Shooting from the lip/Sept. 6th edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports, including college football cupcakes, the dumbest comment and just why ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit is the best analyst on television.
Kirk Herbstreit is the best analyst of any sport on television. Period. There are plenty of elite analysts out there -- John McEnroe on tennis, Johnny Miller on golf, Charles Barkley on the NBA, Cris Collinsworth on the NFL -- but Herbstreit, ESPN's college football analyst, has moved to a level by himself. Herbstreit is back on ESPN's College GameDay and as lead analyst on ABC's Saturday night game with Brent Musburger.
GameDay's Chris Fowler is a master host, especially when you realize he does so without the help of a television prompter. His only notes are written on index cards. But Herbstreit is the reason to watch GameDay because of his incredibly vast knowledge of the sport and how easily he makes his points in a conversational and intelligent manner. Fellow analyst Lee Corso is nearly back to being himself after suffering a stroke that greatly affected his speech in May 2009. But on the occasions when Corso struggles, you can see Herbstreit pulling Corso through. The fourth member of the team, Desmond Howard, has improved dramatically over the past two years, but there are still times when he looks like a kid reciting a speech he memorized the night before. While watching GameDay, you can't wait until it's Herbstreit's turn to talk again. He's outspoken but never unreasonable. His opinions are strong but never seem biased. He tells it like it is but without a hint of having an agenda.
And as far as his game analysis, Herbstreit is so good that even Musburger has become enjoyable again.
The start of the college football season is suppose to be a reason to get excited. Instead, we got a pretty dull weekend because of all the scheduling mismatches. The LSU-North Carolina game turned out to be close, as did TCU-Oregon State. Oklahoma got a scare from Utah State. But the rest of the Top 25 teams won by scores such as 72-0, 55-7, 59-6, 48-3, 44-3 and 31-0, mostly because they were playing a bunch of blocking sleds. It seems ridiculous that Top 25 teams were playing schools such as South Carolina State, Samford, Youngstown State, Arkansas State and Coastal Carolina. Or that USF opened with Division I-AA Stony Brook. But, when you think about it, why should anyone from a BCS conference schedule a tough opponent? Why risk the loss? In the end, the first thing that everyone looks at when ranking teams is number of losses. Unless you're from a non-BCS conference, such as Boise State or TCU, playing a good nonconference opponent makes little sense. The damage done by a loss is greater than the good to be gained from a victory.
Add former Bears great and Hall of Famer Dan Hampton to the list of lugheads who speak before they think. Talking about the Vikings-Saints opener on the TV show Pro Football Weekly, Hampton said, "The Vikings need to go down there and hit that town like Katrina.''
Did he think he was being funny? Clever? What? Once again, people, here's how it works: If you are talking on television or radio and the words "Hurricane Katrina,'' or "September 11th,'' or "Hitler,'' or "Nazis'' or any variation of those pop into your head, immediately shut up, take a deep breath and think of something else to say. Personally, I don't see how Hampton keeps his job after this one.
The New York Daily News, quoting league TV sources, is reporting that Joe Theismann will join Bob Papa and Matt Millen on the NFL Network's Thursday night broadcast team.
Changes at 1040-AM
Marc Benarzyk, who hosted the afternoon-drive talk show on ESPN's 1040-AM the past two years, is no longer at the station. Last Monday, he and 1040-AM mutually parted ways. A new local show in that time slot starts Tuesday. Former Bucs receiver Mark Carrier and longtime Tampa Bay radio personality Ronnie "Night Train'' Lane will host 1040’' new show weekdays from 3 to 7 p.m. Another longtime Tampa Bay radio personality, Tom Krasniqi, will handle the sports updates and also contribute to the show. Former Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks will have a regular weekly segment, and it's also possible that former major-leaguer and Tampa native Gary Sheffield will appear on the show occasionally.
Using his Twitter account, Washington Post columnist Mike Wise wrote that Ben Roethlisberger would have his suspension reduced to five games. Wise then admitted on his radio show that he made that up to prove that others in the media would run with any information found on the Internet. Wise is a respected journalist from a respected newspaper. He's a credible enough source that other news outlets are going to believe what he writes. And here's the rub: Those who did report his news gave him full credit. The Post didn't like Wise’s little experiment and suspended him for a month. Wise immediately saw his mistake and apologized. Appearing on CNN's Reliable Sources on Sunday, he did have a funny line when asked why he did it. "I was thinking, what the heck, I'll detonate my career over a stupid radio stunt,''said Wise, who then went on to seriously discuss his wrongdoing.
I've heard of players inspiring teammates, but athletes inspiring players from other sports? That’s what CBS tennis analyst John McEnroe said over the weekend. McEnroe believes the success of Rafael Nadal has inspired all of Spain.
"I'll take it one step further, I think the reason Spain won the World Cup is in part due to him,'' McEnroe said. "Believing, having never won it before, all of a sudden they have belief because he's a great champion winning majors.''
By the way, word out of New York is some of the whinier tennis players are complaining to the networks whenever an analyst criticizes their games. Among the bellyachers: Andy Roddick and Maria Sharapova.
Three things that popped into my head
1. Know who needs to shut up and just go away for a while? Boxer Floyd Mayweather. The next time I want to hear from Mayweather is after he fights Manny Pacquiao.
2. How did former sideline reporter Erin Andrews do with her new gig hosting the first hour of ESPN's College GameDay on ESPNU? Overall, good. But, to be fair, let's revisit that in a couple of weeks after all the kinks of the show have been worked out.
3. USF crushed Stony Brook, while Florida struggled against Miami of Ohio. Still, I don't see how the Bulls stay close in Gainesville on Saturday.