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The Big Picture: CBS puts a new glow on the game

Thursday, November 26, 1998

By Chuck Finder, Post-Gazette Sports Columnist

Your Thanksgiving Day gift from CBS comes wrapped in day-glo orange and presented by Greg Gumbel and Phil Simms.


Why, thanks ever so much, fellas.

Care for stuffing?

Today, the Steelers Nation gets its first chance to hear the new AFC network's first team and gets a first glimpse at the computer-generated, first-down marker seen only before on ESPN.

"It will be a different width [from ESPN's] and, hopefully, a different color," said producer Terry Ewart. In short, his network wanted to distance itself from the trailblazing cable network in the use of this dandy new gizmo.

So it asked Princeton Video Image to make its marker more orange than ESPN's yellow, to make it skinnier, to make it closer to yard markers.

"When I've watched on TV, on ESPN," said Simms, a former employee of that cable network, "I don't think it's exactly where it should be. A couple times Sunday, it looked like they fell short [of the computer-generated line], but the official came up and signalled first down."

CBS plans to use the first-down line on future Saturday national telecasts and the playoffs. (And wouldn't you have thought that ESPN big-sister ABC would have beaten its competing commercial network to this whiz-bang punch?)

The Steelers-Detroit Yam Jam '98 all begins at noon, with an "NFL Today" show that includes a Bonnie Bernstein profile of Lions linebacker Reggie Brown, a turkey basting by former Pitt defensive lineman Tony Siragusa and, as producer Ewart put it, "something with 'The Bus.' "

Meanwhile, on radio. . .

Bill Hillgrove will plop down behind a mike in Pontiac instead of Puerto Rico today because, well, the guy just cannot be in two places at once. Try as he might.

The play-by-play pro has worked seven games in the past 11 days and nine in 13. He twice called Pitt basketball and football at home on KQV-AM 1410, then the Steelers on WE(T)AE-AM 1250 in a small span of 72 hours. He did Pitt basketball and football and basketball and the Steelers and Pitt basketball again all in a five-game, seven-day row before spending Thanksgiving in suburban Detroit.

Pitt basketball play-by-play, by the way, will be handled by former Nebraska Cornhuskers announcer Kent Pavelka today, tomorrow and Saturday from the San Juan Shootout.

The Four Finals

Fox Sports Pittsburgh's third annual telecast of the four WPIAL football finals undergo a new twist this Saturday: tape delay.

Because of the 7 p.m. Penguins-Canadiens prime-time fray, you New Castle-North Allegheny fans can leave Three Rivers Stadium and get home in time to watch the replay of the Class AAAA final. How's that for a scheduling switch with a Fox attitude - you are there, and then you are home but feel like you're there again.

Here's the announcer lineup:

?Class A Rochester-Monaca, 10:30 a.m. - Guy Junker and Sam LoFaso, former coach at Monaca, among others

?Class AA Shady Side Academy-Washington, 1:15 p.m. - Junker and LoFaso

Class AAA Blackhawk-Moon, 4 p.m. - Stan Savran plus coaches Neil Gordon of Penn Hills and Don Yannessa of Baldwin

Class AAAA New Castle-North Allegheny, 11 p.m., after Fox Sports News -Savran, Gordon, Yannessa

Bill Fontana again will serve as a sideline reporter.

Program notes

?Finder reminder: At 8 p.m. tonight, Fox Sports Net airs that "Between the Madness" special about Jerry Tarkanian and the Fresno State basketball team. Of local note, his university president used to hold the same job at IUP.

?ESPN's X Games have spawned a music show that starts tonight at 8:30 with Rolling Stones concert performances spliced into, like, skateboarding. "Gimme Shelter," from The Deuce.

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