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BCS game fumbles

The BCS national title game might have won the night, but it was hardly a rousing success.

According to Sports Business Daily, the game was the highest-rated primetime program of the night in total viewers, and the average audience of 23.2-million from 8-11 p.m. was ABC's best Tuesday primetime since Jan. 25, 2000.

But the final rating of 13.7 is the lowest of the seven BCS title games.

Locally, the game posted an 11.8, or roughly 194,000 homes in the Tampa Bay area. It peaked at a 16.97 at 8:45 but declined as the game turned into a blowout. Even Dateline on NBC had better numbers between 10 and 11 p.m.

Who's your daddy?

The latest edition of Inside the Lightning will air tonight on Sunshine and features team founding father Phil Esposito.

The show airs at 5 p.m., and repeats at 3 p.m. Saturday and various other times the next two weeks.

Paul Kennedy, the series host and Sunshine's rinkside reporter for Lightning games, interviews Esposito about his days as a player, his years as Lightning general manager and last season's Stanley Cup run by the team.

Teeing it up

Golf is back (already?) as the PGA Tour's 2005 season tees off on ESPN this weekend.

Coverage of the Mercedes Championships from Kapalua, Hawaii, began Thursday on ESPN and will continue with primetime broadcasts today, Saturday and Sunday beginning at 7 p.m.

Roger Twibell is hosting, with Ian Baker-Finch in the booth, Andy North and Karl Ravech as hole announcers and Charlie Rymer and Bill Kratzert reporting from the course.

ESPN will be using Golf Trak in its coverage. Golf Trak is used to create photo-realistic 3D models of golf courses, including everything from the trees to nearby buildings to the grandstands. It can offer animated views from anywhere on the course in real time, and can incorporate weather into its animation.

A smarty win

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association has awarded NBC the Eclipse Award for its production of the 2004 Belmont Stakes.

Produced by David Michaels, the June 5 show from Belmont Park featured the story of Smarty Jones and his bid to win the first Triple Crown since 1978. The award is the seventh for NBC, four of those for its Triple Crown coverage.

Eclipse Awards recognize members of the media for outstanding coverage of thoroughbred racing. The official ceremony will be Jan. 24.

Best quotes

Vic Carucci, the national editor for NFL.com, picked his annual All-Interview team, and Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks was one of his picks. Former Buc John Lynch also was picked.

Around the dial

The Game Show Network's eight-episode horse racing reality series, American Dream Derby, debuts Monday with its first two episodes from 9-11 p.m. The show's winner gets $250,000 and a stable of 15 horses. ESPN Deportes is providing exclusive coverage of the Dominican League baseball playoffs throughout the month (primarily Wednesday and Sunday evenings) with Hall of Famer Juan Marichal (the lone Dominican in the Hall of Fame) providing commentary and analysis. Tony Kornheiser's new radio show will begin airing on XM Satellite Radio next month, and Fox MLB studio analyst Kevin Kennedy will host a show on XM's MLB channel starting this spring.

What we're watching

SATURDAY Local

Rose Bowl: Texas-Mich., ABC 9.8

Gator: FSU-West Virginia, NBC 8.9

Sugar: Utah-Pitt, ABC 7.9

Outback: Wisconsin-Ga., ESPN 6.5

Capital One: LSU-Iowa, ABC 2.9

Cotton: Tenn.-Texas A&M, Fox 2.4

MBB: Ga. Tech-Kansas, ESPN 1.3

NBA: Magic-Houston, PAX 0.8

SUNDAY

NFL: Bucs-Cardinals, Fox 24.1

NFL: Jets-Rams, CBS 16.9

NFL: Colts-Broncos, CBS 9.4

NFL on Fox pregame, Fox 4.2

Bucs pregame, WFLA-Ch. 8 3.5

Tailgate Sunday, Fox 1.7

NFL Today, CBS 1.6

MBB: FSU-UF, WTOG-Ch. 44 1.5

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