ABC was hoping the 6,000 fans who watched the taping of the Shaquille O’Neal vs. Albert Pujols home run contest Aug. 13 in O’Fallon, Mo., wouldn’t reveal who won the competition until after the “Shaq Vs.” episode airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Media coverage wasn’t allowed and fans couldn’t bring in cell phones or recording devices.
I doubt if it’s much of a secret.
In a preview clip of the show, O’Neal turned to a youth baseball player who was catching batting practice with him and said, “I suck, don’t I?”
The player said, “Yes.”
Shaq undoubtedly was no match for the Cardinals slugger — even after being given a handicap, believed to be having the fences moved in.
Another young player dissed Shaq after he hit a foul ball. “The fence is this way!”
O’Neal looks to have fun with the episode anyway and joking refers to himself as “Shaq-ie Robinson” at one point.
O’Neal watched the Cardinals take batting practice and threw out the first pitch before the Aug. 11 game against the Reds, and he and Pujols held a press conference on Aug. 12 to preview their contest.
“Usually I try to get into the mind of my opponent,” O’Neal said during the news conference. “But I don’t think it’s wise to talk smack to a guy that always has a bat in his hand. So I will have to use a different approach with the great Albert Pujols.”
In the course of two days and 12 hours, ESPNU (Cox 253) will attempt to interview all 120 Football Bowl Subdivision coaches for its “ESPNU Coaches Spotlight Special.”
ESPNU anchor Lowell Galindo will host six-hour specials 1 to 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. The shows are an expansion of the five-hour “ESPNU Coaches Spotlight: College Basketball Special” the network aired in March, when ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz attempted to interview all 65 head coaches in the NCAA Tournament. Katz successfully interviewed 64 of the 65 coaches.
At press time, ESPNU confirmed 110 of the 120 FBS coaches to participate, including Urban Meyer (Florida), Jim Tressel (Ohio State), Charlie Weis (Notre Dame), Mack Brown (Texas) and Frank Beamer (Va. Tech) for Monday’s show and Rich Rodriguez (Michigan), Bob Stoops (Oklahoma), Pete Carroll (USC) and Gene Chizik (Auburn) on Tuesday.
“We’re going to try to make history,” Galindo said. “We’re going to talk about everything a college football junkie would want to talk about, from the coaches’ expectations for the 2009 season to Colt McCoy’s facial hair.”
Cara Capuano will host discussions with analysts Charles Arbuckle (Monday), Tom Luginbill (Monday and Tuesday) and Jay Walker (Tuesday) from a separate set, offering additional perspectives on each conference.
ESPNU also has annouced plans for “ESPNU Road Trip,” a new one-hour series that will capture the fan and student perspective of ESPN’s “College GameDay Built.” The show is scheduled to air three times this season, debuting at 8 a.m. Sept. 12 from Columbus, Ohio, for USC at Ohio State. The other two shows will be from the site of “College GameDay” on Oct. 17 and Nov. 28. The Oct. 17 show likely would be from the State Fair of Texas for OU-Texas.
ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit talked with the media during a conference call this week. Here are a few of the highlights:
Will the Sooners, as ESPN analyst Andre Ware recently predicted, lose four games?
Herbstreit: I would say looking at their schedule and what they have returning, I can’t imagine them losing four games. The Sooners return enough around Bradford offensively even though they have some concerns on the offensive line and at receiver. Their defensive will be one of the best in the country. They have some tough games, but I can’t imagine them losing more than a game or two tops.
What’s your opinion of the Big 12 South?
Herbstreit: I think it’s OU and Texas. Even though Oklahoma State is trying to be this year’s Texas Tech, I think people are anticipating the trip to Dallas to see OU and Texas with the winner having a real shot to get into the national title.
Do you think Oklahoma State has enough substance overall to justify a top 10 ranking?
Herbstreit: My theory on Oklahoma State is you can look at their offense and say this is a top 10 team. Their defense is a mystery. You bring Bill Young, who is one of the great minds in our game, back to Oklahoma State, and I think that gives you a chance to improve. There is some leadership there. There are a lot of players back with experience. For them to be this top 10 team, especially in that conference where there is a lot of scoring, they’ve got to become better on that side of the football. If they are to beat Texas and if they want to hang with Oklahoma and beat Oklahoma, they cannot just get into a scoring match. They have to be able to play good defense. My concern is between the ears psychologically. All this hype about Oklahoma State is justified, but it’s also uncharted waters. And here comes Georgia in Week 1, with nobody talking about Georgia, nobody expecting much with (quarterback Matthew) Stafford and (running back Knowshon) Moreno gone. Geez, Florida is going to kill Georgia, they don’t have any chance, and they come limping in week one, nobody expecting anything, I think Oklahoma State has to be very careful in Week 1 just because of the psychological effect of being in an area where they are not quite used to being. Oklahoma is used to it, Texas is used to it. Oklahoma State is not and they need to show some maturity in not listening to all that hype and just playing their game. And if they do that, they will be fine. If they get caught up in it, Georgia will come in there and get them.
How is Lee Corso doing after his stroke in the offseason?
Herbstreit: I saw Lee in Los Angeles a few weeks ago when we were shooting our “College GameDay” promo commercials. I was really excited to see how he was recovering. You know, Lee and his energy. He still has that same energy and the same passion for the game. It’s just a matter of him in the next couple of weeks where he finds his comfort zone and is able to get out there and be the entertainer that we’ve all come to know and love. All of our thoughts and prayers are with him that he continues to progress and continues to show the same type of ability to have those impromptu, amazing, witty comments that he’s always had.
Do you think Florida will repeat as national champions?
Herbstreit: I’m always nervous about this because in this sport, anytime you assume something is a foregone conclusion, it usually is not. In all the years I’ve been working on “GameDay” and calling these games, 15 years or so, I can never remember a year there is one team that is clearly the team to beat, not only in their conference but in the country. When you have that, the No. 1 thing to avoid is the obvious and that’s complacency. Every where they go, every station they watch, every game they tune in to, people will be telling them how wonderful they are. Sometimes you can lose your edge. You can let your guard down and a team like Arkansas or Ole Miss can give you everything that you can handle. It happens every year to these teams in college football because of the emotions of the game. You let your guard down for one week and somebody can get you because that’s their one big game of the year. I know they have maturity, experience and outstanding leadership. I know they’re going to say we’re going to avoid all that, but it’s just human nature. There’s a reason we haven’t had a lot of teams repeat in the last 30 years, I think that the’s the No.1 thing that catches up to teams. With all that being said, I still think Urban Meyer, Tim Tebow and (linebacker) Brandon Spikes will be able to overcome that tendency and I still think they will play with a lot of passion. I think they will be challenged more than people expect. I think they will win the SEC. I think they will beat Alabama in Atlanta and I think they will end up playing Texas in the national title (game).
Rank the top three quarterbacks’ chances of winning the Heisman Trophy?
Herbstreit: I’d say Colt McCoy because of the players he has returning and because he has not been able to win it yet. I’d say No. 2 would be Sam Bradford, breaking in four new offensive linemen and his top two receivers. Then Tim Tebow at No. 3, only because we set such high expectations for Tim Tebow, even last year in a year he won the national title, people we’re comparing him to what he did the year before when he won the Heisman, when he put up ridiculous numbers on a team that had two or three losses. He had to carry the team and because of that, people said, “Wow, what a great individual performance” and he won the Heisman. Last year was more of a team (effort) and he didn’t win it. I think that will be more of the same this year.
This fall, NFL Network will give fans more inside access into the game with the debut of “The NFL Head Coaches,” 5:30 p.m. Mondays. Hosted by Charles Davis, the weekly half-hour show features a trio of former head coaches – Steve Mariucci, Mike Martz and Jim Mora – who review the previous Sunday’s games and analyze the big plays and tough decisions NFL head coaches encounter. With 50 seasons of NFL coaching experience combined, the coaching trio will share situations and experiences from their careers that remain applicable to today’s head coach.
The show premieres Sept. 14.
“The head coach’s point of view is similar to that of a CEO of a company,” said NFL Network executive producer Eric Weinberger. “They manage so many different areas of a team, from evaluating talent to the split-second decisions made during a game. There’s a very unique point to view that a head coach provides and our panel of experts can shed some light on what separates a win from a loss.”
In the September/October issue of Bassmaster Magazine, Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, along with Texas wide receiver and best pal Jordan Shipley, turn in their cleats for a crankbait when they go fishing with 2008 Bassmaster Classic champion Alton Jones of Waco, Texas.
While hauling in eight bass through the morning, McCoy talks about his passion for fishing and how he has introduced several teammates to the sport.
Bassmaster: You obviously understand the competitive side of bass fishing. So, if you had the option of winning the Bassmaster Classic or beating Oklahoma, which would you choose?
McCoy: That’s a tough one, but I’d have to go with beating OU. I love to fish, but beating Oklahoma is a huge deal not just for me but for all Longhorns fans.
Bassmaster: If I put the best bass fishermen from the Texas Longhorns up against the best anglers on the OU football squad, who would win?
McCoy: We’d have a limit before Oklahoma even had their boat in the water! It wouldn’t be close!
Showtime and the NFL are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the start of the maverick American Football League, from its tumultuous beginnings to its unlikely merger with the rival NFL, through a five-part documentary, “Full Color Football: The History of the American Football League,” which premieres at 7 p.m. Sept. 16.
The documenary, produced by NFL Films, will air every Wednesday night until Oct. 8.
“The AFL is one of the great American success stories, and it is a story with a lot of colorful characters,” said NFL Films president Steve Sabol. “In this project we celebrate the AFL while also debunking myths about why the league succeeded.”
Weaving through the social, cultural and political events of the turbulent 1960s, “Full Color Football” examines the daring vision of league-founder Lamar Hunt and his dream to challenge the NFL.
Through rare interviews from some of the biggest names in the AFL, including Joe Namath, Al Davis and John Madden, long lost game highlights and never-before-seen footage, “Full Color Football” tells the inside story of the outsiders who forever changed the game.
At one time, I respected CBS analyst Gary Danielson. When he worked for ESPN/ABC, he gave the Big 12 its due. Since joining CBS, he has gotten on the SEC bandwagon to the point of making some ludicrous comments about the Big 12 and other conferences.
Danielson’s pick for the BCS championship game illustrates this point. He’s picking two SEC teams, Florida and LSU, to meet, even though he doesn’t like the idea of a team that doesn’t win its conference playing for the national title.
Speaking on the “2009 Ea Sports NCAA Football Preview Show,” which will air at noon Saturday on CBS, he said: “I have been a strong advocate for 10 years that you can’t play in the (national) championship unless you win the championship of your conference. Since they won’t listen to me, I will stick it right back to them. I am picking Florida-LSU in the championship. Four teams from the SEC are in the top 10. I see Florida losing at LSU in that night game. LSU losing to Alabama. Florida will beat Alabama. No one goes undefeated. Two left standing, LSU and Florida play for the (national) championship. I think every team will lose a game and I don’t think they are going to put Boise State ahead of LSU.”
CBS Sports begins its ninth year of national coverage of SEC coverage at 2:30 p.m. Sept. 19 with Tennessee at Florida.
Other comments from the show:
Danielson on Notre Dame-Michigan game: That game against Michigan early is going to start this whole rumor mill going. Michigan-Notre Dame, for the losing coach, the rumors will start.
Tim Brando on Charlie Weis:If Notre Dame doesn’t get at least nine wins, Charlie Weis will have to buy a ticket to see the Irish play in the Bronx next year.
Tony Barnhart on punishing Florida State for academic fraud: First of all, let’s be clear, Florida State should be punished. This is academic fraud. It was sloppy and it’s unforgivable. But vacating victories is not the way to go. And I think the same way about the Alabama case. In vacating victories, basically you are saying the games were never played. It is not like forfeiting. I don’t agree with the concept. Do scholarships, do TV, do fines, do any of that, but I agree with Bobby Bowden. This is not fair, in my opinion.