Shooting from the lip
LSU coach Les Miles is flat-out lucky his Tigers beat Auburn on Saturday. He called for a long pass when he needed only what would've been about a 39-yard field goal to win. His team came through by scoring a TD, but there was only one second left when the play ended. Had the pass been deflected, that final second could've ticked off. (But, replays showed the TD actually came with four seconds left and the clock ran a bit — something that would've been fixed on replay if necessary.) That led to a bizarre conversation between Miles and ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe.
First, Rowe messed up badly by asking Miles, "You called timeout — what happened next? Take us through the process.''
Miles looked completely puzzled and for good reason — he didn't call timeout. But Miles explained himself and Rowe followed with the question about time nearly running out. Miles then said, "We still had a timeout. I knew with 16 or 18 seconds left, we had time.''
The thing was, he didn't have 16 or 18 seconds left. The ball on the touchdown play was snapped with eight seconds left. It wasn't Rowe's finest moment. And it wasn't Miles' best coaching, either. He was lucky.
After watching the USF-Rutgers game then the fiasco of the fair-catch-that-wasn't in UConn's victory against Louisville, it's safe to say the Big East's officiating is atrocious, the worst of any major conference in college football.
CBS NFL insider Charley Casserly had an interesting stat. He learned that two NFL officiating crews had called offensive holding three times all season, while another crew had called it 12 times. "This has been a constant problem the whole time that I've been in the league: the inconsistency of one crew to another,'' Casserly said. "What's the league doing about it? This year, something different. Starting this week, they're going to start evaluating these crews on these statistics, trying to identify why there's differences and work to get them corrected during the season.''
Team of the weekend
The New England Patriots might not lose a game. They might not even come within the same zip code of losing a game. Fox NFL analyst Howie Long said, "If this team goes on and wins another championship this year, I think you have to mention (coach Bill) Belichick and (quarterback) Tom Brady in the conversation for best ever at what they do.''
Yet the NFL Network's Deion Sanders remains a skeptic: "They got to come up with a running game because winter is approaching. Brady is not going to be able to sit back and throw for 300, 400 yards due to inclement weather.''
Most interesting reporting
During the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast, reporter Scotty Morrison said the NHL is looking to fix the schedule. (Excuse me while I yell out a "Yippeeeeeeeee!'') In fact, the league might go back to an 84-game regular season so that teams in the East play teams in the West twice — once at home, once on the road. To make room, teams would cut back two or three exhibition games. Right now, it's just all talk, but it sounds good, doesn't it?
By far, the most entertaining five minutes of television all weekend was ESPN's Keyshawn Johnson interviewing Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson on Sunday NFL Countdown. It was hard to tell who was interviewing whom as the two went back and forth about Chad's antics. Keyshawn questioned whether Chad goes overboard with his celebrations and whether he still cares because Chad hasn’t celebrated as much lately. "What is there to celebrate when we’re losing?'' Chad said. At one point, Keyshawn asked Chad if he were a "distraction'' to his team and said he disapproved of Chad's celebrations, demeanor and so forth. (Funny that the questions came from a guy who wore out his welcome pretty much everywhere he played.) Oddly enough, the viewer came out of this five minutes of television gold liking both Johnsons.
If FSU-Miami had played the game they played Saturday 15 years ago, it might have been one of the greatest college games ever. But did anyone other than FSU and Miami fans even watch?
ESPN college football analyst Mark May was on top of his game and just might be the authoritative voice of college football for the network. You don't always have to agree with his comments, but his opinions are strong and he can back up what he says with a good argument as opposed to, say, the network's Robert Smith, who might as well wear his old Ohio State jersey on camera. But, anyway, back to May. He seems to have an allegiance to no one and no team. That's how it should be. His best comment of the weekend was about which two-loss team had the best chance to win the SEC:
"It's Florida and it's because of their quarterback, Tim Tebow. He does everything. He runs the ball. He throws the ball. He manages the game. … He doesn't make mistakes. And he's exciting. Every time he steps on the field, he's a human highlight film.''
You gotta love Dr. Jerry Punch, who said this about the small NASCAR track at Martinsville Speedway on ABC's Subway 500 coverage: "Folks, this racetrack is about the size of your average shopping mall parking lot. Now imagine putting 43 cars in a mall parking lot and telling these guys you can go just over 100 mph but at the end of the day there's only going to be one parking spot available that you really want. How quickly would that get ugly? Our shopping mall lot that we call Martinsville Speedway is about to be open for business.''
Most common prediction
With Tom Osborne taking over as athletic director at Nebraska, it seems only a matter of time before Bill Callahan is axed as head football coach. Who might replace him? Two — ESPN's Lee Corso and Fox's Barry Switzer — already are tabbing former Nebraska QB and current University of Buffalo coach Turner Gill as the Huskers' next coach.
Here's why Alabama coach Nick Saban is a dirtbag. ESPN's Outside the Lines did a positive piece on Jim Leavitt and the rise of USF football. The piece pointed out Saban's comments about how USF accepts non-qualifiers. USF freely admitted that over the past three years, it has accepted 40 football players who met NCAA academic standards, but not USF standards. OTL also asked Florida, which said it currently has 14 non-qualifiers, and Florida State, which averages about 15 a season — the same as USF. When Alabama was asked? It refused to answer.
Stat of the week
Irish fans (and coach Charlie Weis, for that matter) keep telling everyone, "Go ahead and pile on over how bad we are now because we’ll be back.'' Well, okay, here's piling on: With 10 minutes left in Saturday's 38-0 loss to USC, the Trojans had as many touchdowns (five) as Notre Dame had first downs.
The two best one-liners over the weekend came from Fox.
Baseball analyst Tim McCarver: "You fall behind major-league hitters and you turn mules into race horses.'' I don't know, exactly, what that means, but I liked it.
NFL analyst Jimmy Johnson, talking how everyone has jumped on the Adrian Peterson bandwagon: "Victory has 1,000 fathers, defeat is an orphan.''
CBS analyst Gary Danielson shouted "Jump pass formation'' just moments before Florida's Tim Tebow threw a TD pass against Kentucky on a … jump pass. "This isn't an offense of the 21st century,'' play-by-play man Verne Lundquist said. "It's an offense of the 1950s.''
ESPN scouting analyst Todd McShay said USF has three legitimate NFL prospects. McShay's list:
1. Mike Jenkins, CB. "Reminds me of (New England’s) Eugene Wilson. I wouldn't be surprised to see him go in the first round.''
2. Trae Williams, CB. "A ballhawk, a playmaker. Another possible first-rounder.''
3. George Selvie, DE. "Reminds me of (Dallas') DeMarcus Ware. He's only a sophomore, but he would be a first-round pick if he entered the next NFL draft.''