Shooting from the lip
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
Best local shoutout
ESPN College GameDay's Lee Corso had high praise for the USF Bulls: "West Virginia better look out for next (Friday). They go to Tampa and play South Florida … They really got to play well to win that game.'' By the way, each week, the GameDay crew makes predictions for the "game-changing performance.'' Host Chris Fowler selected USF quarterback Matt Grothe.
Best shoutout II
The Gators struggled a tad against Ole Miss, but again, the College GameDay gang has jumped on the Gators bandwagon.
Lee Corso: "Florida is so good, they're getting scary. I didn't think they were going to be this good.''
Kirk Herbstreit: "I think the Gators are better this year than they were last year when they won the national championship.'' However, it should be noted that Herbstreit already has USC penned in as one of the teams in the national championship game.
Most interesting point
USF really has hit the big time. The Bulls seemed right at home Saturday on ESPN against North Carolina. Sideline reporter Rob Simmelkjaer, however, made a thought-provoking point about playing at Raymond James Stadium instead of an on-campus stadium: "As big teams like West Virginia and other Big East teams start to come in, I wonder whether, at some point, they're going to want to have a little more of a homefield advantage than they have here at Raymond James.''
Most honest assessment
On ABC's NASCAR Countdown, analyst Brad Daugherty perfectly summed up Dale Earnhardt Jr.: "I'm really looking forward to next season with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and giving him a fresh start as a fan because I think this opportunity gives him the chance to maximize his potential as a great race car driver. He's a great talent, and he has got a ton of potential. He's a fan favorite. But he has yet to emerge as a great race car driver''
Best use of a stat
Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb caused a ripple last week, saying African-American quarterbacks still come under more scrutiny than their white counterparts. That might be true. But during halftime of the Notre Dame-Michigan State game on NBC, Sports Illustrated's Peter King pointed out that part of McNabb's problems might start with the fact that since he led the Eagles to the Super Bowl, he was 9-12 as a starter heading into Sunday.
All the NFL pregame shows talked about Donovan McNabb's comments, but the best exchange came on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown.
Analyst Tom Jackson: "Am I surprised that when Donovan McNabb started to assess his situation that it might have a hint of racism to it? No, I am not. And I would tell anybody, walk in his shoes before you see the path that he's going down.''
Keyshawn Johnson: "Donovan McNabb lives in Philadelphia. He plays in Philadelphia. Philadelphia is a tough city to play sports in. They have a washed-up journeyman boxer as their idol and as their folk hero. On the other hand, if Donovan was playing in a city like Atlanta, where there's Hank Aaron and Dominique Wilkins, things would be different for him. His opinion would be different.''
Best show of class
Here's what one football analyst said about Green Bay’s Brett Favre tying Dan Marino’s NFL record of 420 touchdown passes: "The thing about it is that he did it in a fashion where he came from behind, which he has done many times, in pure Brett Favre fashion to tie the record, which is outstanding. … To tie the record in that fashion, you have to feel good for him since he's such a great competitor.''
Which football analyst said that? Dan Marino.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen gets high marks for this piece of information: Apparently, Jets coach Eric Mangini is taking some heat for breaking the code of coaches by blowing the whistle on the illegal videotaping by the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick. But according to Mortensen, "three or four'' other teams complained last year about the Patriots cheating. It was only this time that the NFL had proof.
Did you see where Michigan coach Lloyd Carr has become buddies with actor Russell Crowe? It's true. ESPN's College GameDay did a piece about how Carr used clips of Crowe's Cinderella Man in pregame pep talks. Crowe heard about it and invited Carr to his home country of Australia to speak to the pro rugby team he recently purchased. Crowe then showed up last week to help motivate Michigan for its victory against Notre Dame. Carr and Crowe. Isn't that the most bizarre friendship you could imagine?
Most tired story
We're all pretty much tired of this Patriots "Spygate'' case, but now all the talk is how the Patriots are more motivated. Fox's Terry Bradshaw correctly pointed out that "the worst thing that could have happened to the rest of the league was 'Spygate' because now they are so focused.'' Let's see if I have this all straight. The Patriots do something illegal and now they feel persecuted? I don't get that.
On ESPN's Sports Reporters, Mike Lupica used a conversation about college football to once again rip the BCS and how there is no playoff system. "I can't wait for the tournament,'' Lupica deadpanned. But host John Saunders had a nice comeback: "The tournament started Sept. 1.''
Saunders is right. The regular season is the start of the tournament, and each week, teams are eliminated until you have two teams meeting for it all. The lack of a playoff system makes the regular season all that more meaningful. Just ask teams such as Penn State and Alabama, who likely were eliminated from a national title with losses on Saturday.
Most forgotten event
What in the heck has happened to tennis' Davis Cup? Time was, it was one of the most significant sporting events in the world. Okay, granted that "time'' was like 40 years ago. Still, it has pretty much faded away from the sports culture — at least in this country. Bet most of you didn't know it was on television over the weekend.
Most disturbing story
ESPN's Outside the Lines did a solid piece on the trouble brewing in Jena, La. That town has become the center of racial tension after nooses were found hanging from a tree on the high school campus. Days later, a white student was beaten by several African-American students, one of whom was originally charged with attempted murder even though the beaten student didn't even spend a night in the hospital. Last week, tens of thousands of African-Americans, including Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, marched in Jena. What made the piece so troubling is that it appears nobody is blameless and there seems to be little in common to bridge the divide.
Most bizarre moment of the weekend
Did anyone catch Mike Patrick’s bizarre swerve off the road during Saturday's ESPN broadcast of the Georgia-Alabama game? In overtime, with Georgia taking over the ball and down by three, the crowd going wild, Patrick turned to partner Todd Blackledge and said, "I've got an important question.''
Blackledge: "Go ahead.''
Patrick: "What's Britney doing with her life?''
Blackledge: "Britney who?''
Patrick: "Spears. What's she doing with her career?''
Blackledge: "Why do we care at this point? Is she here?''
Patrick: "I don't think so.''
Blackledge: "Is she a football fan?''’
Patrick: "Oh, I'm sure she is.''
And that was it. On the next play, Georgia scored and won. Perhaps it was Patrick's attempt to lighten the mood at a critical, pressure-filled moment of the game. Or maybe he was trying to be funny. But we took it the same way Blackledge did. That was essentially to say, "Whaaaaaaaat?'' Patrick is a solid announcer, one of the best in the business. Here's hoping he doesn't do something so goofy like that again.