Reporting from La Quinta — Thank goodness Jack Nicklaus turned 70 on Thursday.
Because if you are the Golf Channel and you're televising the Bob Hope Classic for three hours on that afternoon and there is no golf and only rain, you've got time to fill.
Billy Andrade, who along with Judy Rankin is a new member of the Golf Channel team, said he was enjoying the free-flowing, on-the-fly experience Thursday. For example, he got to tell of his first meeting with Nicklaus.
It was when Andrade was playing college golf at Wake Forest when Nicklaus' son, Jackie, was playing at North Carolina. Jackie invited Andrade home to Florida.
"I hadn't played in six or seven weeks, I had a new set of clubs and all of a sudden Jackie says big Jack is joining us," Andrade said.
Jack, Jackie, Andrade and a fourth played 18 holes, Jackie and Andrade against Jack and partner.
"We're on the 18th and Big Jack had a putt to win. I turned to Jackie and asked, 'What are our chances?' Jackie looked at me and said that's the dumbest question I could possibly ask. He said, 'My dad doesn't miss.' He didn't miss."
Andrade and Rankin also both said they hoped Tiger Woods would speak about the ongoing story of marital infidelities, a possible stay at a sexual rehabilitation clinic and anything else scandalous before he returns to a golf tournament.
"If he doesn't," Andrade said, "it's going to be hard on everybody including the other golfers. It might be better if he speaks first at a place that isn't open to the public, in a more controlled environment."
Rankin suggested that while golf needs Woods, it is a reciprocal arrangement.
"Whenever Tiger reappears I think he has a responsibility to make it the least disruptive for the players," Rankin said. "It's going to be tough when Tiger comes back and I think he needs to impose his baggage on others as little as possible."
The NFL Network will offer extensive coverage of practices for the Under Armour Senior Bowl next week and while that might not seem the most exciting programming, USC fans in particular might have interest in seeing Stafon Johnson back on the football field.
Johnson is the tailback who suffered a life-threatening injury to his throat in a weightlifting accident last fall, and the practices will be in front of NFL coaches and scouting personnel.
The NFL Network coverage begins Monday at 12:30 p.m. The game will be televised Jan. 30 at 1 p.m. Other Trojans on the roster are Taylor Mays, Charles Brown, Jeff Byers and Anthony McCoy.
If you want to see golfers ranked higher than 37th in the world, check out the Golf Channel's coverage of the Abu Dhabi Championship at 5:30 a.m. For a taste of who's hot in skiing (the Olympics are coming, you know), Universal Sports has the FIS World Cup women's Super G at 9:30 a.m. from Italy. To complete your world sports tour, sample cycling's Tour Down Under ( Lance Armstrong in the field) from Adelaide, Australia, on Versus at 3 p.m. (unless, of course, you get your television feed from DirecTV. Still no Versus because of an ongoing contract dispute).
Which ladies will represent the U.S. at the Olympics next month? You can find out by watching the national championship ladies free skate from Spokane at 9 p.m. on Channel 4. Representing UCLA at the East/West Shrine game at noon on ESPN2 will be wide receiver Terrence Austin, inside linebacker Reggie Carter, fullback Ryan Moya and cornerback Alterraun Verner.
Jim Nantz (Andrade's favorite announcer) and Phil Simms have the call of the New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts AFC Championship game on Channel 2 at 3 p.m. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will have the Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints NFC contest on Channel 11 at 3:30 p.m.
If you've missed out-of-market hockey games on Versus because of carrier problems, Channel 4 offers up Pittsburgh at Philadelphia at 9:30 a.m. Tennis fans are already aware of ESPN2's expansive and excellent Australian Open coverage. If you're not one of those, check it out anyway, at 8 a.m. (tape delay), 4 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. (Monday technically, unless you're in Melbourne where it's already Tuesday).