College GameDay still on top of its game
Shooting from the Lip
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
Just when it seemed as if ESPN's College GameDay had become a tad stale, the show made a brilliant move on Saturday and reminded viewers why it remains one of the best sports show on television.
-- It aired from Florida A&M in Tallahassee, the first time College GameDay originated from a historically black college. Appropriately, the show did a feature on the "Marching 100'' of Florida A&M. "Perhaps the greatest marching band in the land,'' host Chris Fowler said.
-- Erin Andrews asked several tough questions of South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, including why Spurrier hasn't turned the Gamecocks around as Nick Saban has turned around Alabama. ("Maybe he has done a better job recruiting players than I have,'' Spurrier said.) Andrews did get Spurrier to reveal that he plans to coach another ''four to five years'' and only at South Carolina.
-- The highlight of the show was a touching piece by Shelley Smith on Darryl Hill, the first African-American to play in the ACC when he joined Maryland in 1963. GameDay analyst Lee Corso was an assistant on the team and helped Hill through racial tension that included being accosted physically and verbally. (Nice touch as Fowler pointed out that President-elect Barack Obama was 2 at the time.)
"Mentoring Darryl through some very difficult times was the most gratifying thing that happened to me in my coaching career and probably my life,'' Corso said. "It was just an absolutely wonderful experience. It was difficult at times, but it was sure worth it.''
Corso also relayed a tremendous story of Maryland traveling to Wake Forest, where Corso claimed Hill received the worst treatment. Corso said then-Wake Forest running back Brian Piccolo -- whose death at 26 of lung cancer was the subject of the 1971 TV move Brian's Song -- took Hill after the game in front of the Wake Forest fans and put his arm around him in a show of support.
All in all, GameDay's best show of the season, quite an achievement considering Saturday probably had the worst slate of games. Maybe that was the key: There were no games to go crazy over, so GameDay went a little deeper into its playbook to come up with a good show.
Best use of water
While Maryland and North Carolina were playing in what looked like a monsoon Saturday, ABC's Bob Griese, who played for the Dolphins and knows a thing or two about throwing footballs in downpours, demonstrated the difference in how a quarterback throws the ball when it's dry as opposed to when it's wet. It would've been more interesting if announcer Brad Nessler hadn't stepped all over the demonstration by pouring a bottle of water on Griese's hand then carrying on about it for far too long.
What's his name?
Sun Sports did a good job introducing new Lightning coach Rick Tocchet to its audience during Sunday's broadcast of the Lightning-Hurricanes game. There were interviews and sound bites and clips of Tocchet as a player. But it was almost eerie how there was hardly any mention of Barry Melrose even though the coaching change was the theme of the broadcast. In fact, in the three-minute opening to the broadcast, announcer Rick Peckham and Bobby "Chief'' Taylor did not even mention Melrose's name.
Manny not always being Manny
This is in no way to defend baseball's Manny Ramirez, but he does enough flaky stuff that we don't have to misinterpret incidents to come up with more stuff. On ESPN's Outside the Lines, reporter Pedro Gomez said Ramirez's much-publicized dugout fight with teammate Kevin Youkilis in June was over some Red Sox being upset that Ramirez was too slow to take to the field in the Rays-Red Sox, James Shields-Coco Crisp brawl. But media outlets which cover the Red Sox, including the Boston Globe, reported the Manny-Youkilis fight was actually over Youkilis constantly whining in the dugout and throwing tantrums after making outs. Youkilis never revealed what exactly caused the fight but was adamant that it wasn't about the brawl.
Most disappointing event
St. Petersburg boxer Jeff Lacy simply was overmatched Saturday night in a unanimous decision loss to Jermain Taylor, and now there are questions about his career even though Saturday was just his second loss. HBO Boxing's Larry Merchant had the harshest criticism: "When he was an Olympian and a crowd-pleasing fighter and a tough guy, a good guy, he built an early record that suggested to many observers that he could be a serious fighter, but it never turned out that way.''
"Eight teams,'' Obama said. "That would be three rounds to determine a national champion. It would add three extra weeks to the season. You could trim back on the regular season. I don't know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this. So, I'm going to throw my weight around a little bit. I think it's the right thing to do.''
First off, I consider myself a "serious fan of college football'' and I do disagree with you, Mr. President-elect. I like the current system because it makes the regular season more important, although I'm positive I'm in the minority. Still, how about throwing your weight around on the economy and figure out what's going on in Iraq and Afghanistan before worrying about the BCS.
Funniest line of the weekend
"I've been recycling lines I used at ESPN.''
-- NBC Sunday Night Football's Dan Patrick on his contribution to the "green'' efforts.
ESPN's Sports Reporters found a star in Miami Herald columnist Israel Gutierrez, who fit right in with Sports Reporters veterans Mike Lupica and Howard Bryant. He made the best point of the show, talking about how a loss to Ole Miss might not have been the worst thing that could've happened to the Gators.
"The reason they are where they are might be because of that blocked extra point,'' Gutierrez said. "If you ask people in Florida … they'll tell you Urban Meyer tried to trick people too often. He didn't realize, it seemed, that he was just more talented than the competition. After that Ole Miss game, he realized, 'Look, we can run normal plays. We don't have to run trick plays and we're (still) going to beat everybody.'''
Three things that popped into my head
1. Right or wrong, this Barry Melrose firing has turned the Lightning into a bit of a joke in NHL circles. Time will tell if the Lightning made the mistake hiring Melrose in June or firing him last week, but somewhere, there was a mistake made. Right now, either Lightning owner Oren Koules or sidekick Len Barrie or GM Brian Lawton needs to come out and explain to fans exactly what the Lightning's plan is -- short term and long term -- just to prove that they even have a plan.
2. Georgia struggled to beat a mediocre Auburn team. LSU nearly lost to Troy. Two more examples of how the SEC is not nearly as good as some people would like to think and not nearly as good as the Big 12. That's why the winner of the SEC Championship Game should not be automatically placed in the BCS title game, especially if Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Texas all finish with one loss. I'm not saying there should be two Big 12 teams, I'm just saying that an SEC team in the national title game is not a no-brainer.
3. Did anybody think USF would be 1-4 in the Big East conference at this point?