Shooting from the Lip/Monday edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
It hit me late Saturday afternoon: Too many college football games are on television. This revelation occurred as I was trying to keep track of the Gators-South Carolina, Miami-North Carolina, Ohio State-Iowa and USC-Stanford games at the same time. If you're trying to keep track of four games, you quickly realize that you can't even keep track of one.
Every Saturday is the same. It starts with a slew of games at noon, most which are bad and only of interest to the fans of the schools playing in them. It's difficult to find one game that's any good. Then come the 3:30 games, and too many of them are good to zero in on one. Later, it's prime time, which usually has two or three really good games.
If you're a die-hard fan of one school, it's easy. You watch just your team. But if you're a general college football fan, or your team isn't on (or your team isn't all that good), deciding what to watch is nearly impossible. So you flip around and soon realize that you can't enjoy games like you really want to. You can't follow trends, you can't follow developing story lines, you can't get a feel for which team is playing better. You're just watching a bunch of plays until you change the channel and watch a bunch more.
Now, it seems like a silly complaint, and, yes, I'd rather have too many games on than not enough. It's a buffet, and the viewer can choose what to put on his or her plate. But Saturday, cable alone had 26 games, and that doesn't count games you could get if you also pay extra to get the Big Ten Network and some of the Fox regional college channels. You might think that having 30-some games available is like a dream for college football fans. But for some of us, it can turn into a nightmare. To paraphrase Yogi Berra, so many games are on that you can't watch them.
Worst overturned call
Not only did the Bucs get a raw deal on an overturned call Sunday, another Tampa Bay team suffered a bum call, too. The Lightning had a victory taken away when officials ruled that Paul Szczechura interfered with Kings goalie Jonathan Quick on Saturday even though replays clearly showed he was knocked into Quick by a Kings defenseman.
Usually, Lightning analyst Bobby "The Chief'' Taylor doesn't need much to get going on the officials, but Saturday his anger was justified, and priceless: "It's amazing to me how incompetent these guys are,' he said.
Good job by the Lightning Live postgame show to dedicate 20 minutes or so to the controversy, and nice hustle by announcer Rick Peckham to conduct a comprehensive interview with Szczechura. It would have been nice if analyst Chris Dingman had done a little less griping and a little more analysis of the play and the rule invoked, but the show was worth watching.
The clock might be ticking on Charlie Weis' career at Notre Dame. He is now 35-25 with the Irish, the record that got Bob Davie fired by the school and the winning percentage that got Tyrone Willingham fired. And the Irish have tough games left against Connecticut and at Stanford. ESPN College GameDay analyst Lee Corso said that perhaps part of Notre Dame's problem is that neither Davie nor Weis had been a head coach before either was hired. Corso has two leading candidates to replace Weis if he gets fired: Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly and, the biggest name of all, former Bucs coach Jon Gruden.
When host Chris Fowler threw out the name of Gators coach Urban Meyer, Corso immediately said no, and analyst Kirk Herbstreit said, "Urban Meyer will never leave Florida to go to Notre Dame.''
CBS's Shannon Sharpe talking about the Bengals' Chad Ochocinco being fined $20,000 for pretending to bribe an official with a dollar bill during a game last week: "I think the NFL should fine Chad Ochocinco $250,000. … He's not getting the message. A $1 bribe is the same as a $20,000 fine to him. It's nothing; $200,000 sends the message. Chad will stop these shenanigans. He's getting ridiculous with it.''
It's really too bad that Bright House Networks, which provides cable for much of the bay area, including most of Pinellas County, doesn't carry the NFL Network, because the NFL Network's game coverage might be better than that of Fox, NBC, CBS and ESPN. The network's season-debut Thursday game between the 49ers and Bears was compelling to watch even though it was a dud on the field, with the 49ers winning 10-6. The broadcast team of Bob Papa and Matt Millen is top notch, but amazing on-field camera access pushes the NFL Network's coverage over the top. The production is first-rate.
Now, unless your favorite team is playing in the Thursday night game, you probably don't miss the NFL Network. But if you're an NFL fan in general, you don’t know what you're missing. And that's too bad, because what you're missing is really, really good.
Best of the weekend
Best scenario: On ESPN's Sports Reporters on Sunday, Miami Herald columnist Israel Gutierrez suggested that LeBron James could end up playing with the Heat, not the Cavs or Knicks, next season.
Best feature: Paula Lavigne’s report on the use of text messaging as an aide for law enforcement at Auburn football games on ESPN's Outside the Lines on Sunday.
Best network: CBS College Sports Network had a rare weekend in the spotlight and took full advantage with good broadcasts of UCF-Houston and TCU-Utah football games.
Best uniforms: South Carolina wearing camouflage football uniforms to salute the military, with labels such as "Integrity'' and "Service'' on the back where the player's name usually is.
Best school: Largo High gets our vote with a pair of former running backs. Graduate Brynn Harvey scored three touchdowns in UCF’s upset of Houston, and former star Dexter McCluster had four touchdowns, 282 rushing yards and a school-record 324 all-purpose yards in Mississippi's victory against Tennessee.
Best local story gone international
During Saturday's Hockey Night in Canada pregame show, the Nov. 5 hit on which Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman suffered a concussion came up in an interview with NHL vice president Colin Campbell. Campbell said a replay of Chris Neil’s hit was shown in a meeting of the league's general managers and it was an example of a good, clean hit.
"There wasn't one manager in the room who felt this hit was illegal,'' Campbell said. "In fact, they felt this was the type of hit we want in hockey.''
Three things that popped into my head
1. How come Gators coach Urban Meyer is always seen hugging quarterback Tim Tebow but you never seem him hugging any of his other players? Just wondering.
2. How depressing is it that USF is going to end up in the St. Petersburg Bowl again?
3. I better read within the next week that a fight has been set between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.