Fox' Super trio hits big time

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

Joe Buck is no stranger to the big television stage.

As Fox Sports' lead baseball play-by-play man, he's become television's voice of the World Series. But even he knows the Super Bowl is a whole different ballgame.

"The buildup to this thing and the spectacle of it ... it's completely different," said Buck, 35, who'll call Sunday's big game in Jacksonville, Fla., between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. "It is much more like an event. Not better, not worse, just different than the World Series. The two really don't compare."

For the first time, Fox will broadcast a Super Bowl (this is their fourth) without Pat Summerall and John Madden behind the mike. But to hear Ed Goren tell it, the game is in good hands with Buck and his two sidekicks, analysts Cris Collinsworth and Troy Aikman.

"They had to replace two Hall of Fame legends, in Pat and John, which is one heck of a challenge," said Goren, Fox' Super Bowl executive producer. "But these guys, I really believe, are as good as any broadcast team that has ever worked an NFL booth."

A little excess hyperbole?

Probably.

But it is a group that covers all the angles. Buck is the smooth, well-prepared play caller, while Aikman, the former Cowboys quarterback, has developed a keen sense of breaking down the game for viewers.

Collinsworth, meanwhile, is the lightning rod. The guy most likely to be sharply critical, which at times has earned him the ire of fans and players around the league.

The former Bengals receiver makes no apologies for his style.

"There's no question Troy is the good cop," Collinsworth admitted. "My job is to say exactly what I'm thinking. That's it.

"It's my job to give you my opinion at the moment."

FROM THE GROUND UP: Fox Sports chairman David Hill calls it the "gopher's eye view." Officially, they're known as "turf cams," the latest toy being added to Super Bowl coverage. About the size of an eraser on a pencil, four of them have been embedded in the Alltel Stadium turf, and eight others placed at or near ground level in the end zone. Fox pioneered them as "diamond cams" during its baseball coverage, but hasn't tried them yet for football. "In baseball, we knew what we were going to get -- an instant look at the batter, catcher and umpire," said Goren. "With football, we really don't know going in what we will get ... I think it will provide a very unique view of the game."

SUPER STUFF: They're calling one hour of Sunday's pre-Super Bowl fare The Best Darn Super Bowl Road Show Period (darn replacing damn). Paul McCartney will perform at halftime (no worries about any "wardrobe malfunctions" there). Pretty obvious the NFL is serious about putting on a G-rated production this year, though Fox executives bristle at suggestions the network is being overly cautious. "We're following exactly the same policy we always follow," said Hill ... Fox' pre-game show runs from 2-6 p.m., with James Brown, Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and Jimmy Johnson at the centre of it all ... If that's not enough, ESPN's NFL Countdown crew has a three-hour table-setter of its own, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (on TSN here).

AROUND THE DIAL: CBC has brought The Score on board as a partner to combat the imposing CTV-Rogers challenge for broadcast rights to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Formal bids will be presented Monday at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, with a winner announced that day ... Rogers Television begins daily coverage of the Kia Cup Ontario men's curling championship Monday afternoon from Whitby. Alas, no Vic Rauter for this one.


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