The Los Angeles Times has our Q&A with Bob Costas heading into the Baseball Hall of Fame to pick up the Ford C. Frick Award for his broadcasting resume on the sport for TV.
Brian Kenny, Greg Amsinger, Fran Charles, Sean Casey, Mark DeRosa, Harold Reynolds and Peter Gammons are the main brigade for the MLB Network covering the induction ceremonies Sunday, with a pregame show at 8 a.m. and the ceremony starting at 10:30 a.m.
The 8 a.m. show will include Costas’ acceptance speech, as well as the words from the J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner Sheldon Ocker, who has covered the Cleveland Indians for 33 seasons for the Akron Beacon-Journal until 2013.
If the MLB Net wanted to, it could include Angels broadcasters Mark Gubicza and Jose Mota in its telecast — they’ve made the trip to Cooperstown, N.Y., to support the induction of former Angel Vlad Guerrero. As a result, Sunday’s Fox Sports West coverage of the Angels-Mariners game from Angel Stadium will have Victor Rojas joined by Dontrelle Willis, who is usually on the MLB on Fox studio show, in the booth. Former Angels infielder Adam Kennedy will be with Patrick O’Neal on-set for the pre- and post-game shows.
In the TV media world, one coach leaving to do what he feels he does best can open a door for another coach who feels he needs to keep his brand alive.
That, in essence, is the Chip Kelly-for-Jim Mora deal with UCLA and ESPN.
Mora, fired by the Bruins on his 56th birthday right after their loss to USC last November, left him with about $12 million in a buyout.
About a week later, UCLA hired Kelly, 53, to a five-year deal worth more than $23 million. To take it, Kelly had to leave his way-station job as a studio analyst at ESPN. He hadn’t coached since 2016, and that was a couple stops in the NFL after he left Oregon.
Why it then took ESPN nearly eight months before nailing down Mora as the replacement for Kelly isn’t clear – Mora apparently couldn’t find another suitable coaching job right away – but the announcement this week that Mora has landed on the Bristol, Conn., studio seems rather symmetrically suitable for all involved.
Mora, who has had TV experience at Fox Sports and a stopover at the NFL Network for coverage of the 2018 NFL draft last April that really was more about him having him re-explain comments he made about former quarterback Josh Rosen, is actually going to be sent to ESPN2’s Saturday studio show hosted by Chris Cotter. Mora will be with former Texas star Emmanuel Acho as the analysts, as Acho replaces Jonathan Vilma, who moves to the ABC college football prime-time show that accompanies the network’s Saturday night features games.
“I want to do a tremendous job for ESPN, but I also (said) at some point if there was an opportunity that presented itself with a university where my thoughts and goals and priorities aligned with theirs, I’d be overjoyed to coach again,” Mora said in an Associated Press report. “I feel like I have a lot of give to the game and to the young men that play it still.”
Mora will still live in Manhattan Beach as two of his kids attend USC and his youngest, Trey, is a football player at Loyola High in L.A. Jim Mora will commute to Bristol, Conn., for the shows.
“Fortunately, there’s a couple of great nonstop flights from L.A. to Hartford, which I just found out,” Mora said. “And I can get a lot of work done on an airplane as well. A lot of preparation for the shows.”
What should we expect from Mora?
We like how TJ Simers once put it in a 2011 column for the L.A. Times: “Great guy, competitive, friendly and in-your-face honest. And more than likely the wrong choice to be UCLA’s football coach.”
But as former UCLA coaches can attest, TV is always a great landing spot for their careers, going back to Terry Donahue.
The Pac 12 announced at its media day Wednesday in Hollywood that it will extend its attempt to shorten the length of both conference and non-conference games, not only on its own Pac-12 Network but also those appearing on ESPN and Fox, will extend to at least 30 games this fall, from 15 last season.
The conference says in a statement it received “positive feedback” from its schools for its pilot program that shortened halftimes from 20 minutes to 15 minutes, restructured commercial breaks and did more in-game advertising. Kickoffs for some games were also moved from seven minutes past the hour to just one minute. Not every element is used in each game, but the result from those that did some of all of them in the 2017 tests were having games that went eight minutes shorter on the average TV window and cut the games down by five minutes as well.
Said Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott: “Improving the fan experience is a critical priority for the Pac-12 and we believe that taking steps to shorten the length of football games is one way to meet that objective. We are very pleased that as we continue to pilot innovative ways to shorten the game that this coming year we will be able to include some Conference games as well as certain games televised by ESPN and Fox Sports.”
ESPN vice president of programming and acquisitions Nick Dawson: “We are in favor of maximizing the college football viewer and fan experience. We commend the Pac-12 for pushing this initiative, while also collaborating with us on its rollout. We look forward to studying the results following the season.”
And from Fox Sports president of production and executive producer John Entz: “Fox Sports is excited to work with our partners at the Pac-12 Conference on this new initiative and to continue to find new and innovative ways to enhance the college football viewing experience.”
When you’ve got an early-season, non-conference battle between a Pac-12 school and often an opponent from a non-power conference, it’s easy to see a game get out of hand and, with increased passing, extend the three-and-a-half-hour TV window.
Last season, USC opened on Saturday, Sept., 2, with a wild 49-31 win over Western Michigan in a game on the Pac-12 Network that still made it into three hours and 25 minutes.
It was scheduled to kickoff at 2:15 p.m., and did so at 2:22 p.m., as it started after the Pac-12 Net finished with Portland State-Oregon State, which had an 11 a.m. kickoff scheduled. The Beavers’ 35-32 win started at 11:01 and ran three hours, 21 minutes, which accounted for the delayed USC kickoff.
The Pac-12 Net finished the day with Southern Utah-Oregon at 5:15 p.m. and Northern Arizona at Arizona at 8 p.m. And all appeared to work well.
In Week 2, the Pac-12 Network had five games to space out between 11 a.m. 8 p.m. (with two games overlapping at 2 p.m. and one relegated to the Pac-12 Bay Area channel). UCLA played host to Hawaii in one of those 2 p.m. games at the Rose Bowl. The Bruins’ 56-23 win kicked off at 2:01 p.m. and ended in three hours, 14 minutes.
Oh, and because it always has to be brought up this time each year: Scott doesn’t expect DirecTV to pick up the Pac-12 Network anytime soon.
NBCSN won’t air the final of the AVP’s Hermosa Open – whether it be the 1:30 p.m. or 3 p.m. match involving the men or women, to be decided – until 9 p.m. Sunday, with Chris Marlowe, Kevin Wong and Dain Blanton on the broadcast team as usual. Meanwhile, the Aug. 19 Manhattan Beach Open will air live at 1:30 p.m. on NBC when it rolls around. The final two AVP events, Sept. 5 in Chicago and Sept. 16 in Hawaii, will also be tape delayed on NBCSN.
What else could be going on NBCSN that would prevent live coverage of one of the tour’s most historic spots?
Starting the day with the final stage of the Tour de France (and a three-hour replay), it also has to take the NASCAR event at Pocono in Long Point, Penn., and then catch the IndyCar Racing event Ohio. NBCSN gets all this because NBC (KNBC Channel 4) has the final round of the U.S. Senior British Open at St. Andrews in Scotland, gymnastics, the U.S. Swimming Championships from Irvine and the Haskell Invitational Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series race (2-3 p.m.). …. Yeah, but … Never mind.
NBC has Ted Robinson, Rowdy Games and Ahmed Fareed at the U.S. Swimming National Championships from Irvine, taped to air Saturday and Sunday at noon on Channel 4.
LeBron James, Maverick Carter, Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett and Snoop Dogg. (Photo: HBO)
The Hollywood Reporter has the inside dope on LeBron James’ barbershop-talk show called “The Shop” debuting on HBO on Aug. 28 at 11 p.m. The first episode was shot last week in West Hollywood with James and agent Maverick Carter shooting it with Snoop Dogg, Odell Beckham Jr., Alvan Kamara, Draymond Green, Candace Parker and … Jon Stewart? Why not.
Pete Bevacqua, the CEO of the PGA of America since 2012, has been hired as the new president of the NBC Sports Group starting in September, specifically to oversee programming, marketing and digital, plus the NBC Sports Regional Network and all the golf business that NBC has going. The PGA of America oversees the PGA Championship as well as the Ryder Cup. …
ABC has Ryan Ruocco, Rebecca Lobo, Holly Rowe and LaChina Robinson on coverage of the WNBA All-Star game from the Target Center in Minneapolis (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7). The format of the game has changed to where 22 All-Stars are split into teams picked by captains Candace Parker of the Sparks and Washington’s Elena Delle Donne. …
And on any given Wednesday, Bill Simmons still has a job.