Willie Warren is going to be a huge boost to that team because of his ability to score in the backcourt and stabilize their ballhandling. I think the one big guy in the country that can challenge (North Carolina forward) Tyler Hansbrough for player of the year status would be Blake Griffin. I had a chance to work with him this summer at the Amare Stoudemire Academy and he is just a stud. He is just a strong athlete that no one guy in college basketball can stop. I think he’s going to have an ubelievably good year.
Are the Sooners good enough to reach the Final Four?
I wouldn’t put them among the Final Four favorites to start the season, but I think they are a top 15 team for sure.
Green Dan: In honor of NBC’s “Green Week,” Dan Patrick of “Football Night in America” says he has been helping the cause: “I’ve been recycling lines I used at ESPN.”
Barkley’s advice: TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley has some advice for Shaquille O’Neal regarding his ongoing feud with Kobe Bryant:
“I’m going to call out one of my favorite people, one of my five greatest players ever that I love watching, Shaquille O’Neal. Shaquille O’Neal, you know I love you. I know your mom and my mom are best friends and I know I’m going to get in trouble because you’re my favorite player.”
“You’ve got to let this thing go, man. You have been one of the greatest players in NBA history and (one of the) greatest players ever. You are one of the nicest (guys) people are ever going to meet and you are great for charity. Hey, man, finish your career as that guy. You don’t want to be a bitter, angry guy going out the game. You are too good of a person. Let this thing with Kobe go. The rap thing last summer, now you’re going back between fields. Hey man, you are too good of a person to finish your career like that. Just be one of greatest players ever, one of the nicest guys ever, let all that crap with the Lakers go and let it go.”
As an ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor, Kenny Mayne always was more of a comedian than a sports guy. His dry wit oozed from his delivery. So it was no surprise that the debut of his “Mayne Street” series on Tuesday on ESPN.com had its share of laughs.
In ESPN.com’s first original scripted series, Mayne plays himself in a fictionalized version of life at the center of sports television. In the 4-minute debut, he teams with Scott Van Pelt on the late show. The two are on the set for hours as Mayne repeatedly mispronounces Rafael Nadel’s first name in the closing. His producers want to take the corrected version and include it in the morning repeats. Eventually, Van Pelt takes over the duties but not after cursing Mayne for his repeated miscues and even blaming him for his marital problems.
The fictional production crew which includes Mayne’s producer, Sarah (Alison Becker); cameraman, Video Cowboy (Jon Glaser); production assistant, Jordan (Jordan Carlos); network executive, Mintz (Ben Schwartz); Mintz’s right hand, Robin (Aubrey Plaza); as well as other ESPN personalities including Van Pelt and Neil Everett.
ESPN.com plans to post new 3 to 5-minute episodes every Tuesday and Friday.
10. Chargers will win AFC West on the last day of the season.
9. Cardinals will end the regular season with 10 wins.
8. Falcons QB Matt Ryan wins NFL Rookie of the year.
7. Brett Favre announces his retirement before the final game.
6. Packers win NFC North.
5. Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, Georgia head coach Mark Richt & Florida head coach Urban Meyer are top candidates for NFL head coaching positions.
4. Saints QB Drew Brees wins NFL MVP, breaks Dan Marino’s passing record but Saints miss playoffs.
3. On Dec. 21, Steelers spoil Titans undefeated streak.
2. Cowboys miss playoffs, head coach Wade Phillips gets fired but offensive coordinator Jason Garrett is not promoted to head coach.
1. Giants and Steelers face each other in Super Bowl.
Analyst Jimmy Johnson on his top candidate for an NFL head coaching position: “I’d hire head coach Mike Leach of Texas Tech before I’d hire any of those guys.”
Wade featured on E:60 finale: The season finale of ESPN’s weekly primetime newsmagazine, E:60, 6 p.m. Tuesday, will include a profile of Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade and his mother, Jolinda Wade, and how their relationship endured Jolinda’s former addiction to drugs and alcohol.
No surprise here: As expected, ABC will air the Texas Tech at OU game on Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. ABC has been earning big ratings this year with several Big 12 matchups. Will “College GameDay” be there? Bet on it.
The struggling Dallas Cowboys, 5-4, took shots Sunday on several NFL studio shows over quarterback Brad Johnson’s dismal play as a replacement for injured starting quarterback Tony Romo:
On Fox NFL Sunday, co-host Terry Bradshaw on Jerry Jones’ decision not to secure a competent backup QB: “You have 13 Pro Bowl players and a potential Super Bowl team. All of us picked the Cowboys to win the Super Bowl. So why didn’t Jerry Jones go out and get a real back up quarterback? Even Daunte Culpepper can throw the football down the field. Instead you have somebody who’s 40 years old, has all the experience in the world and can stand on the sidelines. The difference is when you get on that field, you have to act, you have to be able to perform and Brad Johnson cannot perform.
On NBC’s “Football Night in America,” Cris Collinsworth: “For Jerry Jones, Wade Phillips and company, they knew what they had at backup quarterback and it’s costing them big time.”
ESPNU to reair Nebraska-OU with “TMI” ESPNU will integrate graphic messages called TMI, which will appear throughout replays of college football telecasts previously aired on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2, including the Nebraska-OU game at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. TMI, a popular acronym for “Too Much Information,” will display unique factoids related to the two teams featured during the re-air of the 2:30 p.m. Wednesday game.
Remembering Fan Man: On the 15th anniversary of the WBA/IBF heavyweight title fight between Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe, ESPN Classic will present the bout at 7 p.m. Thursday. The fight, which Holyfield won in a 12-round decision, was interrupted by the Fan Man, who paraglided into the ring at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.
Theismann to sub: Pro Bowl quarterback Joe Theismann fills in as studio analyst for Warren Sapp, as he continues his Dancing with the Stars run, on “Inside the NFL” at 8 p.m. Wednesday on SHOWTIME.
On “Fox NFL Sunday,” sideline reporter Pam Oliver interviewed Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on the state of his dismal football team. Here are some excerpts:
Oliver: “Is your team a mess?”
Jones: “Mess is not the word. It’s so close; it’s an offside penalty here, it’s bad timing of a penalty there. It’s missed assignments here but mess I think is real strong.”
Oliver: “You said you’re keeping Wade (Phillips) for the season.”
Oliver: “Then evaluating?”
Jones: “No, not at all. It’s ridiculous to think that I would change Wade Phillips. We’ve got a head coach that was very much a part of that turnaround from a year before.”
Oliver: “What on earth makes (WR) Roy Williams worth $45 million?”
Jones: “When you put him on the other side of Terrell Owens, initially you create problems for the defense. So, he’ll be a big time addition.”
Oliver: “Is it time to cut ties with Adam Jones? You asked him to do one thing and he couldn’t do it.”
Jones: “I have spent a lot of time looking at Adam’s background. I know him to be very smart. He has made bad decisions. He is being asked to really toe the line, as it should be, in a way that probably not many of us have had those kinds of restrictions in what we do. I know from the standpoint of a football player, we’ve never had one on this team that had more things that he couldn’t do and that’s going to take a lot from him. If he does it, then I’ll consider it.”
Fox NFL Sunday’s Terry Bradshaw, Jimmy Johnson, Michael Strahan and Howie Long react to Oliver’s interview:
Johnson: “They’re a sloppy, sloppy football team. Their fundamentals are poor; they should have been practicing the fundamentals in training camp rather than being TV stars for “Hard Knocks.” And I’ll say this to Jerry (Jones). Don’t tell me about 13 wins in the regular season. The fans want to know about playoffs.”
Bradshaw: “Jerry Jones spent $142 million this year, $30 million more than anyone in the National Football League; he’ll pay $85 million dollars in bonus money alone this year. However, not one dollar was spent on a leader.”
Strahan: “On the sidelines the players look dejected. They need a fiery guy who is always positive to go up and down that sideline to keep guys in the game. If they had that one player, I guarantee you they wouldn’t have the record they have right now.”
Long: “In some ways the cure is the curse in Dallas. As a player, Jerry (Jones) is a guy you want to play for. Jerry’s going to do whatever it takes right now and the Roy Williams acquisition is a great example of that but they have too many distractions. This was the most talented team in football last year and they’re the most talented team in football this year. As poorly as last season ended, I think the single focus should be on winning a championship not Hard Knocks and not the distractions. Right now, it’s a distracted football team.”
CBS analysts also discussed the Cowboys on “NFL Today.”
Bill Cowher: First it’s the distractions. They have the situation with “Pacman” Jones with all his issues off the field and then you have to deal with TO on the field. But I will say this, Dallas has always had a little bit of the circus atmosphere to it. So, I don’t think this is a big issue because I think you understand that when you play down there. Another is team dynamics. You’ve got to have one voice. In this situation you have Jerry Jones who is on the sideline when they’re winning. When they’re losing he is talking to the team. Talking about the status of the quarterback and Wade Phillips has to listen to Jerry, because right now he has to know what he’s saying as well. But even Wade has his own issues.
Shannon Sharpe: I don’t think these guys are a Super Bowl football team for the simple fact, when you turn the ball over as much as they do and your defense is undisciplined. And right now they don’t have a lot of talent on the back end…What you need right now is some character guys to stand up and say ‘look, forget all the distractions, forget Jerry coming in and talking to the football team’…one guy in that locker room comes with credibility. (He) has been there long enough and is a good enough player to sit that entire team down and talk to them. I don’t see that happening. I don’t see them going to the Super Bowl.
Best NFL defenders
Hall of Fame DE Howie Long and future Hall of Fame DE Michael Strahan ranked their top 11 defensive players thus far in the 2008 season:
1. DeMarcus Ware (LB, Cowboys)
2. Troy Polamalu (SS, Steelers)
3. James Harrison (LB, Steelers)
4. Albert Haynesworth (DT, Titans)
5. Antoine Winfield – (CB, Vikings)
6. Ray Lewis (LB, Ravens)
7. Charles Woodson (CB, Packers)
8. Aaron Kampman (DE, Packers)
9. Kevin Williams (DT, Vikings, a former Oklahoma
10. Mario Williams (DE, Texans)
11. Lance Briggs (LB, Bears)
The Hornets may be long gone, but they’re not forgotten. I still enjoying following the team, back in New Orleans, and TNT broadcaster Marv Albert is picking them to win the tough Western Conference. Several TNT broadcasters discussed the upcoming season on a conference call Thursday:
Marv Albert on the Hornets being his pick in the West: “I’m leaning toward the Hornets. I feel like they are at the next step where they can win in the West. I love the acquisition of James Posey. They were solid without him, but they needed some help off the bench. With the combination of Chris Paul, David West and Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic, who had an excellent season (last year), I think they will be the surprise club.”
Doug Collins on his prediction for the Western Conference champions: “If the Lakers are healthy, I don’t see any weakness. The one knock on them last year was their front line, toughness, against Boston, but it’s been my understanding that (coach) Phil Jackson has put them through one of the toughest training camps that they’ve had to show them how hard it is to win an NBA championship. Unless something would drastically change, I think the Lakers are the best team.”
Collins on the
Reggie Miller on the why he likes the
ESPNU (Cox 253) will debut a graphic for its replay of the OU-Texas game at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. TMI, “Too Much Information,” will display unique factoids related to the two teams. ESPNU plans to use it for replays of college football telecasts previously aired on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.
Examples supplied by the network include:
– the famed Hatfield-McCoy feud began in the 1870s over the rightful ownership of a hog.
– author John Grisham’s first novel to be turned into a film was 1993′s “The Firm,” starring Tom Cruise.
I’m not sure what these have to do with the OU-Texas game. Anyone know?
Magic Johnson has jumped networks, moving from making occasional studio appearances with TNT to a similar position with ESPN. He will work mainly with Stuart Scott, Mike Wilbon and Jon Barry on ABC’s “NBA Countdown.” He will provide analysis on Christmas Day and contribute to the networks’ post-season studio coverage. In a conference call Monday, he talked about Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant and the Sonics moving to Oklahoma City.
“I’m sad that they left Seattle. It’s a great city. I’m happy for the NBA that Oklahoma City is going to get the team.
“Kevin Durant is a special talent. He’s a wonderful young man, first of all, and a guy that you can build your franchise around. He’s multitalented where he can take you off the dribble, he can shoot from the outside and he can take it to the basket.
“I think we saw a glimpse of greatness from him last season. Now all he has to do is be more consistent. Once he gets that consistency, doing it night in and night out, you’re going to see an all-star and a guy who will also make his teammates better. He’s going to really elevate everyone else’s game.
“I also have witnessed him as a basketball junkie. Right after the season he went to Vegas. He was working out. He was really into it. He’s been really a professional. I have appreciated his work ethic. I think Oklahoma City is going to be in for a great, great season and many seasons (from him). Once he really gets to understand now what he’s really great at, what he’s weak at and how the defenses are playing him. You’re going to see him take off. I’m really looking forward to seeing basketball there and see how the fans react. It’s going to be an exciting time.”
If you had any doubt that Saturday’s Red River Rivalry game, matching No. 1 OU and No. 5 Texas was big, play-by-play announcer Brent Musburger certainly will tell you so during ABC’s national broadcast at 11 a.m. Saturday. Musburger is one of the biggest hype artists among sports broadcasters, and he can make a 2-yard run seem important. Musburger, 69, has been broadcasting sports on the network level since 1975. He’d be the first to tell you that, if you could actually get an interview with him. Fortunately, he’ll have Kirk Herbstreit in the booth with him. Herbstreit, who also will be working ESPN’s “College GameDay,” at 9 a.m. Saturday, is arguably the best college football analyst in the business. A friend of fellow Ohioan Bob Stoops, Herbstreit will be well-prepared in calling the game.
Some good quotes from the weekend:
NFL Network’s ‘Deion Sanders on Giants third-year wide receiver Sinorice Moss, who had first two career TD catches vs. Seahawks: “He got off the milk carton.”
NBC’s Cris Collinsworth on Texans quarterback Sage Rosenfels fumbling after trying to leap over a defender: “We would never have (Bob) Costas jumping over the top, we’d have him sliding underneath.”
NBC’s Keith Olbermann on “Ocho Cinco,” T.O. and Jerry Jones posing for a pre-game picture: “Celebrating each of them crossing that plateau, a thousand soundbites each.”
TBS’ Harold Reynolds on how playing in the American League East division prepared the Tampa Rays for success: “(The Rays) have been resilient all season long, with the ability to bounce back. I believe it goes back to the division they play in. They’ve taken their lumps, but they’ve played against some of the best players in all of Major League Baseball. If you are going to compete in that division and walk about as champion of the American League East than you’ve got a solid club. They’ve got a chance to go all the way to the World Series.”
Former University of Oklahoma standout Adrian Peterson, who is turning heads in his second pro season with the Minnesota Vikings, is featured in the latest edition of ESPN The Magazine. His records (including breaking the single-game rushing record as a rookie), his honors (Pro Bowl MVP, rookie of the year, Heisman runner up at 18), and his super physical abilities (able to race 100 meters in 10.6 seconds) have drawn comparison to Eric Dickerson, Walter Payton and Jim Brown. The expectations of Peterson motivate him to be the best.
Peterson: “Believe it or not, some of the same things I did last year on the field I’ve been doing since middle school. I push myself harder. I do extra drills. No matter how tired I am, I make sure I’m first. I got a long way to go, but I figure if I just keep doing the things I have been doing, I should be all right.”
Vikings coach Brad Childress on Peterson: “He’s 100 mph every day. He’s never looking for the break. He’s not looking to hide. We’re always asking him to slow down. Because frankly, the other players can’t got hat hard.”
NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth’s take on the Dallas Cowboys following their loss to Washington: “The Cowboys have to understand who their best players are and it’s not their skill position players. It is that offensive line. And for Marion Barber to only get eight touches, Felix Jones to get zero carries in this game is just a huge mistake. But you just go right down the list of the star players: Jason Campbell outplayed Tony Romo; Clinton Portis outplayed Marion Barber; Santana Moss outplayed T.O.; and everyone outplayed Terrence Newman.”
Jimmy Johnson likes Alabama: Forget OU. Alabama is Jimmy Johnson’s choice for the No. 1 team in college football. “With