Airwaves: Organizers make right move with SF bowl game

A little bit from all over the airwaves …

– I got an e-mail from Sacramento’s finest, Doug Kelly, last week, informing me and the world of a smart move by the San Francisco Bowl Game Association. Kelly, the communications director of the bowl game, announced that executive director Gary Cavalli has signed a three-year deal with Kraft Foods as the title sponsor of the game for the next three years.

The game will now be called the “Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.” The next version of the game will be nationally televised in prime time on ESPN on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011. Cavalli and crew have done a fabulous job with this game. In the last four years, crowds have been terrific at AT&T Park. The game will match a Pac-10 Conference team against a Western Athletic Conference team.

This is a major coup for Cavalli, because, as he says, “Kraft Foods is one of the most highly respected and well-known companies in the world.”

Nice going Gary, Doug and the entire crew!

– I guess the Northern California Emmy Award Committee listened to me a few weeks ago when I was praising the great job that Comcast SportsNet was doing. This week it was announced that CSN garnered 25 nominations. VP/GM Ted Griggs was nominated for station excellence, while sidekick and news director Chris Olivere was nominated in the news excellence category.

Ex-Raider buddy Chris Gargano and his San Francisco Giants productions group were cited for three different shows, “Inside the Clubhouse: Season Ticket Holder Documentary,” “Inside the Clubhouse: Chalk Talk,” and “I’m in a Commercial Campaign.” One thing I know about Larry Baer and Gargano, everything that goes on the air will be first class.

The 39th annual awards dinner will be May 15.

– There was a lot of talk this week about the possibility of expansion in the Pac-10 and Big Ten conferences. I have long believed both of these conferences need to expand for a bunch of reasons.

The bottom line is it will force these conferences to play a championship football game which will generate more money for everyone involved. In addition, it will create an equal playing field in the BCS, in that the six BCS conferences will all now have a championship game to play in.

Sounds like Utah and Colorado are being courted for the Pac-10. If the Buffaloes defect, it will send some real ripples through college football. Remember, Boulder is closer to L.A. than Seattle. The Big Ten is making the most noise in their attempt to expand to the East Coast. UConn appears headed there, which would make a total of 12 schools. Look for Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse and maybe Notre Dame to follow suit.

ESPN does usual solid job with draft coverage

Have you had enough of the draft yet? The coverage these last three days was surreal. It is amazing how a network can get so much information ready to be shown or talked about over the air. ESPN did it’s normal bang-up job. Give them an A+. They have a stable of star power, including Mel Kiper Jr., that they utilize very nicely.

Jon Gruden has really found his calling. As predicted right here, he will be a star on TV, and he has become one. When he was with the Raiders, he really did not like the personnel part of the NFL, but he comes across like an expert now.

The NFL Network gets an A-. Again, not enough high-profile stars. The presentation is good, with all the bells and whistles and Mike Mayock is great, but they are understandably still a step behind the “Motherlode.”

– The NFL schedule came out this week and one of the local teams has a somewhat boring schedule. The Niners host the Saints in the second game of the year on Sept. 20 on “Monday Night Football.” On Oct. 17, Al’s guys will cross the Bay to visit the ‘Stick. The Niners end the season with two divisional games: at the St. Louis Rams and home versus the Arizona Cardinals. All in all, the 49ers will appear on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” twice, NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” once, and NFL Network’s “Thursday Night Football” once.

The Silver and Black get ZERO prime-time games. No MNF and no Sunday Night Football. Kinda bland, with the opener in Nashville, Tenn., versus a humbled Titan group from this past year and they end the season in Kansas City on Jan. 2. Think it might be cold that day or what?

The 49ers will travel a total of 33,264 miles. The Raiders will travel 20,150 miles. The Super Bowl Champion Saints will travel 13,916 miles. Hmm!

Who said it

Jimmy Johnson
“This is my favorite time of year, because this is where you build your football team,” the two-time Super Bowl champion coach who is now an analyst with Fox said. JJ should know, he was a master team builder with a keen eye for talent and the right mixture of team personalities and chemistry. I am shocked he was never persuaded to take a GM’s job. He would have been fantastic.

Chris Berman
“I can’t wait to continue the journey,” boomed the “Boomer” after signing a contract extension with ESPN this week. Berman has been there since 1979 and is clearly the face of ESPN. I love it when he throws music references into his broadcasts. Very entertaining, to say the least.

Sports by numbers

117-139 2009 record of 49ers’ opponents for the 2010 season, 28th-most difficult

128-128 2009 record of Raiders opponents for the 2010 season, 19th-most difficult

120-136 2009 record of New Orleans Saints’ opponents for the 2010 season, 27th-most difficult

Off target

ESPN-ABC’s quirky, but very good, NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy had an unusual suggestion this past week to solve the problem of playoff-bound NBA teams resting their stars at the end of the year by sitting out games. Says the former Knicks coach: “For the last 20 games of the season, teams earn $500,000 for each game they win and pay $500,000 for each game they lose.” Gee, Jeff, what are you smoking?

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

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