Shooting from the lip
A look back at a weekend of televised sports ...
USF comment of the weekend
You know USF has hit the big time when it is the talk of all the college football shows and even one of the NFL pregame shows. During their "Grumpy Old Coaches'' segment on Fox NFL Sunday, Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson talked about Alabama coach Nick Saban saying USF is so good because it accepts academic nonqualifiers. Johnson, who (by the way) said USF does not deserve to be ranked No. 5 in the country, said: "Nick Saban is covering his own rear end after losing a couple of ball games. He's probably trying to say, 'Hey, if I could get those players, I'd be undefeated.' He's covering his own rear end."
Best baseball analyst
Know what the best part of TBS's so-so baseball coverage has been? The analysis of Steve Stone, who has been much too absent from the airwaves since he left WGN and the Cubs in 2004. I'm not a huge fan of Chip Carey, but he did a solid job calling the Yankees-Indians series, as did analyst Tony Gywnn.
Best hockey analyst
Dan Boyle has a future after hockey. The injured Lightning defense-man sat in with the Sun Sports guys during Saturday's Lightning-Thrashers game for a few minutes and was quite good. He seemed relaxed (something athletes-turned-analysts have a hard time doing) and offered some cool tidbits. Seriously, he should think about going into broadcasting when he’s through playing. By the way, did anyone else notice that someone at Sun Sports forgot to hit a switch and we ended up watching a 20 minutes of an "Inside the Marlins'' show instead of the Lightning pre-game show?
Best football analyst
How is it that ESPN always seems to corner the market on good analysts in every sport? My newest favorite is Andre Ware. He has strong opinions — so strong that you might not always agree with him — but his analysis is spot-on and, most important, brief. He says what he says and moves on. He doesn't belabor his point — the flaw of most analysts.
Most disappointing analysis
CBS college football analyst Gary Danielson might be the best in the business, but he dropped the ball during Saturday's LSU-Florida game by dismissing Tony Joiner's legal trouble last week. He made Joiner's trip to a tow truck company at 4:30 in the morning seem almost like a prank, cracking sarcastically that it was oh-so-shocking that a college student is up all night. Thankfully, sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson did her job and grilled Florida coach Urban Meyer about his senior safety before the game, even though you could tell that Meyer wasn't all that excited about answering her questions. Good for her.
Most hypocritical analysis
Everyone is entitled to his opinion as to whether USF deserves to be the fifth-ranked team in the nation. That includes ESPN's Lee Corso, who has every right to keep USF out of his top five. The problem is his reasoning. Corso's top five late Saturday: LSU, California, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Boston College. About USF in the top five, Corso said, "No way. Having seen those other teams? No way.''
Yet, about Boston College, Corso said, "What do you want them to do? They won every game.''
Well, so has USF. BC has beaten Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Georgia Tech, Army, UMass and Bowling Green. None of those teams is nearly as good as either West Virginia or Auburn — teams USF has beaten. To throw Corso's question back at him, "What else do you want USF to do?'''
Most interesting stats
It's official. The Cubs, who last won the World Series in 1908, will go at least 100 years without winning it all. ESPNews came up with these numbers:
Number of days since the Cubs won the World Series: 36,151.
Number of games since the Cubs won the World Series: 15,554.
Number of players used since the Cubs won the World Series: 1,538.
The Outside the Lines story on ESPN about Jim Jones Jr. and his son Rob — the son and grandson of infamous Peoples Temple leader Jim Jones — was riveting, chilling and, ultimately, inspirational. It would have been easy to focus solely on the fascinating final hours of the 1978 Jonestown massacre, but the piece appropriately looked at how basketball literally saved the lives of Jones and his son. "I thought there was a good balance,'' ESPN producer Jon Fish said during a conference call last week. "In the end, the story is about basketball and how it changed the lives of these extraordinary people.''
Best USF analysis
Times sports columnist Gary Shelton pointed out in Sunday's Times that things do, indeed, change when a team is ranked in the Top 10. ABC’s Doug Flutie agrees, saying it hardly mattered that USF struggled against Florida Atlantic on Saturday. "You put that 'No. 6' next to their name and now everybody is going to be ready to roll when they face South Florida,'' Flutie said. "It's amazing. You get into that Top 10 and all of a sudden every week becomes a dogfight. … Just win now. It's not about those style points.''
Best I-didn't-know-that stat
When Boston's Manny Ramirez won Game 2 against the Angels with a walkoff homer, it was his first walkoff homer out of 254 homers with the Red Sox.
Biggest big talk
CBS football analyst Spencer Tillman needs to calm down. He's a solid analyst but spends too much of his time making over-the-top comments. That's okay … as long as some of them come true. Anyone can come out and say something crazy, but you start to lose credibility when your crazy predictions never come true. One example: Tillman said if Tim Tebow carries the ball 20 times, "He will be knocked out of the game by halftime!'' Well, the Florida quarterback was well on pace by halftime and, no, he wasn't carted off the field. And, no, Tillman’s prediction of an "at least a nine-point victory by LSU'' didn't happen either.
While discussing whether there's a difference between catching a ball from a lefty such as Matt Leinart or a righty such as Kurt Warner, ESPN's Mike Ditka started to explain something to Keyshawn Johnson. The former receiver immediately waved off Ditka: “Ah, man, don’t tell me … I caught more passes than you in the NFL.’’
To which Ditka shot back: “Yeah, you dropped more, too.’’
NFL on Fox's Terry Bradshaw, talking about the Giants' Michael Strahan returning for another season: "You think Michael Strahan came back because he wants to play football? You know there's something about going through a divorce and being a little short on cash. That'll bring your butt back playing football real fast.''
Already, college football fans are trying to forecast the future. Will USF play in the BCS game if it goes undefeated? Which one-loss team has the best chance of staying in the national championship picture? Are the Florida Gators done even if they run the table, including a potential victory against LSU in the SEC Championship Game? "Oh, we're going to have some great debates in December because of this one-loss thing,'' Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan said on ESPN's Sports Reporters. "We definitely will.'' Then Ryan gave a fake cough and said, "South Florida.''
Can you believe either the Diamondbacks or the Rockies are going to play in the World Series?