ESPN college football analysts Kirk Herbstreit and Lou Holtz have picked OU to play USC in the BCS championship game. Herbstreit predicts USC will prevail, while Holtz takes the Sooners to win the title.
Herbstreit discussed the Sooners in a conference call this week:
“I picked Oklahoma to go to the national championship game to play USC so I guess I feel that they’re going to have a pretty good year. Trying to decipher between Oklahoma and Texas, both are very similar at the end of the day, trying to figure out who would to win that game, flip a coin. On paper, I think Oklahoma has a chance to have a better defense. That’s why I would give them an edge going into the season.
“I’m really excited to see their offensive line this year. I did a few of their games last year. Of all the teams I did, I was just blown away with how physical their offensive line was and how physical Alan Patrick ran. Wnd with DeMarco Murray stepping in, I think it will take a lot of the pressure off of (quarterback Sam) Bradford in his first year. Malcolm Kelly is one of the better receivers in the country. I think there is a nucleus here and because of the way they lost to Boise State, and how much of an embarrassment they seem to feel from that, even though Boise State was a great team, that’s probably inspring them in the offseason and give them a little extra incentive as they get ready for this year. They get Miami on Sept 8 and I think that will be a fun game for each team to see where they are.”
Several broadcasters are picking Oklahoma State to win its opener Saturday night at Georgia, although the host Bulldogs are a 61/2-point favorite. Former Notre Dame coach Bob Davie, who will call the game for ESPN2, and ESPN host Rece Davis are expecting the Cowboys will have a strong showing.
In a phone call with Davie, he said he is impressed with the Cowboys. “This is definitely a winnable game for Oklahoma State. I think the fact that they beat Nebraska last year and they beat Alabama in the bowl game helped them gain some credibility in my eyes. They have some talented guys at the skilled positions. I think they’re set up as well as you could be because of the scheme they use. They use a lot of no-huddle. There are a lot of signals at the line of scrimmage. Really the reason (offensive coordinator) Larry Fedora is in that offense is because of the experience in the SEC when he was at Florida. When you play on the road in that league, there is no chance of verbalizing or changing a lot of plays at the line of scrimmage. They’re set up with the no-huddle because a lot of it is on a signal basis, which helps them. I think (quarterback) Bobby Reid has played in a lot of big games. He won the state championship in high school at Houston. I think they are set up to handle playing at a place like Georgia because of their scheme and because of their experience at quarterback. Georgia is young on defense — really young.
“I’ve been around (new OSU defensive coordinator) Tim Beckman a lot. He’s doing what a lot of coaches do when they first come in. He’s trying to make the players accountable. He did a lot of team unity things in the off-season. The key is to get into Texas and recruit some defensive linemen. All that stuff is great, but the reality is a lot of other people in the country are doing the same thing when it comes to that. They need some defensive linemen. They really do. They are more talented on offense than they are on defense. You look at Georgia who you think would want to run the football because Oklahoma State is so young and vulnerable up front, but Georgia is brand new. They have four new linemen on offense. So I think Oklahoma State really matches up well.
In a conference call this week, Davis called OSU his sleeper team in the nation.
“I think that some of their strengths, namely explosive an offense in Adarius Bowman on the outside, plays very well against some of Georgia’s question marks with their off-season loss to Paul Oliver to an academic situation. I think that offense is difficult to contain under any circumstances, and now you’re asking a Georgia offense with question marks on the offensive line to make sure that they outscore them. I don’t know if I’m willing to say that Oklahoma State is good enough to walk in between the hedges and beat them. But I do think that one of the games that I have circled as a potential upset. I don’t think they are as good as Oklahoma and Texas, but I think they can take a step up in their tier of bowl games.
”ESPN’s “College GameDay analyst” Kirk Herbstreit is picking Georgia — partially because so many experts have jumped on OSU’s bandwagon.
“I think Oklahoma State is a classic example of a team utilizing a victory in the Independence Bowl over Alabama as a springboard into their off-season, where they have the bulk of their team coming back.” Herbstreit said. “I don’t think they are going to walk into that Georgia game thinking ‘Can we really win this?’ Because of what they did against Alabama and because so many of the guys are coming back, they probably will think they can play. They scored 35 points a game last year with everbody back.
“If everybody in the world would quit picking them, they would be a fun pick this weekend. But because the whole world is picking them, I’m picking Georgia. Seems like to me we don’t have a lot of marquis games this opening weekend. I think they are going to take a step up. I just wish one of them would go to the Big 12 North so we could kind of balance it out.”
A year out of high school, former Westmoore High School quarterback Ryan Fightmaster will be the analyst on the Jaguars’ radio broadcasts this season on KTOK-AM 1000. It will be interesting to see how critical he will be of his former team. As the Big All City quarterback, Fightmaster rushed for 1,001 rushing yards and 18 TDs and passed for 751 passing yards and six touchdowns. Steve Marshall and David Garrett will alternate as the play-by-play announcer.
High school football game broadcasts also will be available on several other metro radio stations this season:
KOKC-AM 1520, Moore (J.D. Northcutt, Justin Rolland, Larry Harris).
KEBC-AM 1340 (Fox Sports Radio 1340), Edmond schools (David Garrett or Mike Frazier and Greg Dickenson).
KREF-AM 1400, Norman and Norman North. Home games live (Mike Manos); road games on tape (Chris Kilinski).
WWLS-AM 640 and FM 97.9 (Sports Animal radio network), game of the week (Todd Lisenbee, Matt Meyer and Cisco).
WKY-AM 930 (Jox 930), game of the week (Bobby Thompson, Brandon Rush and Gideon Hamilton).
“High School Game Night” scoreboard show (Randy Heitz and Phillip Pannelo) will air on the Sports Animal after its game until midnight.
“Friday Night Finals,” a statewide scoreboard show (Greg Merick and Mike Frazer) will air 10 p.m. to midnight on Fox Sports Radio 1340.
The Sports Animal is carrying “Oklahoma High School Spotlight” from 11 a.m. to noon Sunday. Co-hosted by Randy Heitz and Norman North baseball coach Bryan Aylor, it includes interviews with coaches and sports writers.
Olbermann’s MSNBC show, “Countdown With Keith Olbermann,” which is generating good cable ratings, will make a one-time appearance at 6 p.m. Olbermann compares it to a Triple-A pitcher getting called up to the majors for one start. In July, Olbermann’s show averaged 721,000 viewers, an increase of 88 percent over last July, and finished second to Fox’s “O’Reilly Factor” at 7 p.m. weekdays.
At 7 p.m., Olbermann will make his debut on the studio show, “Football Night in America.” For one of his regular halftime features, he will name his “worst person in the NFL,” a variation of his “Countdown” feature in which he picks the “worst person in the world.” He also will have a halftime commentary on Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, who announced last week he will plead guilty to U.S. federal dogfighting charges. “If you dislike or hate Michael Vick for what he’s done, your hope should be that the NFL’s punishment against him is minimal,” Olbermann said. “It’s sort of a counterintuitive argument.”
Joining Olbermann on the studio show are Bob Costas, Cris Collinsworth and former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis.
Olbermann, who gained notoriety working with Dan Patrick as ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” co-hosts, is under contract with ESPN Radio until March. He had been a regular contributor to Patrick’s radio show, which went off the air Aug. 17. Olbermann said ESPN might use him as a studio commentator during the baseball playoffs.
Michael Vick excuses: In case you missed it, here are David Letterman’s Top Ten Michael Vick excuses:
10. House came with a dogfighting pit, and it seemed like a shame to waste it.
9. Wanted to distract the public from crooked NBA referees and cheating baseball players.
8. Judgment was impaired by playing with lead-based Chinese toys.
7. I was training the dogs to … uhhhhhh … get Osama.
6. Always wanted to be quarterback for a prison team, like in “The Longest Yard.”
5. Steroids made me all crazy.
4. Eddie Brill told me I needed something big to close on.
3. Oh like you’ve never run an illegal dogfighting ring.
2. Thought I could get out of it by buying Kobe Bryant’s wife a diamond.
1. Fights weren’t worse than what you see on “The View.”
Denver Broncos wide receiver Javon Walker opened up to the media and talked about the death of teammate Darrent Williams, a former Oklahoma State star, on the latest episode of HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.” Walker told HBO reporter Andrea Kremer that he still has the bloodied shirt from the night Williams died in his arms. The episode is schedule to air several times this week.
“It’s just something that reminds me everyday of what could happen and this is what happened to my friend … what’s left of him is on my clothes,” Walker said.
Walker said he was turning up the music in their limo after leaving a nightclub Jan. 1 when Williams suddenly fell into his lap. Walker says he pushed Williams away and told him to stop messing around. That is when he saw the blood coming from Williams’ neck.
“All I remember at that point in time was he was just looking up at me and I was just like, ‘I got you Dee, I got you Dee, I got you Dee,’” Walker said.
Walker also told Kremer he feared the shooters would come back and finish them off. “You don’t know what to think, to have somebody die in your arms and you know you’re the last person he hugged,” Walker said.
When asked why he did not attend Williams’ funeral in Fort Worth, Texas, Walker said he did not attend “because all it was going to do was just bring back memories of something I didn’t want to feel again.”
No one has been charged in Williams’ death.
Sooner fans finally can take consolation in knowing something good came out last January’s Fiesta Bowl debacle, OU’s 43-42 overtime loss to Boise State. Barry Switzer, added as a guest analyst for the Fox Sports telecast of the bowl, made such an impression on network executives with his work with Jimmy Johnson on the pregame, halftime and postgame segments that Switzer this week landed a regular job with Fox Sports.This fall, he will again team with Johnson for a regular “Coaches Corner” segment on the “Fox NFL Sunday” studio show. Switzer, who along with Johnson are the only two coaches to win both a college football national championship and a Super Bowl, will be in Fox’s Los Angeles studio each week to analyze the NFL and BCS.
Switzer is quickly becoming a media mogul. Beginning Aug. 20, he can be heard on XM Satellite Radio. He will co-host “XM Sports Nation This Morning” with T.J. Rives from 5:30 to 7 a.m. Mondays and Fridays.
For the past two years, Switzer, former OSU coach Pat Jones and KWTV News 9 sports director Dean Blevins had been working on plans for a statewide Sunday football discussion show. Those plans probably will be sidetracked with Switzer’s new Fox gig. Blevins said the difficulty in finding a good time slot also presented a problem.
The return of “Fox NFL Sunday” to Los Angeles should benefit viewers. Doing the show from remote stadium locations helped turn it into an unneeded sideshow and presented some technical problems for Fox.
Curt Menefee will be the new host for the “Fox NFL Sunday.” He replaces Joe Buck, who will continue as the network’s top play-by-play voice. The versatile Buck has enough to do without handling both roles. Fox Sports’ “NFL Insider” Jay Glazer also will move into the studio and cute weather woman Jillian Barberie is back after a year’s absence.
Fox’s NFL teams: Fox has announced its NFL broadcast teams for the season. Former Cowboys fullback Daryl Johnston has been teamed with Kenny Albert and Tony Siragusa. He had worked with Dick Stocktown. Here is the lineup:
Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver.
Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa.
Dick Stockton, Brian Baldinger.
Sam Rosen, Tim Ryan, Chris Myers.
Matt Vasgersian, JC Pearson.
Ron Pitts, Tony Boselli.
FSN to preview colleges: With the countdown to live college football games two weeks away, FSN has started airing 30-minute specials on Big 12 teams, Arkansas and LSU. Emily Jones, who returns for her second season as a sideline reporter on Big 12 telecasts, hosts the Big 12 South Division, Arkansas and LSU shows from each school’s campus. She’s joined by FSN Big 12 play-by-play announcer Bill Land, Big 12 analysts Gary Reasons and Dave Lapham, John Rhadigan, Ric Renner, Neil Beasley, and scout.com’s Dudley Dawson (Hawgs Illustrated) and Matt Deville (Tiger Rags). FSN Midwest’s Stacy Paetz hosts the North Division shows.
Here are the OU and OSU airdates:
Oklahoma: Saturday, Aug. 18, 7 p.m.; Monday, Aug. 20, 12:30 p.m.; Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2:00 p.m.; Thursday, Aug. 28, 2:30 p.m.
Oklahoma State: Thursday, Aug. 16, 1 p.m.; Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2:30 p.m.; Thursday, Aug. 23, 6:30 p.m.; Friday, Aug. 31, 12:30 p.m.