Some observations from the first full college/NFL weekend of the year:
--Clearly, God decided to punish Jerry Jones for agreeing to appear in a commercial with Dan Snyder. Just as clearly God was right.
--All those people who have said for years Wade Phillips should not be a head coach are correct. How in the world do you stand there and do nothing when Jason Garrett—another of the world’s more overrated people—sends in a play that is ANYTHING but a kneel down with four seconds to go in the first half and your team on its own 36 yard line with four seconds left. If Jones wasn’t so busy doing pizza commercials he would have fired Phillips on the spot—regardless of the outcome of the game.
--The NFL replay system has to be completely overhauled. The overrule on the Calvin Johnson touchdown in the Lions-Bears game was ridiculous. The guy caught the ball—period. But that’s not even close to the only problem. In the Giants-Panthers game, John Fox protested a spot after a fourth-and-inches play in which Eli Manning was stood up on the line of scrimmage—or inches past it. The officials took at least five minutes, then moved the ball back an inch, then measured. The Giants got the first down. The referee then said that even though the ball had been re-spotted, Carolina had lost a time out and a challenge. The challenge was on the spot, right? The ball was moved, right? Then how did they lose the challenge? Overall, it just takes too LONG. This whole thing with what Brian Billick used to call ‘the peep show,’ needs to go away. So do the red flags. Use the college rule: Replay official in the press box buzzes downstairs if he sees something he wants to look at. He then has 90 seconds—no more—to overrule the call on the field. (That’s not in the college rule but it should be). If he can’t figure it out in that time, the call stands. Period. Move on. Life is too short.
--Those experts who were so in love with the 49ers in pre-season, um, have you noticed that Joe Montana is no longer playing quarterback in San Francisco?
--If the ESPN morning show pitchmen are doing the Chiefs and Chargers tonight, does that mean that 72 percent of the game will be devoted to them reading commercials? (One of the great lines EVER from a poster last week: “The first four words you hear in hell are, ‘hey Golic; hey Greenie.’” I wish I’d said that).
On to the colleges:
--It’s a shame that the ACC football season always ends in September isn’t it? I got a release a little while ago from the ACC office naming their players-of-the-week? Huh? Who’d they pick: Sonny Jurgensen? Boomer Esiason? Don McCauley? Here’s a stat for you: The ACC has won FOUR games so far against Division 1-A teams. It has ONE win over a BCS conference school: That would be Wake Forest beating Duke (Did you know that Duke’s season tickets are sold out? Do you know why? Because Alabama fans bought season tickets—which cost about the same as one-game tickets to Bryant-Denny Stadium, which you can’t get most of the time anyway—so they could see Alabama at Duke this Saturday. My guess is that maybe one-third of the crowd will be Duke fans).
--Army’s loss to Hawaii on Saturday was about as bad as any I’ve seen in years. The Cadets—sorry Army marketing people—are driving for a potential game-winning field goal with a third down on the Hawaii 23, under a minute to go and the score tied at 28. Then the following happened: A delay-of-game penalty—out of a time out!—a fumble; a completed Hawaii pass; another completed Hawaii pass; a crucial late hit against Army and a Hawaii field goal to win the game. It just doesn’t get worse than that. Army has North Texas at home this week. It should have been 3-0 going to Duke. Brutal.
--Great win for Steve Spurrier on Saturday—The Old Ball Coach was 1-4 at South Carolina against Georgia. I always pull for Spurrier because he is that rarest of football coaches: a guy who can win AND still retain a sense of humor. The anti-Nick Saban so to speak…Speaking of which, did anyone see Saban with Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden before the game Saturday night? Bowden looked to be in a very good mood. Apparently he had heard the final score from Norman by then: Oklahoma—47, Florida State-17. You know, dadgumit, I believe FSU could have given Ole Bobby that one more year and probably not lost that game by any more than 30. Just a thought.
--Worst loss of the week: Marshall. The Thundering Herd was on the verge of its first win EVER against West Virginia. They were driving inside the 10-yard-line with a 21-6 lead and under nine minutes to go. Then they fumbled. Then West Virginia marched the length of the field TWICE and tied the game just before the buzzer on a two-point conversion. Of course the Mountaineers won in overtime because that’s the way these games happen. If you’re the underdog and you’ve got the favorite down you MUST put them away or they will find a way to win. Really sad for Marshall, especially considering the fact that November 14th is the 40th anniversary of the tragic plane crash that wiped out the football team. The irony, of course, is that Bowden, then at West Virginia, went out of his way the next year to help Jack Lengyel put in the veer when he came in to try to rebuild Marshall. Oh, if you haven’t seen, ‘We Are Marshall,’ you should. Like all movies it blends some fiction with the facts but the basics are all true.
Okay, a couple of other quick things: Tiger Woods doesn’t make it to Atlanta for the Tour Championship. Think about this: If he had finished in the top five ONCE in the three ‘playoff,’ events he would have made it. His best finish was a tie for 11th at Boston. This week, with the pressure on—I think he really wanted to make it—he put himself in trouble right away on the first day (double-bogey on his first hole of the tournament) and could only get back to a tie for 15th. I still believe Woods will be back but what a brutal year he has had—and I’m ONLY talking about golf here.
Finally: A number of people asked about Mike Krzyzewski coaching The U.S. to its first win in The World Basketball Championships since 1994. My buddy Keith Drum, who has been an NBA scout for 20 years and knows a lot more about international basketball than I do, says this was a much tougher feat to pull off than winning The Olympics because NONE of the Olympic team members were on this team AND because the teams that made The World Championships were a lot better than those that made The Olympics. Plus, the final was a road game—At Turkey. Of course having Kevin Durant didn’t hurt. All that said, that’s a pretty good triple for Krzyzewski: Olympic gold medal in ’08; national title in ’10; world championship in ’10.
No doubt he couldn’t have done it without getting all the calls. I’m going to go way out on a limb here and say he’s a pretty good coach.