Shooting from the Lip/Dec. 21
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
Best and worst comment
ESPN college basketball analyst Bob Knight set off a firestorm (go figure) last week when he made highly critical remarks about Kentucky coach John Calipari. Knight said: "We've gotten into this situation where integrity is really lacking, and that's why I'm glad I'm not coaching. You see, we've got a coach at Kentucky who put two schools on probation, and he's still coaching. I really don't understand that.''
On one hand, whether you agree with Knight or not, it's refreshing to see a broadcaster on a network that covers Calipari and Kentucky have the guts to say such a thing. We need more analysts who are that honest. As New York Daily News columnist Bob Raisman points out, it's hard to imagine any other ESPN college basketball announcer saying such a thing about Calipari.
On the other hand, Knight's comments came while speaking at a banquet. It would have been nice if Knight had said them on the air.
If Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari is the kettle, then ESPN's Bob Knight is the pot. That's essentially what CBS college basketball analyst Seth Davis said Saturday when he called out Knight for criticizing Calipari. Among his comments, Davis said: "While Knight never ran afoul of the NCAA -- to his credit -- he is not a great messenger to be talking about the behavior of coaches. So now that he is commenting on these things, I'd like to see him own up to some of the things he did over the course of his career. Be as tough on Bob Knight as you were this week on John Calipari.''
More Bob Knight. As he talked about referees trying to figure out how much time was left Saturday at the end of the Xavier-Butler basketball game, marred by a clock problem, Knight said: "The only other organization in the world that takes this long to decide something this obvious is the United States Congress.''
Not a great night for the ESPN college football broadcasting team of Mark Jones and Bob Davie at Saturday's St. Petersburg Bowl at Tropicana Field. Among the blunders: The Trop was called "Tropicana Stadium.'' It also was called "home of the Devil Rays.''
And the best line might have come from sports-pop culture podcaster Dan Levy, who wrote on Twitter.com, "Honestly, can someone at @espn tell me if Bob Davie did more than 20 minutes of research for this bowl game? He's pronounced 10 names wrong.''
Last week, the NFL Network's Michael Irvin said he would have given up his three Super Bowl rings and his induction into the Hall of Fame for one perfect NFL season, and many doubted that claim. Irvin expanded on that claim Sunday:
"The Hall of Fame is the greatest individual honor one can achieve in an NFL career. The perfect season is the greatest team honor one can achieve in an NFL career. I choose team over individual any time. … No one is perfect as a person. If you could at least have perfection in your profession, why not take that? You will never be able to say that you were perfect in anything in your life, but this would give me that one moment, and give us as a team to share with the fans, that we were perfect in that one season.''
Most compelling story
Remember Dave Pear? He was a defensive lineman who played on the original Bucs and was the first Bucs player to be selected to the Pro Bowl. He went on to star with the Raiders. In a compelling story on Sports Illustrated's Web site, Pear, 56, said his body is ravaged from his years of playing football.
"You wanna know the truth?'' Pear said. "I wish I never played football. I wish that more than anything. Every single day, I want to take back those years of my life.''
Pear also had a warning for parents: "Don't let your kids play football. Never.''
ESPN's documentary The U, about the Miami Hurricanes football program, has a scene from when Miami beat Notre Dame 58-7 in 1985 and a clip from former Irish coach Ara Parseghian criticizing the Hurricanes and coach Jimmy Johnson for running up the score. Not to stick up for Johnson or Miami, but a glance at the 11-year Parseghian era shows his Irish won by the following scores: 69-13, 64-0, 51-0, 56-6, 58-8, 56-7 (twice) and 62-3.
ESPN just doesn't let up. It continues to ignore a blatant conflict of interest by putting its NBA announcers in promotional commercials with the players it covers. In one recent spot, play-by-play announcer Mike Breen and analysts Jon Barry and Jeff Van Gundy are teamed with the Thunder's Kevin Durant. In another ad, ESPN's Stuart Scott and Jalen Rose are with the Nuggets' Carmelo Anthony.
How can ESPN not see the problem here? Why should we ever believe anything Scott and Rose have to say about Anthony after knowing the three spent a day shooting a commercial and, one would assume, socializing between takes? Why should we trust Breen, Barry and Van Gundy when they talk about Durant, knowing they hung out together on the set? It's really a disservice to the ESPN personalities, who very well might be objective but are having their credibility cut because of the position in which the network puts them.
In talking about the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday's Sports Reporters on ESPN, Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan said, "Where would they be without (former Gators receiver) Percy Harvin?''
New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica cracked, "Where Florida is -- not playing for a title.''
Three things that popped into my head
1. The best TV coverage of the weekend was by ESPN for the NCAA women’s volleyball championships in Tampa. And everyone needs to stop and think about how incredible it is that Penn State, winner of the past three championships, has won 102 consecutive matches.
2. The second-best TV coverage was NBC's tightly edited, inspirational 90-minute showing of the Ironman Triathlon. You watch 10 minutes and start to think, "Man, I should put these potato chips down and do something!''
3. Wow. I got through an entire "Shooting from the lip'' without mentioning Tiger Woods.