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Media column: Lots of NFL TV changes; Odd Dolphins decision; Golden/Shannon question

WEEKLY MEDIA COLUMN

An NFL TV primer, less than 24 hours from the regular-season opener:

### CBS and Fox combined for more personnel changes than anytime in recent history, and Dolphins fans will notice a bunch of them the next two Sundays.

Former Dolphins quarterback Trent Green, hired by CBS when Dan Dierdorf left the network, works Sunday’s Dolphins-Patriots opener with Greg Gumbel.

And CBS’ new No. 7 team --- Philadelphia Phillies announcer Tom McCarthy and former NFL safety Adam Archuleta –-- were assigned to Dolphins-Bills Sept. 14.

So why are Gumbel and Green (CBS’ No. 3 team) calling Dolphins-Patriots instead of the lead team (Jim Nantz/Phil Simms)?

CBS is sending Dolphins-Patriots to 39 percent of the country --- the highest percentage of its six games Sunday --- but CBS said Nantz and Simms were assigned to Raiders-Jets instead because that game is airing in two of the nation’s largest markets (New York and Los Angeles).

Nantz and Simms originally were assigned to Cleveland-Pittsburgh but were taken off that game when Johnny Manziel lost out in his bid to be the Browns' starter.

Still, Dolphins-Patriots is CBS' best game Sunday and warranted the presence of its lead announcing team, or at the very least, No. 2 team Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts, who were assigned to Cleveland-Pittsburgh when Nantz and Simms were taken off that game.

(For a map displaying what parts of the country are receiving the Dolphins game and other games, see 506sports.com.)

CBS' six games Sunday are all 1 p.m. starts because the network is airing U.S. Open tennis at 4:30 p.m. 49ers-Cowboys will be the Fox late game Sunday, airing in most of the country (including South Florida).

### Three CBS announcers relinquished their NFL gigs by choice: Dierdorf (now calling Michigan football on radio), Marv Albert (who wanted to focus on basketball; Spero Dedes was promoted to replace him) and Bill Macatee (Andrew Catalon replaces him on CBS’ No. 6 team).

### Because of their strong chemistry and Eagle’s excellence as a play-by-man man, CBS made the sensible move promoting Eagle and Fouts to its No. 2 team rather than having Fouts work with Gumbel, who loses his spot on the No. 2 team following Dierdorf’s departure.

What seems unjustified is slotting Green (who was mediocre during a one-year stint at Fox) alongside Gumbel at No. 3, ahead of Rich Gannon, who deserved a move up the depth chart.

Gannon will be paired with Kevin Harlan on CBS’ No. 4 team, with Dedes joining Solomon Wilcots on the fifth team.

### CBS' studio show, The NFL Today, has become younger and more contemporary by replacing Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe with Tony Gonzalez and Bart Scott.

But is the show better? That’s not as clear cut.

Marino seldom said anything memorable or particularly insightful. But Sharpe offered cutting candor and a comedic touch, which the show sorely needed. He didn’t deserve to be pushed aside.

Scott flashed potential on CBS Sports Network’s pre-game show last season, displaying a willingness to criticize without fear of angering players. But he needs to become a lot more concise.

A standout linebacker for the Ravens and Jets, Scott said he “was surprised” to get the job and passed up a chance to resume playing after a year away because “we know how rare these jobs are, Shannon being around 10 years, Dan for 12.”

I spoke for a while with Scott earlier this offseason and was impressed by the depth he displayed in discussing the Dolphins’ bullying scandal, including taking issue with Mike Pouncey’s alleged contention that Jonathan Martin isn’t “black enough.”

Said Scott: “To all the African American players who said Jonathan Martin wasn't black enough, it's totally out of line. Who made them the Martin Luther King or Malcolm X of blackness?

“The same arguments they can say about Jonathan Martin, when they have kids, those are the same things that can be said about their kids [because of their socio-economic status as children of parents with money].

“When their kids play, they are going to say they had a silver spoon in their mouth. It's not racism. It's classism. So Martin is a victim of racism and classism. I feel bad for the kid.”

### Among Fox’s changes: Brian Billick was dropped; Tim Ryan left to join the 49ers' broadcast team; Erin Andrews was promoted to lead sideline reporter, replacing Pam Oliver, who drops to the No. 2 team; and former players David Diehl, Kirk Morrison, Brady Quinn and Donovan McNabb (who already worked for Fox Sports 1) were hired as game analysts. Quinn rejoined Fox this week after being cut by the Dolphins.

### CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus told me the network’s Thursday night package that begins in Week 2 will look somewhat different from its Sunday games, even though Nantz and Simms will be in the booth.

"We're trying to establish Thursday night as a destination for programming, much like Sunday night and Monday night have become,” McManus said. “It's going to look different. From a standpoint of the graphics, the music, the new technology, it's going to be considerably ramped up with respect to what we do on Sunday afternoon.

"It will feel like a CBS telecast but it won't feel like Sunday afternoon. And we'll have elements of NFL Network in the pregame and game telecasts. Kickoff will be 8:30 p.m. We're coming on the air at 7:30 and do close to an hour pregame show. It's not unlike our Turner relationship with the NCAA, where we take the cream of the crop from Turner and CBS for the NCAA Tournament."

McManus and NFL Network officials settled on a studio cast featuring two CBS personalities (James Brown and Bill Cowher) and one NFL Net analyst who previously worked at CBS before leaving in a contract dispute (Deion Sanders).

The first eight games of CBS’ Thursday package and one December Saturday game will air on CBS and NFL Network. The other eight games will air only on NFL Net, but with CBS producing, and Nantz and Simms announcing. NBC retained the regular-season Thursday opener.

 

COLLEGE FOOTBALL MEDIA NOTES

### Even though the Hurricanes are no longer among college football’s elite, they continue to draw eyeballs. UM-Louisville was ESPN’s highest-rated game of the weekend with a 2.7 rating (equal to 2.7 percent of U.S. homes with TV sets). ABC’s most-watched game was FSU-Oklahoma State, with a 4.1.

### WQAM host and NBC 6 news anchor Adam Kuperstein posed a question this week: If Al Golden had Randy Shannon’s personality, would he still be Miami's coach?

The sense here is yes, Golden would be, because UM feels indebted to Golden for steering the program through the turbulence of the NCAA scandal --- something he knew nothing about when hired --- and increasing his win total each of the past two years.

Still, it’s an interesting question. The fact Golden is a more polished speaker than most coaches --- and the fact he's not dour and combative like Shannon could be --- likely helps him long-term if the Hurricanes continue along this undistinguished path.

But what helps Golden most are two other factors: A) This administration believes in him a lot more than  former athletic director Kirby Hocutt believed in Shannon; B) Golden has a contract that runs through the 2019 season.

By the way, Shannon was 28-22 at UM. Golden is 22-16.

### Count ESPN’s Woody Paige among those who found it laughable that UF coach Will Muschamp lifted the one-game suspensions of Darious Cummings, Jay-nard Bostwick and Demarcus Robinson even though the Idaho game was never played because of poor weather in Gainesville.

Paige, the Denver Post columnist, said on ESPN’s Around The Horn that Muschamp’s decision is “the biggest, lamest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Muschamp’s response?

"It's not just about suspending players for games. There's a lot of things that go into discipline. It's about altering and changing behavior, which we've done. I think our discipline speaks for itself and how we've handled our football team, OK?

"If it was about the suspension, you'd never have an issue. Right? At the end of the day, it's more than that. There's a lot of things that go into those situations, a lot more than people know. And it's very frustrating for me as a coach ... to have someone being critical and you don't even have all the information.”

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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