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Personnel changes in the booth bring a new look and sound to the broadcasts of NFL, NBA games.

September 15, 2002|Josh Friedman, Daryl H. Miller, Mark Sachs, Scott Sandell and Jonathan Taylor

When the National Football League's season kicked off on Thursday, Sept. 5--the first time in 50 years it started on a weekday--it brought big changes to the broadcast booth.

Pat Summerall has retired from the Fox roster, and his partner, John Madden, now joins Al Michaels on ABC's "Monday Night Football." To replace Summerall and Madden, Fox has tabbed Joe Buck, their lead baseball play-by-play man, to sit alongside Troy Aikman and Cris Collinsworth and do the same for football.

The league's broadcast partners, however, remain the same: CBS will broadcast AFC games on Sunday afternoons, while Fox has the NFC. ESPN has its regular Sunday-night telecast, and ABC returns for its 33rd year of "Monday Night Football."

Noteworthy matchups include the New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins (CBS, Oct. 6);St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers (Fox, Oct. 6); Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (ABC, Nov. 11); Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (Fox, Dec. 1); Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day (Fox, Nov. 28); and Cowboys at Redskins (Fox, Dec. 29).

Even more change is in store for pro basketball fans, who will find their favorite sport on ESPN, ABC and TNT this year after 12 years on NBC. Under a new six-year, $4.6-billion TV package, ABC will air as many as 15 regular-season NBA games on Sundays, plus five early-round playoff games and the NBA Finals. ESPN and ESPN2 will carry 75 regular-season games, with doubleheaders on Fridays and single games on Wednesdays. ESPN will air as many as 17 early-round playoff games. TNT gets 52 regular-season games, almost all on Thursday nights, and 45 early-round playoff games. ESPN and TNT will telecast both the East and West conference finals, and the All-Star game moves to TNT. The regular season begins Oct. 29.

Golf's major tournaments are done for the year, but one significant international event remains: the Ryder Cup. Postponed last year because of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, the every-other-year tournament will be played at the Belfry in Sutton Coldfield, England. Tiger Woods, David Duval and Phil Mickelson head the American team, and Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington and Colin Montgomerie lead the Europeans. USA Networks will telecast the first day's play, Sept. 27, and NBC will carry the rest on Sept. 28 and 29.

In college football, Bowl Championship Series officials have tweaked the ranking system, eliminating margin of victory as a factor. But will this lead to fewer one-sided games? CBS, ABC, NBC, ESPN and Fox Sports Net will be the major broadcasters. Among the games to watch are: Michigan at Notre Dame (NBC, Sept. 14); Florida at Tennessee (CBS, Sept. 21); LSU at Arkansas (CBS, Nov. 29); and Army versus Navy (CBS, Dec. 7).

Major league baseball's postseason starts with the division playoff series on Oct. 1. The coverage will be split between cable's ABC Family and Fox. After that, the games are all Fox's, starting Oct. 8, with the American and National League Championship Series, and climaxing with the World Series, scheduled to open in the home park of the American League champion Oct. 19.

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