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Sports on TV: Majerus no ESPN natural

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 2 2015 3:17 a.m. MDT

I'll admit it. I was absolutely, completely wrong about Rick Majerus.
Back in May, I wrote that, "No doubt, Majerus will be great on ESPN."
He wasn't.
Oh, the new Southern California/ex-Utah coach wasn't bad. But he wasn't all that good, either.
Majerus was taking a backseat to Steve Lavin when the two were paired as analysts on ESPN telecasts. Steve Lavin? Who would've thought?
And Majerus is no dummy. He had to know he was coming off second best. Which couldn't have sat well with him.
That alone must have made it easier to walk away from the ESPN gig. And must have made it easier for ESPN to let him go.
That and the $400,000 penalty Majerus reportedly had to pay the cable network for ducking out early on his five-year contract.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST: I'm not sure I entirely believe it, but I've got to give the powers-that-be at ESPN credit for refusing to "be in the coaching carousel business" — for nixing any thought that Majerus would remain as a commentator on the network this season before he begins work coaching the Trojans next season.
ESPN executive vice president Mark Shapiro said he worried that such a deal would make it impossible for Majerus to be objective in his analysis and would taint the cable network's impartiality as well.
It would be nice if our local stations would remember that in the future. You can't hire local sports figures as analysts — as all the stations have done in the past with Jazz players and Ch. 2 did with Majerus — and maintain your journalistic integrity.

NOT WRONG: I'll readily admit to being wrong in my forecast of Majerus' broadcasting abilities. But it's nice to be right sometimes — like when a January column pointed out that the national media looked foolish by swallowing Majerus' highly suspicious resignation from Utah hook, line and sinker.
This time around, the national outlets did express some skepticism — 11 months later — about how Majerus could have been suffering life-threatening heart trouble and then jumped on a plane and flown to a different time zone.
They pretty much missed that he did that amid growing reports about his abusive behavior toward players — reports that were about to explode in even more allegations — but at least they made the link.

CSTV DISTRIBUTION: CSTV has announced deals with a slew of cable and satellite companies that it says will increase its distribution to 65 million homes.
The deals include Comcast (Utah's major cable supplier), Time Warner, Charter, Cox, Adelphia and DirecTV.
When, exactly, this rolls out remains to be seen. Over the years, similar deals have sometimes taken longer to implement than originally promised.
In 2006, the Mountain West Conference switches its TV contract from ESPN/ESPN2 (which are each available in more than 90 million homes) to CSTV.


E-mail: pierce@desnews.com

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