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Sooners-Huskers, Bruins-Trojans Top a Saturday Bonanza

November 20, 1987|Larry Stewart

What a lineup: Saturday's smorgasbord of sports viewing should be enough to satisfy even the heartiest appetite.

The entrees are Oklahoma-Nebraska on CBS at 12:30 p.m., PST, and UCLA-USC on ABC at 12:45 p.m. As appetizers, CBS offers Notre Dame-Penn State at 9 a.m., and ABC offers Ohio State-Michigan at 9:25 a.m.

Side dishes include NBC's four hours of Breeders' Cup coverage, beginning at 11 a.m., and ESPN's college basketball, preseason No. 1-ranked Syracuse against No. 3 North Carolina in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off game, at 11:30 a.m.

For desert, there's a title fight on HBO at 7 p.m., Edwin Rosario vs. Julio Cesar Chavez. Chavez, from Culiacan, Mexico, is said to be 54-0 with 44 knockouts. Rosario, from Puerto Rico, is 26-2 with 22 knockouts.

Because the daytime lineup is so strong, audiences will be fragmented, and that will hurt ratings. Also, there will be a lot of channel-switching.

No. 1 Nebraska vs. No. 2 Oklahoma is probably the biggest regular-season college football game since those two met on Thanksgiving Day in 1971 under the same circumstances. Nebraska was No. 1, Oklahoma No. 2 and both were undefeated.

But despite the appeal of Saturday's game, the rating doesn't figure to be very high because of the competition.

"I'll be satisfied with a 10," said Neal Pilson, president of CBS Sports.

The last time Nos. 1 and 2 met in a regular-season game was on Sept. 27, 1986, when Oklahoma and Miami squared off on CBS, and the national rating was 12.4.

One good thing about the UCLA-USC coverage: Steve Alvarez, the sideline reporter who again made a fool of himself during last Saturday's Washington-UCLA telecast, has the day off.

Jockey Gary Stevens, who suffered a broken ankle at Santa Anita last Saturday, has been added to the Breeders' Cup crew. He'll work with hosts Dick Enberg and Tom Hammond.

Arranging the assignment was jockey Chris McCarron, who worked for NBC on last year's Breeders' Cup after he had suffered a broken leg.

Kind of gives new meaning to the old show-biz line, "Break a leg."

A lot has been written about NBC being saddled with a ratings loser. But Michael Weisman, NBC Sports' executive producer, isn't complaining about the Breeders' Cup.

"It's become a major sporting event in a short period of time," Weisman said. "Look at the newspaper coverage it gets. And the sponsors are happy because the event is watched by the kind of people they want to reach."

In a lighter vein, however, Weisman, who will oversee Saturday's coverage, said: "I wish we had a monitor in the truck so I could watch Oklahoma-Nebraska."

CBS' Pilson, told of Weisman's quip, said facetiously: "I wish we had a monitor in the truck so I could watch the Breeders' Cup." Pilson will be in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday.

Ross Greenburg, who will produce the coverage of the Rosario-Chavez bout at the Las Vegas Hilton, calls it a "boxing fan's fight."

"This is an important fight for us because it shows boxing fans we are interested in top-quality fights, not just putting two big names together," Greenburg said. "This fight features two world champions, and there should be nonstop action."

Chavez, the World Boxing Council's super-featherweight champion, is stepping up in class in an effort to take Rosario's World Boxing Assn. lightweight title.

Chavez is a slight favorite, and one reason is that Rosario is battling a weight problem. HBO, while putting together a prefight feature, discovered that Rosario, instead of losing weight, had gained six pounds in one week and was at 148 Nov. 6. He must weigh 135 at today's weigh-in.

Add boxing: HBO is very close to signing a deal with Mike Tyson that will pay him $27 million to fight six to eight times on the pay-cable network. The package includes his Jan. 23 bout with Larry Holmes, plus a bout March 21 in Tokyo, probably against either Carl (the Truth) Williams or Tim Witherspoon.

Tyson will also appear on HBO in another capacity. He and Larry Merchant will be the hosts of a one-hour special, "Boxing's Greatest Knockouts," to be televised Dec. 15. Tyson is a knowledgeable boxing historian.

Retort: Lisa Bowman of KABC Radio, responding to a shot Ed Bieler took at Tommy Hawkins in this space last week, had this to say:

"I worked side-by-side with Tommy for three years, both on and off the air. We shared an office and worked in close quarters. Together, we laughed, cried and disagreed.

"I just want to say, behind his warmth is more warmth. He has always been a pioneer, and I think the job of Dodger director of communications is a natural for him."

CBS basketball commentators Billy Cunningham and Billy Packer were in town this week to attend a promotional luncheon in Beverly Hills.

Cunningham happened to mention that his all-time hero is Joe DiMaggio. So, who is Packer's?

"My hero is Judge Wapner," Packer said. "When his show ('People's Court') is on, no one in my family talks and no one answers the phone. I'm so into it, I pick the winner as soon as they make the introductions."

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