CBS, Masters trust their partnership

CBS Sports has final round coverage of The Masters for the 57th consecutive year today, and no relationship better exemplifies the booster/partnership role of a broadcaster with a sports event.

Keep that in mind as Jim Nantz and Co. consistently make reference to “patrons” (as opposed to fans) at Augusta National and as the course regularly gets shown at its lush green best.

Granted, the action on the course matters most, and CBS Sports covers golf better than just about any other outlet, but the cozy relationship sometimes allows what some might consider news about the tournament to be overlooked – mostly because the network operates on a renewable one-year contract.

After all, if Augusta National officials do not like something that hits the air, they could conceivably find another partner for next year. That’s not likely, but the threat always hangs in the air and simply has to impact the broadcast in some manner.

Still, it’s worth watching, and it’s as sure a sign of spring and summer as the first robin or the start of baseball season.

Coach’s ‘camp’

After its first installment in late March, “Gruden’s QB Camp” continues on ESPN outlets through early May.

Leading up to an NFL Draft light on quarterbacks, the series that features former NFL coach Jon Gruden at his coaching and combative best has expanded to include more position players this year (Marcus Lattimore and Manti Te’o among them).

As he berates and evaluates, jokes and teaches, Gruden’s work with the would-be draftees ranks among his best. He’s already strong on “Monday Night Football,” and “Gruden’s QB Camp” gives him another outlet to do quality work.

It’s good sports TV – even if it follows a familiar formula after several seasons. It’s also the kind of assignment that can scratch Gruden’s itch for coaching and keep him in the booth and away from the sidelines for years.

Tuner tidbits

n With the announcement of NFL regular season schedules coming Tuesday, watch for specials on ESPN and the NFL Network about every conceivable angle of the upcoming season.

n With the abundance of regular season college basketball games, few drew many viewers in 2012-13. Of the 678 games on CBS, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and NBC Sports Network, only six had at least a 2.0 rating. More than 500 drew a 0.5 rating.

n Conversely, the NCAA Tournament drew ratings and viewership not matched in nearly 20 years, with the national championship game between Louisville and Michigan pulling a 14.2 rating and more than 23 million viewers. That made it the second most-watched, non-NFL sporting event of the year, trailing only the Alabama-Notre Dame BCS Championship Game (15.1, 26.4 million).

n Even without his team in the NCAA Tournament, Penn State men’s coach Patrick Chambers made all the right moves during the postseason – the latest of which came last week while appearing with Mike Francesa on New York City’s WFAN-AM, the nation’s first sports-talk station. Because PSU beat national finalist Michigan during the regular season, Chambers was a sought-after guest on the eve of the title game. He brought humor and insight to his appearance, representing Penn State and his program well.

Steve Sampsell covers the broadcast side of sports. He’s on Twitter @talkingtvsports and writes at