The New Year's Day Bowl Poll is in. My poll.
--Best telecast: The Rose Bowl on NBC. Coverage of Wednesday's big five bowl games was generally very good. But the team of director Harry Coyle and announcers Dick Enberg and Merlin Olsen was hard to top for all-around competence and consistency, edging the Orange Bowl on NBC and the Sugar Bowl on ABC. More than any other crew working bowl day, this one seemed to be on the spot with the timeliest commentary and the best shots from the best angles.
--Best announcers: Another close call. You could make a good case for NBC's Don Criqui and Bob Trumpy at the Orange Bowl or ABC's dependable Keith Jackson and Frank Broyles at the Sugar Bowl. Those smoothies Enberg and Olsen get the edge as the silkiest and most literate team, though. Nothing fancy, just solid and always on target. They're not chic or glamorous. They just fit.
--Most valuable analyst: Broyles, the Sugar Bowl. You just can't imagine ABC covering the Sugar Bowl without Arkansas athletic director Broyles, who seems to know more about the collegiate game than any other single analyst working college football telecasts.
--Cloudiest crystal ball: Sam Rutigliano, Fiesta Bowl, NBC. At one point, when Michigan was about to score on Nebraska, Rutigliano predicted that Michigan "will probably throw on second and third downs." Instead, Michigan ran the ball for a touchdown on second down.
Later, when losing Nebraska was driving near the Michigan goal, Rutigliano predicted that Nebraska would give the ball to its star back Doug DuBose for the score, then "line up for the onside kick and recover it." Instead, quarterback Steve Taylor carried the ball for the score. And Nebraska then kicked off deep instead of trying an onside kick. Sor-r-r-r-y!
--Most revealing camera shots: There were two. One came during CBS coverage of the Cotton Bowl and showed that Auburn quarterback Jeff Burger should have been penalized for being across the line of scrimmage when he completed an important pass against Texas A&M. The other, from NBC, showed that a critical Oklahoma pass reception against Penn State in the fourth quarter of the Orange Bowl should have been ruled either incomplete or an Oklahoma fumble.
--Least revealing camera shot: Again, during the Cotton Bowl, when CBS showed Texas A&M coach Jackie Sherrill's reaction to his team's last-second touchdown, instead of showing the touchdown. Granted, it was a meaningless score, but less meaningless than the live picture of Sherrill.
--Best player intros: The Orange Bowl, when NBC showed not only the pictures of starting players, but also diagrams of their positions on the field.
--Worst player intros: The Sugar Bowl, where ABC thought it would be cute to show the starting lineups dressed as Mississippi riverboat gamblers. ABC thought wrong. Have you ever seen a riverboat gambler with a Size 20 neck?
--Biggest upset: The Rose Bowl telecast, when NBC aired no beer commercials during the first quarter and only three for the first half. Who would have thought there would be fewer beer spots in the half than Iowa turnovers? It was sobering.
--Granddaddy cliche of the day: NBC promoting the Rose Bowl as "the granddaddy of them all."
--Second-biggest cliche: Referring to backs as "running for daylight," a specialty of Brent Musburger and Ara Parseghian at the Cotton Bowl.
--Best line: From Broyles, who said about speedy Tennessee wide receiver Tim McGee, "When he's even, he's leavin'. "
--Second-best line: From Rutigliano, who remarked that the Michigan defense must look as confusing to Nebraska's freshman quarterback Taylor as "Times Square on New Year's Eve."
"Most overused word in a telecast: "Key," as in "key play" and "key down" and "key call." To Rutigliano in particular, nearly everything that happened during the Fiesta Bowl was a "key" something or other. You had the feeling that he was going to announce that Michigan's victory was the "key" to Nebraska's loss.
Most baffling observation: again by Rutigliano (I'm not picking on him, honestly). He remarked, when Nebraska needed five points to beat Michigan, that "the field goal means absolutely nothing to Nebraska, because if you kick a field goal, you can't come back for two points." True. But Nebraska could always hit a grand-slam home run.
--Best half-time show: The Orange Bowl, a flashy Walt Disney laser spectacular.
--Biggest 5 o'clock shadow: Singer Lee Greenwood, during the Sugar Bowl half-time show.
--Most integrity by a network: ABC during the Sugar Bowl, when it promptly announced Penn State as scoring first in the Orange Bowl on NBC, taking a chance that its Sugar Bowl viewers would then switch channels. On New Year's Days past, networks sometimes did not post scores of simultaneous bowl games on opposing networks for fear of losing viewers.
--Softest interview: Musburger's taped Cotton Bowl half-time chat with Texas A&M coach Sherrill, whose football program has been accused of violating NCAA rules. Soft? Squishy is more like it.
--Best block: A yard marker screening an NBC camera during an instant replay at the Rose Bowl.
--Worst artist: Bob Griese, operating NBC's "telestrator" (a euphemism for chicken scratchings) at the Orange Bowl.
--Biggest threat: From NBC's Bob Costas, who said after the Orange Bowl, "If you haven't had enough football, we'll be with you over the weekend."