Pensacola News Journal from Pensacola, Florida on September 3, 1978 · 33
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Pensacola News Journal from Pensacola, Florida · 33

Pensacola, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 3, 1978
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Pi t HjcPensacola flews-Journal Morning Line . Page 2B Sports Briefs . Page 6B D : 1 Sunday, September 3, 1 978 'Bama Grinds Out Win Over Nebraska !! Billy Mitchell tffh News-Journal Spoils Editor TV's Requests Hard to Refuse BIRMINGHAM, Ala. It is 5:05 p.m. and the haze that blankets the Smog Capital of the South is filtering the rays of the late afternoon sun and reducing them to lukewarm intensity. It is still almost three hours before the kickoff of the Alabama-Nebraska football game, yet Birmingham's Legion Field is bustling with activity. The battalions of campers and vans have already begun to invade the vast acres of parking area, bringing their mobile bars to a halt, but not the spirits. The juices that will have attitudes fully ripened by game time have long been flowing. Inside the sprawling concrete and steel stadium, ABC television crewmen are scurrying around, toting all sorts of strange-looking contraptions and stringing wires from one end of the stadium to the other. High atop the stadium, isolated in the corner of a small cubicle of the pressbox, sits Keith Jackson, one of the top commentators of ABC's college football broadcasting team. He strikes a lonely pose, studiously poring over records and rosters for both teams. Jackson is one of sports' most popular voices because he doesn't seem schooled in the popular broadcasting misconception that the chief prerequisite of the job is constancy of mouth. Unlike most in the business, if Jackson doesn't have something worthwhile to say, he doesn't say it. For that, we thank you Keith. 'Cooperation Predictable' There is one subject, however, that evokes an attack of verbosity from Jackson. It is the claim that television is ruling sports like a dictator with the power of the almighty dollar. The Alabama-Nebraska game is the case in point. The game originally was scheduled for Nov. 18. But to give ABC a premium Labor Day game to kick off the ' season it was rescheduled and with little difficulty. "For the amount of money involved, the cooperation from the schools is predictable," said Jackson. "You have to consider that coaches and athletic directors are aware of the massive financial crunch affecting their schools and they view the inconvenience of rescheduling a game as totally worthwhile. They fully realize the value of merchandising their schools the money involved and the national exposure. "So why wouldn't they move it back? When it comes down to the final analysis, it's just a matter of money." The matter of money involved for ABC is $118 million. That's the amount of the four-year contract it recently signed with the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The money involved for the two participating schools is $533,000 to be split equally. Of course, both are obligated to sharing profits among members of their respective conferences, but each will net a handsome sum (about $41,000 apiece). In return, ABC will sell 21 commercial spots for $70,000 each and hopes to cater to a viewing audience of 30 million which will be a big score in the Nielsen Ratings and get its 72-game season off to a rousing start. "You see a lot of college football programs going asunder," said Jackson. "Now, look at the $118 million ABC puts into these programs and tell, me we're dictating sports. "Sure, we may have to dictate changes of times and schedules to accommodate the networks, but can you tell me it's not worth it to the schools?" Extra Appearance The subject of television control of sports is a sore subject. "We're sensitive to the image," said Don Bernstein, ABC's NCAA media director. "Yes, we do alter times and dates to meet network accommodations, but we don't dictate. When TV calls a school and asks if it wants to be on, the school has its choice of options. "The Alabama-Nebraska game is what we call an 'exception date.' Under the new contract with the NCAA, a team can be on TV only five times over a two-year period. However, we have Five exception dates such as Labor Day, Thanksgiving and other holidays which do not count against those five appearances. "Alabama and Nebraska both jumped at the chance. In fact, I think Nebraska coach Tom Osbome would have jumped at the chance of rescheduling the game even without TV. He felt that if he played Alabama later in the season he might get clobbered 99-0. But if he could catch them early with both teams having the first-game jitters, I think he felt he would have a much better chance." Bernstein can recall only one recent example of a team's refusing a requested ABC change of date. "We thought the Colorado-Oklahoma game this year could be a pivotal game in the Big 8 and also an attractive TV matchup," he said. "However, the game would have to have been moved from Boulder (Colo., home of Colorado) to Denver because Boulder has no lights. Colorado athletic director Eddie Crowder said he wouldn't change sites, and consequently forfeited a half a million dollars and national exposure for his school and conference. "But, that was his choice." Not many schools will refuse such rewards, and thus, TV will continue to call the shots. ' ' " I ft ft ' " I ' . -f y it- y j - Tide's 99-Yard Drive Finishes Huskers, 20-3 Associated Press Photo NEBRASKA'S RICK BERN'S TRIES TO SHAKE OFF ALABAMA TACKLER DON MCNEAL . . .Huskers' runners were cut off by Tide's gang-tackling Bryont 'proud', Page 4 Defense overjoyed, Page 4 BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) The running of sophomore Billy Jackson dug Alabama out of a deep hole and Jeff Rutledge lobbed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Major Ogilvie to cap a methodical 99-yard drive as the top-ranked Crimson Tide overtook lOth-rated Nebraska, 20-3, Saturday night in the season opener for both teams. With Alabama trailing 3-0 more than five minutes into the second period, Jackson bulled 14 yards on a third-and-8 play after Nebraska downed a punt on the Alabama 1-yard line. Jackson gained 29 yards and Tony Nathan added 36 on the 16-play drive that ate up almost seven minutes and gave the Crimson Tide a 7-3 halftime lead. Nathan scored on a 2-yard run after a third-period interception by Don McNeal at the Alabama 39 and a 3-yard run by Rutledge with 2:17 remaining sealed the outcome after Alabama linebacker Rickey Gilliland recovered a fumble at the Nebraska 3. Meanwhile, a gang-tackling Alabama defense put the clamps on Nebraska's veteran offense, which averaged 294.5 yards a game last year en route to a school rushing record. The triumph enabled Alabama to avenge its only setback of 1977, a 31-24 loss to the Cornhuskers that cost the Crimson Tide college football's national championship and saddled them with a second-place finish behind Notre Dame. Billy Todd's 48-yard field goal gave Nebraska a 3-0 lead at 6:46 of the opening period, but Alabama's superb defense, led by tackle Marty Lyons and nose guard Curtis McGriff, limited the Cornhuskers to just two more first down during the rest of the first half. . That turned the tide, swinging the momentum to Alabama even though Nebraska's Tom Ohrt downed Tim Smith's punt just inches from the Alabama goal line. Three plays after his 14-yard burst moved Alabama out of the shadow of its own end zone, Jackson smashed 10 more yards to the 29 and the Tide was off and rolling. Consecutive runs of 11 and 12 yards Nebraska Alabama 11 38-110 0 10-23-1 S-41 J-J 4-52 3 17 44-24 54 52 5-13-0 7-41 J-l -S9 I ( I I I 4 720 First downs Rushes-vords Passing yards Return vordaae Posses Punts Fumbles-lost Penalties-yards Nebraska Aloboma Neb FG Todd 41 Ala Ogilvie 4 pass from Rutledge (Chapman kick) Alo Nathan J run (kick failed) Ala Rutledge 3 run (McElroy kick) A 77,023. INDIVIDUAL LEADERS RUSHING Nebroska, Hipp 14-54. Berns 12-47. Alabama. Nathan 14-78, Jackson 14-42, Rutledge 19-54. PASSING Nebraska, Sorlev 9-21-2, 60; Quinn 1-2-0, 4. Aloboma, Rutledge 5-134, 54. RECEIVING Nebraska, Berns 3-15, Smith 3-18. Brown 2-18. Alabama, Bolton 2-30, Ogilvie 2-14, Whitman 1-10. by Nathan put the ball at the Nebraska 11. After Rutledge was stopped for no gain, Lou Ikner gained seven yards before Rutledge lofted a scoring pass to Ogilvie, who got behind Nebraska sophomore comerback Andy Means. Despite the closeness of the halftime score, Alabama piled up 11 first downs to four for the Cornhuskers and outrushed them 144 to 54. However, a first-period drive conked out after a 55-yard advance when Roger Chapman missed a 35-yard field goal try. What had been a well-played contest with no turnovers began to deteriorate when McNeal picked off a Tom Sorley pass at the Alabama 39 late in the third period. The scrambling of Rutledge and an 11-yard scamper by Ogilvie put the ball at the 2 and set up Nathan's touchdown, making it 13-3 when Chapman missed the conversion attempt. Alabama fumbled the ball away at the Nebraska 5 with 3:41 left but Jeff Quinn, Nebraska's second-string quarterback, bobbled the ball right back one play later and Gilliland recovered. Rutledge scored three plays later. The victory gave Alabama the nation's longest major college winning streak of 11 games, snapping a tie with Notre Dame, which has not played yet. A record crowd of 77,023 in expanded Legion Field viewed the contest in mild 82-degree weather, along with a national television audience. Scot Florida's Brantley Wants Championship Dickey has answers, Page 6B By BILLY MITCHELL News-Journal Sports Editor GAINESVILLE When the University of Florida's sensational All-Southeastern Conference linebacker Scot Brantley opened up after knee surgery late last season and said he would quit football if the "attitude of the team is the same next year," some Gator fans considered it a rather haughty statement and a negative attitude in itself. Such assumptions are ' dead wrong on both accounts. The statement was inspired from the heart of a sincere young man who takes Florida football quite seriously. When Brantley chose Florida three years ago, it was a decision that entailed far greater considerations than just paring down the list and deciding which scholarship to accept. Brantley invested an entire future in Florida football. Amid a crosswind of advice, he decided to refuse the lucrative enticements of professional baseball. In his last at-bat for Ocala Forest High School, Brantley stroked a pitch from a neighboring park all the way into Orlando's Tangerine Bowl. He covered centerfield better than the grass. The Los Angeles Dodgers told Brantley they would draft him in the first round, and the bonus money was projected as "somewhere around $100,000." It made choosing college football seem like signing up for poverty. But Brantley had made his decision. And to show the character of this man-child prodigy, he wrote major league commissioner Bowie Kuhn a letter and asked that his name be removed from draft consideration because he didn't want any teams wasting their time and money. But choosing college football was only half of the proposition. Brantley wanted to play on a championship team conference or national, it didn't matter and the University of Alabama made a production number out of showing him the Crimson Tide's stuffed trophy case. Alabama coach Bear Bryant rarely visits a high school prospect, but the Brantley family was considering asking him for rent money. "If coach Bryant had visited me again one day sooner, I would have signed with Alabama," says Brantley. "But I was at the point where I was ready to make a decision and I went with Florida because I saw , the opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime thing. "I came to Florida because, honestly, I thought I would be on a Southeastern Conference championship team and it would be the first in Florida's history. See BRANTLEY, Page 6B 7 came to Florida because, honestly, I thought I would be on a Southeastern Conference championship team and it would be the first in Florida 's history. ' Stott Illustration by Ira V. Gates

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