Shooting from the lip
The latest best and worst from televised sports ...
Worst use of hype
ESPN teased us twice last week and didn't deliver the goods. First, on Monday Night Football for the Steelers-Ravens game, the network made a big deal about the Steelers' 75th anniversary celebration. Then at halftime when the Steelers were honoring their greatest players, ESPN decided it better to give us Chris Berman's tired halftime show and an abbreviated Pardon the Interruption segment with Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon. The on-field celebration was ignored.
Then Saturday, College GameDay went to the campus of Williams College in Massachusetts for the 122nd meeting between Williams and Amherst. And then we couldn't watch the game ESPN got us excited to see even though the network gave us dud games — Indiana and Northwestern on ESPN Classic and Penn State-Temple on ESPNU.
If ESPN wants to make a big deal about an event, that's fine. But then at least show the event. If the network can't or won't, then don't tease us. It's like showing us a big, juicy steak and then not letting us eat it.
Check it out
At 8 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN Classic is showing Triumph and Tragedy: The Ray Mancini Story, a documentary about the infamous fight between Ray "Boom Boom'' Mancini and Deuk-Koo Kim, who died four days after the fight from injuries suffered in the match. ESPN's Outside the Lines showed a clip of the hour-long documentary Sunday and it looks like a must-see. Tuesday is the 25th anniversary of the fight, which went a long way toward changing championship boxing matches from 15 rounds to 12. Kim was knocked out in the 14th round of this brutal fight. "The change from 15 to 12 was a direct result of this fight,'' former Ring magazine editor-in-chief Steve Farwood said. "No doubt about it.''
Notre Dame is 1-9 for the first time. And Nebraska is a mess, even though the Cornhuskers won Saturday. But the worst major team in the country might be Minnesota. Hey, at least the Irish and Huskers are losing to decent teams. The Gophers (1-10) have lost 10 games for just the second time in school history, and that includes losses to Bowling Green, Florida Atlantic and North Dakota State. Plus they play in a stinkin' dome!
Worst use of replay
At the end of the first half of the Notre Dame-Air Force game, it appeared a Notre Dame player was out of bounds when he recovered a fumble. The call cost Air Force a shot at a field goal. Meanwhile, Illinois scored a touchdown that was clearly a fumble in its victory against Ohio State. By rule, all plays are supposed to be reviewed, but neither play was reversed even though replays seemed obvious. As far as one could tell, neither was given more than a quick glance by the replay official. So why even have the darned thing if bad calls are not going to be changed?
So now old Dolphins coach Don Shula, whose 1972 Dolphins went 17-0, is suggesting that if the Patriots go undefeated, the record might be tainted because of the whole "Spygate'' controversy. But during the Fox NFL Sunday pregame show, the analysts were having none of that.
Howie Long: "Five plays into that game, this film was confiscated. It had no impact on that game. It's had no impact on this season. People are saying, 'He's not remorseful, he's not contrite enough.' What do you want him to do? Do you want him to go on Oprah and cry? Bill Belichick is Bill Belichick.''
Then Terry Bradshaw added a real zinger: "I didn't even know Don Shula was still around. Who cares? Let it go, Don.''
I didn’t even know Don Shula was still around? That's beautiful.
Most tired reporting
Anyone else sick of Fox reporter Pam Oliver making herself a part of every story? Each week, we have to sit through her "cute'' banter with her NFL guests, and it's apparent that these clips are more about "look at me, I'm a star'' than they are about revealing the people she is supposed to be profiling. She did it again Sunday with Giants coach Tom Coughlin. The thing is, she's a good reporter. She asks good questions. She doesn't need to do that stuff. A producer should make sure some of that junk ends up on the cutting room floor.
Biggest piece of missing information
ESPN's Darren Lyn did a story on Outside the Lines about how predominantly white Delaware doesn't play Delaware State, a predominantly black school, in football even though they are less than an hour from one another. The suggestion, certainly one put forward in the piece, is it could be an issue of race. There were plenty of quotes criticizing Delaware for its lame "excuses'' for not playing Delaware State, and yet the piece never said or quoted anyone saying what exactly what those excuses were. Just seemed to be a major hole in the story. It wasn't until after the piece when host Bob Ley interviewed Delaware grad and ESPN.com writer Jeff Pearlman — an interview that had to be delayed until later in the show because of technical problems — that Delaware's reasons were made clear.
By the way, the excuses Pearlman said he got over the years were pretty lame. Delaware worried that the rivalry might cause a division in the state (even though, practically every state in America has an in-state football rivarly), that Delaware State has never brought up playing Delaware (not true), and Delaware's schedule is booked too far ahead to add a game anytime soon.
During Saturday's USF-Syracuse game, ESPN announcers Dave Sims and John Congemi interviewed former Syracuse great Larry Csonka, whose number was retired Saturday by the Orange. The announcers asked a bunch of questions about his days at Syracuse, which they should've asked. But how in the world can you have a member of the perfect 1972 Dolphins team — a guy who drinks champagne every time the last undefeated team loses — and not ask him about the undefeated and controversial New England Patriots?
Questions I pondered over the weekend
1. Based on what Ron Zook is doing at Illinois, is it at all possible that Florida pulled the trigger on him a little too soon?
2. What in the world has happened to Syracuse football? This program had a winning record in every season from 1987 to 2001 but has gone 23-46 since then, including 7-26 during the past three seasons.
3. If Kevin Garnett had spent the past 12 years in the NBA surrounded by big-time talent, might he be considered the best player to ever play the game?
Quarterback of the day
Cleveland's Derek Anderson has become a reliable quarterback with the Browns, delaying Brady Quinn's promotion to the starting job. So what happens now? The Browns can't keep both long-term. During halftime of Saturday’s Notre Dame-Air Force game on NBC, Sports Illustrated NFL writer Peter King said Anderson could end up playing next season in Carolina or Minnesota, which might have interest in acquiring the Eagles' Donovan McNabb.
Notre Dame and Nebraska are at a crossroads but could head in different directions after reaching rock bottom. Nebraska is losing recruits who had orally committed, while Notre Dame continues to hold on to its recruits. Why? According to ESPN scouting expert Tom Luginbill, it's because Nebraska coach Bill Callahan seems certain to lose his job while Charlie Weis' job at Notre Dame seems secure. And there's this:
"The bottom line — Notre Dame is still Notre Dame,'' Luginbill said. "They can walk into any high school at any given time and get a sit-down. They still carry that presence.''