Scott D. Pierce: Blaze coach hangs TV analyst out to dry
Sports on TV • Kevin White praises Ron James for decision James suddenly changes.

By Scott D. Pierce

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: June 27, 2012 11:22AM
Updated: June 27, 2012 12:35AM
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Scott D. Pierce

We all know that local sportcasters working Jazz, Real Salt Lake and Blaze games are employed by the teams. And that’s kind of a weird position from which to call a game. They’re trying to serve the viewers and keep their employer happy.

And sometimes it’s impossible to do both. On Saturday night, TV analyst Kevin White pivoted and changed fields in a way any football player would envy in the final seconds of the Utah Blaze-Georgia Force telecast on KUTV and KMYU.

The Blaze, by the way, essentially sublet the space from the two sister stations.

“It’s the same sort of arrangement we had with Real Salt Lake,” said Kent Crawford, general manager of both stations. “We work with them and do cross-promotion, but they produce the games.”

It’s the same sort of deal RSL now has with KTVX/KUCW. It’s pretty standard.

Saturday’s Blaze telecast included KUTV sportscaster Dave Fox doing all sorts of sideline interviews, some of which seemed like better ideas than others.

And he joined both White and play-by-play man Mychal Clanton in expressing the hope that Blaze quarterback Tommy Grady would break the single-season Arena Football League passing touchdown record on Saturday.

But with 23.8 seconds remaining, it didn’t look like that was going to happen.

The QB had tied the record at 117 a bit earlier, but “We’re getting word that Grady will not come back in once Utah does get the ball,” said Clanton as the Blaze, leading 54-38, awaited the Force’s kick off.

“And that’s the right call,” White said. “You know, there’s a respect and a protocol you need to follow as a professional league and a professional organization. [Blaze] Coach [Ron] James — one of the best in terms of his respect level for the game, for his opponent, for his players. And he’s doing it the right way.”

White, however, was left hanging out to dry when the Blaze recovered an onside kick and James changed his mind.

“Because it’s a shorter field, Grady will play,” Clanton said.

(This is not criticism of James’ decision, but is there ever a long field in the AFL?)

White had just been extolling the virtues of running out the clock and not humiliating an opponent. But he turned on a dime to agree with his broadcast partner — and back up the Blaze coach.

“I like it. I think it’s a good call,” said Clanton, adding he thought Georgia’s coach would “understand what’s going on here. I don’t think it’s a slap in the face at all for Georgia.”

“You really can’t argue that logic,” said White, despite the fact that he just had.

And, we were assured, it was all about “the fans.”

“I agree,” White said. “And it’s a different game than the outdoor game.”

Which didn’t make sense, but the poor guy was flailing.

Honestly, Clanton and White did a pretty good job, on Saturday night, both for viewers and for their employer.

The production was decent, although the setup at EnergySolutions Arena means the cameras don’t capture all the action. There were touchdowns missed, among other things.

Making the sportscasters part of the team means they have inside information, but it can also result in your analyst praising a coach for a decision that suddenly changes.

White earned his fee on Saturday night.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.