African-American coaches still hard to find
Shooting from the Lip
A look back at a weekend of televised sports ...
Sylvester Croom, the first African-American head football coach in SEC history, resigned from Mississippi State over the weekend. That leaves Miami's Randy Shannon, Buffalo's Turner Gill and Houston's Kevin Sumlin as the only African-American head coaches among the 119 Division I-A teams. (Kansas State's Ron Prince was recently fired at Kansas State, and Tyrone Willingham has been fired at Washington but will finish the season.)
Wasn't the Croom hiring supposed to change things, break down some walls, particularly in the SEC?
Nothing has changed. Since Croom was hired at Mississippi State, several SEC schools have made coaching hires. Florida hired Urban Meyer. Alabama hired Nick Saban. South Carolina hired Steve Spurrier. Arkansas hired Bobby Petrino. LSU hired Les Miles. Ole Miss has hired two coaches in the past four years, Ed Orgeron and Houston Nutt. All of them are white.
Tennessee recently pushed Phil Fulmer out the door, and instead of taking their time, doing a national search, maybe looking at a few African-American candidates, the Vols reportedly are going to give the job to Lane Kiffin, who is white. The same 33-year-old Lane Kiffin who has never been a head coach at the college level and only became the head coach of the Oakland Raiders because owner Al Davis is a kook and no one else wanted the job.
It's just hard to believe that there are 119 jobs out there and only three currently belong to African-Americans. And it's sad that when there are openings, most major colleges aren't even interested in considering African-Americans. Just look at Tennessee.
There were a ton of college and pro football games over the weekend, but do you know what was, hands down, the best thing on TV all weekend? A rerun of a documentary called Absolute Evel: The Evel Knievel Story on the History Channel. The two-hour definitive film of the greatest daredevil of all time had revealing interviews with Knievel and behind-the-scenes footage. You were reminded of just how big of an event his jumps used to be and that Knievel might have been the baddest, toughest dude who ever lived.
Another rerun. It was a 1970 heavyweight title fight between Joe Frazier and Jimmy Ellis. The best part was being reminded of just how good Howard Cosell, who called the fight all by himself, used to be. He was the announcer, the analyst and the reporter, all in one, and was absolutely brilliant.
Most disappointing conference
Just to rile up SEC fans some more, I can't help but point out that Georgia and LSU both lost over the long weekend -- further proof that the SEC has taken a big step back this season. After Alabama and Florida, the rest of the conference ranges from ordinary to really bad. Actually, when you think about it, the Gators' best opponent so far might have been Ole Miss, and the Gators lost that game.
If you were looking for lots of commentary from the broadcast of Gators-Seminoles, sorry. ABC's announcing team of Brad Nessler, Bob Griese and Paul Maguire has just become too stale. The mystery is how that happened. At times in their careers, all were pretty good announcers. ABC should consider keeping all three but breaking them up. They've fallen far behind the teams of Verne Lundquist-Gary Danielson (CBS), Brent Musburger-Kirk Herbstreit (ABC) and Mike Patrick-Todd Blackledge (ESPN).
CBS's Gary Danielson, in Auburn’s 36-0 loss to Alabama: "This Auburn offense is not built to come from behind. In fact, this offense is not built to come from ahead.''
The Plaxico Burress story dominated the headlines on all the Sunday NFL shows. CBS's Dan Marino called Burress reportedly shooting himself as "stupid and selfish.'' CBS's Boomer Esiason called it "one of the dumbest moves in the recent history of the NFL'' and predicted Burress would never again play for the Giants. Over at Fox, Terry Bradshaw also said he thought the Giants were through with Burress.
The liveliest conversation was on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown. Former Bucs receiver Keyshawn Johnson estimated that half the players in the NFL carry guns. Cris Carter followed that estimation with a shocking revelation: "You need to realize, if you run into a professional athlete, you are more likely to find an athlete that's packing some heat.''
"Plaxico Burress has become the Barney Fife of hip-hop.''
— NFL Network's Adam Schefter, talking about the Giants receiver who reportedly shot himself in the leg over the weekend.
Let the arguments begin. Who is the best football team in the country? Is it Alabama or Florida? Is it Texas or Oklahoma? How about none of the above? ESPN's Lou Holtz said, "I’d like to see (Southern Cal) play any team in the country. I think they’d win.''
Best show of support
The ESPN NFL Sunday Countdown crew broke down the NFC South, and all went with the Bucs.
Cris Carter: “We know they are going to play good defense … I trust (Jeff) Garcia, the quarterback. And (coach Jon) Gruden is proven in the playoffs.''
Tom Jackson: "When they lose a game, they've lost three -- they lose by three, they lose by four, they lose by three. Carolina: they lose by 17, they lose by 24, they lose by 10. So when they don't show up, they really don't show up.''
Mike Ditka: "I like the Bucs because of their balance. I do like the Falcons though. The Panthers, I don't trust.''
Three things that popped into my head this weekend
1. The Kansas-Missouri game (KU won 40-37 in the final minute in a snow storm) might have been the most entertaining college football game all season. Too bad Saturday’s Oklahoma-Missouri game won't be nearly as close. Or entertaining.
2. Why in the world did CBS think anybody around here (or anywhere outside of New York and Denver) would rather watch the Jets-Broncos game Sunday than the Steelers-Patriots ?
3. Aren't you surprised when the Lightning goes through a day without a roster move? And here's usually a good barometer: The more roster moves you make, the worse you are.