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Sports on TV: Cowher Won’t Give CBS a Scoop

Former coaches who've just left the sidelines - and might return to them before long - can be good hires as TV analysts.

They obviously bring relevancy. But they can also create awkward situations. With potential NFL coaching changes a hot topic in the regular season's final week, other networks reported Sunday on current CBS studio analyst Bill Cowher's possibilities. Fox's Jay Glazer and ESPN's Chris Mortensen said Cowher has talked to the Buffalo Bills. Glazer added that Cowher wants to coach this coming year and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers also have interest.

CBS, with Cowher himself, didn't have much. After being asked by studio host James Brown about the "awful lot of reports about you," Cowher said he's "not going to talk about any jobs during the regular season. I've got my own issues up here. I'm trying to catch (fellow CBS analyst Shannon Sharpe) in the picks segment. It's taking all my attention to do that."

OK, Cowher doesn't want to talk about his off-air activities, which ESPN reports say have included making calls to assemble a coaching staff.

CBS broke some news Sunday with Charley Casserly saying the New England Patriots' Tom Brady has three broken ribs. And it got NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, dropping by CBS' broadcast booth during the Pittsburgh Steelers-Miami Dolphins game, to address the idea of preventing playoff-bound teams from sitting starters late in the season - "we have to do more structurally to incent people to win."

But CBS was left out when it came to Cowher. And if Cowher's return to coaching keeps coming up in the postseason, CBS might want to offer up some of its own reporting. Maybe end up getting an exclusive.

Going bowling: The unfolding story involving former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, fired after a controversy centered on the son of ESPN analyst Craig James, put a national spotlight on ESPN's Texas Tech-Michigan State Alamo Bowl on Saturday night. From its connection with James - who had been originally assigned to call the game - ESPN became part of the story. And to its credit, ESPN wove coverage of Leach's firing - including its interview with Leach - into the game coverage, although that might have been distracting to anybody who just tuned in to watch football. . . .

Fox brought back retired NFL announcer Pat Summerall, 79, for its Cotton Bowl coverage Saturday. Although he made a few mistakes on play-by-play, he called a good game. Like asking, after missed opportunities in Mississippi's 21-7 win against Oklahoma State, "Does anyone want to win the AT&T Cotton Bowl?" . . .

ESPN/ABC will add Southern California coach Pete Carroll to pregame and halftime coverage of ABC's college football title game.

With two local TV blackouts Sunday, the NFL finished with 22 - about 9 percent of regular-season games. That's up from nine last year and the highest total since 30 in 2004. Blackouts occur in home teams' TV markets when teams fail to sell out their stadiums.

NFL spice rack: It might not seem clear who was or wasn't at fault for the Denver Broncos' Brandon Marshall, after repeatedly clashing with coach Josh McDaniels this season, being benched for Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs. But NFL Network's Michael Irvin suggests it's clear-cut: "Brandon Marshall is acting like a man. He said the right things, did the right things. . . . (McDaniels) stepped over the line here." . . .

ESPN's Keyshawn Johnson on why he can't name the Indianapolis Colts, after resting starters, the AFC's best team: "How can you put a team at the top of the food chain if they don't want to eat?" . . .

When did ESPN's Tom Jackson, Cris Carter and Mike Ditka each say Sunday that they were "panicked" about the Minnesota Vikings? Just before the Vikings' 44-7 win against the New York Giants.

On tap: Versus will formally announce today that it will, this season, carry NBA Development League games. Versus, says spokeswoman Katie Bradshaw, will carry 16 D-League games starting with the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Mad Ants at the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Skyforce on Jan. 16. The league-owned NBA TV also carries D-League games. . . .

MLB Network will formally announce today that it will this month air three documentaries starting Jan. 10 with Holy Land Hardball, which explores MLB's attempts to promote the sport in the Middle East. That will be followed Jan. 17 by Cobb Field, about an old minor league ballpark in Montana and Jan. 24 by Spaceman, about colorful former MLB pitcher Bill Lee. MLB Network President Tony Petitti says the films are meant to provide "different viewpoints of the sport." And, of course, fill offseason airtime. . . .

The Golf Channel today unveils its first studio makeover since 2003 and begins airing all its studio programming in high-definition. . . .

Friday, the NFL Network airs its first live coverage of the announcement of the 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Clip 'n' save: TNT's Charles Barkley says his New Year's resolutions are to lose 50 pounds and learn Spanish - "during the playoffs I am going to be able to do an entire (TV) package in Spanish." Presumably with a correct translation of turr-ble. . . .

The Irving (Texas) City Council has sold official sponsorship of its demolition of the Dallas Cowboys' old Texas Stadium to Kraft Foods for what will be billed as the "Cheddar Explosion" - picking the lucky fan who gets to push the button. Presumably, the next step will be to sell the TV rights.

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