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Best and worst of televised sports from weekend of Nov. 7-9

Three things that didn't pop into Tom Jones' head but did into mine

1. Sundays stink when the local NFL team has a bye week.

2. Was anybody else out there as dense as I was and tried to find the Penn State-Iowa game on ESPN HD only to find ESPN News? I thought the game was blacked out, but turns out it was on regular ESPN only. Won't make that mistake again.

3. I think it's cool we not only have the first African-American president in our history — Barack Obama, right — but one that advocates a playoff in college football. That could be two things I never thought I'd see in my lifetime.

Times staff writer Rodney Page looks back at the best and worst from the weekend of televised sports.

Best quote I

Kirk Herbstreit, talking about Nick Saban returning to LSU as Alabama's coach, didn't care that he was sitting in front of a partisan crowd in Baton Rouge, La., during ESPN's College GameDay. He basically told LSU fans to quit whining:

"(Saban) got tired of college and went to the NFL. When that didn't work out, he came back to college. It wasn't like the LSU job was made available. Alabama came calling, and he took the job. All this talk about LSU hating Nick Saban is really masking their true feelings. It's jealousy that Nick Saban is not their coach.'' Smack!

Best quote II

Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe was on a roll about college football on ESPN's Sports Reporters. He disagreed with the myth that the SEC is always the best conference.

"Let's get to the dirty little secret of the 2008 college football season: The SEC isn't that good. It isn't as good as it looks. There are two outstanding teams, Alabama and Florida, and we can argue which one of those are better, and we're likely going to find out. It's so obvious that the Big 12 is the better conference this year, and in the SEC, those victories over the Georgias and the Auburns aren't as impressive as you think they are.''

Change we DON'T need

Say what you want about old coaches hanging on, but I think it's great just for the comedic value, like this from Penn State's Joe Paterno: "Is it BCS or BSC, I don't know. Doesn't make any difference what I say. I'm concerned about Iowa. You guys can ask me 58 questions about what's going on with the polls, I haven't got any idea.'' Doesn't matter now, JoePa.

Best nickname

CBS analyst Randy Cross pointed out that New England teammates call running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis "Law Firm'' because of his long, hyphenated name. That's clever. Better than, say, "Bubba'' or "Tank.'' And speaking of CBS's coverage of the Patriots-Bills game, does Dick Enberg ever get old? Enberg, 73, is just as sharp as he was 30 years ago.

Best story

College football had a number of twists and turns Saturday. Penn State fell from national title contention, Alabama barely stayed in it, and Florida continued to roll in an attempt to get back into the top two. But has any team caught the college football nation's attention more than Texas Tech? Sure, the Red Raiders looked impressive in beating Texas the week before, but did you see them Saturday night against Oklahoma State? That was ridiculous. Even with the score out of hand, it was tough to turn away from that game. Quarterback Graham Harrell was 40-of-50 (80 percent!) for 456 yards and six touchdowns in a 56-20 win against the ninth-ranked team in the country. They scored touchdowns on seven straight possessions, for crying out loud.

Strongest statement

Here's what Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe had to say about Texas Tech on ESPN's Sports Reporters: "I don't ordinarily get excited about discovering a college football team, but this Texas Tech is the most interesting, exciting college football team I have ever seen.''

On background

ESPN had a nice piece on Texas Tech coach Mike Leach (anybody else think that guy is a little creepy?) and the school's town, Lubbock, during its College GameDay show. Some interesting facts were that it is the birthplace of Buddy Holly and the Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines. And that it is 300 miles from the next-closest BCS-eligible team. It even included the requisite interviews of locals at the pancake house and barber shop. I could have gone without the pep talk from Donald Trump, whom Leach befriended last offseason, but otherwise, it was pretty interesting.

Best name-drop

Granted, it came from Fox's Terry Bradshaw, but others are sure to bring this up. Bradshaw said that six NFL coaching jobs likely would open up at the end of this season and owners should look at Florida coach Urban Meyer as a candidate. With his success at Utah and Florida, Meyer is always going to be brought up as a candidate. Here's a scenario: Meyer accepts a job at, say, Detroit, then has second thoughts 24 hours later and wants to return to Florida. Oh, wait, that sounds too much like Florida's basketball coach.

Worst spin

Howie Long of Fox played for Al Davis and the Raiders. So it's no wonder he backed his former boss on the decision to cut DeAngelo Hall, below, last week. Hall was traded to the Raiders from the Falcons in the offseason for second- and fifth-round draft picks, only to last eight games. Turns out Hall was paid $1-million per game for 48 tackles and three interceptions.

"The Raiders paid a lot of money out in the last year, and DeAngelo Hall was one of those guys,'' Long said. "There was an injury guarantee in his contract, so Oakland would have been on the hook for $16-million if he gets injured. If they made a mistake, why compound it by letting him hang around, get injured and then having to pay him $16-million? People weren't shocked around the league that they let him go." Then Long added: "He wasn't a good fit for what they do.''

What exactly do the Raiders do? They lose, and Hall was an integral part of that, as Long's Fox sidekick Michael Strahan pointed out. "They were playing man coverage in Oakland, and (Hall) was getting burned so much they should've nicknamed him 'Toast.' ''

Best and worst of televised sports from weekend of Nov. 7-9 11/09/08 [Last modified: Thursday, May 28, 2009 3:12pm]
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