— CBS college basketball analyst Clark Kellogg and “EARLY SHOW co-anchor Harry Smith took on President Barack Obama in a game of P-O-T-U-S on the basketball court at the White House and Kellogg also interviewed Obama as part of CBS’ Final Four coverage, which begins at 3 p.m. Saturday. Find out who wins the game during halftime of the Butler-Michigan State game.
— Play-by-play announcer Dave O’Brien will be calling his first Women’s Final Four Sunday for ESPN with analyst Doris Burke, who has done five Final Fours. Shelley Smith and Rebecca Lobo will serve as reporters. Baylor alumnus Trey Wingo, Kara Lawson and Carolyn Peck will be on set at the Alamodome for ESPN’s studio coverage. All three games at the Final Four will be presented in high definition, and live on ESPN3.com.
— ESPN360.com, ESPN’s 24/7 broadband sports network, will officially become ESPN3.com on Sunday. Visitors to the network will notice an enhanced viewing experience with improved video quality via Adobe’s Flash Player 10. Visitors will also be able to interact with live event programming on the network through a variety of new features and functionality.
— ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” 8 a.m. Sunday, looks at Tiger Woods’ sex therapy and whether it has affected his golf game. Bob Rotella, sports psychologist, says, “The question everyone wants to ask is, ‘Will Tiger be able to play great with this off-the-course mess going on in his life?’ Well, my guess is yes, he will be able to if he wants to. But the only question you could ask is, ‘Is Tiger ready to really get himself back in contention? Is that his sole purpose in playing the Masters?’”
— Two Dallas Cowboys preseason games will be nationally televised. The Cowboys will face Cincinnati in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game at 7 p.m. Aug. 8 on NBC and play at Houston at 7 p.m. Aug. 28 on CBS.
— ABC launches a new “ESPN Sports Saturday” block at 3 p.m. Saturday with “Guru of Go,” an ESPN Films “30 for 30” documentary about the Loyola Marymount men’s basketball team and the death of its star player Hank Gathers. At 4 p.m., ESPN’s Michele Beadle and Marcellus Wiley will co-host “Winners Bracket,” a new one-hour highlight-driven show.
University of Kansas basketball coach Bill Self will get some extra air time on CBS, thanks to his Jayhawks’ early exit last week. Self will join CBS Sports host Greg Gumbel and analysts Greg Anthony and Seth Davis from New York for its studio coverage of the regional finals on Saturday (3:30-8 p.m.) and Sunday (1-6 p.m).
Self also will be a guest-analyst for CBS Sports’ “Road to the Final Four” on Saturday, April 3 (2-3:30) from the Final Four in Indianapolis.
* * * * *
TNT and NBA Digital will team up at 7 p.m. Thursday for a special interactive edition of TNT NBA Thursday, integrating TNT, NBA TV and NBA.com.
TNT’s Emmy-Award winning studio team of Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith will call the Miami Heat at Chicago Bulls game.
A camera will be focused on the crew throughout the game and, for the first time, fans will get live commentary from the trio during select commercial breaks. Smith also will provide a running Twitter commentary from courtside.
Fans also will vote online each quarter to select for one player each from the Bulls and Heat to be the focus of an isolated camera.
NBA TV’s Matt Winer, Kevin McHale and Chris Webber will provide studio coverage from Atlanta.
The second game will feature Dallas at Portland at 9:30 p.m. with announcers Marv Albert, Mike Fratello and David Aldridge.
ESPN’s Todd McShay in Norman for OU Pro Day
ESPN Scouts Inc. Director of College Football Scouting Todd McShay will provide reports on ESPN on Thursday from the University of Oklahoma’s Pro Day, where projected first-round quarterback Sam Bradford and other prospects from the school will conduct workouts for scouts and coaches. McShay will also cover Pro Day at Texas (March 31) and Notre Dame (April 9).
CBS announcers lineup
Here’s CBS announcers for the regional semifinal and final games Thursday through Sunday:
Salt Lake City — Gus Johnson and Len Elmore.
Syracuse — Dick Enberg and Jay Bilas.
St. Louis — Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery.
Houston — Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg.
CBS sportscaster Jim Nantz must pay $916,000 yearly in alimony and child support to his ex-wife and give up their Connecticut home under terms of a newly issued divorce decree.
Court documents from the divorce trial cited Nantz’s $3.2 million salary from CBS and other assets, including millions in other income, shared investment accounts, real estate and other property.
The ruling, made Monday in Bridgeport, Conn., Superior Court, dissolves the 26-year marriage of Nantz and Ann-Lorraine “Lorrie” Carlsen Nantz. It comes after both testified about the breakdown of their marriage; Judge Howard Owens concluded neither was at fault.
Nantz, CBS’ silky smooth lead play-by-play announcer, wasn’t so successful with his personal life. He filed for divorce last year from his wife after years of marriage counseling.
Although Nantz, 50, acknowledged he started dating a 29-year-old woman before the divorce was final, the judge concluded the marriage deteriorated years earlier and “this remote event in no way contributed to the breakdown of the marriage.”
In his ruling, Owens noted that the couple didn’t share the same interests in Nantz’s television career, which required frequent travel as the network’s primary commentator for college football, golf and basketball, as well as appearances at charity events.
Under the ruling, Nantz must pay $72,000 in alimony monthly until he dies or his ex-wife remarries, and another $1,000 weekly in child support for the next two years.
Lorrie Nantz will get their home and a separate condominium in Westport, while Jim Nantz will get their home in Houston and a luxury condominium in the Deer Valley ski resort in Park City, Utah. They were awarded joint custody of Caroline, 15.
He also must pay Caroline’s college expenses until she reaches 23 years old and has to split various joint accounts with Lorrie Nantz, including the current value of his pension through the Screen Actors Guild.
He also must keep his ex-wife listed as beneficiary of a $3 million life insurance policy while he’s still paying alimony and/or child support, and pay $70,000 so she can join any country club of her choice.
She had been seeking more than $1.5 million in yearly alimony and child support.
The OU women’s basketball team will be on ESPN2’s Big Monday women’s schedule for the upcoming season when it hosts Connecticut at 8 p.m. Feb. 15. The defending NCAA champion, Connecticut also will be on two other times — at Duke, 6 p.m. Jan. 18 and at Notre Dame, 6 p.m. March 1.
The only Big 12 teams on the schedule are Baylor and Texas A&M, when they play each other at College Station at 8 p.m. Feb 22.
New to this year’s schedule is the addition of Big Monday doubleheaders on Feb. 8, Feb. 15 and Feb. 22.
Jan 11, 6:30 p.m., Maryland at Virginia
Jan 18, 6 p.m., Connecticut at Duke
Jan 25, 6 p.m., Ohio State at Purdue
Feb 1, 6:30 p.m., Notre Dame at Rutgers
Feb 8, 6 p.m., North Carolina at Duke
Feb 8, 8 p.m., Tennessee at Vanderbilt
Feb 15, 6 p.m., North Carolina at Virginia
Feb 15, 8 p.m., Connecticut vs. Oklahoma
Feb 22, 6 p.m., LSU at Tennessee
Feb 22, 8 p.m., Baylor at Texas A&M
March 1, 6 p.m., Connecticut at Notre Dame
If Blake Griffin had also played football at OU, he likely would have been a heck of a tight end. He certainly would have been a big target for OU quarterback Sam Bradford to find going across the middle.
As part of ESPN SportsCenter’s “Fan Feast,” Griffin’s dream of playing for the Sooner football team will air Friday as part of a series of vignettes in which key athletes discuss their favorite events (other than their respective sports) to play in or to watch:
June 29: Kobe Bryant – play cricket.
June 30: Joe Mauer – be a quarterback at the Super Bowl.
July 1: Candace Parker – attend the FIFA World Cup.
July 2: Jeff Gordon – face Tony Hawk one-on-one in an X Games contest.
July 2: Carl Crawford (midnight) – to be a quarterback in the NFL.
July 3: Blake Griffin – play football at the University of Oklahoma.
July 6: Colt McCoy – attend the Masters.
July 7: Trevor Hoffman – race in the Indy 500.
July 8: Lisa Leslie – attend the US Open and watch a Williams sisters final.
July 9: Dale Earnhardt Jr. – play in the NFL.
July 9: Dick Vermeil – a front row seat at the Indy 500.
July 10: Justin Morneau – play and win the Stanley Cup.
The series will feature five daily essays each by ESPN television studio host Kenny Mayne on his top five sports events to attend, and Mike Greenberg, co-host of ESPN Radio and ESPN2’s Mike and Mike in the Morning Show, on his top five events to participate in.
Fans also can fans can submit a 50-word essay on www.espn.com/fanfest proposing their favorite sporting event to attend. Fans can also submit essays about their favorite sporting event to participate in. A panel of ESPN.com editorial staff will select the top 10 essays submitted for each category.
ESPNU (Cox 253) plans to replay three OU basketball games to spotlight Sooner star Blake Griffin, expected to be the No. 1 pick in NBA draft Thursday night. The Sooners’ 72-60 loss to North Carolina in the Final Eight will air at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. Other broadcasts include OU’s 82-78 win against Davidson and star guard Stephen Curry at 5 p.m. Thursday and a 89-81 victory over OSU (Jan. 26 in Stillwater) at 7 a.m. Friday.
ESPNU also is featuring games of other draft prospects, including DeJuan Blair (Pittsburgh), Tyreke Evans (Memphis), Blake Griffin (Oklahoma), James Harden (Arizona State), Jordan Hill (Arizona), Jrue Holiday (UCLA) and Hasheem Thabeet (Connecticut).
ESPN’s extensive draft coverage will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday from the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden. Stuart Scott will host ESPN’s coverage with analysts Jay Bilas, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy. Additional contributors will include international basketball expert Fran Fraschilla; Dick Vitale (via satellite); reporters Ric Bucher and Andy Katz; on-site interviews by Mark Jones; green room interviews by Lisa Salters; and field reporter Rachel Nichols from Tarrytown, N.Y., site of the New York Knicks’ training facility.
The coverage will include video conferencing with 15 team headquarters — Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Indiana, Los Angeles Clippers, L.A. Lakers, Memphis, Minnesota, New Jersey, Phoenix, Portland and Washington — and “draft cam” from the draft rooms of the Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies and Minnesota Timberwolves, which have three first-round selections.
ESPN The Magazine’s current issue offers a preview of the NBA Draft including a Mock Draft featuring current players making the picks for their respective teams. Top five picks:
1) L.A. Clippers (selected by Ricky Davis) – Blake Griffin, Oklahoma.
2) Memphis Grizzlies (selected by Rudy Gay) – Hasheem Thabeet, Uconn.
3) Oklahoma City Thunder (selected by Russell Westbrook) – James Harden, Arizona State.
4) Sacramento Kings (selected by Spencer Hawes) – Ricky Rubio, Spain.
5) Washington Wizards (selected by Antawn Jamison) – DeMar DeRozan.
Courtney Paris had barely walked off the court Sunday night following the Sooners’ 61-59 loss to Louisville in the Women’s Final Four when an ESPN reporter asked her the $64,000 question — did she intended to fulfill her it pledge to repay her OU athletic scholarship since the Sooners didn’t win the national championship? Courtney replied she didn’t have $64,000 at the moment, but planned to do so. Moments after such a painful loss, this didn’t seem a good time to hit her up with the $64,000 question.
It fit ESPN’s tone for the night of beating up on Paris, the first four-time All-American in women’s basketball who had broke several NCAA scoring and rebounding records. On several occasions, commentator Doris Burke criticized her for being out of shape, noting she appeared winded and had difficulty getting up and down the court. She said if the Sooners were to win, the winner of the Connecticut-Stanford game would be wise to get her in a transition game. Burke has a right to her opinion, but constantly harping on it is another story. Paris, obviously is not in as good of shape as twin sister, Ashley, but she has played that way for years with — and with much success.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, appeared on the ESPN pregame show to talk about his sister Carlee, a reserve for the Sooners. Ben said, “My hands are sweating more now than they were in the Super Bowl.”
ESPN’s telecast said an Oklahoma City record for a women’s basketball game with a 19.4 rating. The previous high was a 19.3 for the Oklahoma-Duke game on March 29, 2002.
CBS’ “The Road to the Final Four” pregame show, 3 p.m. Saturday, will include a report commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Indiana State/ Michigan State 1979 NCAA championship game. Players from both teams reflect on the 1979 season and the “Game that changed the Game,” and their lives over the last 30 years. The piece features interviews with Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird reminiscing about their memories and the lasting impact of the 1979 NCAA championship. The feature is narrated by CBS Sports’ Dick Enberg who was the play-by-play announcer for the game.
Michigan State, coached by Jud Heathcote, won the national title with a 75-64 victory in the final game over an unbeaten Indiana State team, coached by Bill Hodges. Magic was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Other feature stories on the pregame show include North Carolina star Tyler Hansbrough, Villanova guard Scottie Reynolds, Connecticut guard A.J. Price and Michigan State’s homecoming as the Spartans play in the Final Four at Ford Field in Detroit.
Don’t forget Russell Westbrook
Last week, TNT analyst Chris Webber discussed his pick for Rookies of the Year between the Memphis Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo and Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose: “In my mind, I think you should do exactly what the NBA did the year (1994-95) that Grant Hill and Jason Kidd won (co-Rookies of the Year). If Derrick Rose doesn’t make it to the playoffs then he and O.J. Mayo are both out of the playoffs. Derrick Rose has much better players around him (on the Bulls) and Mayo is trying to change the mentality in Memphis. I would give them co-Rookies of the Year because both of their teams aren’t that great.”
TNT analyst Charles Barkley chimed in that Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook also should be in conversation for rookie of the year: (Derrick) Rose is going to win it, because we expect him to win it, he’s the No. 1 pick. Let me tell you something, Russell Westbrook has a very bright future.”
CBS has assigned its top team of Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg to the Memphis Regional to broadcast the South Regional games on Friday night: OU-Syracuse game at 6:27 p.m. and North Carolina-Gonzaga at about 9 p.m. It shows the network believes it’s the best set of games in the Sweet 16. North Carolina was ranked No. 1 entering the tournament and OU has the national player of the year in Blake Griffin.
The good contingent of Kansas fans in Oklahoma should get to see most of the Jayhawks game against Michigan State, following the conclusion of the OU game. Of course, they can get on the Internet and watch all the game at March Madness on Demand at NCAA.com.
Ratings for the first two rounds are up 6 percent from 2008, averaging a 5.4 in metered markets.
The other broadcast pairings:
West Regional, Glendale, Ariz., 6:07 p.m. Thursday, Connecticut vs. Purdue, about 8:30 p.m., Memphis vs. Missouri. Dick Enberg and Jay Bilas.
East Regional, Boston, 6:27 p.m. Thursday, Pittsburgh vs. Xavier, about 9 p.m. Duke vs. Villanova. Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery.
Midwest Regional, Indianapolis, 6:07 p.m., Louisville vs. Arizona, about 8:30 p.m., Kansas vs. Michigan State. Gus Johnson and Len Elmore.
Although Billy Packer has retired from CBS, he is still providing analysis on the NCAA tournament. Teaming with Bob Knight, his “Billy Packer’s Survive and Advance” airs at midnight Sunday on FSOK. A repeats airs at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Barkley’s hit list
Charles Barkley reveals his golf “hit list” on this week’s episode of “The Haney Project,” 8 p.m. Monday on Golf Channel. Philadelphia sports talk host, Howard Eskin, who is on the “Top 7,” has vowed to run around the golf course in his underwear if Barkley ever beats him.
The Top 7 are the people who have ticked Barkley off and wants to beat on the golf course:
1. Michael Jordan
2. Tiger Woods
3, Dave the Bartender, CHOPS Restaurant & Bar in Philadelphia.
4. Howard Eskin, sports radio personality for WIP-AM in Philadelphia.
5. Roy Green, former NFL wide receiver.
6. Seth Joyner, former NFL linebacker.
7. Jim Murphy, director of golf at Gainey Ranch Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.