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November 02, 2012

ACC clarifies UM bowl timing; Media column: Highs and lows of NFL TV coverage

Please see our last post from Friday afternoon for details on what the ACC is saying regarding the timing for UM's decision on whether to go to a bowl game. Meanwhile, here's this week's media column:

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Midseason NFL TV views from the couch:

### How would these NFL studio shows fill time without all the quarterback bashing? Some of the criticism seems valid, including Terry Bradshaw, Boomer Esiason and others calling out Chicago’s Jay Cutler for behaving immaturely.

But some of it borders on nonsense. There was former Redskin LaVar Arrington, a guest analyst on Showtime’s Inside the NFL, insisting Peyton Manning cannot throw the deep ball anymore, obviously unaware that his deep ball accuracy (now 16 for 31 on passes thrown 20 yards or more) ranks among the league’s best.

There was NFL Network’s Warren Sapp asserting opposing defenses aren’t afraid of Manning, who leads the league in passer rating.

And then there’s CBS’ Shannon Sharpe, who has become a quarterback killer. He called for Michael Vick to be benched (incorrectly claiming he would be replaced by Nick Foles if the Eagles lost last week), said of Tony Romo: “I’m tired of people making excuses for him. He can’t get it done”; and ripped Cam Newton for being so negative in postgame news conferences. All fair.

But Sharpe’s rip-job on Aaron Rodgers seemed unwarranted; he said Rodgers always looks to blame others and “just because he’s MVP doesn’t mean you’re a great person.” Where did that come from?

Even NBC’s Bob Costas, when interviewing Rodgers, told him: “You wear celebrity and fame as gracefully as any athlete I’ve seen.”

### The idea made sense at the time: replacing blowhard Sapp with guest analysts on Showtime’s Inside the NFL.

But aside from Cowher, Showtime’s parade of guests, including Arrington and Kris Jenkins, has been seriously underwhelming. Chad Johnson and Lawrence Taylor were fine talking about themselves but offered surprisingly little of substance about the sport.

Taylor asserted the Giants defensive linemen “are the only ones who play any defense” in the league. What about the 49ers and Bears, among others, L.T.?

For this “guest analyst” concept to work, Showtime needs personalities who can educate or entertain or preferably, both. Why not ask NBC or Fox to use Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, Troy Aikman, Howie Long or Jimmy Johnson for a week in exchange for promotional considerations?

Why not use a CBS analyst such as Esiason, considering CBS and Showtime share common ownership? If Showtime fills the fourth chair with a permanent presence next season, NFL Network’s LaDainian Tomlinson deserves strong consideration.  


### Biggest goof: NFL Network’s Brad Nessler calling a potential game-winning missed late field goal “good” for Pittsburgh against Tennessee… Shakiest prediction: CBS’ Cowher saying the Chiefs would make the playoffs.

### Biggest disappointment: Comedian Rob Riggle on Fox. The man he replaced, Frank Caliendo, joined ESPN and delivered sharp impersonations of Jon Gruden, Herm Edwards and Chris Berman…. Best rookies: Tomlinson, ESPN’s Jason Taylor and NBC’s Hines Ward, who relayed that a grandfather, father and 5-year-old (all Ravens fans) shot him a simultaneous obscene gesture when he played for the Steelers.

### Best moves by the league: Starting the Thursday night package in September and moving some late-afternoon start times to 4:25 p.m., meaning less overlap with early games.  

### Biggest waste of time: All network prediction segments. This sums it up: NFL Network’s Marshall Faulk picked the Seahawks because “I flipped a coin and it landed on Seattle.”

### Best idea: Fox’s Long, suggesting players who cause injuries with illegal hits or blocks should be suspended for the same amount of time the injured player misses.

### Oddest sideline report: Fox’s Pam Oliver complaining about 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh for not giving her more information during a halftime interview. “I got Harbaughed!”

### Oddest use of the language: To NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, who needs to give viewers his own dictionary. To Mayock, a player isn’t slow. He’s “speed deficient.”

Frank Gore hits the hole hard, but Mayock prefers to say he’s a good “point of insertion back.” And you don’t want Mayock to scold you for “bad backside discipline.”

### Strangest idea: Cowher insisting the Jets should play Mark Sanchez the first two series, Tim Tebow the third and then stick with whoever does better. Dan Marino scoffed at that.

### Best debate: Marino’s ranking of first- and second-year quarterbacks. CBS’ Cowher said Marino had no business putting Andy Dalton (fourth) ahead of Ryan Tannehill (fifth) and Brandon Weeden (sixth).

### Best outside-the-box personnel move: NFL Network hiring Andrea Kremer to report exclusively on health and safety issues. There’s opportunity for good journalism here – which Kremer excels at. Previously concussed Raiders receiver Darius Heyward-Bey told Kremer he can’t be worrying about his brain.

### Flex schedule update: Every NBC Sunday night game might survive except Jets-Chargers Dec. 23. But the Dolphins likely won't be a candidate for a Sunday night game that week because they play Buffalo.