Wednesday, May 23, 2018
TV and Radio_sports

Shooting from the lip: Weekend sports TV highlights

Best weekend

What a weekend in college football. And it was made even more outstanding by the terrific work turned in by all the networks. It was a shining moment for college football and for those who broadcast it. Here's a quick snapshot of the weekend's highlights in college football.

Let's start with the play of the day from the game of the day. Auburn's Chris Davis returned a missed 57-yard field goal 109 yards (though it officially counts as 100) for a touchdown for the incredible winning score. The direction on the final play — meaning the decision to stick with the end-zone camera as Davis went on his magical return — was masterful. That shot allowed viewers to watch Davis tiptoe the sideline and to see if any tacklers were in his way.

Meantime, all the postgame work — from replays of the score to reactions of the players and coaches to shots of fans rushing the field to Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron hugging his family — was outstanding. CBS didn't jump to commercial. It stayed at the game and made this unforgettable instant classic even more memorable. Great, great work.

As far as CBS's overall game coverage of Alabama and Auburn, it was superb. Announcers Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson brought their A-game, and the entire broadcast was worthy of the game that was played.

Kudos to ABC analyst Todd Blackledge, who called the Ohio State-Michigan game. Michigan tried to win the game on a two-point conversion and failed. Blackledge, like a good broadcaster should, agreed with the decision to go for two before the play.

The FSU-Florida game was a dog, but it's always enjoyable to listen to Brian Griese, who is much better at this analyst stuff than I thought he'd be. Also, nice job by announcer Dave Pasch. He mentioned the sexual allegations involving FSU quarterback Jameis Winston but didn't dwell on them.

ABC did a good job showing Nebraska coach Bo Pelini acting like a horse's rear on the sideline during Friday's game. If I were a Nebraska alum, I would be embarrassed by this guy's constant shenanigans.

Best ending

Considering how one second was put back on the clock, considering how a player returned a failed field goal 100-plus yards for a touchdown, considering how the No. 1 team in the country lost, considering how it came in one of the biggest rivalries in all of sports, the ending of Saturday's Auburn-Alabama game is, without question, the greatest ending of a game in American sports history.

Yep, better than the Stanford band rushing the field. Better than the Immaculate Reception. Better than Doug Flutie's Hail Mary. Better than any walkoff homer or halfcourt buzzer-beater. Better than anything. Ever.

Maybe you have a better ending, but I doubt it.

Strongest opinion

A year ago, we were applauding the fabulous rookie season of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. This year, RG3 is not only taking a pounding for his poor play but for his refusal to accept responsibility for his poor play.

During Sunday's NFL Network GameDay Morning show, analyst Warren Sapp had advice for Griffin: "You have to stand in front of your football team and say, 'I am the problem.' "

Worst time for a commercial

Longtime Lightning star Vinny Lecavalier returned to Tampa Bay last week and was honored as the Lightning Community Hero in the first period. Essentially, it was the Lightning's way of recognizing the return of Lecavalier and, according to announcers Rick Peckham and Paul Kennedy, Lecavalier received a rousing ovation in what was an emotional moment. I say "according to announcers'' because Sun Sports broke for commercial before the honor was announced and returned as it was coming to a close. I realize Sun Sports has to pay the bills, but this was one moment when the broadcast needed to stay with the game to see this touching moment.

Worst game

It was a close game and, for a moment there, sort of dramatic. But, if you really break it down, Friday night's USF-UCF game was a clunker. We learned two things. One, USF has lots of work to do just to get back to respectability. And, two, UCF really isn't that impressive. The Knights are merely a win from being the survivor of a mediocre-at-best conference.

Oh, wait, we did learn one other thing: careful where you park your car if you happen to be the USF athletic director. Stay classy, UCF.

Worst class

No player showed less class Saturday than Ohio State offensive lineman Marcus Hall, who raised both middle fingers to the crowd after being ejected for a fight. And I don't want to hear about how it's an emotional game and it's a rivalry game and fans were heckling and he's just a kid or whatever. There were a slew of heated rivalry games this weekend and no one else left the field on national television with both middle fingers raised to the crowd.

Biggest mixed message

CBS's Jason La Canfora and the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport both reported Sunday morning that the league is considering taking away a draft pick from the Steelers as penalty for coach Mike Tomlin being too close to the field and, perhaps, obstructing a Ravens player on a kickoff return during Thursday's game. But Fox's Jay Glazer said the league is "not even talking about'' taking away a pick. I find it enjoyable when insiders are so sure about what they're reporting, yet in this case, someone is wrong.

Funniest (and most accurate) line

"Probably the worst game on television.''

— Fox NFL analyst Terry Bradshaw, introducing the highlights of the Dolphins-Jets game

First blackout

Fans gripe about the NFL's blackout rule, but there wasn't a blackout this season until Sunday. The Bengals-Chargers game was blacked out in the San Diego area after more than 5,300 tickets remained unsold 72 hours prior to kickoff.

Three things that popped into my head

1. The Gators fired offensive coordinator Brent Pease. Oh, so that was the problem. Everything's great now, right?

2. ESPN analyst Robert Smith pointed this out, and it's stunning: If you throw out games against Division I-AA schools, know what Nick Saban's record is in November since 2010? A very ordinary 7-5.

3. Still, if I have an opening for a head coach at the college level, I'm calling Saban.

tom jones' two cents

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

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