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Musberger Signaled Out

In today's LA Times Larry Stewart writes about USC's Displeasure about Brent Musberger's revealing of JDB hand signals to receivers when he spots certain coverage.

With just over 9 1/2 minutes to play in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game and USC leading, 21-10, Musburger began describing on the air how USC quarterback John David Booty lets his receivers know he has spotted a certain kind of coverage.

"John David told us that his signal when he finds one-on-one and they're coming, it's that 'hang loose,' that familiar sign you've seen surfers use," said Musburger, referring to the sign where the thumb and little finger are raised.

That information had been gleaned from Booty on Friday during a standard production meeting. Announcers and producers meet with coaches and star players as part of their game preparation. However, much of what is said in those meetings is considered private, as background only, to help the announcers spot trends and potential plays.

USC sports information director Tim Tessalone, on behalf of the university, sent a formal complaint to ESPN/ABC game producer Bill Bonnell and a copy to the Pacific 10 Conference office in Walnut Creek, Calif.

Now what's interesting to me is that I heard something similar during the Texas/Ohio State game when the announcers were analyzing Troy Smith's TD throw to Ted Ginn at the end of the first half. I'm sure someone at SC probably heard that exchange and probably should have taken note.

It all began when the subject of secret signals came up in that Friday meeting. A replay of the Ohio State-Texas telecast on Sept. 9 had shown how Buckeyes quarterback Troy Smith taps the top of the helmet to let receiver Ted Ginn Jr. know he's noticed one-on-one coverage. Booty was asked if USC had a similar signal. At that point, he told Musburger about USC's signal.

Like...Totally Cool Man.

This really isn't a big deal. Signals can be changed as warranted. But the announcing crew should have used better discretion and USC should have made it clear that any and all pre-game discussions are to be kept private or they should have said nothing at all.

Let's move on and focus on the Arizona game.