Shooting from the lip
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
Terry Bradshaw had some love for Bucs coach Jon Gruden on Fox NFL Sunday:
"There were a lot of players who didn't care if Jon Gruden came back and maybe even some of the coaches that didn't really like this man,'' Bradshaw said. "They thought it was all about Gruden, but hats off to him because this year Gruden is the one who has changed. Players like him, and they're all getting along. It takes a special guy to recognize that there was something going wrong and then doing something about it.''
Yeah, maybe it's that. Or maybe the Bucs found a quarterback.
Most depressing sight
What a shame to see so many empty seats in Pittsburgh for the USF-Pitt game. It wasn't so long ago that names such as Tony Dorsett, Dan Marino, Hugh Green and Matt Cavanaugh were playing in front of a packed house at old Pitt Stadium. Now no one comes to watch the shell of a program in swanky Heinz Field. That's so sad.
After the Bears' Devin Hester returned a kickoff for a touchdown — after returning a punt for a touchdown earlier in the game — CBS analyst Dan Dierdorf said what everyone watching that game was thinking: "If somebody knows why Denver decided to kick the ball right down the middle of the field to Devin Hester, write me a letter, will ya?''
Here I go again. I know I'm in the minority, but I like that there's no playoff system in college football because it makes the regular season all the more meaningful. Host John Saunders made the same argument on Sunday’s Sports Reporters on ESPN:
"When No. 1 LSU lost to Arkansas on Friday, it was the 12th time this year a Top 5 ranked team lost to an unranked team. In a playoff world, those upsets would’ve meant little. Just this weekend, three of the top six lost. The Colts and Patriots 'Game of the Century' a few weeks back had a lot of hype, but in reality, it only affected homefield advantage. Imagine if the loser was knocked from Super Bowl contention. Now that would make it big.''
Are the Patriots the best team of all time? ESPN's Mike Ditka, sporting an old leather Chicago Bears helmet with no face mask, said, ''The best team of all time — this is true, and I played against them and I know — the 1926 Frankford Yellow Jackets.''
CBS' NFL insider Charley Casserly is always good for a interesting tidbit or two. On Sunday he said: "I talked to somebody who is close to (ousted Nebraska coach) Bill Callahan, and they figure that he will be coming back into the NFL as an offensive coordinator. One team is already interested in talking to him about that. And also, the University of Mississippi is interested in talking to Ravens assistant coach Rick Neuheisel.''
Well, he isn't lucky anymore. Quite frankly, it's justice to see the luck run out on LSU and coach Les Miles. The Tigers were living a charmed life all season, and Miles was flat-out lucky to be No. 1 heading into Thanksgiving after some of the boneheaded decisions he made that ended up working out. If you're a Gators fan, maybe you should hope Miles does not take the Michigan job.
ESPN's Pat Forde had some good coaching fodder talking about the college football coaching musical chairs. Forde said Texas A&M might make a run at Auburn's Tommy Tuberville to replace Dennis Franchione, who resigned under pressure. Other possible candidates for the Aggies job: Boise State's Chris Petersen and Mike Sherman, the former Packers coach who is now a Houston Texans assistant.
Meantime, Forde said Nebraska defensive coordinator Bo Pelini is the leading candidate to replace the fired Bill Callahan at Nebraska. Former Cornhuskers quarterback Turner Gill, now the coach at Buffalo, and Navy coach Paul Johnson are other possibilities. Speaking of Pelini, he could be a candidate at LSU if Les Miles leaves for the Michigan job.
Okay, so Kansas needed a miracle after giving up a safety to fall behind 36-28 with six seconds left to Missouri on Saturday night. But why not at least try for a miracle? The Jayhawks could have at least tried an onside kick on the free kick from their own 20 after the safety, but they just kicked it away instead, and Missouri kneeled once to end the game. The chances of recovering the onside kick, then scoring on a 70-yard Hail Mary play, then converting a two-point conversion just to tie were probably ridiculous. But what did they have to lose by trying?
Most incredible numbers
On ESPN's Sports Reporters, Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan found another way to point out how dominant the Patriots have been. Going into Sunday night's game, kicker Stephen Gostkowski had attempted only 12 field goals all season, but had kicked off 75 times. Meantime, punter Chris Hanson is not among the official punter statistics because he had punted only 22 times — less than the required 2½ a game to qualify in the punting stats.
Most disturbing story
ESPN's Outside the Lines did an outstanding piece that should make everyone angry. Big Ten official Jim Filson lost his job when it was learned he had been officiating with one eye. Filson was a field judge for seven years and then lost his right eye after a fall in the offseason. He returned to officiate five more years until a call in one game — a call that replay fixed like dozens of others every season in the Big Ten and a call that might have had nothing to do with his having one eye — led to several phone conversations that ended up costing Filson his job, even though Filson consistently graded well in evaluations.
And know who was a big part of getting Filson bounced as an official? Michigan coach Lloyd Carr, who, apparently was big and brave when spouting off to Big Ten officials about it, but didn't have the guts to go on camera with ESPN about it. By the way, Filson sued the Big Ten and eventually settled out of court. However, he is stuck officiating high school and small college games.
Did anyone else feel like throwing a brick through the television every time ABC's Brent Musburger called Kansas "The Manginos'' (after coach Mark Mangino) during the KU-Missouri game Saturday night? It was mildly annoying the first time he did it. But the third or fourth time, you were looking for bricks, weren't you?
Most overrated team
Enough, enough, enough from those whining about Hawaii being shut out of the BCS picture even though it is undefeated and quarterback Colt Brennan having no shot at the Heisman even though he has thrown like 5,000 touchdowns or something. Hawaii doesn't play anybody! Northern Colorado? Louisiana Tech? UNLV? Idaho? Come on. The best team it has beaten is Boise State, and who knows if Boise State is any good because it doesn't play anybody. Even if you think Boise is decent, there's a big difference between getting up for one game and doing what, say, Tim Tebow (Florida), Darren McFadden (Arkansas) or Chase Daniel (Missouri) has to do — which is play seven or eight good teams, including one or two really good teams. Plus, let's not reward teams that play soft schedules. Otherwise, what's the point of schools from major conferences scheduling good teams outside their conference schedule?
Most touching moment
ESPN's College GameDay surely brought a tear to anyone’s eye who saw the touching and inspiring story of Oklahoma State cornerback Martel Van Zant, who was born deaf. If you didn't tear up watching fans give Van Zant the sign-language sign for applause, you must be a robot.