Comparing color man Merlin Olsen with Dawson, say, or ABC's Frank Broyles, is like matching a Rolls against a Pinto. Olsen is consistently perceptive, well reasoned and prepared in his commentary. Few others in football are close.
He always leaves you saying, "I didn't know that," which is to say he provides information you don't get elsewhere. Give the guy credit. He gets to the game site several days early and he goes to bed on New Year's Eve. CBS' John Madden is pressing him as No. 1, but whether Madden's barroom style wears well remains to be seen.
For all of Fishman's brilliance, and that of John Gonzalez on the Orange Bowl, the award for reaction shots still goes to NBC's Harry Coyle. You want to see a kicker cringe after missing a field goal? Watch Coyle's pictures.
I do have a few nits to pick overall. NBC's relentless promotion of its bowl lineup started to make me gag halfway through the Rose Bowl. There was a bit too much talk from Dick Enberg and Olsen about how glorious it was to be in Pasadena. And why wasn't there more debate over Hayden Fry's decisions to go for first downs at midfield when any Pop Warner player would have punted?