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CBS embarrasses itself during blackout

stanhope column sig2

By
From page B1 | February 05, 2013 |

Super Bowl XLVII was as bad as it gets.

Not the play-calling – I don’t know football well enough to seriously question the play-calling of two guys (Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman) who are widely considered brilliant.

Not the officiating – although refusing to make a call at the end of the game inserts you in the action, rather than removing you  (the flaw in the “let the players decide it” theory of non-calls by officials).

Not even the power outage.

The worst thing by far was CBS’s performance when the power went out at the Superdome. We were left with 34 minutes of . . .

Well . . .

Nothing.

The power went out at the biggest event of the year for CBS and we were left with no actual reporting on the network. Instead, we got Steve Tasker and Solomon Wilcots stammering on the sidelines, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms sitting uncomfortably close in the play-by-play booth and worst of all, a group of blathering hyenas (Dan Marino, Sterling Sharpe, Bill Cowher) trying to fill time with an outmatched James Brown.

Really, CBS? The power goes out and no one finds out whether it’s out beyond the Superdome, whether there are backup plans, if the reason for the delay is technological or practical or what kind of timeline there is to restore it? (Other than continually insisting it will start again “in 15 minutes.”)

This is CBS. This is the network of “60 Minutes” and Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather.

Remember when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit during the World Series? Play-by-play man Al Michaels turned into an anchorman, all the ABC sports folks became news reporters and we found out what was going on.

More than two decades later on CBS – in a much less-serious, but equally confusing situation –  we got to hear Marino and Sharpe shout opinions on how it would affect the teams (if you’re unsure, at least be loud, Shannon!). We got to hear Cowher mumble a few platitudes. Then we got to hear them all do it again and again and again.

And again.

Filling time, while we learned nothing.

I hate halftime shows on networks, where ex-jocks compete to be loudest and to laugh at things that are mildly entertaining. On Sunday night, we got to see those guys in a less-structured environment. They were exposed as incompetent.

CBS did OK broadcasting the game. The endless pregame and postgame shows were standard. The halftime show was OK.

But the performance by the “Tiffany Network” – its name during its golden age, due to its high-quality programming – during the power blackout was worse than Chris Culliver’s performance covering receivers. It was worse than the official who swallowed his whistle when Michael Crabtree was held on fourth-and-goal in the final minutes. It was worse than Phil Simms’ refusal to actually criticize officials for missing obvious calls.

CBS Sports embarrassed itself on Sunday.

Reach Brad Stanhope at 427-6958 or bstanhope@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bradstanhope.

Brad Stanhope

Brad Stanhope

Brad Stanhope is the Daily Republic's news editor. He began his career at the DR in the last millennium. He spent 17 years as a sports editor and three years as the associate editor before spending three years away from the newspaper (though continuing as a columnist). He returned in December 2010 as news editor. Brad lives in Suisun City with his wife, Mrs. Brad, and two sons. He enjoys cheese.
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