Shooting from the lip
Looking back at the weekend of televised sports ...
The Les Miles story turned crazy Saturday. First, ESPN's Kirk Herb-streit reported in the morning that his sources told him the LSU coach was leaving to take the Michigan job. Later, Miles held a news conference to say that the story wasn't true and that he was LSU's coach. Then, even later, he told CBS's Tracy Wolfson that he would be at LSU next season.
A few things about all this.
First, Herbstreit is as solid as they come, and it's likely those close to Miles did tell him Miles was taking the Michigan job. Yet, in this get-it-first media world, ESPN jumped the gun, relying on people who were jumping the gun before getting final word from Miles. It took a gamble and lost, and lost some credibility in the process. It's not how things should be done. But, at least Herbstreit went on camera to explain why he reported what he did. And let's just wait until next season to see if he is wrong.
But here's the big thing: Miles is the clueless jerk in all this. He holds a news conference two hours before the SEC Championship Game and, essentially, chews out the media and Herbstreit for getting the story wrong. Listen, folks, the rumors of Miles going to Michigan have been swirling since the moment Lloyd Carr stepped away two weeks ago. At any point, Miles could've stopped the story from gaining steam, and he chose not to. So he had no right to come off all surly and high and mighty before Saturday's game and say he needed to set the record straight because his team might be distracted.
If he were truly concerned about Michigan being a distraction to his Tigers, he would've said the moment Carr stepped down that he was not interested in leaving LSU. So why didn't he? You’d have to be a fool to think Miles has not considered it. And in the past two weeks, either he didn't like the offer from Michigan or LSU stepped up to keep him. But there's no way Miles wasn't thinking or even talking about leaving for Michigan over the past two weeks. He's as much to blame for the distraction as Herbstreit, ESPN and the media. In fact, he's to be blamed more. He had two weeks to put this story to rest.
Most unwatched sport
Dick Vitale might get in a lather over this item, but it's just impossible to get into college basketball while the college football season still is in full swing. Maybe we’ll watch a game or two in the next couple of weeks waiting for the bowl games, but don’t most of us start getting into it as soon as the bowls and the Super Bowl are over?
P.S. - Dickie V left a voicemail on my work phone Monday morning to say that, in part, he agrees with me. Says he has long been a proponent of starting the college hoops season after Thanksgiving so as not to compete with college football. Geez, I love Dickie V.
Best on-the-mark line
Just as the final seconds were ticking off Pitt's massive upset of No. 2 West Virginia on Saturday night, ESPN announcer Mike Patrick said, "This will be the biggest disappointment in the history of West Virginia football.''
Worst goalie of the weekend
Hey, next time you (or Lightning coach John Tortorella) feel like complaining about Lightning goalie Johan Holmqvist and Marc Denis, remember what it was like a couple of years ago. Here's a reminder: former Bolt John Grahame gave up eight goals on 25 shots — some of which came from the top of the faceoff circles — in an 8-1 Carolina loss to Buffalo on Saturday.
Fox football analyst Howie Long pointed out that it might be time for Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb to move out of Philadelphia: "To me, this all started back on draft day (in 1999) with the boos and despite three NFC Championship Games, that locker room and city seems to be divided at all times. I look at New England's Tom Brady who came out this week and did not just defend Randy Moss in the papers, he defended him vehemently, enthusiastically and with great passion. Then you look back to Philadelphia. When have you ever seen anyone in the Eagles organization or in that city defend Donovan McNabb? It’s time for Donovan to move on.''
Don't be surprised if McNabb ends up in Minnesota next season.
Question of the day
Was anyone else shocked — shocked, I say — that Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan was named first-team All-American by college coaches? Ryan had a nice season, but better than Florida's Tim Tebow? Missouri's Chase Daniel? Oregon's Dennis Dixon? Hawaii's Colt Brennan? West Virginia's Pat White? Kentucky's Andre Woodson? Oklahoma's Sam Bradford? Ryan might not have even been one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the country.
Most underrated show
NBC showed a tightly produced and highly watchable 90-minute special on the Ironman World Championships, sort of the Super Bowl of triathlons from Hawaii. No one wants to watch 10 hours of a triathlon except triathletes. But NBC's coverage had interesting and poignant back stories, interviews and drama. They turned an all-day event into an interesting broadcast without wasting all day.
The Big East needs to completely overhaul its officiating. Several big games this season were ruined by horrible calls — including the USF-UConn game and the Louisville-UConn game — and Saturday night almost broke the camel's back. Against West Virginia, Pitt was twice signaled for you-got-to-be-kidding holding penalties. One wiped out a touchdown. Another wiped out what could've been a game-ending first down. And, simply put, neither was holding. An obvious defensive holding call against WVU (on, by the way, the same Pitt receiver who was given the two offensive holding penalties) was not called. It came after one of the phantom holding calls against Pitt and denied it another game-ending first down.
Then came a no-need-to-call celebration penalty after Pitt stopped West Virginia. Fortunately, that turned out not to hurt the Panthers. The Big East is lucky that Pitt held on to win.
Still, the night was an embarrassment after a season full of less-than-solid officiating. It was so bad Saturday night that one couldn't help but wonder if the officials were thinking that a West Virginia victory would put it in the national championship game and would make the Big East look good. A thought like that should never pop into anyone's mind.
Hey, anybody out there complaining his school got a raw deal being shut out of the BCS national title game, there's one word for you: SHUTUP! Any team not playing in the national championship has only itself to blame. Want to go the national championship? Win your games. Don't lose two games. And as far as undefeated Hawaii goes? Play real teams and get back to us.
Funniest line, part I
"You hear a bunch of Canadian being spoken down there.''
Lightning color man Bobby "The Chief'' Taylor when microphones near the ice of Saturday's Lightning-Bruins game picked up a few obscenities between players.
Funniest line, part II
"Now I'm not sure about all the idiot math that goes into the BCS poll, but I do know this: If the regular season had gone on a couple of more weeks, Notre Dame would’ve been right back in there.''
Mike Lupica on ESPN's Sports Reporters.
How bad was the BCS bowl announcement show Sunday night? You knew Fox was going to drag out the announcement of which teams were playing the national championship game until the end, but that didn't make it any less frustrating. And while Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson are entertaining analysts, they are more geared toward the pro game these days. Neither has coached or covered college football in nearly 20 years.