tom jones' two cents
Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.
How fun to finally see the Bucs get attention from the national media. Over the past couple of seasons they have been ignored by the networks, and you can certainly understand why. Not only were they bad last season, they were, worse yet, boring.
But after a solid start to the 2012 season, the Bucs are getting noticed. CBS made the Bucs a big part of its pregame show, sending Bill Cowher in to do a feature on coach Greg Schiano and his team.
Meantime, after his 251-yard rushing game, Doug Martin has become the talk and toast of the NFL.
"Doug Martin is an every-down back, and we don't have many in the NFL," analyst Marshall Faulk said on the NFL Network's GameDay Morning. "With Vincent Jackson and Josh Freeman, they have their triplets."
Talking about the Falcons-Saints game, ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown analyst Mike Ditka said: "I can see the Saints pulling off an upset. They've got to outscore them. Their defense is not going to stop Atlanta's offense."
Ditka was right all the way around as the Saints beat the Falcons 31-27.
Texas A&M made the biggest splash in its debut SEC season on Saturday by upsetting No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa. CBS did a nice job detailing the history between Alabama and Texas A&M, which goes back to the Bear Bryant days.
Gene Stallings (bottom) played for Bryant (top) at Texas A&M. Then Bryant went on to coach Alabama, and Stallings coached at both Texas A&M and Alabama.
Stallings' Aggies upset Bryant's Crimson Tide in the 1968 Cotton Bowl, and CBS showed a cool clip of Bryant picking up Stallings after that game to carry him off the field.
Bryant had the reputation of being a tough son of a gun, so it was nice to see a side of him few of us remember or even knew.
Most interesting comments
Last week, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan made a comment that made it sound as if he was punting the rest of this season in favor of evaluating talent for the future. That did not sit well with fans. It led to an interesting comment by Fox NFL Sunday analyst Jimmy Johnson (left).
"Shanahan made a huge mistake," Johnson said. "He told the media what he was thinking. As a coach, you are talking to your players and to the fans. You tell your players what message you want to send; you tell the fans what they want to hear. You don't ever say what you're thinking as a coach."
You know, the more Johnson talks, the more interested I am in what he has to say. He has become the most compelling voice on the Fox pregame show and one of the strongest analysts on all the NFL pregame shows.
Last week I wrote how NBC might have made a mistake putting the Breeders' Cup on in prime time against marquee college football games such as Alabama against LSU and Oregon against Southern Cal.
Turns out, the move paid off after all. NBC earned a 2.2 rating, meaning 2.2 percent of U.S. households with televisions were tuned in. That was nowhere near the ratings that the football games received, but it was a strong increase over the 1.2 that the Breeders' Cup drew on ESPN last year when it was shown in the late afternoon and early evening.
TNT NBA analyst Charles Barkley is one of the best sports analysts on TV, but he's hinting that he might not be a commentator much longer. Barkley recently spoke with Sports Illustrated media critic Richard Deitsch and said it was "going to be a struggle" to get through the four years he has left on his contract.
"I need something more or something else to do," Barkley, 49, said.
This isn't the first time Barkley has said such things. He has toyed with the idea of getting into politics and might be interested in an executive job with an NBA team.
So enjoy him while you can on TV, and you should enjoy him. He's smart, funny, engaging and has done for the NBA what John Madden did for the NFL.
Older just might be better when it comes to being a sports broadcaster. A recent post by sports media blogger Ed Sherman pointed out how Marv Albert is now 71 years old. Then you have Brent Musburger, who is 73, and Verne Lundquist is 72.
There are others: Dick Vitale is 73, Tim McCarver is 71, Bob Knight is 72, Digger Phelps is 71, Lou Holtz is 75 and Dick Stockton turns 70 today.
It makes sense that many analysts are of that age. Most spent most of their lives achieving success playing and coaching, which is what makes them so valuable as analysts.
"The important thing," Albert joked, "is that 70 is the new 68."
Three things that popped into my head
1. Reports are that Phil Jackson could return as coach of the Lakers if the team allows him to stay home on certain road trips. Seriously? If he isn't healthy enough to show up every game, maybe it's best if he doesn't coach anymore.
2. If USF basketball fans can take any solace from a season-opening blowout loss to UCF it's this: Last season, the Bulls suffered head-shaking early season losses to Old Dominion, Penn State and Auburn.
3. Have you ever seen anyone's stock fall faster than Auburn coach Gene Chizik? He's going to lose his job less than two years after winning a national title. Wow.