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Our annual year-end media awards

During the next week in this space, I'll post four year-end columns that I'm doing for the newspaper - in addition to the regular newspaper and on-line buzz column posts.

Here's the first: our annual media awards. 

Keep in mind: These are only the national awards. For space reasons, we will post the local media awards in a column next week:


### Most ridiculous comments: 1) ESPN’s Skip Bayless, last spring: “LeBron James doesn’t have any clutch genes. LeBron James is made for the regular season. Come postseason time, he’s the most overrated, overhyped superstar in my history in this business.” 2) ESPN’s Magic Johnson, last January: “My problem with Miami is they don’t have a will to win.”

### Most absurd predictions: 1) ABC’s Jon Barry, last May: “The Heat doesn’t have the personnel. Maybe LeBron was right. They won’t win one, two, three, four. They won’t win any. They’re front-runners. LeBron and Dwyane Wade don’t complement one another. They can’t be trusted. I’m done with them.” 2) ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, last spring: “The Heat has flagrantly failed to live up to expectations. They’re certainly not winning an NBA championship.” 3) ESPN’s Bill Simmons, last spring: “Nobody is beating the Spurs. They will roll through Miami.” 4) CBS’ Bill Cowher predicting the Kansas City Chiefs would make the playoffs.

### Most regrettable comments: 1) ESPN’s Rob Parker asking if Robert Griffin III is “a brother or a cornball brother.” ESPN suspended him for 30 days. 2) ESPN’s Mitch Holthus saying Kansas State basketball player Angel Rodriguez let his “Puerto Rican temper” get the best of him.

### Worst personnel moves: 1) ESPN using Matt Millen as its lead commentator to talk about the Freeh report that detailed the findings of Penn State’s internal investigation into the Jerry Sandusky case. Millen, blindly loyal toward Joe Paterno, regrettably tried to minimize Paterno’s culpability. 2) Fox hiring not-especially-funny comedian Rob Riggle to replace immensely talented Frank Caliendo, who found work at ESPN. 3) ESPN deciding not to hire Stan Van Gundy.

### Most ballyhooed personnel moves: 1) ESPN reassigning Ron Jaworski, leaving Jon Gruden as the sole analyst on Monday Night Football. Gruden handled the gig fine by himself, while Jaws strengthened ESPN’s studio shows. 2) Erin Andrews moving from ESPN to Fox, where she tried too hard to act “cool” anchoring a college football studio show that couldn’t match of quality of ESPN’s.

### Best hire: ESPN adding Terry Francona to succeed Bobby Valentine on Sunday Night Baseball. But Francona left after one season to manage the Indians. John Kruk replaces him.

### Worst programming decision: The Big Ten Network, claiming it’s not a news organization, not carrying the Freeh report news conference after also choosing not to air last November’s press conference when Paterno was fired.

### Best moves for fans: 1) The NFL expanding its Thursday night package from eight to 15 games. 2) NBC streaming virtually all Olympic events live, on line. 3) Fox starting a Saturday night college football package, meaning more national exposure for Pac-10 and Big 12 games that otherwise would have mostly been regional telecasts on ABC. 4) The NFL moving late-afternoon games from 4:15 to 4:25 p.m. on the double-header network, ensuring less overlap with early kickoffs.

### Worst moves for fans: 1) NBC continuing to refuse to show live TV coverage of the biggest Olympic events. The more viewer-friendly approach would be showing a few of them live, then replaying them in prime time. 2) MLB moving two playoff games to MLB Network, which isn't available in more than 50 million U.S. homes.

### Oops: NBC showing a Today Show promo revealing that Missy Franklin had won an Olympic gold medal in swimming a short time before NBC aired the race.

### Most refreshing trend: NFL announcers were emboldened to criticize the league more than ever before: Terry Bradshaw and others questioned the investigation of BountyGate; John Lynch revealed the league asked Fox announcers not to criticize the replacement refs, “which just speaks to the arrogance of the owners”; and ESPN’s Trent Dilfer, after the Packers-Seahawks replacement officials debacle, ranted: “Our intelligence has been insulted by the league.”

### Personnel move most designed to drive us nuts: ESPN re-uniting Stephen A. Smith with Bayless on First Take. Why not just let them argue among themselves in a room without cameras or microphones? Why do we have to be subjected to it?

### Best game analysts: NBC’s Cris Collinsworth and ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy.

### Most compelling non-event TV moment: HBO’s Hard Knocks airing the tape of Joe Philbin’s uncomfortable meeting with Chad Johnson in which the receiver was released.

### Best audio: NFL Films, for capturing Houston's J.J. Watt telling Baltimore's Ray Rice during a game: "I've eaten burritos bigger than you."

### Overkill award: ESPN’s unhealthy obsession with Tim Tebow, curtailed only when network president John Skipper intervened and told his producers to cool it.

### Worst abuse of power: Southern California coach Lane Kiffin attempting to ban a Los Angeles Times writer for reporting a USC kicker’s injury – information obtained legitimately.

### Worst over-reaction: ESPN firing a writer who used “chink in the armor” in a headline about Jeremy Lin. Even his boss said the writer had no idea it would be considered an ethnic slur. Anchor Max Bretos was unfairly suspended 30 days for the same (unintentional) offense.

### Most unwarranted criticism: Fans blasting Adam Schefter and others for reporting NFL draft picks, on Twitter or TV, before the commissioner announced them. That’s their job, folks.

### Best reporting: ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, who was right -- and usually first -- every step of the way in reporting on the Colts’ release of Peyton Manning and the free-agent sweepstakes that followed.

### Notable media deaths: NFL Films president Steve Sabol, college football pundit Beano Cook, Turner sports essayist Jim Huber, Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Furman Bisher, boxing writer and sports historian Burt Sugar, ESPN Radio NBA announcer Jim Durham.

### Pettiness award: To ESPN’s Bob Knight, who refused to utter the word “Kentucky” during last year’s NCAA Tournament because of his dislike for coach John Calipari. He referred to them as “that team from the SEC.”

We’ll have local awards in next week’s media column.