ESPN “College GameDay” analyst Lee Corso says Oklahoma was the best team he saw in person in the 2007 season and if freshman quarterback Sam Bradford hadn’t gotten injured against Texas Tech, the Sooners would have reached the BCS final game.
Corso and fellow analyst Kirk Herbstreit were high on the Sooners at the end of the season, picking them to win a mythical eight-team playoff that aired on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”
“In my opinion, Oklahoma with Sam Bradford, was the best all-around team I saw last season,” Corso said in a telephone call. “The only other team I saw up there with them was Oregon with Dennis Dixon. But those two quarterbacks got hurt and they lost big games without them. I think Oklahoma would have outscored Texas Tech and got to the (BCS) championship game. I picked LSU to play Oklahoma for the national title, and I got half of it right.”
NBC is excited to have Adrian Peterson and his Minnesota Vikings team on its Sunday night football telecast when they host the Washington Redskins at 7:15 p.m. Sunday. The game was moved to Sunday night as part of the NFL’s flexible scheduling plan. Coverage begins Sunday night at 6 p.m. with the “Football Night in America” studio show.
Both teams are in the hunt for an NFC wild-card spot. For the Vikings, if they win their last two games they will clinch a spot. For the Redskins, this is a must win. Should the Redskins lose they will be eliminated from playoff consideration.
Studio analysts Tiki Barber and Jerome “The Bus” Bettis raved about Peterson, a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year. Peterson ranks third in the league in rushing with 1,278 yards, trailing only Pittsburgh’s Willie Parker (1,317) and San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinson (1,311).
Barber: “It’s like watching a high school kid who dominates everyone he plays against.”
Bettis: “He’s big and fast. He runs like a little guy sometimes. He runs like a big guy sometimes. He’s got it all.”
BLASTING PETRINO: During Fox NFL Sunday’s “Grumpy Old Coaches” segment, Barry Switzer questioned the timing of Bobby Petrino resignation as Atlanta Falcons head coach to take the job at the University of Arkansas with three games left in the NFL season: “The way he left was awful. The disrespect he had for the assistant coaches who packed their bags and left and now they’re going to be looking for jobs in two weeks. He didn’t talk to the players, he sent them a letter. Wrong.”
Jimmy Johnson on the future of the Falcons and Petrino: “Really, they’re better off. It was not going to work. (Falcons owner) Arthur Blank is better off because he can start looking for a head coach. It was going to end at the end of the year anyway. They’re not going to the playoffs, so it’s not going to hurt them, record wise. Arkansas and Petrino are better off, they can get into recruiting. Petrino was a bad fit for the Falcons from the very start. He went for the money and regretted it. He just hated being there. Everyone is better off.”
Johnson on whether Petrino will be committed to Arkansas: “He’s a vagabond coach. He’s going to be moving again.”
Johnson and Switzer, who both coached in college and the NFL, discussed the differences between coaching the NFL and college:
Johnson: “You cannot coach professional players the same way. Everybody says, ‘Well, you have to treat them like men they’re not college kids.’ … They’re getting paid to work and perform and if they were men, they’d keep their mouths shut. They are rich kids. So what you have to do is you have to give them individual attention. In college you say, ‘You do this, you do that,’ and you don’t have to explain anything. In pro football you say, ‘Do this, do that,’ and then you have to bring them in one-on-one and give them individual attention and explain things.”
Switzer: “In pro football, you have to have management skills; you have to be able to communicate with them. In college football, you’re a dictator, you tell them what to do and they better do it.”
FLIPPING CHANNELS: “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” will have a special holiday roundtable review of 2007 when it returns at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Host Bryant Gumbel leads correspondents James Brown, Mary Carillo, Frank Deford, Jon Frankel, Bernard Goldberg and Andrea Kremer in the discussion, touching on everything from favorite stories of the year to the interviews and pieces that had the greatest impact on them. … Bob Papa, Mike Mayock and Sterling Sharpe will broadcast the Insight Bowl, matching Oklahoma State and Indiana, at 5 p.m. Dec. 31 for the NFL Network. The game also will be seen on KSBI-52 in Oklahoma and WXIN-59 in Indianapolis. … NBC will present broadcast coverage of the NHL Winter Classic between the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins, the first U.S. outdoor game in NHL history, at noon Jan. 1 from Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, N.Y. Bob Costas will be the host. … The Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) has named Emmitt Smith the “Player of the Century” as part of its “100 Years of Florida High School Football” celebration. Smith, the state’s all-time leading rusher and current ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown analyst, played for scambia High School in Pensacola from 1983-86 and led the Gators to back-to-back state championships in 1984 and 1985.
What’s your favorite “This is SportsCenter” commercial?
You have to go back eight years to find mind, the comical Y2K spoof in which a lantern-carrying Charley Steiner commands ESPN staffers to “follow me to freedom.”
It’s one of 50 commercials featured in “The Best of ‘This is SportsCenter’ special at 7 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN. Many of the old favorites are featured including Kenny Mayne and Dan Patrick changing costumes and anchoring SportsCenter in various languages for the international editions of SportsCenter.
Three new commercials are debuting on the special:
— Richard Simmons serving as a loud-mouthed conditioning coach.
— The Boston Celtics threesome of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce seeking advice on a nickname: How about the Boston Three Party?
— A cockatiel dunking a basketball.
Trivia time: Of the 300 commercials, which athlete has been featured the most?
Roger Clemens, five times.
Charles Barkley: “Well, I would have to say and this happened at basically at the beginning of the year, the Boise State-Oklahoma game, was the best football game I have ever seen in my life.
“Living in Arizona, just sitting there watching that game, I was like, ‘Wow.’ It was just such a, so, many peaks and valleys in that game. And I got to admit I was pulling for the little guy. No. 1, I bet on the little guy. I had Boise State plus seven.”
DECLINING MAVERICKS: On TNT’s Thursday night doubleheader, Barkley talked about the declining Mavericks, who lost to the Denver Nuggets’ 122-109 in the first game of the doubleheader: “ Dallas is in trouble, they’ve got to make a trade or do something. They have reverted totally back to an offensive team. I was so disappointed the other night when they lost to San Antonio without Tim Duncan. They are just soft, the game always comes down to defense and rebounding, you aren’t going to beat the Spurs, Phoenix or Utah by outscoring them. Utah and San Antonio are the two best defensive teams and Phoenix is the best offensive team.”
Reggie Miller on the decline of Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki’s stats: “Teams are going to play (Dirk Nowitzki) differently. His points are down, his shooting percentage is down, more importantly, what he is known for since he came into the league is his three-point shooting for his size, all these numbers are down. I think teams are playing him differently. I think (Spurs forward) Bruce Bowen put out the blueprint out on how to play him – you crowd him, you force him to his right, he likes to go left. I wonder if he is a little tired from playing for his club team in Germany. All these things factor in.”
Mike Fratello on Mavs coach Avery Johnson and Nuggets coach George Karl being the coaches to wear microphones during the game: “I’m proud of both coaches (Avery Johnson and George Karl) because they’re going along with the spirit of what this is all about. This is the cooperation between the league and the networks to give our viewers more access and an inside understanding of what actually takes place. It is a very touchy situation, so these two coaches are the pioneers.”
The innovation didn’t produce many gems Thursday night. Here are a few of Karl’s comments during timeouts.
“Our defense fell apart in the last six or seven minutes of that quarter. Everyone get back to playing defense more seriously.”
“Let’s try to win the game with stops and not try to win the game with shots.”
FLIPPING CHANNELS: FSN debuts “Mind Body and Kickin’ Moves,” a weekly martial arts series, with two 30-minute episodes at 11 p.m. Sunday. Hosted by martial arts expert Chris Crudelli, the series takes viewers on a mystical journey through the Far East, shining a light on ancient martial arts practices that are still being taught and new specialties being developed and perfected. … ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown,” `10 a.m. Sunday, includes an interview with Dallas Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens and Kenny Mayne’s tongue-in-cheek profile of Cowboys line coach Tony Sparano. The “Mayne Event” feature will include special appearances by three cast members of the popular HBO drama “The Sopranos,” including Tony Sirico (Paulie), Steve Schirripa (Bobby) and Dominic Chianese (Uncle Junior).