The biggest suspense in this year’s NBA draft likely will come with the first pick. Will the Portland Trail Blazers take Ohio State center Greg Oden or Texas forward Kevin Durant with the first pick? The Seattle SuperSonics then get an excellent consolation prize with the second pick, taking the star the Trail Blazers pass over.
Many of the draft experts, including ESPN’s Jay Bilas, think Portland will select Oden, who has the potential to be a dominant center. “I think you have to think long and hard, but I think it’s Greg Oden,” Bilas said in a conference call. “Kevin Durant is going to be an all-star, but getting a dominant center is difficult to do in the NBA. Greg Oden is going to be that. I think it’s easier to build around a dominant center than a great scorer. I tend to think it will be easier to hang (championship) banners with Greg Oden than Kevin Durant.”
Bilas said Oden is an “unbelievably high character guy” in the mold of San Antonio Spurs star Tim Duncan. “He’ll allow himself to be coached.”
For the fifth year in a row, ESPN will broadcast the draft live at 6 p.m. Thursday from Madison Square Garden. Mike Tirico will host, with Bilas and analysts Mark Jackson and Stephen A. Smith. Other contributors will be international expert Fran Fraschilla, Dick Vitale, Stuart Scott, Lisa Salters, Ric Bucher, Andy Katz and field reporters Rachel Nichols (Charlotte), Sal Paolantonio (Philadelphia) and Jim Gray (Los Angeles).
ESPN will have a one-hour preview at 9 p.m. Wednesday. A segment will include Bilas playing H-O-R-S-E with top prospects Corey Brewer, Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Brandon Wright and Julian Wright.
Bilas’ Top 10 prospects:
Greg Oden, Ohio State: “Greg Oden is the best center prospect since Tim Duncan or Patrick Ewing, and will be a defensive presence and the foundation of a championship team.”
Kevin Durant, Texas: “Kevin Durant is a more athletic Danny Manning, and has a unique knack for putting the ball in the basket. Durant is a special scorer and talent, and only the promise of Oden could keep him out of the top spot.”
Al Horford, Florida: “Al Horford is NBA-ready. He has a high basketball IQ, a great touch, and he is a big-time rebounder. Horford wins the battle right now, but will he be better in five years?”
Brandan Wright, North Carolina: “Brandan Wright is the classic ‘upside’ guy. He’s a long, athletic lefty who just swoops in and makes plays. He can be truly outstanding, but he has to improve his shot and his body to realize that potential.“
Michael Conley, Jr., Ohio State: “Mike Conley is the best point guard in the draft. This kid is special, and he is a winner. He finishes ambidextrously around the rim like Tony Parker, and he wins like Joe Montana. The only question is his shooting consistency.”
Corey Brewer, Florida: “Corey Brewer is the most versatile player in the draft, and can guard anybody. He passes, handles the ball, can hit open shots, and he is a very solid prospect. He is a queen on a coach’s chess board.”
Joakim Noah, Florida: “Joakim Noah’s motor revs higher than anyone else’s in this draft. He can run, rebound and block shots, but his offense raises some questions as to how effective he will be.”
Jeff Green, Georgetown: “Jeff Green is undervalued in this draft. He can do everything, and is an underrated athlete. The only question is whether he has the temperament to be dominant and assertive.”
Yi Jianlian, China: “Yi Jianlian is a 7-footer who can really shoot it. He brings potential, and also brings your team a billion fans.”
Julian Wright, Kansas: “Julian Wright does everything but shoot it with consistency. Put him in a system where he can get out and run, and you will see an explosive NBA talent.”
Almost to a man, NBA analysts who I have talked with speak glowingly about Oklahoma City as a permanent home of an NBA franchise. As part of an ABC/ESPN conference call Wednesday, I questioned Bill Walton and Rick Barry, both analysts and former league standouts, about the city’s prospects as an NBA city. Walton’s son, Luke, a Los Angeles Lakers forward, also weighed in on the matter. Although Bill Walton spoke highly of Oklahoma City, he said he would be disappointed if the Sonics moved here from Seattle.
Rick Barry: I was in Oklahoma City for the last game, before they were going back to New Orleans. I was pretty amazed at the tremendous following they had, knowing farewell that this was an interim situation. The fans really seemed to take the team to heart. It was a wonderful experience seeing that. I see no reason they wouldn’t be successful if they (the NBA) were to go back to Oklahoma City. It’s all going to come down to what Seattle does regarding an arena. Oklahoma City, to me, was very professional in the way they supported the team.
Bill Walton: I was there for Oklahoma City’s first game and a number of games subsequently. I was extremely impressed with every aspect, not only of the management and organization of the team there, but also the support of the city, in the ticket base, sponsors and corporate community. I think Oklahoma City is a marvelous market for the NBA, but I personally would hate to see Seattle drop out of the NBA. That has always been one of my favorite places. I’m a big believer in basketball in the Northwest and the championships from the ’70s, right on the heels of Rick Barry’s championship in 1975. West Coast/Northwest basketball was dominant a couple of decades ago and we’re looking forward to a return of that with Greg Oden and Kevin Durant coming to the Northwest.
(Led by guard Dennis Johnson, the Sonics won their only NBA championship in 1979, routing the Washington Bullets, 4 games to 1. Barry led Golden State to a title in 1975, and Walton led Portland to a title in 1977).
Luke Walton: I played in Oklahoma City twice in the last two years. They were very professional about everything. It’s just like you’re playing in any other NBA city or arena. And the fan support was amazing. We played them four times in the last two years, twice in Oklahoma City and twice in New Orleans. Both times in Oklahoma City they blew us out and the fans were standing the entire game and they were loud. It was a lot of energy. It was a lot of fun. The two times we played them in New Orleans we got wins. I definitely think Oklahoma City could support a team.
It’s no secret why Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James is the focus of ABC’s promos for the NBA Finals. ABC/ESPN sportscasters and executives are giddy about the ratings impact James will have on their coverage of the finals, which begin at 8 p.m. Thursday in San Antonio.
James has more star appeal than anyone on the Detroit Pistons, who lost to the Cavs in the Eastern Conference finals, and the Spurs, who will face the Cavs in the finals and will be going for their third title in five years and fourth overall.
“I think it will bring in a lot of the casual fans who want to get a view of a guy who obviously has a chance to do something special in his career,” said play-by-play announcers Mike Breen.
“I think in the Piston series he went from great to something special,” analyst Jeff Van Gundy said. “Whether he can do it in the finals, or whether he can do it over time, to me that is the intriguing thing. Can he develop that will of a champion? Can he inspire the rest of his team to do that? I think that will be an intriguing subplot because (Tim) Duncan has already done that with the Spurs.”
In the past three seasons, the finals have given ABC a ratings boost in the normally slow ratings month of June. ESPN vice president Norby Williamson noted ABC has won the ratings battle in 14 of the past 18 finals nights.
Although Van Gundy admits the Cavs are underdogs, he said can take solace in Dwyane Wade’s performance in leading the Miami Heat to an upset of the Dallas Mavericks in last year’s finals.
“Miami had an up-and-down regular season. They had and up-and-down playoffs. They started the Dallas series 0-2, and then Dwyane Wade had four remarkable games in a row. If you’re Cleveland, even though you’re going to be the prohibitive underdog, all you’re going to need is LeBron James to be great in four games, and I believe he can be great in four games, or four or more games. That’s why they have a chance to win.”
Van Gundy has been a tremendous addition to ABC/ESPN’s top broadcast team, which also includes the mediocre Breen and Jackson. ESPN vice president Norby Williamson said he hopes to bring Van Gundy back for that role next season. Van Gundy, the former Houston Rockets coach, sounds like he’s ready to take a break from coaching.
“I’m looking to live in Houston and broadcast next year,” Van Gundy said. “If that opportunity presents itself, that will be wonderful. I would be remiss if there is a contract extention being offered to turn it down because I did that earlier this year (with the Rockets) and it didn’t quite work out like I wanted.”
Pregame coverage, with host Dan Patrick and analysts Jon Barry and Michael Wilbon, will begin at 7:30 each night. Michele Tafoya and Stuart Scott will serve as reporters.
Technical gizmos include SkyCam, with aerial views of the action, and FreezeCam, which has the ability to capture a play and zoom in on a particular angle.
Coverage will include an updated version of the “Hall of Fame” opening segment, which features some of the most memorable players and moments in finals history and “The Finals in Harmony,” a celebration of many of the players, teams and moments from the finals through the voice and performance of Steve Sidwell and the Hollywood Film Chorale.
ESPN is taking a low-key approach to its first telecast of Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft from 1-5 p.m. Thursday on ESPN2.
The fact that it is being televised at all shows how far MLB officials have gone in changing their attitude about publicizing the draft. A few years ago, it was conduced in near secrecy.
“We have no expectations,” said ESPN senior vice president Len DeLuca in a conference call Monday. “We’ll have a lovely afternoon in which we can sit down and attract the great MLB fan who wants to know who will be the next great star on his team, if in fact you can determine that from this, and maybe we’ll attract some casual viewers. We know this is not an event that is tantamount to the NFL draft or NBA draft.”
The fact that it is being held on a weekday afternoon shows neither baseball nor ESPN is expecting a big audience.
Karl Ravech will serve as host with analysts Peter Gammons and Steve Phillips from Orlando, Fla. Additional contributors will include ESPN.com’s Keith Law, ESPN.com fantasy expert Matthew Berry, Baseball America’s Jim Callis and the Perfect Game’s Dave Rawnsley (of the amateur baseball site www.pgcrosschecker.com).
ESPN will provide coverage of the first-round and compensation picks. Producers have lined up video highlights of the top 60-70 players. Teams will have only five minutes between first-round picks, meaning the telecast will move quickly, unlike the NFL draft, which has 15 minutes between picks.
Vitale picks Cavs to win NBA Finals: ESPN basketball analyst Dick Vitale, appearing on Monday’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning” show on ESPN Radio and ESPN2, predicted a victory for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. “I’m picking Cleveland to win that series in seven for a very simple reason – LeBron,” Vitale said. “Like Magic, when he was a rookie, when they had to play without Kareem … he would not allow them to lose. That was the defining moment in the world of Magic. He (LeBron) is not going to let Cleveland lose.”
NFL Network ranks bad weather games: What game had the worst weather in NFL history? The NFL Network (Cox 252) will list its top 10 at 8 p.m. Wednesday. The hour show features archival footage of each game along with fresh interviews with former players and coaches including Mike Ditka, Mike Singletary and Don Shula.
Of course, the “Ice Bowl” will be included. The 1967 NFL Championship game between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field was played in -13 conditions with a wind chill of -46. The Packers beat Dallas 21-17 on Bart Starr’s 1-yard touchdown run with 13 seconds left.
The most recent game will be the New England Patriots’ 16-13 victory over the Oakland Raiders in the 2001 AFC divisional playoffs. Three inches of snow fell during the final game at Foxboro Stadium. Adam Vinatieri kicked the game into overtime with a 45-yard field goal five plays after the “Tuck Rule” overturned a Patriots’ fumble. Vinatieri won the game with a 23-yard kick in overtime.
For the first time in Big 12 history, a conference home game will be televised by ESPN. Under a licensing agreement announced Tuesday with Fox Sports Net, ESPN will televise up to five Big 12 games in prime time this season. There’s a good likelihood an OU game would be shown by ESPN, and OSU also is a possibility for the network.
ESPN will offer the Big 12 more exposure than Fox Sports Net. ESPN reaches 93 million homes, while FSN is in more than 81 million homes through its 22 regional networks.
Only one telecast has been announced, an attractive one at that — Florida State at Colorado at 9 p.m. Sept. 15. ESPN also will show games on Oct. 6, Oct. 20 and Nov. 3, and possibly Oct. 13.
Here’s a look at possibilities for telecasts, which also could wind up in the afternoon on ABC and or at 11:30 a.m. on FSN Southwest:
Oct. 6: OU-Texas is a lock for an ABC afternoon telecast. OSU at Texas A&M would be a good telecast for ESPN. Iowa State at Texas Tech, Nebraska at Missouri and Kansas at Kansas State also are possibilities.
Oct. 13: Missouri at OU, OSU at Nebraska, Texas A&M at Texas Tech and Texas at Iowa State would top the list of potential telecasts.
Oct. 20: Texas A&M at Nebraska, Texas Tech at Missouri, OU at Iowa State and Kansas State at OSU look to be the best games for television.
Nov. 3: Texas A&M at Oklahoma, Texas at OSU and Nebraska at Kansas would be the best candidates to be televised.
ESPN has not yet announced its broadcast teams for the fall. Last year, Mike Patrick, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe handled the ESPN prime-time games and Ron Franklin, Ed Cunningham and Dr. Jerry Punch covered the ESPN2 primetime games.
Jeff Van Gundy to call NBA finals: Jeff Van Gundy couldn’t get the Houston Rockets to the finals, but he will be a part of ABC’s telecast team that will broadcasts the finals. The former Rockets coach adds some spice to the lackluster team of play-by-play announcer Mike Breen and analyst Mark Jackson.
“Jeff has added a new dimension and great chemistry to our NBA playoff broadcasts, bringing a fresh, unique perspective to the games,” said ESPN executive vice president Norby Williamson.
Twenty five years after he left KTUL-8 to form a sports production company, nationally known sportscaster Chris Lincoln is back at the Tulsa station. Lincoln, 59, made his return Monday as sports director, replacing Jack Bunds who was fired after Wednesday’s 6 p.m. newscast.
After leaving KTUL in 1981, Lincoln and Jim Wilburn, the station’s top salesman, built Winner Communications into the nation’s largest independently owned sports production company, producing more than 3,000 hours of programming a year for 15 networks. Lincoln and Wilburn sold the majority of Winnercomm, which is housed in a six-story building in Broken Arrow, to outside investors in February 2006, although Lincoln still works as a consultant for the company.
Tulsa viewers should enjoy the colorful and opinionated sportscaster who has covered a variety of horse races over the years, including an international series from 1998-2003. He missed his first Kentucky Derby in 20 years due to the recent birth of his first grandson.
“It’s a lot easier to get to Norman and Stillwater than it is to Dubai and Hong Kong,” he said during a telephone interview Thursday.
Viewers will notice a much thinner Lincoln than in his previous stint with KTUL. Ater undergoing gastric bypass surgery in 2003, he originally lost more than 200 pounds. “Before my surgery, I was 420 pounds with a 62-inch waist. Now, I’m 230 pounds with a 38-inch waist. I do an hour or hour and a half workout every morning. I’m very careful about taking my protein drink in the morning. I can’t eat very much; my stomach is reduced in size. That’s what’s frustrating, I never was a big eater. I just had that metabolism problem. No matter what I did, I just couldn’t lose the weight.”
A few of his other opinions:
On revamping KTUL’s Sunday night sports show, “You Make the Call”: “That’s a crap show, God Almighty! I see it as more of a sports conversation show and feature-type interviews with more preproduced-type stuff.”
On TV weathermen, who generally rule Oklahoma TV stations: “Please just put up the seven-day forecast and get off the air! I always look at weathermen as major-league players. They just have to hit 1 out of 3 and they can stay in the big leagues.”
On his favorite sports: “My No. 1 passion is college sports, especially college football play-by-play. I hope to get some opportunities to get to that down the road. I’m just a young kid, compared to Bob (Barry) Sr.”
Fight to be replayed: If you didn’t fork out $54.49 to watch the Oscar de la Hoya-Floyd Mayweather bout last Saturday, you can watch Mayweather’s split-decision victory at 9 p.m. Saturday on HBO for no additional charge.
Classic NFL games: Beginning this week, the NFL Network (Cox 252) will start carrying classic NFL games on at 7 p.m. Thursdays, with a replay at 3 p.m. Fridays. The first game will be the Chicago Bears’ 24-23 comeback victory over the Arizona Cardinals from last season. The Bears rallied from a 20-0 deficit in the Monday night game. Each game features the original announcers and network graphics.
Although it’s only been three weeks since the Hornets played their final game at the Ford Center, fans can relive some of their fond memories of the team through the eyes of star guard Chris Paul in a program at 6 p.m. Thursday on the NBA Network (Cox 256). The program focuses on the Hornets’ two seasons in Oklahoma City and some of what they have given back to the community.
Toyota’s “Tundra Turnaround,” the first of four half-hour shows on the network narrated by Andre Aldridge, looks at Paul’s effort in helping to refurbish the basketball court at Capitol Hill High School. Toyota provided funding for the project. “There are so many people that helped me get in the position I’m in,” Paul said. “I felt the least I could do is to give back to others.”
From meeting with Mayor Mick Cornett to receiving insights from Hub Reed, a 6-foot-9 Capitol Hill alumnus who went on to play in the NBA, Paul reveals a bond to Oklahoma City that will exist long after the Hornets’ return to New Orleans. “It’s not just a court,” said Paul, who spoke at the dedication ceremony for the new court. “It’s a sign of hope.”
In a segment at a coffee shop near the school, several former Capitol Hill standouts, including Reed and ex-New York Yankees pitcher Tom Sturdivant, reminesce about the school’s proud athletic history.
Paul received the NBA’s Community Assist Award for September 2006 and has partnered with Toyota on several programs, including NBA TV’s Toyota’s Moving Forward Moments and his Chris Paul Foundation.
Subsequent episodes of “Toyota Turnaroud” will look at efforts to restore basketball courts in Indianapolis (Jermaine O’Neal), Houston (Clyde Drexler and Elvin Hayes) and New Orleans (Bob Lanier).
Charles Barkley is waging war with Golden State fans, and he’s losing.
After the eighth-seeded Warriors upset the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the series opener, Barkley predicted the Mavs would win next four games to take the series. But after a loss Sunday night to the Warriors, the choking Mavs are on the brink of elimination, trailing the series 3-1. Game 5 is Tuesday night in Dallas.
Anti-Barkley signs were scattered throughout Oracle Arena the last two games. At halftime of Sunday night’s game, Barkley appeared wearing a Dirk Nowitzki jersey and loaded with an arsenal of barbs.
“They declared war on the Chuckster and until you make right by me nothing good will happen to you …I love Baron Davis, Don Nelson, Chris Mullin … but Oakland as a city sucks. (To studio host Ernie Johnson) you like Oakland?”
Johnson: “I love the Bay area.
Barkley: “It’s not an area, I said Oakland. You said San Francisco. Just for the record I don’t like San Francisco, either. You know how bad it is? I like Sacramento better than those two cities.”
Johnson: “Good luck getting that jersey off, it looks like you painted it on.”
After the game, Barkley reiterated his distaste for the Bay Area. “The Bay Area sucks, I would rather stay in Alcatraz than San Francisco or Oakland. But I will admit this about the Warriors, they are fun to watch.”
Added analyst Kenny Smith: “Too little too late, Chuck.”
By the way, Barkley blames the Kings for TNT’s ratings slump this season. In the key demo men 18 to 49, TNT is down 22 percent as compared to last year. “For some reason TNT felt like we had an obligation to show the Sacramento Kings every two weeks,” Barkley told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Everybody wants to say all these teams are great. That’s not true. A lot of these teams stink.”
NFL sleepfest: I could make it through only a couple of hours of the NFL’s version of C-SPAN, the NFL draft on Saturday. How much of Mel Kiper Jr. can you take? Do teams really need 15 minutes between first-round picks? Some of the best comments were from Tony Kornheiser about overhyped Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn, who slipped to the 22nd spot. After a nervous Quinn loosened his tie while waiting to be drafted, Kornheiser predicted he would be naked if he weren’t taken by No. 15. After doing numerous interviews in the holding room while he waited to be drafted, Quinn eventually moved to a private room. Kornheiser noted that was a good move before Quinn became “a car wreck. … You almost want to turn away.”
The best comedy bit was Will Ferrell’s piece with USC lineman propect Ryan Kalil on the NFL Network’s predraft show. Ferrell played “Chuck Berry,” a USC “auxiliary strength and conditioning coach,” who trained Kalil using unconventional methods. The five-minute bit included testimonials about Berry, who wears short, skintight gym shorts, from coach Pete Carroll and former quarterback Matt Leinart. It’s posted on youtube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHkAdusbwuA
The Ref radio network will change its programming lineup on Monday, dropping the syndicated Jim Rome Show and adding Rusty Olson, a longtime producer and part-time announcer for the Sports Animal radio network.
T.J. Perry, program director for The Ref, which includes Norman’s KREF-AM 1400, said the network decided to go with an all-local lineup weekdays. Rome’s show still airs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Oklahoma City on KEBC-AM 1340.
Olson, 39, a huge Oakland Raiders fan who grew up in Palo Alto, Calif., said he is excited about getting his own show, which will air 2-5 p.m. “This is a lifelong dream come true,” he said.
After graduating from OU in 2001 with a journalism degree, Olson joined the Sports Animal. He worked in a variety of capacities, including doing sports reports on Rick and Brad’s morning show on the KATT-FM 100.5 the past six months. “The last six years at the Animal have been great,” he said.
Myron Patton, who had been on 2-5 p.m., will move to 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to replace Rome.
Bosworth remembered as draft bust: Who is the biggest Draft Bust in NFL history? The NFL Network’s new series, “NFL’s Top 10” tackles the subject at 8 p.m. Wednesday. The 60-minute show features interviews with players and coaches including Heath Shuler, former OU linebacker Brian Bosworth, Jerry Glanville and Art Schlichter.
In chronological order, here are the top 10 draft busts on NFL Network’s list:
Art Schlichter — 4th overall in 1982: Baltimore Colts.
Brian Bosworth — Seattle Seahawks top pick in 1987 Supplemental Draft.
Aundray Bruce — 1st overall in 1988: Atlanta Falcons.
Tony Mandarich — 2nd overall in 1989: Green Bay Packers.
Andre Ware and David Klinger — Ware 7th overall in 1990: Detroit Lions – Klingler 6th overall in 1992: Cincinnati Bengals.
Rick Mirer — 2nd overall in 1993: Seattle Seahawks.
Heath Shuler — 3rd overall in 1994: Washington Redskins.
Lawrence Phillips — 6th overall in 1996: St. Louis Rams.
Ryan Leaf — 2nd overall in 1998: San Diego Chargers.
Tim Couch — 1st overall in 1999: Cleveland Browns.
TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley, known for his strong opinions, second-guessed Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson for going with a small lineup in the Mavs’ 97-85 loss to Golden State in the opener of the first-round playoff series Sunday night in Dallas.
“I’m disappointed in Dallas for changing their starting lineup,” Barkley said at halftime. “They have the best record in the NBA and they changed their lineup to go small against these guys. When you’ve got the best record, you don’t change up to go against the worst team in the playoffs. You can get every offensive rebound, and on defense it’s very simple. Keep them in front of you and force them to shoot jump shots.
“If you’re a big man, you’re foaming at the mouth to play against Golden State. You’re going to get lay-ups and offensive rebounds all night since they got all those midgets out there. What’s my rule? Keep paint under your feet because they are going to switch everything and double everything. All teams that do that have one thing in common, they can’t play defense.”
The series continues with Game 2 at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday on TNT.
Barkley, by the way, paid tribute to Hornets center Tyson Chandler in his regular-season awards, naming him co-most improved player of the year along with Nets forward/center Miki Moore.
On the Spurs-Nuggets telecast Sunday night, Kevin Harlan and Doug Collins joked about Harlan’s Kansas ties during the Spurs-Nuggets telecast Saturday night. Said Harlan about fellow KU alum and Spurs guard Jacque Vaughn: “This is defense he learned at the University of Kansas.” Responded Collins: “I was waiting for that shameless promo, we’ve had enough promos tonight without promoting the Jayhawks.”
TNT studio analyst Magic Johnson, who predicted the Nuggets might upset the Spurs in the series, looked like a prophet after the Nuggets’ 95-89 victory in Game 1. Johnson said, “They (the Nuggets) are more mature, Carmelo (Anthony) understands what’s at stake. They are running Nene at Tim Duncan and then (Marcus) Camby at Tim Duncan and then even (Eduardo) Najera to play him. They have enough guys to beat him up and play physical and who can still score. This is not the same San Antonio Championship team. Denver is a little quicker then San Antonio this year.”
FSN Southwest spotlights Sooners: If you missed FSN Southwest’s half-hour installment on OU as part of its Big 12 Spring Football Tour, you have several times to catch it again this week: 10 p.m. Tuesday, 10 p.m. Thursday and 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The theme of this year’s series is Turning Points with each show featuring a segment highlighting the biggest play of 2006 as selected by the coach. The OU episode includes highlights from the Red-White game, interviews with coaches and players and a 2007 season preview. The Turning Point focuses on quarterback Paul Thompson’s 35-yard, third-down completion from his own 1-yard line to freshman tight end Jermaine Gresham in the Big 12 Championship against Nebraska. Oklahoma State will be featured at 10 p.m. May 8.
NBC hires Weisman to produce studio show: Michael Weisman has been named to head production for NBC’s “Football Night in America” pregame show. Weisman, winner of 22 Emmy Awards, promises to make the show more fun. He faces a challenge in trying to split up air time for his team that includes Bob Costas (host), Cris Collinsworth (co-host), Keith Olbermann (co-host), Jerome Bettis (analyst), Tiki Barber (analyst) and Peter King (reporter).