Shooting from the lip
Looking back at the best and worst from recent televised sports ...
Kudos to ESPN for its feature during the Heisman Trophy presentation show on how much God and faith have meant to Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. Sometimes the big networks get a little squirrelly when it comes to talking about God and faith and sports, but ESPN made the right call of profiling Tebow the way it did because that's the way Tebow is. You can't tell Tebow’s story without talking about the most important thing in his life. Another pat on the back to analyst Kirk Herb-streit, who made it a major part of his live interview with Tebow during the show.
Speaking of Tim Tebow winning the Heisman, his two biggest fans might have been ESPN analysts Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso.
Herbstreit: "You think about ambassadors for this award, you think about ambassadors for college football, I don't think you're going to find a better guy than Tim Tebow.''
Corso: "I don't know that we've had a better winner for college football and for life than Tim Tebow.''
Know what was annoying? All the comments like this:
"Tim Tebow won it, fine,'' Fox's Jimmy Johnson said about the Heisman Trophy. "But I think (Arkansas running back) Darren McFadden will make a better pro.''
Johnson wasn't alone in making this sort of comment. Several analysts said something close to that. You know what? There might be a dozen linemen and linebackers and defensive backs out there in college who will have better pro careers than both Tebow and McFadden, but why are we even talking about it? The Heisman Trophy is for the best college player, not who is going to be the better pro 10 years from now. So what's the point? Why even make such a point?
The Lightning lost in overtime Saturday night when the Islanders scored on a power play after a slashing penalty against Lightning defenseman Paul Ranger. The call sent the crowd into a frenzy and the question is: Why? Ranger clearly slashed the stick out of the hands of the Islanders player. It's a textbook call. How could anyone argue it?
Fox's Howie Long, talking about the playcalling of Lions offensive coordinator Mike Martz:
"Mike Martz suffers from a rare form of the Al Gore syndrome; Al Gore still thinks he's the president and Mike Martz still thinks he's the head coach.’’
Number of the weekend
244. Maybe the holiday college bowl season isn't all that it's cracked up to be. The combined number of losses of all the teams playing in the 32 bowl games this season is 244. Uh, that's an all-time high, which proves a rather simple point: There are too many bowl games.
Most interesting comment
NASCAR seemed to lose a little steam this season. It's still wildly popular, but some of the shine appears to have come off it. Just a bit. That led to some critical comments about how it's being run, including this one from the Charlotte Observer's David Poole:
"I believe NASCAR's brass spends too much time looking out the back of the tower to see how many fans are buying T-shirts and not enough looking at the track to see what's happening where it really matters.''
A team that seems like a lock to make the Super Bowl? Don't say New England. Mitch Albom made a great point on ESPN's Sports Reporters: "I think Dallas has an easier run to the Super Bowl than New England does on the other side of the picture, having to deal with Pittsburgh and Indianapolis. There is no parallel of that for the Dallas Cowboys.’’
Then again, New England still looks pretty darn good.
Doesn't it seem like every team in the NHL is riding a roller coaster? Win three, lose three, win five, lose four. Why is that?
"The very best (in the NHL) is not far away from the very worst,'' Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice said on Hockey Night in Canada. Then he added a pretty cool comment: "The teams that come together and exemplify the most important parts of our game — playing together, caring about each other, being good teammates, pulling together — all the things that we teach our 10-year-olds, maybe if we could do that in the National Hockey League, you'd win a Stanley Cup.''
Again, another example of how messed up the NHL schedule is: Pens superstar Sidney Crosby is in his third NHL season, and yet it wasn't until last week that he played in front of hockey-mad fans in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver for the first time.
Paul Johnson has done a fabulous job at Navy. Yet it seems odd that he would jump ship (jump ship — get it?) to join Georgia Tech. No disrespect to Georgia Tech, but it seems as if Johnson could've hung on for a better job. Michigan, maybe. Or replacing who ever leaves his job for Michigan. It's just that it seems hard to win consistently at Georgia Tech. By the way, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Tech interviewed eight men for the job, one being a familiar name: former Auburn coach Terry Bowden. Gee, 10 or 12 years ago, wouldn't you have bet that Terry or brother Tommy would eventually replace their old man at Florida State?
One of baseball's oldest adages is that all good teams are strong up the middle. Marc Topkin, the Rays beat writer for the Times, wrote on Sunday how the Rays lineup is starting to look. In looking it over, you’ll see what the Rays have up the middle. The catcher is Dioner Navarro. Akinori Iwamura, who has never played second base regularly in the majors, moves to second. New addition Jason Bartlett is at short. And B.J. Upton in center even though he had never played center before last season. The pitching staff is Scott Kazmir, James Shields, new guy Matt Garza and then who knows?
So, do you think the Rays are strong up the middle?
Redskins coach Joe Gibbs still is taking heat from last week when he called back-to-back timeouts to ice the Bills kicker before a winning 51-yard field goal in the rain. Calling back-to-back timeouts like that is illegal. The penalty moved the ball up 15 yards and Buffalo won on a much easier 36-yard field goal. Gibbs later explained he didn't know the rule.
On Sunday's Fox NFL Sunday, Terry Bradshaw hit the nail on the head: "The head coach doesn't know the rules? He's the highest paid coach in the NFL and he's already in the Hall of Fame. How is that possible?''
I'll never understand why boxing insists on making it so difficult (and expensive) to watch its premier events. Saturday was another example as Floyd Mayweather fought Ricky Hatton. I get the whole pay-per-view thing and it allows boxing to make a ton of money. But doesn't it make sense (and, in the long run, cents) to occasionally make some of your biggest events available to the mass audience of free network television at a time when people can actually watch?
Most overblown story
Analysts and announcers made too big of a deal about the Steelers' Anthony Smith guaranteeing victory over the Patriots. First, if you saw the orginal clip of Smith, he merely said the Steelers had a good week of practice and had a chance to win. Then he was asked if that was a guarantee. At that point, he really couldn't back down. And, anyway, are you telling me that the Patriots didn't plan on playing hard UNTIL they heard Smith's comments? That's ridiculous. Speaking of that game, here's the scary part for the NFL. The Steelers are good. Really good. And they actually played pretty well Sunday. And they still lost by three touchdowns.
Three questions discussed, with no answers, over the weekend
1. How is it that Isiah Thomas still has a job with anyone in the NBA, let alone the Knicks?
2. Do you think Bill Parcells would've walked away from the Cowboys if he knew they were going to be this good?
3. What the heck is going on with his divorce that Arizona basketball coach Lute Olson has to take off the entire season? Something just seems odd about that.