Shooting from the lip/Jan. 11 edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
Only one of the 12 coaches in this season's NFL playoffs was a head coach in college. Many were assistants at the college level, but only Indianapolis' Jim Caldwell, who coached Wake Forest from 1993 to 2000, was a head coach. When you think about it, not that many highly successful college coaches go on to have NFL success. Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer, Tom Coughlin and Bobby Ross are recent examples, but we're going back nearly 15 years now. In fact, Caldwell didn’t even have an impressive college career (26-63) and he spent nine years as an NFL assistant after Wake Forest before becoming the Colts coach.
This all comes up now because of the rumors that Pete Carroll is going to leave Southern Cal to go to the Seahawks. On Sunday's Sports Reporters on ESPN, New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica had two names for Carroll to think about: Steve Spurrier and a basketball version -- Rick Pitino, who left a sweet gig at Kentucky to go the Celtics and ended up going back to college ball with Louisville.
Here are some more names for Carroll to think about: Nick Saban, Bobby Petrino, Butch Davis, Dennis Erickson and Mike Riley.
"Pete Carroll is very nice guy,'' Lupica said. "He built a very good program in the short run at (USC). He was a mediocre professional football coach before. I believe he'll return to being a mediocre professional football coach.''
Others, however, disagree. "He's a terrific coach,'' CBS NFL Today analyst Boomer Esiason said. "He's definitely prepared for this. He's learned from his past experiences at the Patriots and Jets. This is a terrific move by the Seahawks.''
Of the weekend's four NFL games, the worst broadcast was Jets-Bengals on NBC. That shouldn't have been a surprise. NBC normally covers one game a week, and its top crew was in Dallas for the Eagles-Cowboys game. The Jets-Bengals game had a broadcast crew slapped together specifically for that one game with Tom Hammond calling play-by-play, and Joe Gibbs and Joe Theismann handling analysis.
For starters, Theismann talked way too much, as expected. New York Times sports media critic Richard Sandomir actually timed Theismann. According to Sandomir, Theismann spoke 149 times during the game, taking up 28 minutes, 31 seconds of airtime. Gibbs spoke 83 times for just over 15 minutes. When Gibbs did speak, he made one of the worst mistakes a broadcaster can make. He didn't give enough respect to the viewer, almost to the point that he acted as if he was explaining the game to those who were watching a football game for the first time. He also pointed out things that a broadcaster would point out in a season opener as opposed to a playoff game. While it might have been the first game he was calling in a while, it wasn't the first game we were watching this season. The thing is, Gibbs is a sharp guy and can communicate. Perhaps we can chalk up his performance Sunday to a little rust and a lot of Theismann.
Meantime, NBC dropped the ball when a second-quarter Jets field goal was wiped out by back-to-back penalties. Viewers were left guessing what the first penalty was because NBC didn't show the referee giving the signal and it never explained what we missed. And, with the score 14-7 at the time, it was a crucial penalty.
Best stepping up
Kudos to Sun Sports for picking up MSG's feed of Sunday's conclusion of the Lightning-Devils game. The game started on Friday, but a power outage forced the last 29 minutes, 12 seconds to be played Sunday. Sun Sports also forked over a portion of MSG's production costs, which were about $40,000. And, hey, any time you get a chance to listen to Mike Emrick, the NBC and Devils announcer, it's a pleasure. As far as Friday's delay, it's hard to criticize Sun Sports. Who, after all, could ever be prepared for a two-hour delay in the middle of a hockey game? However, it was one of the rare occasions the Lightning did not have a sideline reporter and that decision turned out to bite Sun Sports.
In recent weeks, we've seen college football coaches -- USF's Jim Leavitt, Texas Tech's Mike Leach and Kansas' Mark Mangino -- lose their jobs for allegedly mistreating players. Some seem to think that a little slap to the face is no big deal, that it’s just a little motivation tactic and certainly not worth a coach losing his job. Wrong, says CBS college football analyst Gary Danielson.
"I hear coaches say … (they're) in the business of making men better men in the future,'' Danielson recently told Sports Illustrated's Dan Patrick. "No. You're not. You're in the business of coaching. I'm in the business of raising my son.''
As I was watching the Ravens blow out the Patriots in the first quarter Sunday, I made the mistake of flipping channels during a commercial. I stumbled across TV Land just as Jack Nicholson was taking the witness stand in A Few Good Men. Needless to say, I missed the rest of the first quarter of Ravens-Patriots. Sorry, but when you turn on that movie at that point you are required to watch the rest of it even if a playoff football game is on, aren't you?
It turned out not to matter, but when the Ravens took a 33-14 lead with just over 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter Sunday, they went for two in hopes of going up by 21 points. CBS analyst Phil Simms agreed with the move even though kicking would've put them up by 20 points and forced New England to score three touchdowns to win. The Ravens' two-point try was unsuccessful, meaning they remained up by 19. So New England could've tied the game with two touchdowns, two two-point conversions and a field goal. In fact, with just over seven minutes left, the Patriots tried (unsuccessfully) a field goal that would've pulled them to within 16.
ESPN's Outside the Lines had an interview with Leini Tonga, the fiance of late Bengals receiver Chris Henry. Tonga was driving a pickup truck when Henry either jumped or fell out from the back Dec. 17 and died from injuries suffered in the fall. Reporter John Barr conducted the interview with appropriate tact and respect, and those who watched the piece likely came out with a better impression of Henry.
Before the accident, the general public perception of Henry was that he was a bad guy. Even Henry, who was arrested five times while with the Bengals, admitted before his death that he had made some wrong choices. But there was more to the story, and OTL pointed out that Henry was helping family and friends who lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina, and that Henry had been trouble-free the final year and a half of his life.
Even if you don't like the Ravens and linebacker Ray Lewis, you couldn't help but notice and enjoy his genuine enthusiasm in an interview after the Ravens defeated the Patriots in Sunday's wild-card game.
"After listening to him,'' CBS studio analyst Shannon Sharpe said, "I'm out of breath.''
Then CBS analyst Bill Cowher said something that certainly will make Patriots fans wince … because Cowher is correct: "The New England Patriots lack a leader like that. That was the difference on that field (Sunday).''
Three things that popped into my head
1. Watching how hard the Lightning’s Marty St. Louis works, how much he cares and how talented he is, I find it hard to believe Team Canada doesn't have a spot for him on its Olympic team.
2. What does it say about USF’s football program that we aren't hearing any assistants emerging as serious candidates to replace the recently fired Jim Leavitt?
3. Is Tiger Woods ever going to emerge from seclusion?