I chatted Thursday with ESPN sportscaster Mike Golic for a “Collected Wisdom” profile of him I am writing for The Oklahoman on Sunday. Golic is a former Notre Dame defensive lineman, who has two sons on this year’s team: Mike Jr., a fifth-year senior offensive guard, and Jake, a senior tight end. I also asked for his thoughts about the OU-Notre Dame game Saturday night on ABC.
“Well listen, Notre Dame’s defense has been playing as good as any defense in the country. So whenever you have that, you’re going to be in every game. Oklahoma is the normal team that is always in the thick of it, strong on offense, strong on defense. Notre Dame has a young quarterback that they are still working through and they have Tommy Rees, the veteran, if they want to go to the bullpen. Notre Dame is going to have to get a running game going, that’s going to have to help and maybe get a few big plays here or there. But I think it will be a good, close game. A lot of that is because of the defense, and
the offense is starting to get their running game going. Hopefully, they can control the ball some.”
ESPN’s “College GameDay” features a report on late OU linebacker Austin Box and how his death affected his family and the team. Box, 22, died in May from a lethal mix of prescription pain killers. Reporter Tom Rinaldi talked with Box’s family. The report will air about 10:10 a.m. Saturday.
From the time he was in seventh grade, Austin’s father, Craig, wrote his son a letter before every game he played — from middle school through the last game he played — the Fiesta Bowl win over Connecticut just in January. This season, Craig has been reading those letters again as Austin’s memory carries on, by his team and his family.
Quotes from the “College GameDay” segment:
Craig Box on the letters: “I wanted him to have something. To let him know his daddy was watching him; his daddy cared about him; his daddy loved him; that he was special; that he was gonna be special.”
Mother Gail Box: “He dealt with his back and the pain in his arm. But Austin never complained. He felt like he had been given so many gifts, that to complain would just be unheard of.”
Sister Whitney Box on a different OU defensive player wearing No. 12 in each game: “I can watch the No. 12, and root for whoever’s wearing it, and really want that player to maybe do better than all the other defensive players. But just really honor Austin in whatever they do. And they all have, each one of them. Whenever they’ve worn that jersey, they’ve honored Austin.”
Here’s my picks for the state’s top five college football broadcasting teams. Honorable mention would have to go to OSU’s current team of Dave Hunziker (“Pistols firing!) and John Holcomb.
1. John Brooks and Mike Treps, OU, 1978-1990. John Brooks’ colorful calls (“Geeminy Christmas!) and Treps’ thoughtful analysis brought excitement to the broadcasts.
2. Curt Gowdy and Bob Murphy, OU, 1945-1950. The pair covered OU’s first national title and went on to become Hall of Fame baseball announcers.
3. Bill Teegins and Tim Dirato, OSU, 1991-2000. The underrated team covered the Cowboys with flair until Teegins was silenced by the plane crash.
4. Bruce Howard and Rick Couri, TU, 1993-2011. Howard’s excellent play-by-play skills and Couri’s passion for TU sports makes for an entertaining broadcast.
5. Bob Barry and Merv Johnson, OU, 1999-2010. As the voice of OU athletics for many years, Barry thrived with many partners. Johnson brings interesting analysis through his insights in the program.
ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit discussed the OU-Florida State game and other topics during a conference call Wednesday. Herbstreit will be part of ESPN’s “College GameDay” crew in Tallahassee, Fla., to preview the game Saturday, and then will broadcast the game with Brent Musburger that night.
Here are a few excerpts:
Do you think Florida State has closed the gap enough on Oklahoma?
“That’s why we’re going to play this game Saturday night. That’s what everyone wants to know. Florida State was kind of the dynasty. They were the team for 14 straight years and everyone tried to compare themselves to being Florida State. And for the last nine or 10 years, they have been about an 8-4 team. And they won 10 last year with Jimbo Fisher. They have 16 starters back. And now they get another big moment with Oklahoma. Last year they kind of spit the bit. They weren’t ready to go to Norman. Here they are a year later. They feel that they are more familiar with Jimbo’s and Mark Stoops’ schemes the second year. They feel at home, at night this year, it’s going to be different. That’s why I think this game is going to be so big. It’s not just Florida State trying to beat Oklahoma, who is No. 1. It’s trying to knock on the door of the elite of college football and say Florida State is back. This game represents much, more than the opportunity to knock off the No. 1 team in the country.”
The Sooners haven’t played real well on the road in past years. Is that going to be a factor Saturday night?
“I’m not big on trends of teams of last year or the year before, or ‘Big Game Bob’ or any of that stuff. The one thing I noticed about this team is they have a good group of characters on this team. They have great leadership. I think they have been through a lot as a team. Obviously, some great moments, winning some big games, going to a BCS bowl game and winning that. Beating Nebraska in the Big 12 title game last year. Losing not just a teammate, but a guy a lot of them looked up to in Austin Box, and can kind of mourning his loss and really sharing a lot about how that was tough for all of them. Probably bringing them closer together. Then losing Travis Lewis in camp, who is probably their spiritual leader on the defensive side of the ball. I think there is something really unique about this team. Sometimes when you go on the road and play in a tough environment, those intangibles really come to play and they can really impact the outcome of a football game. I might be wrong. We haven’t really seen Oklahoma tested, but I really like this team. I like the leadership that I am seeing from them.”
Where do you think college football is heading with all this realignment talk?
“I guess it’s inevitable. We’re heading to these four megaconferences that everyone is talking about. I’m a big traditionalist so I am not necessarily real excited about it. I think that there is a lot of posturing right now and a lot of bureaucracy that is going on. I don’t have any sources, but I think eventually you will see Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech all join the Pac-16. And then I think after that, you will see the Big Ten and the SEC get really aggressive on who they try to pursue. It’s really going to be interesting to see how it affects the ACC and the Big East. I think it’s inevitable. I think it’s a shame that we’re going to get away from some of the great rivalries that we have been watching for 70 or 80 years. I hope that we can somehow have those great rivalry games even though we are kind of going in another direction.”
Before he decided to play football at the University of Oklahoma in 1984, Troy Aikman almost decided to play baseball instead. A three-time Super Bowl champion quarterback with the Dallas Cowboys, Aikman told Bryant Gumbel in a segment airing on the next edition of HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” that the New York Mets made a pitch for him to play baseball. The program premieres at 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Aikman will team with Joe Buck to call Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6 on Fox.
Here’s an excerpt from the interview:
AIKMAN: “I got a call from the New York Mets and they said, ‘We need to know what it’s gonna take to get you to forgo college.’”
GUMBEL: “Did you pitch?”
AIKMAN: “I was a pitcher and a shortstop. And so when they said what’s it gonna take.’ I said, ‘I don’t know, $200,000.’ They said, ‘$200,000? Darryl Strawberry is not even making that much money.’
And I said, ‘Well if you want me, that’s what it’s gonna take.’ And they said, ‘You have a nice football career at Oklahoma.’ “
Thanks to several readers for pointing out that former OU running back Adrian Peterson was snubbed in the AFLAC trivia question on ABC’s Texas at Nebraska telecast Saturday afternoon.
The question was “What was the highest finish for a freshman in the Heisman Trophy voting?” The answer, according to ABC/ESPN was Clint Castleberry of Georgia Tech, 1942; Herschel Walker of Georgia, 1980; and Michael Vick of Virginia Tech, 1999. They all had third-place finishes. Peterson, in fact, had finished second as a freshman standout at OU in 2004.
ESPN/ABC has acknowledged the mistake. We’ll see if they correct it on a future broadcast.
— Fox studio analyst Howie Long believes St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford is the rookie of the year so far this season. Long: “The Lions’ Jahvid Best has played exceptionally well and he’s battling turf toe. Rookies Tony Moeaki and Eric Berry in Kansas City along with Maurkice Pouncey in Pittsburgh are also playing well. but I’m going to go with Sam Bradford in St. Louis.”
— Through the first six weeks of the season, NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” is averaging 21.4 million viewers, the most for the first six weeks of a primetime NFL package in 14 years (24.5 million in 1996 on ABC). “Sunday Night Football” was the No. 1 show on Sunday night for the sixth consecutive week.
— ESPN.com’s original scripted series “Mayne Street” is back for its fifth season with six new webisodes debuting every Tuesday at 8 a.m. This season will feature one continuous storyline with Kenny challenged by a new executive producer who quickly becomes his arch nemesis. On “Mayne Street,” Mayne stars as himself in a fictionalized version of life at a sports television network. His reoccurring foils revolve largely around his fictional production crew, as well as other ESPN personalities.
ESPN “College GameDay” analysts Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso often disagree on their predictions on the popular show, but they both are predicting that Oklahoma and Nebraska will meet in the Big 12 football championship game.
And Herbstreit thinks the winner of that game will play for the BCS championship.
Corso, in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, said he thought OU would face Nebraska for the championship after going undefeated through the regular season. “They are loaded,” Corso said. “Landry Jones is going to be a Heisman candidate.”
In a conference call Thursday afternoon, Herbstreit agreed with his broadcast partner.
“I definitely like Oklahoma to win the South. I think Landry Jones is going to have a great year. I think it’s pivotal if you think about their schedule. Four of those first five games, if you exclude Utah State, will be challenging. You have Florida State, Air Force, at Cincinnati and then Texas in Dallas. If they are able to get through those five games, then take their bye week, this team should be unbeaten going into the Big 12 championship game. I don’t see another team on paper that can play with them. They go to A&M with Jerrod Johnson, who can score points. I think those first five are going to tell you everything you want to know about Oklahoma.
“And I think Nebraska is the real deal. I think we want to find out who emerges to be their quarterback. A lot of people nationally think their defense can’t be as good without (Ndamukong) Suh. I beg to differ. I think this defense is still going to be dominant. I think they have an outstanding secondary. Right now, Bo Pelini and his brother Carl are kind of on the cutting edge on the way they are utilizing seven defensive backs, then six and five. They are kind of using safeties as slash linebackers, kind of a hybrid guy. It creates a ton of confusion for an offensive line as we witnessed against Texas. Suh got most of the attention from that, but if you went back and watched the film, it had as much to do with confusion of Colt McCoy and not being able to get rid of the football, which allowed Suh and company to get to him. And they do that by mixing up their looks in the secondary with five, six and seven defensive backs constantly evolving and moving.
“I think Nebraska is real, and I think Oklahoma is real. I think they will eventually end up meeting in the Big 12 championship game. One day I think Nebraska is going to win that game, the next day I think Oklahoma is going to win that game. I will say this, whoever wins that game will go on to play in the national championship.”
Herbstreit said he the Big 12 will be hurt when it drops its conference championship game in 2011.
“Very different from the SEC, I think a lot of times it really matters who the matchup is and how much buzz is created in that region for the game. I have enjoyed watching those games. I have enjoyed calling them and being a small part of it. I think it hurts the conference because it’s fun to be able to play in a prime-time game on the last Saturday, for everybody to kind of watch your two best teams compete against each other. So I think you lose that. I’ve heard a lot of talk from (commissioner) Dan Beebe and others that they may be they are going to move some of the regular-season games around and still try to take advantage of that window late in the year. Maybe they can still be out there and be recognized late in the year. I think that’s important when you’re trying to sway votes and be part of the BCS standings.”
The college football season is not too far off. Fox Sports Oklahoma will help to prime your football appetite with a replay of the 2007 OU-Missouri game in Norman from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday. The No. 6 Sooners prevailed 41-31 over the No. 11 Tigerss as Chris Brown ran for three second-half touchdowns and Curtis Lofton returned a fumble for a score.
— TBS has a match-up of All-Star pitchers at noon Saturday as the Yankees’ Andy Pettitte is scheduled to face Rays’ David Price in the game at Yankee Stadium. Dick Stockton and Ron Darling will call the action.
— KOKH-25 will carry the Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals game at 3 p.m. Saturday. Joe Buck and Eric Karros will call the game, which will go to 27 percent of the nation.
— ESPN’s prime-time newsmagazine E:60 returns at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The program includes a feature on running back Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans, a profile of 13-year-old pitching sensation Chelsea Baker and a re-air of E:60’s investigation into the corrective rape issue in South Africa.
— EA’s new NCAA Football 11 includes an all-new ESPN broadcast package integration. From kickoff to the final play, players will now be able to experience the game as part of ESPN’s Game of the Week. The full broadcast integration includes actual graphics, intros and music as well as an all new replay system showing the best plays and highlights. ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit and Brad Nessler offer commentary and reporter Erin Andrews provides injury reports and sideline updates.
Finally with the death of George Steinbrenner, it’s a good time to look back at how “Seinfeld” worked the Yankees owner into the hit show. New York Times columnist looks back in a column titled “Sultan of Swagger.” Here is a link:
Former OU star quarterback Thomas Lott is appearing weekly on KREF-AM 1400 during James Hale’s talk show from 3 to 6 p.m. on either Thursday or Friday. Lott told David Flores of San Antonio’s KENS5.com that he is enjoying his radio work since moving to Norman five months ago.
“I love it,” Lott said. “I just felt like I wanted to do something different with my life, and I’ve always considered myself as someone who stays informed. Not only in sports, but in other things going on in the world. I read a lot and try to keep up.
“I think my perspective as a player and coach helps. I can look at things from a player’s point of view and a coach’s point of view. I remember things I went through, and I can share that with my audience.”
Lott, a San Antonio native who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of three varsity seasons at Jay High School, recently was inducted into Texas High School Football Hall of Fame. Switzer and several of Lott’s OU teammates, including Heisman Trophy winner Billy Sims, attended the festivities May 8 in Waco.
“It was a great experience,” Lott said. “Just seeing Coach Switzer and so many of my teammates made it a special night.”
— The Texas Rangers will get a lot of media coverage this weekend in their series at Minnesota. Fox will regionally televise the 3 p.m. Saturday game, including KOKH-25, with announcers Josh Lewin and Mark Grace. Three-fourth of the nation, including KOKI-23 in Tulsa, will get St. Louis at Chicago Cubs with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. On Sunday, ESPN2 will nationally televise the Texas-Minnesota game at 7 p.m. with Jon Miller, Joe Morgan and Orel Hershiser.
— With the Stanley Cup Finals between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Chicago Blackhawks set to begin, HBO has added additional playdates for the hour-long documentary “Broad Street Bullies,” a look at one of pro sport’s most polarizing teams, the legendary Philadelphia Flyers Stanley Cup championship squads of the 1970s. Air dates include 10 a.m. Saturday and 6 p.m. Tuesday. The film tells the backstories of these athletes, who won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975 with a bold, aggressive style that sparked controversy and criticism.
— ESPN has selected the first weeks of the Big Ten football schedule:
Sept. 4, 11 a.m., Western Michigan at Michigan State, ESPN2; 2:30 p.m. Connecticut at Michigan ABC and ESPN2.
Sept. 11, 11 a.m., San Jose State at No. 9 Wisconsin ESPN or ESPN2; 2:30 p.m. Iowa State at No. 11 Iowa, ABC and ESPN2.
Sept. 18, 11 a.m., Kent State at No. 23 Penn State ESPN or ESPN2