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Media column: ESPN's creative plan for Monday's championship game; Dolphins take over UM; Fins, UM TV notes

FRIDAY MEDIA COLUMN

ESPN’s novel “Megacast” coverage of the BCS championship game last January was such a success that the Worldwide Leader is predictably repeating that strategy on Monday’s Oregon-Ohio State national title game.

If you prefer to watch traditional coverage, tune to ESPN. One big difference from last year’s FSU-Auburn championship: Chris Fowler, not Brent Musburger, will be calling the game with Kirk Herbstreit. A traditional ESPN Radio broadcast will air locally on 104.3 The Ticket, with Mike Tirico and Todd Blackledge.

But if you crave something different, here’s a look at your options:

### On ESPN2, Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, new Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi and new Nebraska coach Mike Riley (along with ESPN analysts Chris Spielman and Tom Luginbill) offer detailed analysis of the game as it happens from a film room equipped with multiple camera angles, coaches clicker technology and a Telestrator.

This “Film Room” presentation was the highlight of ESPN’s championship game Megacast last January, because of the excellent work of then-Pittsburgh (and now Wisconsin) coach Paul Chryst, Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin and Boston College’s Steve Addazio.

The coaches and commentators were more conversational than during a traditional game broadcast, and the coaches even predicted an FSU fake punt moments before it happened.

### On ESPNU, fans can eavesdrop on ESPN personalities watching the game from a "viewing theater." Among those scheduled to appear: Jay Bilas, Aaron Boone, Julie Foudy, Barry Melrose, Mark Schlereth and Michael Wilbon.

If last year was any indication, this option is best in small doses, unless you really enjoy watching people watch television and listening to their conversations.

During last year’s championship, the funniest moment on the “ESPN Voices” channel were unintentional, including actress Cheryl Hines asking if the person who snaps the ball to the quarterback is called the snapper, then admitting, "I could have Googled it before I got here."

### ESPNEWS is offering “Off the Ball,” described as “an inside look at the way former players and coaches – and current ESPN analysts – look at plays away from the ball,” focusing on matchups in the trenches, wide receivers against defensive backs, etc. Bob Wischusen anchors, joined by Kevin Carter, Matt Millen, Jason Sehorn, Matt Stinchcomb and Amani Toomer.

### ESPN Classic will present an announcer-less broadcast featuring only natural sounds of the game (from 100 microphones positioned throughout the stadium) and halftime performances by both bands. But four out of five doctors say silence on a sports telecast can induce lethargy, and you might be surprised how much you miss the announcers.

### ESPN Deportes airs the game in Spanish.

### ESPN3.com, the network’s broadband service, will offer five video options: a broadcast with the radio call of each school; a perspective of the game from a “Spidercam” positioned over the stadium; another perspective from the student section of each team, showcasing “how the most enthusiastic fans in the building are living and dying with every play” (I’ll pass); and a “data center” with on-screen graphic content including analytics and social media reaction.

### The “Command Center,” available on ESPN’s Goal Line, serves up a commercial free broadcast featuring the ESPN Radio call and a split screen, with one half showing live action and the other offering replays, stats and isolated camera feeds.

AROUND THE DIAL

### HBO transformed UM into Dolphins-land the past two days, placing Dolphins logos outside the athletic offices, on the practice field and inside the football locker-room as it films Ballers, a 10-episode fictional series debuting in June. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars as a former player who becomes a financial advisor to pro athletes and helps them sort through life issues.

Several pro athletes appear, including three current Dolphins (Jared Odrick, Will Davis and Dannell Ellerbe), former UM and NFL tight end Jeremy Shockey, Raiders defensive end LaMarr Woodley, New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz, ex-NFL running back Rashard Mendenhall (who’s also a consultant on the project) and Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer.

HBO wanted Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill to appear, but he had a schedule conflict.

The series filmed a fictitious Dolphins practice this week, but HBO said only one NFL player participated: Jaguars receiver Arrelious Benn.

The show is being produced by actor Mark Wahlberg and producer Stephen Levinson, who previously worked together on hit shows Entourage and Boardwalk Empire. HBO said some taping was done at UM, not at Dolphins headquarters, for logistical reasons.

### After initially canceling Sports Final, NBC 6 management changed its mind and decided to continue airing the market’s longest-running Sunday night sports show, with Stefano Fusaro anchoring.

### Among markets with only one NFL team, Dolphins ratings in Miami-Fort Lauderdale were the lowest of any NFL market this season, just like last year. The highest-rated: 22.2 for the Denver game. Lowest-rated: 14.0 for the finale against the Jets.

Overall, Dolphins games averaged a 16.9 rating, down from a 17.7 in 2012 and 17.1 in 2013.

### Conversely, the 10 UM football games that aired on ABC or one of the ESPN networks averaged a 7.3 rating in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale market. The three highest: UM-FSU with a 16.2, the UM-Louisville opener with a 9.0 and UM vs. South Carolina in the Independence Bowl with a 7.0. The lowest: UM-Pittsburgh with a 4.3.

### Most watched regular-season NFL game this season? Philadelphia-Dallas on Thanksgiving.

### In past years, CBS and Fox would each get two NFL divisional playoff games this weekend. But this year, NBC and CBS will each televise one and Fox two because of a change in the TV contract that moved one of NBC’s Saturday wild card games to ESPN and one of the divisional games to NBC. Next year, that NBC divisional playoff game will be taken from Fox.

### The New York Times announced this week that Knicks beat writer Scott Cacciola will get "a break from such woeful basketball," because the Knicks "appear to have officially given up on this season….

“He deserves to see the game played at a higher level. For the next month or so, we would like to point him to some good, quality basketball, wherever it may be. Any suggestions?"

### Please see our last post for our analysis of Al Golden's media tour this week. And one quick update from that post: We noted last night that insidetheu.com was reporting that defensive tackle Earl Moore is transferring. But a UM spokesman and Moore's mother told The Herald today that Moore is not transferring.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz 

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