Shooting from the Lip/Monday edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
NBC might be the Notre Dame network, but it doesn't shirk its responsibility of reporting the story even when it is critical of the Irish. As UConn lined up for a potential winning field goal at the end of regulation Saturday, NBC rolled out a clip of Charlie Weis from when he was hired in 2004. In it, Weis talked about how a 6-5 record wasn't good enough for Notre Dame and it wasn't good enough for him and that Notre Dame "had the wrong guy'' if anyone was satisfied with 6-5.
UConn missed the kick, but won in overtime, leaving Notre Dame at … 6-5. Still, if anyone ever thinks NBC is just a shill for Notre Dame, that theory was dispelled when it showed the Weis clip with strong negative comments about Weis' performance from announcers Tom Hammond and Pat Haden. NBC also deserves a pat on the back for focusing on what the victory meant to UConn. Sideline reporter Alex Flanagan's interview with an emotional UConn coach Randy Edsall after the game as the best interview of the weekend.
Biggest waste of time
Outside of ESPN's College GameDay, which airs from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays, why does any network have college pregame shows? CBS and Versus have pregame shows in the middle of the day, but who watches them when there are other college games to watch at the same time?
It was interesting to watch Saturday night the replay of last week's Manny Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto fight on HBO. What made it interesting was that we, as viewers, already knew that Pacquiao dominated and won with a 12th-round TKO, yet we were listening to three announcers who were calling the fight as it happened. Announcers Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant and Emanuel Steward seemed spot-on the entire night, never getting carried away when Cotto had some decent early moments and even suggesting as early as the eighth round that the fight would need be stopped at some point. It's almost as if they were watching the replay with us.
Best Gruden reference
Might former Bucs coach Jon Gruden end up coaching next season even though he just signed a contract extension with ESPN's Monday Night Football? Not a chance, according the NFL Network’s Jason LaCanfora. Gruden, LaConfora said, cannot get out of his contract with ESPN in 2010.
ABC/ESPN continues to show a blatant conflict of interest with its commercials for its NBA coverage. The newest ad features play-by-play announcer Mike Breen, analyst Mark Jackson and Magic guard Vince Carter. This is the latest in a series of commercials featuring NBA players mixing with the ABC/ESPN announcers who cover their games. Again, it makes the viewer question the announcers' comments every time they talk about a player who has appeared in TV spot with them.
Most interesting graphic
It's pretty much a given that if Texas wins out, the Longhorns will play the winner of the SEC Championship Game between the Gators and Alabama for the national championship. Provided, of course, the Gators beat Florida State and Alabama beats Auburn this weekend. So where does that leave the other undefeated teams, especially TCU?
ESPN's College GameDay showed an interesting graphic Saturday and asked which team deserves a national title shot more. Is it Team A, which has one victory over a ranked opponent, one victory over a seven-victory team and whose opponents' winning percentage is .530? Or is it Team B, which has three victories over ranked opponents, four victories against seven-victory teams and whose opponents' winning percentage is .543? Then GameDay revealed that Team A was Texas and Team B was TCU. Interesting, huh?
Most analyzed story
All the NFL pregame shows Sunday looked back at the controversial decision by Patriots coach Bill Belichick to go for it on fourth and 2 from the New England 28 on Nov. 15 against Indianapolis. The Pats didn't make it and the Colts won. ESPN had the most interesting take thanks to an interview with David Romer, a Cal-Berkeley economics professor who, for years, has studied teams going for it on fourth down. Romer’s opinion? "It certainly wasn't a crazy decision. It wasn't stupid, it wasn't the dumbest decision in the history of mankind. ... It's a very defensible decision''
Of course, there's a difference between going for it on paper in a lab at a university and going for it on the field against 11 defenders in front of 60,000 people with a game on the line.
John Saunders, host of Sunday's Sports Reporters on ESPN, talking about Notre Dame:
"They're so bad in the red zone that they're going to change the name of Touchdown Jesus to Field Goal Jesus.''
Biggest missing game
No wonder the Pac-10 gets so little respect. The best game Saturday was Oregon and Arizona fighting it out for the Pac-10 lead and you couldn't watch it in Tampa Bay or in Florida or anywhere in the middle part of the country. Only the West and East Coast got the Saturday night prime time game. We were stuck watching Texas mugging Kansas on ABC and Nebraska-Kansas State on ESPN. And it's a shame, really, because many believe the Pac-10, from top to bottom, is the best conference in the nation this season. That's right, even better than the SEC.
"The lack of depth this year from the SEC East, in my opinion,'' College GameDay's Kirk Herbstreit said, "gives the Pac-10, top to bottom, the premier conference this year in college football.''
Herbstreit also pointed out that the Pac-10 was 5-0 in bowl games last year and 9-2 over the past two seasons.
Most confusing story
The Bills need a head coach. The Browns are looking for someone to run their franchise. All the rumors out there have the likes of Mike Shanahan, Bill Cowher and Mike Holmgren jockeying for position to take over those teams. But Sports Illustrated's Peter King, during halftime of the Notre Dame-UConn game on NBC, said to not expect anything soon. King figures all the out-of-work coaches will wait to see what the entire NFL landscape looks like after the season is over. Why would Shanahan take over in Buffalo if a better job comes open in the offseason?
However, on CBS's NFL Today, analyst Shannon Sharpe, who played for Shanahan in Denver, said Shanahan is going to interview in Buffalo this week. CBS's Boomer Esiason jumped in by saying, "Mike Shanahan is not going to Buffalo.''
It'll be fun to see who is right and who is wrong when all this shakes out.
Three things that popped into my head
1. The MLS championship -- uh, that's soccer -- isn't exactly the World Cup, so wouldn't it make sense to find a better time to have your title game instead of Sunday night against the NFL?
2. Another Lightning game on Sunday. Another Lightning game not on TV. What gives?
3. Someone please explain to me again how the Chase for the Championship makes NASCAR more exciting?