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Wishful thinking for 2010 sports radio and television

By Leonard Shapiro
Special to washingtonpost.com
Thursday, December 24, 2009;

If it's the holiday season, it's time to ask, with our annual nod toward the Beach Boys:

Wouldn't it be nice to give ESPN analyst Bob Knight a pat on the back for taking a well-deserved verbal chair-throw at Kentucky Coach John Calipari? Speaking at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame last week, Knight said: "We've gotten into a situation where integrity is really lacking and that's why I'm glad I'm not coaching. You see, we've got a coach at Kentucky who put two schools on probation [Massachusetts and Memphis] and he's still coaching. I really don't understand that." While some of us still don't understand how the NCAA almost always looked the other way regarding Knight's boorish and occasionally out-of-control behavior at Indiana, at least the vast majority of his players graduated and he ran what appeared to be clean programs.

Wouldn't it really be nice if ESPN assigned Knight to a big Kentucky game, preferably in Lexington, later in the season? Talk about must-see TV.

Wouldn't it be nice if one of our intrepid local sportscasters got Daniel Snyder on camera the day he announces his next head coach and asked him point-blank why he treated Jim Zorn so shabbily this season?

Wouldn't it be nice to hear one more time "You're Next" from Ken Beatrice, "Touchdown, Washington Redskins!!!" from Frank Herzog, "Let's go to the videotape" from Warner Wolf or "Let me take you out to FedEx Field" from George Michael? Or reprise the late, great Glenn Brenner's Weenie of the Week?

Wouldn't it be nice to give Nationals analyst Rob Dibble a pat on the back for constantly calling out the players for not seeming to care very much about all that losing toward the end of Manny Acta's regime last season?

Wouldn't it be nice if Al Koken and Brian Mitchell, both let go by Snyder-owned ESPN 980 for being too critical of the Redskins, could team up on their own sports talk show over at WJFK, the better to shorten the marathon Mike Wise and LaVar Arrington shows by an hour each?

Wouldn't it be nice to congratulate the great Johnny Holliday for one of the most remarkable sports broadcasting careers in Washington history, truly a man for all seasons and all formats, radio play-by-play on Maryland football and basketball, television for Nats pre- and postgame studio shows and occasional dinner theater gigs just for fun?

Wouldn't it be nice if Sonny and Sam stayed in the Redskins radio booth as long as they both can talk and chew gum at the same time? I know, I know: Sometimes the language gets mangled, there's more than a hint of homer-ism and they occasionally get off point. But you just don't mess with an institution.

Wouldn't it be nice to give credit to the NFL Network for using longtime and now retired broadcaster Pat Summerall to do voiceovers on lead-ins and occasional game promos for Thursday night football games?

Wouldn't it really be nice to persuade John Madden to briefly come out of retirement and broadcast a meaningful game with Summerall one more time, reprising one of the greatest broadcast teams in sports television history?

Wouldn't it be nice if ESPN analyst Jon Gruden toned down the hyperbole and stopped praising every player and coach on the planet during "Monday Night Football"? Wouldn't it be nicer if I didn't always have to ask myself whether it's Gruden talking, or Ron Jaworski? They really do sound alike.

Wouldn't it be nice to sing the praises of NBC broadcast rookies Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison? They've been outstanding additions to the network's Sunday night studio show, with both men often offering strong and more than occasionally controversial comments, including Harrison taking several heavy shots at his former New England Patriots coach, Bill Belichick. Can't wait to hear their appraisal of the Redskins this weekend before Sunday night's game against the Cowboys.

Wouldn't it be nice if every time I saw Jimmy Johnson on television I didn't keep thinking he was the head coach at Oklahoma State when Dexter Manley sort of went to school there, and was a functional illiterate after three years in college?

Wouldn't it be nice to give a shout-out to Washington's very own James Brown for being named the best network studio host of the last decade by Sports Illustrated?

Wouldn't it be nice to commiserate with Wizards longtime voices Dave Johnson (radio) and Steve Buckhantz and Phil Chenier (TV) for having to call so many losses over so many seasons? Still, they bring their A-game enthusiasm to the press table every night. No easy task.

Wouldn't it be nice if Ted Leonsis decided to forgo future corporate naming rights and simply called his building the Abe Pollin Center?

Wouldn't it be nice if Craig Laughlin and Joe Beninati had a chance to broadcast the Stanley Cup finals, with the Washington Capitals playing for the title?

Wouldn't it be nice if all network lead golf announcers and analysts tell it exactly like it is and ask all the tough questions when Tiger Woods decides to come back to tournament golf?

Wouldn't it be nice to say that Cris Collinsworth has been a worthy and thoroughly competent replacement for Madden in the NBC booth, even if his presence is missed in the studio?

Wouldn't it be nice to give some props to Nationals radio voice Charlie Slowes, one of the more underrated play-by-play guys in the game?

Wouldn't it be nice if local television news directors started giving their sports segments an extra two or three minutes of time at 6 and 11 instead of the slam-bam, quickie highlights that leave virtually no time for commentary or much in-depth reporting?

Wouldn't it be nice if Warren Sapp offered any insight whatsoever in his appearances on Showtime's weekly NFL show?

Wouldn't it be nice to see former Ravens coach Brian Billick move up the network food chain and become one of the lead NFL analysts at Fox?

Wouldn't it be nicer if one of his former players, Tony Siragusa, actually had something interesting to say from his weekly sideline perch?

Wouldn't it be nice to see mixed martial arts remain a niche minor league cable sport and never again on network television?

Wouldn't it be nice if Mike and Mike in the morning on ESPN 980 didn't constantly suck up to every athlete and coach they bring on the air for an interview?

Wouldn't it be nice to hope for a healthy new year for Bryant Gumbel, the host of HBO's "Real Sports," the best sports anthology show on television? Gumbel recently revealed he had undergone surgery for lung cancer earlier this year.

Wouldn't it be nice to wish one and all a safe, healthy and happy holiday season and a glorious new year?

Leonard Shapiro can be reached at Len.Shapiro@washingtonpost.com.

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