It's been a busy off-season in the football broadcasting business.
ABC lost Tim Brant, its No. 1 college commentator, to CBS.
ABC hired Bob Griese away from NBC to replace Brant on college football.
ABC hired Dan Dierdorf away from CBS for use as a third broadcaster on "Monday Night Football."
NBC, in danger of losing Bob Trumpy to ABC had that network failed to land Dierdorf, re-signed Trumpy.
ESPN, which will televise pro football for the first time this year, selected Roy Firestone, better known as interviewer and impersonator, to be its No. 1 commentator. Firestone will work with play-by-play man Mike Patrick and a different guest commentator each week.
NBC passed on Tom Brookshier, who is retiring from CBS.
And the latest development is that NBC is trying to hire Joe Namath, an ABC reject, to replace Griese as Marv Albert's partner. Reportedly, Albert recommended Namath, but money is a problem. Namath made about $800,000 with ABC, and NBC isn't willing to pay nearly that much.
Add football: Frank Gifford, who last season went from play-by-play man to commentator in a new two-announcer format, said the move back to three announcers on "Monday Night Football" doesn't bother him.
"It's the format that Roone (Arledge) came up with originally, and it's not a bad one," Gifford said from New York. "As long as it's an exciting game, the number of announcers doesn't matter. But when the game goes south, as happened a lot last season, you can use someone else to play off of."
Gifford said he is high on Dierdorf. "He's a professional," Gifford said. "Like me, he started in local news and has worked his way up."
Dierdorf, an offensive lineman for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1971 through 1983, has worked for St. Louis radio station KMOX for the last 13 years. And for the past year, he has been a sports anchor at KMOV-TV in St. Louis.
Gifford said: "I just called Dan, and we had a nice talk. He said he grew up with me. I told him that now he'll be growing old with me."
Add Gifford: He is being replaced by Al Trautwig as co-host of "Wide World of Sports." But he said it's a move that was planned all along.
Becky Dixon will remain as the other co-host.
"I was only supposed to work with Becky for one quarter," Gifford said. "After Al does his three months, Jim Palmer is scheduled to take over. I don't think there are any plans beyond that."
Fight aftermath: If you haven't seen HBO's replay of the Marvin Hagler-Sugar Ray Leonard fight, you have one more chance, Saturday at 3:30 p.m., when replay No. 5 is televised.
Technically, it's a good telecast, although announcers Barry Tompkins and Larry Merchant were remiss in not pointing out that Hagler, a southpaw, started out right-handed. It was a ploy that cost Hagler, Leonard said afterward.
But the real problem with the show is that it too closely resembles a professional wrestling telecast.
For one thing, the finish is all too pat, just as in pro wrestling, and has been questioned by some. Leonard's split-decision victory paves the way for a rematch or a Leonard-Thomas Hearns fight.
Former middleweight champion Vito Antufermo, quoted in the New York Times, said he is convinced "a deal was made" and that "the judges, the fighters and promoters" were involved.
Then there is Hagler's vehement claim of being robbed, when actually it was a close fight that could have gone either way. A call-in poll conducted by HBO has shown slightly more than 50% of its viewers believe Leonard won.
Also bothersome is that if you look closely at the telecast, you'll probably notice that many of Hagler's punches are thrown at less than full speed.
And then there is the Leonard interview at the end of the HBO telecast in which he continually prefaces hard-to-believe statements with: "To be honest about it . . . "
"To be honest about it, I never thought about losing," Leonard says. This from a 3-to-1 underdog.
When asked by Merchant about a rematch, he says, "To be honest about it, such talk is premature."
What the heck, it's only another take of at least $60 million, so why talk about it.
Add fight: It grossed $4.5 million in Southern California, with $3.9 million coming from pay-per-view cable and $600,000 from closed-circuit telecasts.
Choice Channel and Prime Ticket, co-promoters of the Southern California showings, put up a guarantee of $1.4 million, so they made a nice profit.
Rick Kulis, president of Choice Channel, said that 15,000 to 20,000 sales were lost because of cable operators' inability to take all the last-minute orders.
About 500 subscribers to ML Media Cable in Hermosa Beach were given refunds because a technical problem with the scrambling equipment prevented the telecast from behind shown.
Dave Waterman, ML Media vice president, said his company apologized through newspapers ads and also showed the HBO replays on a channel available to all its subscribers.