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TV-Radio Notebook: UCLA-USC showdown given national stage
[November 16, 2012]

TV-Radio Notebook: UCLA-USC showdown given national stage

Nov 15, 2012 (Ventura County Star - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- How long ago it seems since USC beat UCLA last season at the Coliseum by the embarrassingly lopsided score of 50-0. UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel was fired two days later.

The Bruins have Jim Mora as their coach now and Neuheisel has his sweet, if somewhat invisible, gig as an analyst on the Pac-12 Networks. UCLA (8-2, 5-2 Pacific-12) is ranked No. 17th in the nation in both the BCS and AP rankings.

Meanwhile, Trojans coach Lane Kiffin and others had visions of another national championship trophy to display in Heritage Hall along with a Heisman Trophy for Matt Barkley. But USC is 7-3 and 5-3 and ranked 18th in the BCS standings and 21st in the AP poll.

It's the first time UCLA has had a better record and been ranked higher in this game than USC since 2001. The two teams meet again Saturday at the Rose Bowl (Fox, noon) and while USC is still a 3 { -point favorite, this scenario is not what most people expected to find at this point of the season.

The winner of the game will represent the Pac-12 South in the conference championship game in two weeks. UCLA's seniors are looking for their first win against USC, which is trying to bounce back from Pac-12 losses to Stanford, Arizona and Oregon.

The noon kickoff on national broadcast TV in itself shows the importance and greater respect the crosstown rivalry is getting this season. Last year it was relegated to nighttime regional TV.

Fox analyst Charles Davis says UCLA has definitely exceeded expectations this year.

"Jim Mora brings a degree of toughness that a lot of people thought was lacking at UCLA," Davis said. "It's not just a physical toughness, but a mental one too. UCLA did have talent left after Rick Neuheisel left, but I'm not sure too many people saw (the South title) coming down to the USC-UCLA game. Jim Mora knows how to coach and they are now playing in his image." BYE, MIKE; HI, MIKE Mike Brown is gone and Mike D'Antoni is in as coach of the Lakers and there are kudos and complaints for Time Warner Cable SportsNet in its coverage of the transition.

SportsNet scored the first TV interview with D'Antoni on Tuesday from his home in New York. For a new network that has only been on the air since Oct. 1, that was an impressive coup.

But when the shocking D'Antoni hiring took place early Monday morning, SportsNet was nowhere to be found. While networks like ESPN and the NBC Sports Network and local channels were bubbling about the hiring -- as well as about Phil Jackson's snub -- Time Warner Cable SportsNet was showing "Heads-Up Poker." Meanwhile, TWC SportsNet has hired former Laker Robert Horry to do in-studio analysis for select games this season. His first game will be Tuesday when the Lakers play the Brooklyn Nets.

OTHER NOTES ESPN signed deals this week to carry the Sugar and Orange bowls through 2026. The deal will reportedly pay the Sugar Bowl $80 million a year and the Orange $55 million. ... Jim Bell, who was executive producer for NBC's London Olympics coverage, has left his job on the "Today" show to be the network's full-time Olympic executive producer. The Sochi Winter Games are 14 months away. ...

Roy Jones Jr., the analyst for HBO's "Boxing After Dark" series, will replace the late Emanuel Steward for the rest of the network's boxing events this year. Steward died Oct. 25. ... HBO's "24/7: Pacquiao/Marquez 4" series, probing preparations for the Dec. 8 Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight, debuts at 12:15 a.m. Saturday (Sunday morning). ... NBC's "Sunday Night Football" is the No. 1 TV program of the prime-time season. It has a 12.8 rating and 21.2 million viewers through 11 games, down slightly from 12.9 and 21.3 million last year. ... CBS Sports Network signed a two-year deal to televise Arena Football games on Saturday nights starting in March. The Arena Bowl will be shown on CBS.

___ (c)2012 Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.) Visit Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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