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Scott D. Pierce: At times, radio games trump TV

Published: Friday, Dec. 12 2008 12:18 a.m. MST

OK, so, sometimes radio is better than TV.

We (re)discovered that on Wednesday while watching the Utah and BYU men's basketball teams play.

Utah's game was relatively close from beginning to end and came down to the final seconds, when a missed Ute 3-pointer could have taken the game into overtime. And, lo and behold, The mtn. announcers Rich Cellini and Dave Bollwinkel paid attention to the game up until those final seconds.

Whereas later on Wednesday, BYU's win over Boise State quickly turned into a rout in the second half and The mtn.'s announcers, James Bates and Andy Toolson, lost interest in what was happening on the floor. Feeling the need to fill time, at times they blabbered about anything but the game.

Gee, I'll bet Cougar fans were REALLY interested in seeing the statistician's engagement ring. (I'm betting there weren't many Bronco fans still watching at that point.)

The thing about radio is that, even if the game is a huge blowout, the sportcasters still have to tell listeners what's happening because they can't show them what's happening. And they can't just blather on about nothing.

So sometimes radio is better than TV.

We don't know what will happen when Utah takes on Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, but we do know who'll tell us what happens.

Fox has announced that Kenny Albert will handle the play-by-play, with former Dallas Cowboys fullback Daryl Johnston doing color commentary and Charissa Thompson and Chris Myers reporting from the sidelines.

Ute fans shouldn't feel slighted that Fox won't have its BCS "lead play-by-play announcer" Thom Brennaman and "lead analyst" Charles Davis in New Orleans to do their game. That team will be spending its time in Miami to do not only the BCS championship game between Florida and Oklahoma on Jan. 8 but the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1.

That would be the Orange Bowl featuring four-loss Virginia Tech and two-loss Cincinnati.

And that would be, perhaps, the first Orange Bowl featuring two teams that could each be beaten by at least a third of the teams in the Mountain West Conference.

Don't you just love the BCS?

The greatest game ever played, which premieres Sunday at 6 p.m. on ESPN, is great viewing for NFL fans.

It's more than just a recounting of the 1958 NFL championship game — the only one that ever went into overtime. It's a re-creation of the contest from various archival films (the TV broadcast was lost long ago). It's interviews with people who were there — players, journalists and fans. It's matching players then with their counterparts on the Giants and the Colts now.

There's even an analysis of the play that remains controversial half a century later. Did the Giants pick up a critical first down or not?

The only real flaw is the self-congratulatory nature of the opening segment, in which ESPN does what ESPN always does — pats itself on the back for how great it is.

(Oooh, we see the game in color for the very first time because the black-and-white film was — gasp! — "colorized by top experts in the field.")

But just ignore Chris Berman's bragging and watch "The Greatest Game Ever Played." It's worth it.

E-mail: pierce@desnews.com

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