Shooting from the lip/Jan. 9th edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
Here's what made this weekend so great for NFL fans, specifically those of us who love watching the NFL on television: We had a chance to see the best of all the networks in 24 hours. With NBC carrying two games Saturday and Fox and CBS each handling a game Sunday, we were able to watch each network's No. 1 announcing team.
Saturday's late game on NBC, Lions-Saints, was called by Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth. Sunday, it was Joe Buck and Troy Aikman handling the Falcons-Giants on Fox and Jim Nantz and Phil Simms doing the Steelers-Broncos on CBS.
I've always said a broadcasters are in the ear of the beholders. Liking or disliking one is no more of a choice than choosing to like or dislike spaghetti, for instance, or opera. You either like it or you don't. You really don't have a choice in the matter.
So who I like: Michaels and Collinsworth. They are the best, individually and as a team. I also enjoy Buck and Aikman. I'm not a fan of Nantz and Simms, though they brought their A game Sunday and might have had the best weekend of anyone on TV. Why do I like Michaels and Collinsworth, and Buck and Aikman? I could go through a bunch of reasons, including their preparedness, their humor, their instincts and their professionalism. But in the end, the answer is simple: I just do.
You can't get any better these days on college football than Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit, and based on their history, they should do an outstanding job calling tonight's BCS title game. But won't it be strange watching LSU and Alabama and not hearing CBS's SEC tandem of Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson? Seems like Lundquist and Danielson should at least get to call a quarter.
Best welcome change
This college bowl season, we've seen final scores of 67-56, 42-41, 45-38, 41-38 and 70-33. On too many occasions because of all the scoring, it has felt like we've been watching a video game. Scoring has become so prevalent that it has become somewhat boring. That is why I'm stunned so many people complained that LSU's touchdown-less 9-6 overtime victory against Alabama in the regular season was boring and we might have to watch a rerun of it tonight in the BCS title game.
I think the teams will combine to score way more than 15 points tonight. Then again, I'd rather watch another 9-6 game than some goofy Arena-like 67-56 game.
CBS did a cool thing Saturday, featuring women's college basketball during the afternoon instead of the men. No marquee men's games were scheduled anyway, so CBS showed a doubleheader of Michigan State-Penn State and UConn-Notre Dame. It turned out to be a good move. UConn and Notre Dame hooked up for a thrilling overtime game won by the Irish 74-67.
Did you notice that CBS did not use a sideline reporter for Sunday's Broncos-Steelers game? And now that you know CBS didn't use a sideline reporter, did you miss it?
Originally, I thought the most interesting parts of these televised high school all-star football games were when selected players announced live where they were going to college. Then I realized I didn't know any of the players and had no idea if it was a big deal that so-and-so was going to Clemson instead of Georgia or South Carolina.
I think it's a little out of whack to make a big deal of a bunch of kids choosing their colleges on national television, especially because many of the kids won't pan out as college players. But in the end, I'm not so much offended by it as I am bored.
I've railed consistently this season against the Fox NFL Sunday pregame show, mostly because the goofball behavior on it has been a distraction. Sunday, however, it seemed like a subdued crew. There were no shenanigans and less than usual laughter over inside jokes and not-so-funny or inaudible putdowns. The result was a rather enjoyable, informative show.
Also stepping up was reporter Pam Oliver with her feature on the Falcons. Normally Oliver's features are more about Oliver than the player or team she is profiling. But this one was less about Oliver and more about the Falcons.
That summed up the day. The show was less about Fox's personalities and more about football. Hmm, maybe there's a lesson there.
Some are still trying to make a case that Saints quarterback Drew Brees is the NFL MVP this season instead of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Brees set the all-time passing-yards record for a season, but that's because he threw 155 more times than Rodgers. When it comes to passing yards, a more accurate gauge probably is yards per attempt. Rodgers' was 9.2, almost a full yard more than Brees (8.3).
Brees threw 14 interceptions and had one fumble. Rodgers had six picks and no fumbles. And of the six interceptions, three hit Packers receivers in the hands before the interception. Finally, Rodgers set an NFL record with a 122.46 QB rating. Brees had 110.6.
As New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica said on Sunday's Sports Reporters on ESPN2, "If you don't think (Rodgers) is the MVP, you have a head made of real cheese.''
Three things that popped into my head
1. The way things are going, Eli Manning might end up being considered a better quarterback than his brother Peyton. At least in the playoffs.
2. Speaking of quarterbacks, the Falcons' Matt Ryan should no longer be referred to as "Matty Ice'' until he wins a playoff game -- unless the name is being used ironically or sarcastically.
3. What I'm tired of: hearing how the injury to defenseman Mattias Ohlund has affected the Lightning. He's on the back end of his career, and even if he was healthy, he would be like the Lightning’s fourth-best defenseman. When did he suddenly become Larry Robinson?