Steratore should handle transition

Commentary

There’s a best time to buy just about everything, from airline tickets to mattresses and outdoor grills — and even on-air rules analysts for NFL games.

The time for the last product was the past few weeks, with every network securing a recently retired official to hopefully provide insight during broadcasts.

It’s the toughest job in TV sports, and the new hires face the daunting task of meeting, or at least nearing, the standard set by Mike Periera of Fox Sports.

CBS added Gene Steratore, the referee from the most recent Super Bowl who will discuss rules for college basketball as well as the NFL.

ESPN hired Jeff Triplette, whose mistakes and struggles on the field were well documented, making the hiring somewhat interesting.

And NBC hired Terry McAuley, who will appear on TV’s highest-rated and most-watched program, “Sunday Night Football.”

Of the three, Steratore seems positioned for the most initial success, but it will depend if the network puts him in the booth for the week’s top game or if he works from a central location with the ability to discuss multiple games.

There are additional repetitions and chances for him to improve over the course of the year by working college basketball, too.

Again, Triplette is the most curious of the hires. Maybe he’ll be better on TV than he was on the field, and with ESPN’s “Sunday Night Football” talent shakeup, they might be able to put him in a position to succeed.

Still, it’s a tough job. Rules analysts need to make points quickly, be perceived as correct by fans and add value to broadcasts.

Former CBS analyst and referee Mike Carey was bad from the get-go, and CBS never found a way to overcome his shortcomings.

As a result, the network was without a rules analyst for three seasons, with network officials saying they had a direct line to the league’s top official for any questions on gamedays and that that system was good.

Of course, that was until the recent shopping spree by each of the networks.

Cleveland centric

When HBO’s “Hard Knocks” kicks off its season in late August, it will focus on the Cleveland Browns.

The team finished 0-16 last season and has the development of rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield, the No. 1 pick in the draft, among potential storylines for the show.

Coaching staffs whose teams end up on the show generally chafe (at least publicly) at the ever-present cameras and personnel from NFL Films, which puts together the show for HBO, but the Browns had no leverage to reject the opportunity.

HBO can pick any team that has missed the playoffs the past two years, has not appeared on “Hard Knocks” the past 10 years and does not have a first-year coach. Other teams eligible this year were Baltimore, Denver, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington.

Also, the whole bothered-or-disgruntled-coach perspective might be a bit overblown. Because of their familiarity with the teams and the editorial cooperation between all parties, NFL Films personnel are generally trusted and well known by coaching staffs across the league.

Spikes on TV

WHVL-TV provides live broadcasts of two State College Spikes home games in the coming weeks. Those will air at 6:05 p.m. July 15 and again July 22.

Sampsell can be reached at stevesampsell@gmail.com.

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