On January 20, 1968, a frenzied crowd of 52,693 packed the Houston Astrodome to witness the #2-ranked University of Houston Cougars nip the #1 (and previously undefeated) UCLA Bruins in a college basketball spectacle that legendarily became the sport’s “Game of the Century.” In addition to the record-sized gate, it was the first-ever college game to be televised nationally in prime time – and it was sports entrepreneur Eddie Einhorn’s scrappy little independent network of affiliated stations called the TVS Television Network that brought it to millions of TV viewers. Calling all the shots from the production truck was veteran TV sports director Howard Zuckerman – who quickly became the backbone for the fledgling ad hoc network’s subsequent coverage of not only college hoops, but also two of the most colorful pro sports leagues of the 1970s – the World Football League and the North American Soccer League. Zuckerman joins host Tim Hanlon to recount some of his most memorable (and forgettable) moments in TVS history, including:
- Surviving a power outage in the middle of the WFL’s first-ever national telecast from Jacksonville;
- Managing a motley crew of rotating guest commentators for WFL broadcasts, including the likes of George Plimpton, Burt Reynolds and McLean Stevenson;
- Hastily reorienting weekly WFL production travel plans as teams suddenly relocated or folded;
- Faking on-field injuries during NASL telecasts to allow for ad hoc commercial breaks;
- The origins of the specially-composed TVS theme song and its orchestral big band sound; AND
- Post-TVS work, including the Canadian Football League’s Las Vegas Posse, and the worldwide music landmark event Live Aid.