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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

December 2, 2011 at 6:03 PM

Some initial thoughts on Fox and the title broadcast . . .

I was originally ticketed to go to Eugene for the Pac-12 title game, then got to thinking: This doesn’t look like it’s going to be any game for the ages. What’s really more interesting is how Fox TV handles it.

After all, this is one of the co-holders of the Pac-12 rights for the lucrative contract that begins next fall. So for better or worse, we need to get used to it.

It’s only early in the second quarter, and I’m less than impressed.

“So much excitement surrounding this historic night for the Pac-12 Conference!” Gus Johnson blurted as the telecast began.

Imagine how much excitement there would be if UCLA hadn’t been a 32-point underdog.

Moments later, a public-address announcement seemed to conflict with the field mike trying to pick up the coin toss.

Then Johnson introduced the field reporter, Tim Brewster, who was head coach at Minnesota before his firing last year. Brewster came on grinding his words out like a drill sergeant.

And he said this first: “The perception of this Oregon offense is, they’re going to throw it all over the lot.”

Really? The Ducks? The team with LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner, the program that’s regularly been leading the league in rushing in recent years? Whose stats is Brewster reading?

But then, I shortly realized something else was amiss. The Pac-12 gave the homefield advantage to the better division winner. But it came with conditions.

One of them is that the host doesn’t use its public-address announcer. At Oregon’s that’s Don Essig, who has been doing it down there for four decades or more. (Full disclosure: I was Essig’s next-door neighbor in Eugene for a year or so back in the day.)

What’s up with that? Larry Scott, the Pac-12 commissioner, told John Canzano of the Oregonian that the replacement, Paul Olden “has done Super Bowls.”

Uh, so what? Either you have the home-field advantage or you don’t.

Of course, the league appropriated such rights for the title game. It takes over the luxury suites, for instance. But the PA guy as well? Might as well order that the decibels of crowd noise can’t exceed a certain level.

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