College football analyst Trev Alberts returns to TV after walking away from ESPN
Put Me in, Coach
by Tony Basilio
They have a magazine that reaches millions, but they don’t have him. They have restaurants from coast to coast, a theme park and four different cable TV networks to boot. But they still don’t have him. They have the world’s most popular sports Internet site, a radio network and enough air talent making at least six figures to fill a high school gym. Still, they don’t have him.
Former Nebraska star Trev Alberts, a college football analyst for several seasons, refused to be boxed in at ESPN. After several years with the self-proclaimed “World-wide Leader in Sports,” Alberts was fed up. So much so that he concluded his stint by walking off a set one night in mid-season never to return. Nobody says no to ESPN, but Alberts did. These days, Alberts is back involved with the sport he loves. This time around, it’s on his terms with an upstart cable outfit called College Sports TV or CSTV for short. On this CBS subsidiary, Alberts is teamed weekly with East Tennessee’s own Tom Hart (the play-by-play voice of the Tennessee Smokies) on CSTV’s game of the week. The pair does an excellent job together and is obviously heading places.
It’s an assignment that has Alberts energized. “Working with Tom has been great, and we have a lot of young guys at CSTV and there’s a lot of passion. I’m not doing UT-Florida games or anything like that. But I’m still learning. It’s a new challenge. Something I haven’t had a lot of experience with. But it’s been fun so far,” Alberts said.
Due to CSTV’s limited national reach, Alberts is toiling in virtual anonymity compared to his ESPN days when he teamed with Mark May and Rece Davis to form the sharpest trio at the network. Sit down Corso, Herbie and trailer-trash pretty-boy Fowler. For my money, Alberts was GameDay ’s straw that stirred the drink.
I’m obviously not alone in that assessment. Recently, Alberts was quizzed by my radio cohort Beano, who asked, “Trev, I’m a radio guy so I’m cash strapped. But how much would it cost to get you back on ESPN and get Lou Holtz out of that studio?” Alberts laughingly responded, “Well (laughs), I’m busy enough traveling and all that so I actually don’t get a chance to see a lot of what they do. I do keep in touch with Mark and Rece. I actually like Lou Holtz.” Yeah. And I like poison ivy.
As for the poor chemistry left on the set between May, Davis and Holtz (yes, Lou has now taken to referring to May as ‘May-Day’ ad nauseam, how brutal!), Alberts commented, “Look, those kinds of things take time. We (May, Davis & Alberts) were together three years and developed a chemistry together. I have to tell you. You won’t get me to say anything negative about them and what they do. What they do is a different animal. What they’re called upon to do is comment on sometimes difficult and uncomfortable things. You have to realize who’s paying the paycheck.”
That’s why he eschewed the contrived argument forum that ESPN has fostered for a new frontier. Don’t worry, Alberts is still opinionated on the sport he loves. Ask him about the replay system and he pounces like a Cosell wind-up doll.
“Why do we have a replay system that nobody understands? Because it’s college football! Why do we have a BCS nobody understands? I wish I had a better feel for it. We have these new clock rules that are awful. I think it’s funny that a coach can only challenge a call one time. What happens if you’re in the first quarter and a coach sees a momentum changing play and he has to decide whether or not to challenge or will he need it later in the game? What they need to do is let coaches have challenges as long as they have time-outs. And when you’re wrong, you lose a time-out.”
On the BCS? Don’t bother.
“How do we arbitrarily decide who’s going to play for the national championship? How do you judge conferences across the board? Is an undefeated Big East team better than a one-loss SEC team like Tennessee? I don’t think so. I feel like as we go on, because of all the parity, with great players everywhere and the players wanting it decided on the field, there are a lot of issues in college football that I think need to be looked at. All that said, I go to a different college and pro game each week and it’s not even close with the excitement between college and pro football. College football is still the best game going, but we need to make changes to make the game better.”
College football is truly a better game, now that Trev Alberts is back in the arena!
Tune in and talk sports with Tony Basilio weekdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on ESPN Radio WVLZ 1180 AM. Visit www.tonybasilio.com for more information.