Shooting from the lip/Monday edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
The debate on the talk shows Sunday was whether Florida coach Urban Meyer left quarterback Tim Tebow in Saturday's game against Kentucky too long, especially because Tebow was suffering from an upper respiratory illness that was severe enough that the Gators had Tebow fly to the game on a separate plane with a small group of other ill players.
The Gators were up 31-7 with just under four minutes left in the third quarter when Tebow suffered a concussion after he was sacked and then crashed the back of his head into the left knee of teammate Marcus Gilbert as he fell. I've been critical in the past about the Gators leaving Tebow in blowout games too long, partly because it felt like Florida was running up the score and partly because they were being reckless with Tebow's health.
It's easy to say now that Tebow should not have been in the game, but at the time, it didn't seem out of the ordinary. Sure, the Gators seemed in control, but with a 24-point lead with nearly 20 minutes left, it seems reasonable to still have your starters in the game and to keep playing (i.e., throwing the ball).
During the Tailgate Sunday show after the Bucs game on Ch. 13 -- a show that is extremely well-produced and -executed -- former Bucs linebacker Brad Culpepper took out a verbal machete to hack away at Bucs defensive end Gaines Adams.
"He has five tackles in three games,'' Culpepper said. "When I played, if I had five tackles in one game, it would be a decent game. Decent! He has five in three games and no sacks. He was the fourth pick in the draft. If he was a ninth-round pick, if they still had nine rounds, you would say he's doing okay. But he was the fourth pick. Put it this way: He does pretty well when nobody blocks him.''
"You start to wonder if Zorn is in over his head,'' Fox analyst Michael Strahan said. "That's what I'm starting to wonder.''
Fox's Howie Long said, "There are a lot of really high-profile coaches sitting at home or on TV sets right now, and owner Daniel Snyder tends to have attention-deficit. I think Zorn could be in trouble.''
The kicker: Strahan and Long made their comments before the Lions ended their 19-game losing streak against the Redskins.
The coolest thing on TV right now is the NFL Network's Red Zone channel, which switches from game to game when a team gets into the red zone (inside the opponent's 20-yard line). Actually, the channel moves from game to game whenever there is a critical moment. Watching it is like being in a Las Vegas casino. It's addictive, and you lose all track of time. Unfortunately, Bright House customers, who make up a good chunk of the Tampa Bay market, don't get the NFL Network, and there's no reason to think they'll get it soon. The problem is the network has been showing games since 2006 and the more time that goes by, the less customers complain about not having it.
ESPN's Outside the Lines did a piece on a 16-year-old Australian girl who wants to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone and unassisted. Obviously there is controversy about whether Jessica Watson is too young to make such as trip and whether her parents are doing the right thing by supporting her. The story laid out the pros and cons, allowed for all points of views, was completely unbiased and yet did what any good feature would do -- it made the viewer think. This is another example of why OTL is so good and the story represented the very best of sports enterpise journalism on TV.
All the NFL pregame shows Sunday had features on the Eagles' Michael Vick. The best information came from Fox's Jay Glazer, who talked at length about Vick's time in prison. Glazer said Vick told him about how he missed his family, how he took a job as a janitor and gave a chilling account of being physically threatened. It would have been nice to hear Vick tell the stories instead of having Glazer repeat them, but it was great information nonetheless.
Fox analyst Terry Bradshaw, talking about Vick: "I heard an interview with Mike this week when he said, 'Superman isn't quite ready yet.' If I had the chance to talk to him, I'd say, 'Don't ever say Superman again. Don't ever reference me or I again, because it's all about team.'''
Meantime, over on CBS, analyst Boomer Esiason predicted Vick won't even be in Philadelphia next year.
"I think there are four or five teams he could be starting for today,'' Esiason said. "I do believe he will be a starting quarterback in this league, and it will be on another team.''
Best up-and-coming analyst
Former Gators quarterback Jesse Palmer has emerged as one of the strongest voices on college football, and ESPN/ABC was smart to move him into the lead analyst chair during the pregame and halftime shows during ABC's featured games. Speaking of Palmer, he had high praise for USF after its upset at Florida State: "USF is trying to prove they’re up with the big boys in-state, and I think they proved it.''
Vitali Klitschko retained his heavyweight belt with a 10th-round TKO of Chris Arreola on Saturday night on HBO. Klitschko and his brother, Wladimir, both hold heavyweight belts, yet don't seem to be universally loved even though both are great fighters and seem like good guys. Is it because they are from the Ukraine?
HBO Boxing's Larry Merchant asked the perfect q uestion: "What would we think of the Klitschkos if they grew up on a ranch in Texas?''
The weekend series between the Yankees and Red Sox really didn't have major implications in baseball's playoff races, but it did reveal a glaring weakness in the Red Sox that will be worth watching in the postseason. Teams, especially the Yankees, seem to run at will against Boston's catchers. Walks are suddenly turning into doubles. The Yankees stole seven bases Friday night. No team has given up more stolen bases than the Red Sox.
"It's a major problem,'' Fox's Tim McCarver said on Saturday's broadcast, "and I think it's the biggest problem the Red Sox face going into the postseason.''
Best and worst of college football
Teams that proved they aren't as good as I thought: Penn State, Miami, Florida State, Ole Miss, Cal.
Teams that are better than I thought: Oregon, Iowa, USF.
Teams I still think are overrated: LSU, Georgia.
Three things that popped into my head
1. I know it's only ESPNU, but wasn't the broadcast of the FSU-USF game Saturday disappointing? The production was better on the Lakeland-De La Salle (Calif.) prep game Friday night on ESPN2.
2. Nebraska has beaten Florida Atlantic, Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette, lost to Virginia Tech and is No. 23 in the Associated Press poll. USF has played a soft schedule, too, but won its big game at FSU, and it isn't ranked. Think reputations don't have anything do with it?
3. Wonder what Giants-turned-Bucs running back Derrick Ward is thinking today.