Airwaves: Tiger’s return will be ratings gold for CBS 

Call it what you want: great TV, great theater, a soap opera, true confessions, a great golf tournament, whatever! The return of Tiger Woods at the Masters will be huge news and it will be heavily watched. Sean McManus, the head man at CBS, ordered Champagne for everyone in the building when he was informed Tiger will come out of hibernation on CBS.

Wow, what a ratings bonanza this will be. Of course, ESPN will get the first crack because it televises the Thursday and Friday rounds on April 8-9. CBS, as always, comes into play on the tube on Saturday, April 10, and Sunday, April 11.

McManus and the CBS crew need “The Great One” to play well on Thursday and Friday and to be in contention on Saturday and Sunday. ESPN will take the “gloves off” in its coverage. The network will delve deeply into his off-course issues. CBS, on the other hand, needs to be a bit more restrained. It doesn’t want to lose the endorsement of Tiger or the Masters, which operates on a yearly contract.

This re-entry into the golfing community has his new media adviser, Ari Fleischer, written all over it. Return to golf in a very controlled environment, which the Masters is.

Return to golf where every slappy that writes for a trashy gossip magazine can not get press credentials. The biggest question will be what does he do prior to the Masters.

We are all aware of his 13-minute apology a few weeks back. But now he needs to get on camera for a one-on-one sitdown to really clear the air. Obviously, every media outlet in the world would love to conduct this interview. However, being the smart guy that I am, there are only two choices.

And by the way, the Golf Channel has as much chance of getting the exclusive interview as I do in taking Sharon Stone out for dinner at Mr. Lucky’s in Walnut Creek. By the way, the corned beef and cabbage were sensational there on Wednesday.

This prestigious honor will go to Oprah or the CBS news show “60 Minutes.” The guess of this nongolfer would be “60 Minutes,” and here’s why: CBS is a major clog in the golfing world. Does it not make sense for it to do the interview?

How does James Brown or even Jim Nantz sound? Nantz might be looked at as a conflict of interest since he broadcasts the Masters.But the target date for the interview needs to be Sunday, April 4.

Once again, if Tiger does something from an interview standpoint with CBS, what a year the network will have had. The Super Bowl, the NCAA hoops tourney, the Masters with the return of TW. From a TV standpoint, that is called hitting a grand slam.


NCAA needs to drop any talk of expansion

All the talk this past week about whether the NCAA should expand the men’s basketball tournament to 96 teams instead of 65 makes me uneasy. We all know why some people want to do it, for the almighty dollar bill.

But let’s be reasonable here. Doing something idiotic like that would only water down the quality of play. This year, other than a few heavyweight teams, the overall strength of the tournament is average at best. I could not imagine finding 96 qualified teams to play if they had to.

The General, Bobby Knight, has suggested instead of expansion, they cut the entries in half and play the tournament with 32 teams. Not a bad idea when you think of it, but that means fewer TV games, which will not fly.

- Coach Knight is doing a fabulous job for ESPN in his analysis of the tournament brackets and individual team and player profiles. He brings a no-nonsense approach that we all can understand. He calls it the way it is and wants more pure basketball people on the selection committee. I wholeheartedly agree with that suggestion.

- The CBS contract with the NCAA in regards to the tournament broadcast ends July 31. Look for the dudes from Bristol, Conn., to jump in and make a major play for the broadcast rights. The money will be astronomical.

- Rex Ryan, the roly-poly, outspoken Jets coach, had a weight-control procedure done this past week. He has had difficulty controlling his weight, so instead of the exercise and diet thing, he just cut it off his body. Ryan is a great quote for the N.Y. scribes. After leaving the hospital when the cutting was over, Ryan quipped: “I’m watching ESPN and I’m like, whoa! That’s not a real good shot of me. I need to lose some weight. Now don’t get me wrong, I still get hit on all the time by women.” This guy is worth the cost of any newspaper in the Big Apple.

Who said it

Dick Enberg
“God doesn’t create perfect men, but he came pretty close when he brought us Merlin Olsen,” the CBS announcer said on the passing of his one-time broadcast partner. Olsen played defensive line for the Los Angeles Rams for 15 seasons in the NFL and later would venture into broadcasting and acting. I knew Merlin, and Mr. Enberg is 100 percent correct on that comment. What a gentle giant he was!

Sean McManus
“This will rival the inauguration of President Obama as one of the biggest media spectacles in recent memory,” the CBS News and Sports President said about Tiger Woods’ return to golf at the Masters in April. And guess what, Sean, who is a good guy and very capable, can’t stop smiling because he knows what the potential for ratings is. Look for record numbers.

One to watch

Hoops, hoops and more hoops Find CBS (KPIX, Ch. 5) and tune in at 9 a.m. and watch today’s action. Games will be broadcast from Buffalo, N.Y.; Milwaukee; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Spokane, Wash. The winners today will go on to the Sweet 16, which begins Thursday. Thank goodness we get those games on TV. These four cities might be the most boring collection of four cities at once I have ever heard. Ugh! The thought of them makes me thirsty.

On Target

I know him. I really don’t like him as a person. His sister, who used to work with me in Al’s Kingdom known as Raiderland, is a sweetheart. However, ESPN radio host and basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb knows college basketball. This former Oklahoma State hoops player is a rising star in the ESPN stable of hoopsters. Gottlieb is opinionated, well-spoken and gives pertinent information which clearly shows he does his homework. He has done a great job of working his way up the ranks in the ESPN family. Just take a little purple pill called humility.

Artie Gigantino spent 25 years as a coach at the major-college and NFL levels, was lead college football analyst for Fox Sports Net for seven years, was with CBS for one year and was an executive with the Raiders for three years. E-mail him at agigantino@sfexaminer.com.

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Michael Daboll

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