Crimson Media Watch: Is he really that bad?

ESPN COLOR COMMENTATOR MATT MILLEN

THE COUGS are on ESPN on Saturday night and from a broadcasting perspective, there's plenty of intrigue when considering the crew that will call the game.

Joe Tessitore will handle the play-by-play and he's generally solid, though he took some dubious shots at the Cougs a few years back when on the Friday night games. But the real interest Saturday night from a broadcasting angle resides with the color man and sideline reporter.

Matt Millen will provide the booth analysis and in perusing the interwebs, he's garnered a lot of fan criticism over the years for errors and misspeaks, (Millen is also currently No. 1 in awfulannouncing.com's standings for worst CFB announcer, an award that Millen "won" last season.)

I haven't heard Millen recently and I can't recall him ever calling a Coug game*, so it will be educational to see if he a) provides analysis the casual fan might not see otherwise and b) if he makes any glaring mistakes, like saying Connor Halliday is a senior from Seattle. (*Note: An astute CF.C message boarder pointed out Millen called the WSU-BYU game season opener last year.)

The sideline reporter will be Maria Taylor. There are far too few sideline reporters who provide actual insight and also have the reporting chops to bring viewers good intel. Mostly you get the cult of personality dreck that drives many viewers, myself included, to head butt the wall during commercial breaks. We'll see how Taylor measures up Saturday. One thing strongly in her favor – she won't have to scramble to get a clear view of the field. The former college volleyball player checks in at 6-foot-2.

Cougs vs Cardinal


The kickoff: 7 p.m., CenturyLink Field.

TV: ESPN

The line: Cardinal by 9 1/2

The series: Stanford leads 37-25-1


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FOR THOSE holding out hope of being able to cut the cord at some point, but can't right now because they'd lose too many Coug games on the Pac-12 Networks and ESPN -- there's bad, but not unexpected, news.

ESPN President John Skipper said this week cable is in "no danger of de-bundling or significant decline, and ESPN has no incentive to go a la carte," according to Josh Dickey of The Wrap. Given the staggering amount ESPN is able to charge providers per subscriber, he's right, there is no incentive for ESPN to want to become an a la carte option.

THERE'S A NEW sponsor for the Las Vegas Bowl for at least the next three years. Texas-based Royal Purple, a lubricant company, has signed on starting with this year's Dec. 21 game. The Pac 12-Mountain West game will be called the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl.

Let's all applaud them for not incorporating the word "lubricant" in the bowl's title, (Note: their products are motor-oil based.) Maybe we should all also agree the Huskies should play there the next 3 years when bowl eligible -- regardless of whether they finish below the fifth-placed Pac-12 team or not. I say purple, you say lubricant. Makes sense to me.

CF.C MESSAGE BOARDERS pointed out numerous errors by the announcing crew of Roxy Bernstein and Anthony Herron during the Pac-12 Network's broadcast of the WSU-Idaho game. And the network continued those mistakes during the Pac-12 Notebook show, where normally solid Rick Neuheisel badly misstated some WSU-centric facts and figures.

As for the game, there were production gaffes early and often. There were no replays at times after key penalties leaving viewers asking, "So what did he do?!" Bernstein gets some credit for immediately noting the Leach-Petrino spat in real time but then the broadcast inexplicably cut away, missing the rest of the exchange.

Years ago there was an article on the huge amount of hours Al Michaels put in during the week, studying the two teams' players and everything else on the game he was about to broadcast. Whatever prep time some of the Pac-12 teams are putting in, it's not enough. Some mistakes are inevitable but the high volume of errors shouldn't be happening, not at this stage of their second season of broadcasting Pac-12 games.

That said, it's easier for me to overlook some of it. I'm still eternally grateful that every Cougar game has been televised since the beginning of the 2012 season -- and that absolutely doesn't happen without the Pac-12 Networks, who broadcast half of all WSU football games played last year and have shown two of the four played so far. But that honeymoon period is also coming to an end.

BY THE WAY, it's past time for DISH to clean up their act. The WSU-Idaho game broadcast didn't begin until the kickoff had been received. Setting your DVR for the first Pac-12 game in HD on Saturday means you also record the entire hour before the game starts. Worst of all, the HD schedule on DISH isn't updated until Thursday, so you have to wait until then to set your DVR for those games.

There is no legitimate reason why this should be the case.

WHEN IT COMES to some of the great asshat broadcasters of all time, Craig James is certainly giving it his all.

James was hired in August by Fox Sports Southwest -- but was summarily let go after Week 1, with Fox Sports saying he had not been fully vetted by headquarters. James is now threatening legal action, alleging he was fired because of his religious beliefs.

James made controversial statements during a wildly unsuccessful campaign for a U.S. Senate seat, including one where he said gay people "are going to have to answer to the Lord for their actions."

There's a lot that can be said about Craig James and the amount of earth he's scorched the past 3-4 years. But perhaps most relevant is this threat of a lawsuit -- James seems to know he's probably never going to work in TV sports again. As for James' refusal to fade into that good night and end our long national nightmare, Awful Announcing's Matt Yoder might have said it best: "Like a cockroach surviving a nuclear winter..."

The Rod Gilmore Dead Horse Beat
Rutgers 28, Arkansas 24; (ESPN)
"I'm surprised he's playing, a guy who was concussed last week." • 1st quarter, 14:55
"He was concussed last week… you've got to protect him." • 1st quarter, 0:21
"You've got to protect him… you've got to protect him more," • 1st quarter, 0:21
"They have to find a way to get enough protection..." • 2nd quarter, 14:12
"Can you protect the quarterback? It hasn't happened lately." • 2nd quarter, 8:27
"Remember, he was the guy who was concussed last week." • 3rd quarter, 15:00
"They have to find a way to make sure they get some protection for (Gary) Nova." • 3rd quarter, 9:53
"Remember, he came out of last week's game with a concussion." • 3rd quarter, 9:36
"But you've got to protect your quarterback..." • 4th quarter, 10:01

Breathtaking. Simply breathtaking.

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