If you're as big of a college football fan as I am, congratulations on surviving the offseason. This weekend provided a lot of great entertainment as well as a bevy of changes on the media front. Below are some notes from around the first week in college football...
- Thursday's opening slate of games was a bit of a step back compared to years past. Below are a list of games on the opening Thursday the last couple of years.
2008- NC State vs. South Carolina, Oregon State vs. Stanford, Wake Forrest vs. Baylor
2009- NC State vs. South Carolina, Oregon vs. Boise State
2010- Ohio State vs. Marshall, Utah vs. Pitt, USC vs. Hawaii
This year's slate featured Wisconsin vs. UNLV, Miss State vs. Memphis, and a mostly web only Syracuse vs. Wake Forest.
For most of the past decade there seemed to be a push to get quality games on the opening Thursday of the season. This year seemed like a pretty significant step back. Here's hoping we get some better action in 2012 to kickoff the season....
Thanks to everyone who took part in the kickoff for Year 5 of the Pammies! The Pam Ward Chronicles were in midseason form thanks to your submissions through the open thread and your tweets to AA. But our work together is only beginning. We've brought the best quotes from Week 1 together for you to vote on the Pammy winners for Week 1 on our road to crowning our 2011 Pammy champion! Each week we'll nominate 15-20 quotes for you to pick the best 10. The winning quote of the week will earn that person 10 points all the way down to 1 point for 10th. You can vote for your favorite five quotes. Here are your nominees...
1) "Wow, if they'd have caught him right there, they would have caught him behind the yardage line." - Beth Mowins (via SaxxSkwerl)
2) "You want to talk about boning up a defender..." - Randy Cross (via therealnarton)
3) "Should take a knee here" - Joe Tiller with losing team nearing field goal range with under 30 seconds left (via Bloguin)
4) "Smith has a team high 6 catches on the season. Or on the season or in the game because its 1st game of season" - Pam Ward (via kevin7673)
5) "The goal of the defense is to keep the offense from scoring." - Artrell Hawkins with brilliant analysis (via steve5643)
6) "The real season starts next week in Athens for Georgia." - Todd Blackledge (via sctvman)
7) "You've got to play football for sixty minutes every snap." - Andre Ware (via sctvman)
8) "I like to see a running back who has eyeballs in his shoes." - Craig James (via Brady Green)
9) "You have so many things going on in your mind, the last thing you're worried about is the play cock, the play clock..." - Danny Kanell (via bfinleyui)
10) "What's that saying you got about LSU" - Lee Corso
"Laissez les bon tomps roulez?" - Chris Fowler
"Lessait bot ton bray lay lay! Geaux Tigers" - Lee Corso, failing French 101 (via myoder84)
11) "He beat off a guard." - David Archer (via Darkopolo)
12) "And Northwestern without Dan Persa on the road at Boston College on ESPNU. Pam?" - Wendi Nix
Beth Mowins: "Beth Mowins and Mike Bellotti here at Jordan-Hare Stadium..." (via jdwvu)
13) "You can't teach experience, you got to will it on them." - Joe Tiller (via sctvman)
14) "Let's send it to the studio...Big John Saunders and Smooth Jessie Palmer." - Brent Musburger (via Connor Kiesel)
15) "You can hear the smoke..." - Chris Rix (via Jeff Matthews)
16) "Two ex-presidents represented there on the sideline." - Beth Mowins after camera shot of Auburn sideline using pics of Obama and Bush to signal plays.
17) "Ace takes off! 40, 45, 50, 55, 40, 35, 30, get a block, 25, 20, Ace Sanders, 15, 10, cuts back at the 5, touchdown! Ace Sanders lights it up in Charlotte!" - Todd Ellis (VIDEO/AUDIO via sctvman)
18) "Here is where i think he makes a mistake. He zeroed in and threw a strike." - Matt Millen (via bjo109)
Vote For Your Week 1 Pammy Winners (vote for up to 5)
The winners will come soon so make sure you vote early and often and check back for the full Week 2 announcing later this week!
Late last week, Bruce Feldman ended his indefinite Twitter silence by announcing he was leaving ESPN after 17 years to go to CBS Sports. Even though Feldman had made sporadic appearances around the "family" of networks in Bristol, he was largely silent as a public figure since his July "suspension" at the hands of ESPN corporate suits. Bruce's move from ESPN to CBS was met with widespread approval across the internet as the popular college football writer was finally liberated. CBS touted Feldman's arrival and aptly titled his new column (above) as "Free Bruce." This not only pays homage to the passionate #FreeBruce Twitter campaign that supported Feldman during his summer journey through the abyss, but also the fact that his quality writing is now out from behind the ESPN Insider paywall. Now, common folk like you and I can freely read a freed Bruce Feldman.
At this point, it would seem that everyone can go home happy and the story is finished. The fans, bloggers, and sportswriters that came together behind Bruce Feldman can rejoice at his new CBS job that leaves behind the swampland of conflicts and corporate meddling at ESPN. CBS adds another quality writer to their impressively growing stable of online and network talent. Feldman can finally move on with his career and make a fresh start at a new internet zipcode. And, the mothership in Bristol can move on with their 99.99% indestructible death star, covering up the embarrassment of the Feldman Chronicles with some plywood or something.
But in the words of Lee Corso, not so fast my friend! Bruce Feldman went on The Dan Patrick Show September 1st to unleash his side of the story - calling ESPN's version of the story untruthful. Then he went on Paul Finebaum's show in Alabama to continue dropping pipebombs on his former employer.
Now that Feldman's story is out, the Free Bruce story has further unraveled a complicated web that takes us back to the initial drama of last July. The list of characters involves Feldman, several members of ESPN brass, Brooks, the Poynter Institute as ESPN ombudsman, and of course, Craig James. So now that Bruce is free and everyone's story is finally in the public, what does it all mean? In the spirit of ESPN sage Jim Miller, we're bringing together documented quotes and writings from the involved parties into an oral and written history on Free Bruce for you to decide. Probably because nobody else would be crazy enough to spend their Labor Day weekend doing such a thing. What follows is our creative attempt to provide a complete look at Free Bruce using those statements and writings. The context and ordering of the quotes have been edited by AA to try and best present the story of Free Bruce in this oral/written form. Here's our list of sources:
They're baaaaaaack! The Pam Ward Chronicles triumphantly return for a fifth season to document all the awful announcing and best quotes throughout the day in college football. Defending Pammies champ Chris Spielman will be in Columbus for Akron/Ohio State on ESPN at noon ET and you can check out all the games, times, and announcers at the link below. We will update the Pammies as we are able to with your comments in the thread and Tweets to us at AA throughout the day. Use the hashtag #PWAA to send in submissions via Twitter or leave a comment below. Make sure you also like your favorite quotes in the comments as well so they will be included for consideration in the weekly Pammies vote. Already we've started the 2011 Pammies with some great ones from the action earlier this week that will get us rolling!
What better way to celebrate not having to go into work than a special edition of Screengrab Snafus - the one place where we pull together the funniest graphics flubs from the past week in sports. This time, the snafus celebrate the beginning of college pig and the unofficial start of Fall with an all college football edition, where otherworldly SEC speed finally broke televisions across the south. Either that, or I've been partying with Cliff Harris way too much. With games happening all over your televisions, there were bound to be screw ups somewhere along the line (and we're not talking about Pam Ward's announcing either, that comes later this week) and our readers did a great job sending in all the pics below...
First, vegaskev informed us of our friend Darren Rovell noticing something interesting during Thursday night's Wisconsin/UNLV game. In the third quarter at a break, ESPN showed a picture of the Minneapolis skyline. The only problem being that Minneapolis is in Minnesota and Wisconsin is in... well... Wisconsin. Does every sporting event just use a default backdrop of the Twin Cities?
Several folks sent in the following snafu where College Gameday went back in time to a period when Tommy Tuberville was the coach at Auburn and the Tigers were getting screwed out of National Championships instead of buying them. By the way, Tommy Tuberville coaches at Texas Tech these days, I wonder if he's tired of Craig James' calls too...
jroag takes us next to the Virginia Tech/Appalachain State game where I won't tell you that I embarrassingly tipped App State to be the upset game of the week over at Crystal Ball Run. In fairness to me, that game was a lot closer than the 66-13 final score. With all the stats, you have to give the ACC Network folks a break if they couldn't quite keep up. It is a day off from work and school, but I'll work your brain a bit and let you discover what's wrong with the picture below...
And finally, CraigDesign brings us this snafu from Yahoo's Sportstacular app. (Wait, that's not a real word, that's just a marketing ploy!) Yahoo is certainly a growing force in the college sports world, but powerful enough to reverse the score of the South Carolina/East Carolina game? (AND the Oregon/LSU game, thanks Andrew Schmidt!) I thought those kind of voodoo tricks were only reserved for ESPN...
That was your Labor Day edition of Screengrab Snafus. Next time, and especially today, be careful out there!
And I blame Mitch Williams, who was pretty terrible. If you do a simple name search for him on Twitter, that should back that up (and that's not counting all the other tweeters who are undoubtedly complaining and couldn't care enough to learn his name). But because I don't want to write about the 10,000 things that were wrong with him today during the Tigers/White Sox game, I'll instead focus on just the two home run calls in the 9th inning. In the bottom of the 9th inning, with the Tigers trailing by just two runs, after being down 8-1 at one point, the Tigers hit two home runs -- one a game tying, two-run shot by Ryan Raburn and then a Miguel Cabrera walk-off bomb.
On both home runs, Mitch Williams opted to disregard his role as analyst and reacted like some kind of indifferent viewer at a bar. Instead of providing the play-by-play, Vasgersian had to play off of Williams' lame "that's gone," and "gone, see ya, game over."
Here's how he handled it on the Ryan Raburn game-tying home run:
Vasgersian did a nice job playing off of Williams ("that one is, in fact..."), but the "GONE!!!" sounded awfully forced and a little much. Williams did it again on the Cabrera walk-off and Vasgersian basically just said eff it and let one of the least exciting calls of a dramatic walk-off home run materialize:
'Wow' is right. What THE ... Mitch? Let Vasgersian make the call and then you can come in later with your awful casual spectatorial commentary. Or maybe I'm being easy on Vasgersian? Either way, pretty contrasting, yet equally bad home run calls, if you ask me.
In last night's Redskins' preseason finale, Brandon Banks returned a punt 95 yards for a touchdown. It was impressive, but it wasn't that impressive - Banks just ran it up the gut and outran a punter - but it was the only real highlight of the game and a highlight nonetheless. It made Mike Shanahan smile, it made Banks dance, and it earned ex-Redskin and color analyst Joe Theismann's praise.
That was until the play was brought under a lengthy review when it appeared Banks might have finger rolled the ball out of his hand in premature celebration before he actually crossed the goal line. Shanahan's face turned to stone; Banks was still excited, but clearly nervous as he paced the sidelines; and Joe Theismann was all of a sudden appalled by Banks' showboating:
Not that Theismann is wrong about hot doggin' not getting it done. There's no excuse for Banks to come that close to losing that touchdown, but it's kind of funny how Theismann was all, 'he's electric,' and 'how do you make a football team?' after Banks scores and then quickly does a 180 and suggests his hot dogging could cost him his roster spot and even his career. You didn't need a replay to see that Banks was hot dogging it on his way into the end zone. And Theismann gets so caught up in his little spiel, he does a complete disservice to Muhammad Ali's "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee," by adding "make sure you get the ball in your hand or else you won't get a TD." To cap it all off, Theismann was wrong that the touchdown would absolutely get overturned, because it was ultimately upheld.
Former Rutgers player Eric LeGrand was paralyzed from the neck down after attempting a tackle on kickoff coverage during an October game against Army. Since that day, LeGrand's faith and belief in recovering from the horrific injury has inspired countless individuals. His recovery has been slow, but progress is being made. Earlier this Summer, he reported slight movements in his arms. LeGrand also released a picture of himself standing next to his mother with support in his rehabiliation process. And now this Fall, Eric LeGrand will return to the Rutgers football family as his recovery continues. He will serve as a pregame, halftime, and postgame analyst in the Rutgers radio booth...
LeGrand made his debut as a radio analyst last night in Rutgers' win over North Carolina Central. LeGrand is hoping to pursue a career in sports broadcasting according to Yahoo Sports...
A player who was told he likely would never walk again is suddenly standing very tall. With headset on, LeGrand broke down the Rutgers 21-0 halftime lead over FCS program North Carolina Central in both program's season openers. He didn't like the Rutgers penalties, three in all for 25 yards against the MEAC program, but he saw good things from a defense he once anchored in limiting the visitors to just 78 yards of total offense in the first half.
And since the injury last fall has derailed his dreams of playing in the NFL for his favorite team, the Denver Broncos, LeGrand has focused on a future on broadcasting.
"It's just my dream got started earlier now than I expected so I got to go with the flow," LeGrand said. "Enjoy the stuff I'm doing now."
Hopefully for Eric LeGrand, his progress as a broadcaster will parallel his continued progress in recovery. His presence at Rutgers football games in the broadcast booth is one of the most uplifiting stories you'll find in the sports media and we wish him all the best. You can make a contribution to the Eric LeGrand Believe Fund at this link.
Some of ESPN's finest minds have come together to try to solve the mystery of this week's Screengrab Snafus. Believe it or not, this was the intellectual high point of First Take this week. Ok, maybe it isn't that hard to believe after all. Somewhere Dana Jacobsen is throwing a bottle of vodka at her computer screen...
Speaking of the leader, let's take a look at the lighter side of their craptastic PR week. ESPN.com had some trouble with the waiver-wire drama associated with Padres closer Heath Bell. Was someone's autocorrect spellchecker not turned off for this headline, or is there something we don't know about the reliever...
Two NFL teams ply their trade in New York, New York. NFL Network was focusing on Jets/Giants when they wanted to show us a fancy graphic reminding us of the city's location. According to my research, New York, New York apparently has the largest population in the United States. Who knew. How they got all those people to relocate to Boston is quite the accomplishment. Now that New York resides in the state of Massachusetts, my God, what would that do to YANKS/SAWX!!!
Kevin7673 sent us this screengrab from last night's Murray State-Louisville game along with this note - "Bruce Feldman says there is no integrity to ESPN's graphics." Either the following graphic is another small element of a vast Bristol conspiracy, or the scoreboard was as functional as Danny Kanell's play cock.
And finally, let's check in with Mt. Rushmore resident Craig James to see how he's handling the pipebombs that Bruce Feldman is continuing to drop on his employer. James' seat must be getting fairly warm with criticsm from the media and blogs now reaching a fever pitch. He seems to be handling the heat well...
That was your week in Screengrab Snafus. Next time, be careful out there!