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Shooting from the lip

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

Best analyst

CBS's Gary Danielson had an absolutely terrific Saturday calling the SEC Championship Game with broadcast partner Verne Lundquist, who also was on top of his game.

Are you surprised?

With Danielson, you could pick out any of a hundred moments during a game as proof for why he is among the best in the business. But here's one.

Early in the game, Missouri moved to the Auburn 28. That's when Danielson said Missouri was now in the part of the field where its tall receivers could make a difference.

On the very next play, 6-foot-6 Dorial Green-Beckham caught what was essentially a jump ball in the end zone for a touchdown.

That's how you do it, folks. That's what makes a great analyst.

Best debut

For a guy who often seems to have the personality of a piece of lettuce, Alabama coach Nick Saban did a nice job sitting on the panel of ESPN's College GameDay on Saturday.

He was a little hesitant to make predictions, and you could understand that. This isn't his regular gig, and he wasn't about to make enemies of coaches he will have to face again next season. But he broke down Missouri and Auburn quite well and had a few nuggets that only a coach in the SEC would have.

Strongest line of questioning

ESPN's Heather Cox conducted an interview with Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston after Saturday night's ACC Championship Game that was either solid, responsible reporting or completely adversarial and inappropriate, depending on your allegiance.

FSU fans probably thought Cox's line of questioning about a sexual assault case in which Winston was not charged was out of line. Or, perhaps, bad timing considering he was just named the game's MVP in the Seminoles' victory.

It wasn't out of line or bad timing. Winston had not spoken to the media or answered any direct questions about the case. How could Cox not ask?

She asked one game-related question, then followed with four questions about the off-field controversy. He walked away without answering the fourth question.

Granted, Cox's fourth question — "How come you decided not to talk during the process and on Thursday?" — wasn't necessary and seemed nothing more than an attempt to keep the line of questioning going. She probably should have stopped after the third question, especially because Winston had been cooperative until then.

But overall, Cox shouldn't be criticized. It would have been irresponsible if she did not ask Winston about the controversy.

Most offers

Tim Tebow, according to, is being courted by several networks to analyze college football. ESPN, CBS and Fox are after him. To me, CBS makes the most sense. He would slide in nicely next to Tim Brando on the studio show.

Biggest hires

NBC isn't waiting around. Even though it won't begin covering NASCAR until the 2015 season, the network already knows its lead announcing team. Veteran play-by-play man Rick Allen will be paired with veteran driver Jeff Burton.

Strangest move

Word on the street is Michelle Beadle's time at NBC Sports might be up. You might remember it was a big deal when Beadle left ESPN last year. But her show, The Crossover, flamed out, and now, apparently, she is not going to be a part of NBC's upcoming Olympic coverage. She is still doing stuff for Access Hollywood but hasn't been seen on NBC Sports for a while.

Strange. I think Beadle is terrific, and you would think that NBC thinks that, too, considering it spent a lot of money to pry her away from ESPN.

Most missing

Fox NFL Sunday was without analyst Terry Bradshaw, who couldn't get to Los Angeles from Texas because of bad weather. It's believed to be the first time Bradshaw missed a pregame show in his 23 years with CBS and Fox. And you know what? I missed him.

Least surprising

ESPN announced Sunday that coach Jon Gruden will remain with the network and Monday Night Football at least through next season. Not a big surprise.

The Monday Night Football chair is just too good to give up for any NFL job. It's going to take a perfect situation — a good but nonmeddling owner, a solid quarterback and a good place to live — to pry Gruden out of the MNF booth.

Classiest move

Not a good season for Gary Kubiak. The coach had a ministroke earlier this season. His Texans went from Super Bowl contender to one of the worst teams, and he was fired Friday.

Still, he showed a lot of class, taking out a full-page ad in the Houston Chronicle thanking the players, the staff, the Texans organization and, most of all he said, the fans.

Worst idea

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin knew exactly what he was doing when he drifted a little too close to the field, disrupting the path of Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones in the Thanksgiving night game. You can't convince me otherwise.

He was fined $100,000, and he should be kicked off the NFL's competition committee. But to strip the Steelers of a draft choice is overboard.

Fox analyst Howie Long said, "I don't think his intent was bad. It just looked bad."

The joke in Pittsburgh is the Steelers have drafted so poorly recently that the league should punish them by awarding them an extra pick.

Best outcome

We all have to admit it: The BCS worked out again. Because of Saturday's results (losses by Ohio State and Oklahoma State and victories by Florida State and Auburn), the BCS matchup between FSU and Auburn features the two best and most deserving teams in the country.

Best point

Strong thought by CBS's NFL Today analyst Bill Cowher talking about the firing of Texans coach Gary Kubiak and a theory that can be applied to pretty much anywhere, including Tampa Bay someday.

"Any time there is a coaching issue," Cowher said, "you're going to find a direct correlation at the quarterback position."

Three things that popped into my head

1. It's way too early for the Lightning to think about when Steven Stamkos is going to come back from his broken leg. But you can understand why the Lightning does so. It is punchless offensively without him.

2. Despite a 2-10 season, Willie Taggart, I still believe, is the right man to turn around a USF football program left in complete shambles by his predecessor, Skip Holtz.

3. Crossword puzzle time. Clue: Two words, nine letters for unmitigated disaster as a head coach. Answer: Jason Kidd.

tom jones' two cents

Shooting from the lip 12/08/13 [Last modified: Sunday, December 8, 2013 11:13pm]
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