Who is college football's coach of the year? What coach regrets walking away from the game? Whom does Brett Hull hate? And what did Lloyd Carr and Pam Oliver do to get on our nerves? Get the answers to these questions and more as Times staff writer Tom Jones looks at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.
ESPN's Tom Rinaldi's tear-jerking piece about Patrick Hughes, a University of Louisville student who has been crippled and blind since birth but still performs in the marching band. He is pushed around the field by his father, who works the graveyard shift at UPS so he can go to class and marching band practice with Patrick during the day. Hughes plays trumpet, is an accomplished pianist with his own CD, and removes any complaints you and I might have about having a bad day.
Coach of the year
Certainly, Ohio State's Jim Tressel and Rutgers' Greg Schiano are the leading contenders. Urban Meyer has done a heck of a job. But as I watched Oklahoma beat Nebraska in the Big 12 championship, I thought it has to be Bob Stoops. He kicked his starting QB and a guard off the team before the season started, he lost Heisman Trophy candidate Adrian Peterson to an injury midway through the season. And had it not been for the worst piece of officiating in recent football history, the Sooners would be 12-1 and could have their own argument about playing in the BCS title game.
Coach to keep
an eye on
After going 2-10 in his first season at Navy, Paul Johnson has gone 8-5, 10-2, 8-4 and is now 8-3 after beating Army and on his way to a bowl game. Schools such as Alabama and Miami should be looking at this guy.
In an interview on Fox, former 49ers coach Bill Walsh, who is battling leukemia, said he retired too early: "I shouldn't have walked away. When we won the Super Bowl, we had the best young team in football. I walked away after winning a Super Bowl, but I could have stayed in and won more. I wish I would have done that.''
Hockey Night in Canada's Elliotte Friedman played word association with the always outspoken Brett Hull. Among Hull's gems: Ken Hitchock was a "great coach before the rule changes'' and that the man he hated most in hockey was coach Mike Keenan. "He ruined more people's careers and enjoyed doing it,'' Hull said. "I don't have any use for him.''
ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit took a swipe at one of his own, ESPN reporter Joe Schad. When talking about which coaches might fill various openings, Herbstreit said, "(According to) Joe Schad, every coach in the nation is up for some of these jobs. One of them will stick!''
Most interesting numbers
We shouldn't be surprised UCLA jumped up and bit USC. Since the BCS went into effect in 1998, eight teams that were ranked either No. 1 or 2 lost their last regular-season game. And six times that team was favored by at least a touchdown.
Most interesting statement
CBS's Gary Danielson said, "Florida doesn't win two games without Tim Tebow. They don't win Tennessee and they don't win LSU.''
Most overused cast
I like ESPN's The Sports Reporters, but do they have to have Mike Lupica and Bob Ryan every week? Those two were joined Sunday by Stephen A. Smith, who has his own show on ESPN2, for crying out loud. Mix it up. It's a great show, but it's becoming predictable because of the same opinions week after week.
Lightning coach John Tortorella got some national airtime in Canada, standing for a pregame interview on Hockey Night in Canada. Among his comments: The Lightning had more problems last season than goaltending and that he likes the new rules, but he is worried the physical battles that make hockey great are being siphoned out of the game because of the interpretation of those new rules.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Giants coach Tom Coughlin is not in "hot water'' with the owners. My question is, how come he isn't? Or as ESPN's Tom Jackson said on NFL Countdown: "I am shocked to see what's going on with this football team because it does seem like, to some extent, Tom Coughlin has lost control of the New York football Giants.''
ESPN's Ron Jaworski had an interesting comment about the Giants' problems that have led to players-only meetings. "What disturbs me are these players-only meetings. ... I have found out that when you have those kinds of meetings, you have one problem, two problems, maybe. When you come out, after everyone has spoken, you have a dozen problems. You accomplish nothing in those players-only meetings."
Most annoying moment
Fox's Pam Oliver (albeit jokingly) giving Dallas' Tony Romo a hard time for being late for a postgame interview: "Thanks for making me wait 10 minutes,'' she said, "I'm freezing out here, dude.'' No one cares how long you waited, or that you're cold. A million people out there would wait two hours in a locked freezer to get paid what you do to stand on NFL sidelines and say, "Joe Schmoe hurt his ankle and might return.'' And, don't call anyone "dude.'' Ever.
Florida fans, of course, will say UCLA over USC. For USF fans, wasn't it good to see West Virginia knock off Rutgers? It made USF's upset of the Mountaineers look even better.
Most overrated team this week
The Chicago Bears. They had 107 yards of total offense Sunday. Quarterback Rex Grossman was 6-for-19 for 34 yards and three interceptions against the 31st-ranked pass defense in the NFL (the Vikings) and they still won to go to 10-2. ESPN's Mike Ditka said, "If (the Bears) didn't have that defense and the special teams, they probably would have made a (quarterback) switch already.'' Fox's Terry Bradshaw said, "A team with a great offense will kill them in the playoffs.''
Michigan's Lloyd Carr criticized Florida's Urban Meyer for campaigning for the Gators to make the BCS title game. Lloyd, you lost your chance to complain about anything when you lost to Ohio State. And, by the way, even if USC had won Saturday, shouldn't the Gators have been picked to play Ohio State anyway, based on playing the toughest schedule in college football?
Hockey Night in Canada's Pierre LeBrun reported that while NHL attendance is down, revenue is up because of increased ticket prices across the league. As a result, expect the NHL's salary cap to go up again next season. Not much. But up.
of the weekend
With all due respect to the Gators getting picked for the BCS championship, I thought the best moment was Martin Gramatica's winning field goal for Dallas. Bill Parcells hasn't been that excited since McDonald's brought back the McRib sandwich.