tom jones' two cents
Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.
If you were watching the end of the Bucs-Panthers game Sunday, you saw Bucs wide receiver Tiquan Underwood take a shot to the head after a catch. You also heard Fox analyst Tim Ryan criticize how late a flag was thrown for a personal foul.
Shame on Ryan, who is a former player and should be more sensitive. What does it matter how late the call was? Wouldn't you rather have a call come a second or two late and be correct than incorrectly not come at all? Especially when it comes to head shots?
Biggest free agent
The biggest move in the NFL offseason might not be made by a player or a coach. It might be made by a writer. Sports Illustrated's Peter King is probably the best-known NFL writer in the country, and his column, "Monday Morning QB," might be the most read sports column in the country.
Well, the website The Big Lead reports that King's contract with Sports Illustrated is up after the Super Bowl and he might have plenty of options for moving. King already does work for NBC and could move there full time. Or a network such as ESPN or the NFL Network could make a run at him. Certainly SI will do what it can to keep him.
Chip Kelly's Oregon Ducks were upset by Stanford on Saturday night, but after ESPN's College GameDay feature on him, you have to have more respect for the football coach. Kelly went to Africa in the offseason to work with underprivileged children. And he did it without telling many people, including his coaching staff.
"When I hear college coaches or pro coaches or anybody talk about how hard their workday is,'' Kelly said, "and then I hear about coaches saying, 'We're grinding,' and I'm like, 'You're sitting in a room with air conditioning watching videotape. That's not grinding.' ''
The NBA's TV network is doing a pretty cool thing called "NBA Fan Night.'' Fans are given the chance to vote on which game will be televised. Not only is it cool, it's smart. On Tuesday, the fans' choice of the Lakers-Spurs game averaged 739,000 viewers, making it the second-most-watched regular-season game ever on NBA TV.
Is anyone really surprised Derek Dooley couldn't hack it at Tennessee? When the university hired him to be its football coach three years ago, it wasn't like he was the next Urban Meyer. Dooley was 17-20 at Louisiana Tech. So why would anyone expect him to tear it up at Tennessee?
He was fired Sunday after going 6-7, 5-7 and 4-7 in his three seasons, including 4-19 in the SEC. Hmm, suddenly Phil Fulmer doesn't look too bad, eh?
The Jon Gruden rumors will crank up soon, but I can't see Gruden leaving the ESPN booth for anything but an NFL job.
Three things that popped into my head
1. The only thing cooler than watching the top two-ranked football teams in the country get upset Saturday night was watching ESPN's splendid postgame coverage of the games. Folks like to take lots of shots at ESPN, but there is no better place to watch reaction and analysis after big events than ESPN.
2. I'm always jumping on fans for rushing the field when they shouldn't be, like when they beat like the 10th-ranked team in the country. Well, you know what? I think it was perfectly fine (and great) that Baylor fans rushed the field after the Bears upset top-ranked Kansas State on Saturday.
3. Just a thought: Why doesn't NASCAR avoid NFL football and put the final race of the Chase for the Championship on in prime time on, say, a Tuesday night? Or better yet, why not hold it on the Friday after Thanksgiving, when it can dominate the airwaves?
Last Monday night, an ESPN graphic about Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (left) was supposed to read "Dink and Dunk,'' to show the Steelers' offensive strategy of short passes this season. Instead, the graphic read, "Drink and Drunk.''
Monday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman said, "We have to tell you this for sure, earlier in the show we had a graphic error in the rundown. We apologize for the mistake. Not sure how it happened. It won't happen again."
Mistakes happen, certainly. But that one seemed fishy. Here's what I think happened, because I've seen it happen before on TV and in newspapers: Someone was putting together the graphic and typing in the font and size to make it fit, and just for fun typed in something humorous. They then forgot to change it, and next thing you know, Chris Berman is apologizing.
ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown analyst Mike Ditka missed Sunday's show after having a minor stroke Friday. Ditka (left), 73, was released from the hospital on Sunday and hopes to return to work soon.
Speaking of Sunday NFL Countdown, there's talk the cast could be shaken up in the offseason. It should be. The show needs something new, something fresh.
Host Chris Berman has been on the show since 1985, although he isn't going anywhere, because he just signed a contract extension. Tom Jackson has been on the panel since 1987. Ditka joined in 2006, Keyshawn Johnson joined in 2007, and Cris Carter came aboard in 2008. So that's five years the current cast has been together.
At least the broadcast of Saturday's USF-Miami game addressed how Bulls coach Skip Holtz so badly bungled the clock at the end of the first half of his 40-9 loss. Too bad his explanation, which I still don't understand, wasn't as good as the question.
His team ended up kicking a field goal on third down because time was running out though the Bulls still had all three timeouts left. Holtz took the blame and tried to explain how he didn't want to give Miami extra time to dial up some blitzes against his young QB, Matt Floyd.
Then again, when you get spanked like the Bulls did, four points hardly matter.
ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale and New York Post media critic Phil Mushnick are feuding. Mushnick criticized Dickie V, among a few things, for mentioning that Maryland picked up a good player from Xavier but never mentioned the player was kicked out of Xavier.
Vitale fired back on Twitter: "Wish I could be a GENIUS in TV ala Phil Mushnick (who) just sits & rips. Do we at ESPN ever do anything right in eyes of King Phil?"
ABC/ESPN NBA analyst Magic Johnson ripped into the Lakers' decision to hire Mike D'Antoni as coach instead of Phil Jackson.
Though I disagree with Johnson, I must say it was refreshing for Johnson finally to say something people can disagree with. Johnson rarely has a strong opinion, and it's about time he did.
Let's see if he can continue it. Johnson obviously has close ties to and passionate feelings about the Lakers. Can he drum up worthwhile opinions about other teams and players? That's what makes a good analyst.