Shooting from the lip
Just a thought
College football fans might disagree, but is it possible that there are too many games on television?
More than 20 games were aired Saturday, including what should have been several intriguing matchups: Michigan-Oregon, Notre Dame-Penn State, Georgia-South Carolina and Virginia Tech-LSU. Yet doesn't it seem almost impossible to keep track of all the games? And when you can't keep track, isn't it that much more difficult to enjoy? Maybe it's me. And yes, in the end, it is better to have too many games than too few. Yet even with a choice of practically every decent game being played, it's almost better to focus on one than try to watch eight at a time.
Former NFL quarterback Dan Fouts has made the smooth transition from color analyst to lead play-by-play announcer as evidenced by his solid work in Saturday night's game against Auburn on ESPN2. In football circles, not many have made that jump. Pat Summerall and Frank Gifford come to mind and not many others. If you didn't know any better, you wouldn't realize Fouts is an analyst turned lead announcer. Oh, speaking of the USF game, no surprise that Bulls coach Jim Leavitt is taking some heat from fans on the Pinellas side of Tampa Bay. After his Bulls upset Auburn, Leavitt said it was a big victory for "Tampa.''
USF alum and Clearwater resident Dick Briske wrote into the Times to say, The city of Tampa is not the only supporter of USF in the area and beyond. We get enough of the 'Tampa' Bucs that we don't need USF snubbing the rest of the bay area, too.''
True, the WNBA's audience probably doesn't cross over to football audiences. Still, you have to wonder why the league would put Game 2 of its finals, the league's premier event, head to head against college football. Game 2 was Saturday afternoon. Maybe it wouldn't make a difference, but doesn't it seem like a smarter idea to put games on at night in the middle of the week, when the only competition is baseball instead of the weekend, when the competition includes baseball, golf, tennis and about 3,000 college football games?
On ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown, analysts Mike Ditka, Keyshawn Johnson and Tom Jackson picked the Bucs' Gaines Adams to win NFL defensive rookie of the year honors.
Art Schlichter, the former college football great, was featured on Sunday's Outside the Lines on ESPN. The star quarterback at Ohio State saw his NFL career and life sabotaged by a gambling addiction, which eventually landed him behind bars. Today, Schlichter tours the country speaking about the dangers of gambling. "It's like crack cocaine,'' Schlichter said. "They say that once you've gotten that first high, you'll never find the next high. It will never be as good.''
ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown looked at the NFL's reputation in light of knuckleheads such as Pacman Jones, Tank Johnson and Michael Vick.
Analyst Tom Jackson: "When you start talking about money, which I think is the key issue, as a player you can make so much money that no one can tell you what to do. But it does not mean that you get the chance to do anything that you want.''
Former Bucs receiver Keyshawn Johnson, who is off to a strong start at ESPN, said: "I played for Coach (Tony) Dungy. We respected Dungy in Tampa, and we knew not to do anything wrong. As far as Bill Parcells, we respected him. And if you didn't, he will hit your pockets. You'll be gone, and you won't be able to feed your family. I think that's the only way. If you’re going to get to these players in the NFL, it is by doing those things.''
Best pregame of the weekend? Hands down, legendary singer-songwriter Carole King singing God Bless America with the Songs of Solomon Choir from Harlem before the women's final of the U.S. Open. The time has come, by the way, to replace the Star-Spangled Banner with God Bless America before all sporting events.
Best cameo appearance
Frank Caliendo, the guy on Fox's pregame who does an absolutely scary dead-on impression of John Madden, was brilliant as usual Sunday. But the star of his segment was a surprise guest. In a little cross-promotion, NBC's Bob Costas joined the segment, telling Caliendo, "I know John Madden. I work with John Madden. Frank, you don’t measure up.'' The piece ended with Costas knocking out Caliendo in a fight. "Frank got his butt kicked by a preschooler,'' Fox's Howie Long said.
CBS pregame analyst Dan Marino wore a "Spit Shield'' because he will be sitting next to former Steelers coach Bill Cowher this season. "It was a gift from Ben Roethlisberger,'' Marino said.
Cowher, by the way, made a strong debut and even made a comment about himself. "There’s no doubt,'' Cowher said in all seriousness, "that Roethlisberger is going to have more leeway (under coach Mike Tomlin).''
Partner Boomer Esiason said, "It must be good for Ben Roethlisberger to actually have a coach that will trust him.'' Cowher and Esiason are shaping up as playful adversaries, which is what makes Fox's Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long work so well together.
If Roger Federer can put together one more big year — and there's no reason to think he won't — he should finally be recognized as the greatest tennis player ever, if he isn’t already. On ESPN's Sports Reporters, New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica said, "Federer isn’t just the best tennis player of his era and probably any era by the time he is through. He is the best of sports right now. I believe he is better at what he does than Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning or LeBron.''
Fox NFL insider Jay Glazer had a nice little scoop about Chiefs star Tony Gonzalez being affected in the offseason by Bell's Palsy. But an even more interesting tidbit was how much the Falcons players dislike quarterback Michael Vick. Glazer claimed Falcons players used to hold contests to guess which quarter Vick would fake an injury. "That locker room is not sad to see him go,'' Glazer said.
Biggest "huh?'' statement
CBS analyst Boomer Esiason said, "Certainly, the Chargers have the best player (in LaDainian Tomlinson).'' Certainly? As in, "no doubt about it?'' Tiger Woods is certainly the best golfer in the world. Roger Federer is certainly the best tennis player. Tomlinson is good. He might even be the best. But to dismiss Peyton Manning? Tom Brady? It's certainly not a given.
Most underrated and underappreciated athlete in the world today? Justine Henin, who won her second U.S. Open and seventh major on Saturday. "Justine Henin is the female Roger Federer,'' CBS analyst John McEnroe said. Tennis legend Billy Jean King added, "Pound for pound, the best athlete I've ever seen.''
Michigan or Notre Dame. Flip a coin. At least Notre Dame has been beaten by two good I-A teams, Georgia Tech and Penn State. In fact, Penn State looks to be very good. Lou Holtz, a former Notre Dame coach and current ESPN analyst, believes the Irish can win eight games even though their next six are against Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, UCLA, Boston College and USC. College GameDay’s Lee Corso said, "They'll be lucky to win one of those games.''