Shooting from the lip/Nov. 1st edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
While most fans keep clamoring for a college football playoff, this past weekend showed how exciting college football can be because there is no playoff system. There were a slew of games involving undefeated teams, and each and every one became more dramatic because they all were, in effect, playoff games.
If we had a 12- or 16-team playoff, then it wouldn't have mattered much that Michigan State or Missouri lost. Oregon-USC, Auburn-Ole Miss and Utah-Air Force wouldn't have demanded our attention. And if you had, say, a four-team playoff, then there still would be deserving teams left out. Yes, there's a real chance that an undefeated team such as Boise State or TCU could get the short end of a stick, but the current system gives us exciting games each and every weekend. Is there a more meaningful regular season, from beginning to end, than college football? It's because there is no playoff and, in the end, we usually do end up with the two deserving teams playing for the national championship.
Those who want a playoff system aren't going to budge, and this argument here won't convince them. But this past weekend, and next weekend and the weekend after that, will all be fun to watch specifically because there is no playoff.
Talking about the national championship picture, ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit predicted late Saturday night that he believes the winner of the Auburn-Alabama game on Nov. 26 will then go on to win the SEC championship and be one of the two teams in the BCS title game.
Gee, you think maybe Fox can work in a few more shots of Rangers owner Nolan Ryan during its World Series broadcasts? Ryan is getting more air time on Fox than Homer Simpson. In fact, Fox has gone overboard with the shots of fans in general during the World Series. It's a useful tool to build drama, but Fox has relied on it way too much.
At the baseball All-Star break, I made five predictions for the second half. I picked the Rangers to win the AL West, but the rest of my crystal ball was fuzzy. I picked the Rays, Reds and Twins to miss the playoffs; I picked the Red Sox, Tigers, Rockies, Mets and Cardinals to make it; and I picked the Yankees to beat the Phillies in the Series. A reader named Bill Stefanich kept track of my predictions and reminded me how badly I swung and missed. He wrote:
"The true test here is whether you are willing to 'man up' and write any kind of follow-up article telling us that, once again, you have completely missed the boat regarding predicting the future of baseball. You have never demonstrated any type of accountability in this area as each year you boldly offer up several lame prognostications, practically all of which fail the test of time. Just once, it would be refreshing to have you tell us all what an idiot you are instead of being subjected to your weekly diatribe, consistently finding fault with others. Look in the mirror, pal, and try writing a self-accountability article that takes yourself to task instead of consistently criticizing those around you.''
So, I would write how much of an "idiot'' I was, but Mr. Stefanich took care of that job quite nicely, wouldn't you say?
Man, the Lightning is a fun team to watch. There were plenty of things to watch Saturday night, but it was hard to turn away from the Lightning-Coyotes game because it was so entertaining. Add to that the announcing team of Rick Peckham and Bobby "The Chief'' Taylor, who are consistently outstanding. What makes Taylor so good is how quickly he breaks down replays. Example: Saturday night, he showed in detail how Lightning defenseman Mike Lundin made a simple little play to keep the puck out of danger. It was a play that would normally go unnoticed, but Taylor showed viewers how small, yet solid the play was. Most impressive was Taylor broke down the replay a mere seconds after the play happened.
Favorite postgame show
Sun Sports' Lightning Live show has become required viewing for Lightning fans, especially after home games. Host Paul Kennedy does a splendid job setting up analysts Bobby Taylor and Chris Dingman, and play-by-play guy Rick Peckham shows he can wear more than one hat by conducting insightful interviews from the locker room. Even the road-game shows -- with Dingman down by the locker room and Peckham and Taylor in the booth -- give the Lightning Live show way more meat than the Rays' postgame shows.
Fox NFL Sunday analyst Howie Long, talking about Bucs coach Raheem Morris declaring his team is the best in the NFC: "I loved his postgame speech. I think Morris gave the country a look at how fiery and intense he is.''
Fellow analyst Michael Strahan cracked: "I'm fiery and intense, too, but I'm realistic.''
Best camera work
Kudos to CBS and the excellent camera work capturing that Gators safety Will Hill stepped out of bounds just before the end zone after picking off a pass in overtime against Georgia. Speaking of the Gators, it's a good thing coach Urban Meyer runs his program the "right way'' or else Chris Rainey, just a few weeks removed from threatening his girlfriend, could not have played and contributed with 241 all-purpose yards and a touchdown in Florida’s victory.
Three things that popped into my head
1. I never much cared for Brian Billick as a coach because he seemed like a know-it-all. But that know-it-all attitude helps make him a good broadcaster. Billick, who handled analysis on the Bucs-Cardinals game Sunday, knows his football, relays it well to the viewer, seems relaxed and has a quick, dry sense of humor as well.
2. Final minute. Trailing by two points. Well within field-goal range. Excellent kicker. Freshman quarterback. And you throw the ball and it's intercepted? What in the world was Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly thinking? He told the media to get used to that type of play-calling, but if he keeps that up, he'll be calling those plays somewhere other than South Bend.
3. Anyone else concerned that Simon Gagne has played in only six of the Lightning's 10 games and no one is sure when he will play again?