Airwaves: There's more going on than just the Olympics

Believe it or not, there is more stuff happening in the world of TV sports than just the Olympics.

– Interesting move by CBS to hire outspoken Warren Sapp as a member of its new “Inside the NFL” cable show, which appears on Showtime. He will join host James Brown, Phil Simms and NBC’s Cris Collinsworth when it premieres Sept. 10. The entire cast was shuffled after CBS purchased the cable channel. The hourlong program is a joint venture produced by CBS and NFL Films. If nothing else, Sapp will be opinionated. He is fun guy who, beneath his outward demeanor, is very, very smart from a football standpoint.

Like all new analysts, he will be shaky in the beginning, but look for him to grow into the role. In the last few years, I have gotten to know Warren and I think he has the makings of a future TV star.

– Ex-NFL star and ABC college football announcer Dan Fouts has also joined the CBS family as an NFL and college-football analyst. Fouts does a great job bringing insight to games. I still can’t believe ABC-ESPN gave him his walking papers last year.

– Taking a cue from the Little Leaguers, Major League Baseball will implement instant replay this fall. Barring technical issues, the target date is Sept. 1. One more time: I hate replay in baseball. Let the players play and the umps umpire!

– Not a fan of ex-New York Giant Tiki Barber on the “Today” show or MSNBC. From Beijing, while discussing the Olympics, he has yet to make a point of any interest or any sense. He needs to stop smiling so much and concentrate on subject matter.

– Does anyone realize the Williams sisters were in Beijing competing in women’s doubles? They seem to be far under the radar. In case you are unaware, they did win a gold medal.

– Big breakup news in the radio world out of New York. After 19 years as one of the co-hosts on arguably the nation’s top radio sports talk show, “Mad Dog” Chris Russo is leaving the “Mike and the Mad Dog” show to collect mega-checks from Sirius-XM Radio.
He will have his own channel called Mad Dog Radio. He will be involved in all areas of production and broadcasting. For those of you not familiar with him, he is an acquired taste, to say the least.

– CBS and the Southeastern Conference have extended their TV deal for 15 years. Great move by both parties. This allows CBS to have a huge Saturday college football presence and the SEC is guaranteed to be on a national TV network, not cable, each week. This is a win-win situation. Now the SEC will move forward with plans of creating its own TV network. Are you listening, Pac-10?

– I wonder why no one has hired Joe Theismann as an analyst. Since being dumped from “Monday Night Football,” he has basically disappeared. Too bad — I always thought he did a great job.

– In the end, NBC did a fantastic job of bringing the Olympics to our living rooms.

Erase all the doubt about Aquaman’s clean history

I can’t believe KNBR (680 AM) sports talk host Damon Bruce was so cynical this week about Aquaman, Michael Phelps.

Bruce, who is subbing for the vacationing Gary Radnich in the 9 a.m. to noon slot, kept saying that something is wrong with this great accomplishment. He made a solid point citing Marion Jones’ tarnished records and Major League Baseball’s steroid issues as accomplishments that later saw revelations of cheating, etc. But to even think that Phelps is not all he seems is just crazy and almost blasphemous. I like Damon a lot. He is super on his evening show, especially when he is honest about the Giants. But in this case, he is dead wrong.

Our society needs heroes, and Aquaman is a genuine, clean, hardworking hero — no ifs, ands or buts about it.

– Great move by KNBR’s management a few years back when they made Rock Jock radio hosts Lamont and Tonelli their 49ers pregame hosts. As we all know, they reside in the morning on The Bone (107.7 FM). They, along with super-producer Sully, are hilarious, edgy, entertaining and just a great listen.

However, serious sports can be another topic. They have done a sensational job of making the transition to football by giving hard facts, discussing the game openly and interviewing interesting guests, and they still are entertaining.

They have broken the mold of the sterile pregame shows we are accustomed to hearing. I hate it when a pregame show only talks about, “Well, what do they have to do to win the game today?” How about blocking and tackling better than the other team? I enjoy the entire 49ers radio broadcast.

– Kudos to the Bay Area’s Bob Fitzgerald and Ted Robinson for the top-notch job they have done in Beijing. Fitz has brought us men’s water polo and Ted has made diving watchable. In addition, the morning segment of KNBR’s “Murph and Mac” show with Fitz from Beijing has been most informative. It helps that Brian Murphy was once a newspaper person, so he knows exactly what to ask.

– Chris Olivere has been hired as the news director of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. He will oversee the locally produced daily newscasts and programming. A 20-year veteran of TV sports, Olivere is coming from the MountainWest Sports Network. Boss Ted Griggs is putting together a good, solid team. Maybe the A’s, Giants, 49ers and Raiders should take notice.

– I did not like the Cal and Stanford preseason football shows that aired this past week. While shown on Comcast, they were produced by Fox Sports Net. Somehow the shows did not flow very well. In addition, both hosts, Kate Longworth (Stanford) and Jaymee Sire (Cal) seemed in over their heads. I am not sure how much football they know or if they are aware that both Cal and Stanford are in the Pac-10 Conference.

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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