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Floridians enjoy a rare game by ABC's Jackson

By ERNEST HOOPER

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 25, 2000


With college football upon us, let's review some of the highlights we can look forward to this weekend.

Sunday will be a rare chance to hear venerable ABC play-by-play man Keith Jackson call a football game for all of us on the Eastern Seaboard.

Jackson retired in 1998 but opted to return in 1999 if he could handle games on the West Coast, close to his home in Washington. He breaks that habit this time because Brent Musburger will handle on-air duties for ABC's coverage of the Little League World Series on Saturday.

Jackson, scheduled to come to New York for network meetings, is staying over to handle the Kickoff Classic between Penn State and Southern Cal from Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

But don't look for Jackson to deviate from his West duties. With ABC's regional broadcasts, this is a good chance to hear the 72-year-old Jackson before he swings back to the left coast.

"I was just wore out," Jackson said of his '98 retirement. "Running back and forth across the country just flat wore me out. The trips are shorter. It is more comfortable. As the years pile up, I grow more lazy."

Jackson isn't sure how long this latest stint will last. He readily admits he gets "bone-tired" concentrating on one thing for six or seven hours. Of course, as long as he uses phrases like "bone-tired," I'm all for him staying on board.

OPINIONS: Bob Griese, who teams with Brad Nessler to handle the Florida State-Brigham Young game at 8 p.m. Saturday, is another favorite. But he needs to revise his thinking on the Bowl Championship Series.

Griese contends the BCS is something all of us playoff-craving fans should try to embrace.

"It's much better than the coalition and the alliance and all that other business we had before," he said. "Now at least we have a championship game, and the process keeps the bowl system that's been so good for so many teams for so long and brought so much money into the colleges for so many years.

"Is it perfect? No. But the last two years we've had a championship game."

I'm not sure I agree with Griese on either account, but I will say this: Few are better than Griese at analyzing the college game.

Last week I watched a replay of the 1991 Florida State-Miami game (Wide Right II) on ESPN Classic, and with the advantage of hindsight, you could easily discern Griese was totally plugged into the game. Good then, good today.

SUNDAY NIGHT: ESPN2 joins the fray with the BCA Classic between Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, and Hokies quarterback Michael Vick has a tremendous opportunity to ignite his Heisman Trophy campaign. Why? Ten days later he will be on ESPN in a matchup against East Carolina.

Ron Franklin, Mike Gottfried and Adrian Karsten handle on-air duties, and the College Gameday crew will broadcast a one-hour pregame special live from Blacksburg, Va.

ONE MORE GAME: Fox Sports Net also will have College Football Saturday at 1:30 p.m., followed by the Kansas State-Iowa game from Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

TANGLED UP: CNN's College Football Preview kicks off at 11:30 a.m. Saturday with an in-depth look at the last century of college football and a golf course interview with Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden and his sons.

My one request for CNN is that it loses the live continuous Web chats used on College Football Preview and NFL Preview. Leave Web stuff for the Web. The innocuous comments add nothing to the show, but they just give Internet users a chance to see their sign-ons on air. Big deal.

LOOKING BACK: The Buccaneers 2000 Official NFL Team Video, produced by NFL Films, is available in video stores throughout the Tampa Bay area for $14.95.

FINE TUNING: WDAE program director Jason Dixon is leaving to become the director of broadcasting for the Lightning. Dixon has done a creditable job at the helm since the station went all sports in January 1997. ... Fox's broadcast of the Dodgers-Cubs game at 1 p.m. Saturday will present the evolution of baseball broadcasting, adding technology as the game goes along. Joe Buck will start broadcasting from a small wooden table behind home plate and move to the booth where he will join analyst Tim McCarver. ... Coming off monster ratings from his PGA Championship victory, Tiger Woods goes head-to-head with Sergio Garcia at 8 p.m. on Monday.

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