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch reported the news that Awful Announcing mainstay Pam Ward has been taken off ESPN's college football coverage. Ward had been a part of ESPN's college football coverage since 2000 and had been calling Big Ten games at noon for ESPN2 in the recent past. She worked with Dan Hawkins last year, which produced quite a few memorable quotes throughout the year. Deitsch did go on to state Pam Ward will remain with ESPN in a variety of other roles at the network, so at least she won't be totally out of a job.
More than any one person, Pam Ward has been synonymous with AA back to the days when I was just a college kid reading Brian Powell's site every day. She was the inspiration for the Pammies, which put AA 1.0 on the map in the latter part of the 2000's and took home the Pammies crown in 2008 and 2009. Last year, she finished 3rd in her namesake awards behind eventual winner Craig James.
Losing Craig James AND Pam Ward in one offseason is a victory for people that happen to enjoy college football while not having to mute the television or ram your head into the nearest wall ala Gus Frerotte. Maybe we'll all look back at this day as a win for the internet and tell ourselves somebody that makes these decisions is actually listening to college football fans. But, it is a bittersweet day for us as well. Have no fear, the Pammies will always be a part of AA, but they will certainly never be the same again.
We'll be back later on with a proper retrospective that will pay homage to Pam Ward's AA legacy.
In the world of reality outside the First Take studios, it's been relatively quiet on the TebowMania front over the last couple months... as it should be... hello, it's the offseason. But since this is Tim Tebow we're talking about, you never really can escape. Surfing the web you'll see mundane Tebow stories about him changing his dog's name, or Tebowing in Madden 13, or Tebow already winning over his teammates, yada yada yada.
There was one Tebow story though that actually did make me pause and consider it as semi-interesting. It was this TMZ report about Tebow's people requesting this backstage Twitpic with members of Broadway's Rock of Ages cast be taken down to protect his image...
Neka Zang, one of the Broadway stars who tweeted the picture later explained why she had to delete it. "Well, Due to Tebow's "image" I was asked to remove the pic of him with us half dressed ladies. He does know we arn't real strippers right?"
I know there is a sizable portion of the population that is beating their heads against their desks thinking this passes as news, but there is an underlying impact here beyond it being just another Tebow story that's a waste of time.
Tim Tebow and whoever his handlers/PR team/image control freaks are need to step off the gas in terms of protecting Tebow. One of the most difficult things about all that is Tebow is separating Tim Tebow the human being from the force of nature that is TebowMania. I'm as annoyed as anyone at the Tebow oversaturation, but I like what he stands for and who he is, and can separate the two in my mind.
One of the strengths of Tebow's appeal to a lot of people is his relatability and connection with people. That's why he and his message resonates with so many. If Tebow's handlers begin demanding innocent pictures be taken down from the internet or start issuing cease and desist demands over t-shirts that don't even have his name on it, then there begins to be a disconnect. Tebow becomes just another athlete removed from reality, hiding behind a group of handlers, and looking down upon everyone else. The realness of Tebow dissipates and you begin to wonder whether he's as genuine as he really says he is, or if he's just a careful PR creation. If Tebow's handlers become a major part of Tebow's story moving forward, they will do infinitely more damage to his image than they ever could save by acting to protect it.
On Saturday, Chelsea finally reached the summit and lifted the Champions League trophy by defeating Bayern Munich in Munich on penalties. Chelsea achieved their longtime goal of winning the Champions League in decidedly un-Chelsea like fashion. After playing the role of rich, talented, European favorites for the last several years, Chelsea's victory in 2012 was a shock. Here they were in a season in which they finished 6th in the Premier League, under an interim manager, without their suspended/disgraced captain, and playing a road game in the final.
Then in the final itself, Chelsea had to come from behind after Thomas Muller's 83rd minute goal. Just when it seemed like they would be denied again, Didier Drogba equalized from a corner kick. The tying goal sent Sky/Fox announcers Martin Tyler and Gary Neville into euphoria. You may remember Neville's screams of ecstasy from Fernando Torres' semifinal clinching goal in Barcelona last month and he let out his now trademark sound when Drogba scored...
In the shootout, it was Drogba who had the chance to win the title for Chelsea with the last penalty kick after Bastian Schweinsteiger had been stopped by Petr Cech. As Drogba walked towards the spot, Neville claimed it was "written in the stars." Hopefully those of you that slipped into MLB postseason flashbacks snapped back into reality long enough to see Drogba's winning kick and the amazing commentary from Tyler and Neville afterwards. Video via SportsGrid...
Tyler: "HE'S DONE IT!! The greatest night in the history of Chelsea Football Club! European Champions! They've beaten Bayern in their own backyard! They've found the holy grail after adventure frought with danger! And Drogba may never play for Chelsea again, he'll never be forgotten. He's immortal at this football club, Gary Neville."
Neville: "It can never get better than this for English football, in this season the most incredible season. The 19th of May 2012, FIFA, UEFA, stop, FOOTBALLLL!!!!"
Tyler: "But then it was Drogba, and Drogba, and here, Drogba. The last kick, the winning kick. The man who lives for finals. The bigger the occasion, the better the response."
Neville: "They're crying. It was Drogba, it was the angels, it was the heavens, it was the stars, it was the gods, it was everything for Chelsea. This is not anything to do with football. This is more than football, this is spirit. Never giving in, fighting to the end, that English spirit running right the way through this Champions League for Chelsea."
Tyler: "What a road, what a journey, what a finish."
We've been fond of Gary Neville and his excitable commentary, but here he went off into a world only Ray Hudson should inhabit. In his ecstatic state, I would have almost thought he was streaking on the field in jubilation had I not heard him still on the microphone. I'm still trying to figure out what he meant by randomly shouting "FIFA UEFA stop FOOTBALLLLL!!" By the time he credited all the forces of nature, I thought it was an Ultimate Warrior promo. Then, I laughed when he credited the "English spirit" seeing as how Drogba is from the Ivory Coast and Chelsea started a grand total of 4 Englishmen in the side.
As far as the play by play, Tyler's call of Drogba's penalty, like his call of Sergio Aguero's premiership winning goal, is simply amazing. Is there any doubt he's one of the best announcers on the planet regardless of sport? Nobody can so accurately embody the biggest moments and find the perfect chemistry of words and emotion. He's on the short list of best announcers in the world and his call was fitting for such a monumental occasion.