There will come a point in the radio broadcast of Saturday night's USC-Notre Dame game when the management of KSPN-AM (710) will allow someone to enter the Coliseum press box, take the microphone from play-by-play man Pete Arbogast and make the call of the second-half kickoff. Live.
The station conducted a contest and has surely screened the three finalists - Thousand Oaks' Jonas Knox, Burbank's Brian Batter and Huntington Beach's Mike Owens - one of whom will be selected this morning as the winner.
Now, if memory serves us, the second half of the '74 USC-Notre Dame game turned out to be a pretty big piece of Trojans lore. So what happens if history repeats itself, and this call by a known amateur is the only audio clip that'll forever replayed over the video of some important 100-yard runback that could change the course of USC's season?
Maybe it won't be so bad.
Hopefully, it will.
Unfortunately, it comes too late as an entry for our annual contest: The Dubious Dozen of the Sports Media. The year 2006 produced a very nice selection of Real Men of Stupidity, the stuff you couldn't make up if you tried.
So take the leftover turkey leg and bang the drum for these random acts
1. 'YOU'RE WITH ME, LEATHER'
The culprit: Chris Berman
The crime: In April, the snarky sports Web site Deadspin.com relayed a story from a contributor about how, nine years earlier, he saw the legendary ESPN celebrity use an otherwise stumblin', bumblin', fumblin' pick-up line - "You're with me, leather" - to entice a woman wearing leather pants to leave a Scottsdale, Ariz., bar with him. It was as if the Fonz snapped his finger at Leather Tuscadero in an episode of "Happy Days."
Within days, Tony Kornheiser used the line on his syndicated radio show and MSNBC's Keith Olbermann slipped it into his "Countdown" show.
A teenager approached Berman at ESPN's coverage of the NFL Draft in April and asks him about it. Berman reportedly called him "stupid."
When ESPN "SportsCenter" anchor Neil Everett snuck in the phrase, "He's with leather," when narrating a highlight, he was reportedly suspended.
T-shirts with a silhouette of Berman and the phrase eventually went on sale, and Damien Fahey, the host of MTV's "Total Request Live," wore it on the air.
The phrase got its own Wikipedia.org entry.
In September, Deadspin.com decided to start its own Hall of Fame, and a plaque with Berman's phrase was the first entry.
The aftermath: Will Leitch, editor of Deadspin.com, says: "I knew it was funny when I got it, but I never imagined it becoming as expansive as it has. The source for the story was a respected journalist, actually, which gave us more credence to run it, rather than it being some random person.
"I've always thought Berman could have nipped the whole thing in the bud by saying something like, `David (You're With Me) Weathers coming into pitch for the Reds now,' but that's not really his style."
There's no signs of it slowing down. On the Nov. 10 episode of NBC's "Las Vegas," the line was used in a scene. "It's amazing in every conceivable way," Leitch wrote on the site.
2. A SIMPLE HUG
The culprit: Harold Reynolds
The crime: On July 24, two months after he signed a six-year contract extension that would have paid him $1 million a year, ESPN's baseball analyst was fired. Rumors of it being related to sexual harassment quickly circulated but were not confirmed by the network.
The aftermath: In October, Reynolds filed a wrongful termination suit. He admitted that he gave an "innocuous hug" to a female intern who didn't express any discomfort and "made no complaint until approximately three weeks later."
3. IT'S ... GONE
The culprit: KNBR-AM radio.
The crime: On May 28, this is how Giants fans heard the radio call of play-by-play man Dave Flemming on Barry Bonds' 715th home run to pass Babe Ruth for second-place on the all-time list: "Three-and-two. Finley runs. The payoff pitch. A swing and a drive ... deep cen-"
For the next 10 seconds, there were fans cheering and a foghorn. Finally, fellow broadcaster Greg Papa jumped on the air: "I think we have lost Dave's microphone. Barry Bonds has just hit his 715th career home run."
The aftermath: The station's engineer had no idea what happened. Flemming was crushed.
"I think it's the last gasp of the curse of the Bambino," Flemming told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Now, I'm starting to re-think my whole world."
4. MAYNE PAIN
The culprit: Kenny Mayne.
The crime: Entered as one of 10 duos on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" in January, the ESPN anchor's 90-second cha-cha with partner Andrea Hale to the Donna Summers' song "Hot Stuff" caused judge Bruno Tonioli to say: "He looked like Pinocchio chasing Jiminy Cricket across the room." The couple was the first to be voted off.
The aftermath: A few months later, he began doing national TV spots for a car insurance company. ESPN ombudsman George Solomon wrote: "Mayne, and others who work on news shows or cover events, would better serve the network by avoiding celebrity competitions, or doing commercials."
5. BARE IT
The culprit: Terry Bradshaw.
The crime: The "NFL on Fox" co-host decided to revive his movie career (see: "Hooper," "Cannonball Run"), agreeing to appear in "Failure To Launch," with Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Bates. In the role of Al (the dad of the living-at-home slacker), Bradshaw had a scene with McConaughey where he cavorted around in his "naked room" showing off his bare backside while the song "Ain't Nothing But a G-thing Baby" by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg played.
The aftermath: Bradshaw said he didn't tell his parents about the scene before they got a bus full of friends from church to go see the movie. "My (76-year-old) mother and my father were not real happy," Bradshaw said. While Bradshaw sagged, the movie didn't quite flop. It grossed $24.6 million in its opening weekend in mid-March - No. 1 at the box office.
6. THE SPIN CYCLE
The culprit: ESPN's "ESPY Awards."
The crime: The 14th annual self-congratulatory network show moved a step closer to edginess and two steps back toward someone needing to pull the plug.
During the show's taping on July 12, the monologue delivered by former Tour de France cycling champion Lance Armstrong included a line about telling the producers he would "give his left nut" to be the host, how France's World Cup soccer team all "tested positive for being a-holes" and an anal-sex joke to "Brokeback Mountain" star Jake Gyllenhaal seated in the audience. All those lines made the final edit of the show that aired July 16.
The aftermath: ESPN executive editor John Walsh explained to the New York Times that the jokes were left in because they were a "reasonable risk." New York Times columnist Richard Sandomir responded: "It would have been unacceptable for one `SportsCenter' anchor to make the same crack to another on the air, yet it was OK at 9:45 p.m. Eastern during a program in which athletes and Hollywood stars mingle? ... ESPN's power is such that on nights like Sunday, its nickname should be `The Worldwide Leader of Itself."'
7. SELL JOB
The culprit: Pete Arbogast.
The crime: On Aug. 2, the USC football play-by-play man posted a forum notice on the fan site WeAreSC.com under the headline "I need your help." Since his job of just calling football games doesn't bring him enough income, he asked USC fans to contact management at 710-AM and strongly suggest that he be hired as weekday update man, an opening "which I certainly could, and I feel should, fill. If you think like me, it is extremely important to have the Voice of the Trojans working full time on the school's broadcast flagship, especially with several hosts there having shown their anti-USC bias in the past."
The aftermath: Station manager Larry Gifford said he already hired someone before Arbogast's online plea. The editors of WeAreSC.com eventually gave Arbogast a regular blog, and last week, he used it to start another pitch to land an afternoon co-host role at the station. "Heck yeah I'm campaigning!" he wrote.
8. WRONG EDDIE
The culprit: The Chicago Tribune.
The crime: On Aug. 9, the newspaper reported that Eddie Johnson, the former University of Illinois star who played 18 years in the NBA and current radio broadcaster with the Phoenix Suns, was arrested as a suspect in a sex crime against an 8-year-old girl in Florida. They had the wrong man.
The actual suspect, also named Eddie Johnson, was a former NBA player with the Atlanta Hawks out of Auburn. The Eddie Johnson cited by the Tribune was in Hawaii on vacation with his family at the time of the alleged incident.
The aftermath: The next day, Tribune associate managing editor of sports Dan McGrath issued an apology for the "inadvertent but hurtful error" that occurred because of a rush to meet a deadline. In October, the wrongly accused Eddie Johnson filed a lawsuit against the Tribune and other media outlets, pointing out that the Aug. 8 Associated Press report on the incident correctly identified the Eddie Johnson suspected of the crime.
The culprits: Dick Stockton, Daryl Johnson and Tony Siragusa.
The crime: During the telecast of an Aug. 24 Miami-Carolina exhibition game, the three Fox NFL broadcasters tried to spice things up by announcing they would be giving away a car during the telecast.
A Panthers fan, Greg Good, was chosen to receive it. And on the air, he was given a car.
It was a toy car. Funny?
The aftermath: Fox Sports chairman David Hill wasn't laughing. He personally flew from L.A. to Charlotte, N.C., to present Good with the keys to a new Ford F-150 pickup truck to smooth things over. Hill called the prank "an appalling piece of misjudgment" and promised "internal discipline" for the crew.
10. A BIT OUTSIDE
The culprit: Bob Uecker.
The crime: The 72-year-old Milwaukee Brewers broadcaster attracted a stalker. Really.
In June, it got out that Ann Ladd, a 45-year-old Chicago-area resident who described herself as a Brewers fan, was arrested for pestering Uecker. It had been going on for six or seven years, so he said. Eventually, Uecker was granted a restraining order. According to the suit posted on TheSmokingGun.com, the woman reportedly had been seeking his autograph, staying at the same hotel when he was on the road, and sending packages to his home.
The aftermath: In October, prosecutors in Milwaukee dropped a felony stalking charge.
11. FILL THE GAPS
The culprits: ESPN, FSN, CSTV and the NFL Network.
The crime: It wasn't enough that ESPN went live with the July 4 Nathan's 2006 Hot Dog Eating Contest. It sandwiched it between Wimbledon coverage and a semifinal match of the World Cup. Borderline sports programming continued to push its way into network lineups. Consider that the Bratwurst Eating Contest, the World Hamburger Eating Contest, the World Sports Stacking Contest, the World Paintball Championships, the World Dominos Tournament, the U.S. Scrabble Open, the National Collegiate Debate Championship, the Rock-Paper-Scissors League Championship, the EA Sports Madden Bowl, a pay-per-view special on the release of the 2007 Madden NFL game, the National Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship and an NFL cheerleader reality series made it on TV. As well as the National Spelling Bee. But only the preliminary rounds. The finals went to ABC in prime time.
The aftermath: Again, ESPN.com ombudsman George Solomon tried to add perspective: "I fear possible expulsion from the Organization of News Ombudsmen should it find out that I comment on and offer observations for a national television network that covers paintball."
12. FOOT MEETS MOUTH
Why did it seem that this year more sportscasters were encouraged to say more things so insipid, insensitive or incredibly stupid that they either were fired or forced to offer up an apology?
From the numerous entries, we offer a brief rundown of culprits:
Steve Lyons: During the October AL Championship Series, the Fox analyst made a convoluted comment to fellow analyst Lou Pinella about his "habla-ing some Espanol" and then said something about his wallet missing - two separate thoughts that, when put together, could have been inferred by viewers as ethnic slurs. A few days earlier, Lyons tried to make fun of a fan wearing a magnifying device over his eyes. Fox fired Lyons. The Dodgers announced they would retain him after he took sensitivity training.
Lamar Thomas: The TV analyst for Comcast Sports SouthEast and former University of Miami football player cheered openly as Hurricanes players fought with those from Florida International in an October game. "You come into our house, you should get your behind kicked," he said on the air. "You don't come into the (Orange Bowl) playing that stuff ... I say, why don't they just meet in the tunnel after the ball game and get it on some more?" Thomas was fired.
Keith Hernandez: During an April SportsNet New York telecast of the Mets' game in San Diego, the TV analyst noticed the Padres' full-time massage therapist, Kelly Calabrese, was in the dugout. "You gotta be kidding me," Hernandez said. When told of Calabrese's profession, Hernandez tried to joke: "I won't say that women belong in the kitchen, but they don't belong in the dugout ... you know I am only teasing. I love you gals out there - always have." Hernandez apologized and was reprimanded.
Rick Sutcliffe: During a May telecast of a Milwaukee-San Diego game on a local San Diego station, Sutcliffe, who works for ESPN, came by the booth to join play-by-play man Matt Vasgersian and Mark Grant. Sutcliffe, apparently drinking earlier with actor Bill Murray, started to slur his words and meander. He eventually asked why Vasgersian still worked for the Padres when "everybody on Earth has been trying to steal you." The station apologized, and Sutcliffe was suspended for one game by ESPN.
Bert Blyleven: In September, the Minnesota Twins' analyst uttered two profanities while doing what he thought was a taped pregame segment. But it was live. "We gotta do this (bleeping) thing over again, I just (bleep)ed it up," said Blyleven. "Oh, we're live?" Blyleven apologized and was suspended for one telecast. In wasn't Blyleven's first faux paux. Back in June, while interviewing "American Idol" contestant Ace Young in the booth, Blyleven asked: "Let's talk about Paula Abdul .... Did you get lucky with her?"