Friday, December 13, 2002
Chat wrap: From the gridiron to the diamond
By Sean McDonough
Special to BCSfootball.com
What do you think about the Ramirez signing?
I'm very excited about it. The Red Sox last year were 12th in scoring. Only Tampa Bay and Minnesota scored fewer runs. Manny has demonstrated that he is one of the premier RBI men in the league. He should be a boost.
There's one difference, though. In Cleveland, he had guys like Roberto Alomar and Kenny Lofton that got on base and into scoring position. It might be a challenge for him to drive in as many runs with this Red Sox team.
Does Notre Dame deserve a BCS bowl bid?
That's a good question. The Irish had an excellent question at 9-2 against a tough schedule. On the other hand, Nebraska was 9-2 and beat Notre Dame at Notre Dame. People are talking about head-to-head competition, and that's maybe why Miami should be in the FedEx Orange bowl.
It's tough. Virginia Tech was a candidate, but wasn't selected. It wasn't an easy call. With the tradition of Notre Dame, they are going to win because of who they are. It's the reality of it.
What does Oklahoma have to do offensively to defeat Florida St.? Do you believe that Heupel's elbow is not bothering him?
Heupel did not play as well at the end of the season as he did earlier in the year. I am not sure if that is because of his elbow or not. He is going to have to have a great game. I ran into Florida State athletic director Dave Hart Tuesday night, and he said that this might be FSU's best defense in a long time. It's not as deep as in years past, but the starting 11 is as talented as they have had there -- at least in his five or six years. That is saying a lot. Heupel is going to have to play great for Oklahoma have a chance. If he is hurt, that is will diminish their chances.
The key will be Oklahoma's defense. They have a lot of talent on defense, too.
What do you think should happen with the BCS? Should it be eliminated, modified or be left as is?
I have never been a big fan of the BCS. I still don't think it guarantees that we get the two best teams in the championship. It serves a purpose of making that more likely. With the current formula, you are going to have seasons like this where there is not a consensus.
I would like to see a playoff like Division I-AA where they have 16 teams, but there is sentiment around college football to keep the bowl structure involved. So let's get these four BCS games and play them within the playoff system. You can use those bowl games to give the final four.
Why do you think Heupel did not get the Heisman? I thought he was more valuable than Weinke.
Who is more valuable is not the criteria. It says to vote for the outstanding college football player in America. It is left up to the voters.
I voted for Weinke and Heupel second. Over the course of the entire season, Weinke had the better year. It was a tough call, and I did wait until the very end of the season to turn in my ballot. In previous years, it was easier to send in my ballot earlier. If I were to pick who would direct my football team, Weinke would be my choice.
Who are your preseason Heisman candidates for next year?
Michael Vick will probably bounce back. He had an off season. You have to think he will be back. Damien Anderson. Miami's Ken Dorsey. But I wouldn't bet against Vick.
Sean, I always admired your work, and feel you got a raw deal at CBS. Are you going to do any baseball or basketball for ABC or ESPN?
I am going to do just the college football in the fall and NHL hockey for ESPN and ESPN2.
As for CBS, I appreciate the sentiments. I am very happy with the way things have worked out.
Which team impressed you the most this season?
I'm really impressed with what the top three teams have done -- for Oklahoma to go undefeated with its schedule, the least expected was of them. People shouldn't underappreciate what the Sooners have done.
Against Florida State, OU hasn't been given much chance. They beat Kansas State twice, destroyed Texas and beat Nebraska and Texas A&M.
Florida State is a typical Florida State team -- tremendously talented -- bounced back after the loss to Miami.
Miami bounced back after the loss to Washington. Watching the game against Boston College, that was men against boys. They are amazing with their team speed. That's what impressed me most about Miami. Santana Moss looks like he has a jetpack strapped to his back.
What Notre Dame did was impressive. Losing the Nebraska game was a heartbreaker, especially after all the talk about whether the coaching staff would be back.
And not much was expected out of Northwestern.
What would you consider your greatest moment as an announcer? (Let me just say I'm a Pirate fan, so be kind)
That was probably my favorite moment -- Game 7 of 1992 NLCS between Pittsburgh and Atlanta. Pittsburgh was ahead 2-0 going into the bottom of the ninth. Atlanta rallied and won the game 3-2. Francisco Cabrera had only 10 at bats at the major league level going in. The slowest man in America, Sid Bream, scored the winning run, beating a throw from Barry Bonds. The crowd was incredible.
Plus, the 1993 World Series ended on a home run by Joe Carter.
If FSU and Miami both win, do you think they should play a game after their bowl games?
That would be nice. It's obviously not going to happen. It could happen if they had the winners of the four BCS games play off, as I suggested earlier, in a playoff. That's not going to happen this year, obviously.
I would vote Florida State No. 1 if both win. Yes, Miami beat them. But the same thing works with Miami. Washington beat them. The question determining the national champion is who is the best team? If you put both of them on a neutral field, Florida State would probably beat Miami. It was at Miami the last time, and a three-point game. Head-to-head is not the question. It comes down to who is better. The likely scenario is that Florida State would win.
When do you think Mario Lemieux will make his exact return for the Penguins?
I don't know. I haven't heard much about the timetable. I don't think he will rush it. He's been out for a while. He's had some health concerns. He's had a long way till the season. Have him healthy for the playoffs.
I know you called the Clemson-South Carolina game, so was it pass interference or not on the last play? You know that is the same thing Rod Gardner does on every catch. Also, now that you have witnessed the Clemson-USC rivalry, would you say it is one of the best in the country?
I definitely thought there was offensive pass interference and said so on the telecast. The official throughout the game had called offensive pass interference for less contact. As an official, you can't just zip the flag up late in the game. You just increase the chances that your non-call will have an impact on the outcome.
It is a great rivalry. Within the state, it's unbelievably intense. I don't think it's a game many people outside of South Carolina care about yet.
What bowl game will you be calling this year?
The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. I'm loading up on Tostitos as we speak.
Who did you pick to win the national championship before the season started?
I picked Nebraska. I thought watching the way they played in the Fiesta Bowl last year, and with the talent they had coming back. Speaking with coaches -- particularly at Notre Dame. I thought the Cornhuskers had the best chance. They had a disappointing season. They did not play consistently well in any facet of the game. The defense was shaky all year. The offense went in spurts. They did not throw the ball enough. Eric Crouch is a good quarterback and a good thrower. Matt Davison and Bobby Newcombe are excellent wideouts. Tracey Wistrom is a good tight end. They simply have to throw the ball more.
Other teams that traditionally run well are now throwing more. Look at Oklahoma and Texas A&M. You think of them as power running teams, and they did a very good job this year throwing the ball. Nebraska should have thrown it more, and the defense was vulnerable to giving up big pass plays.
Do you think the Red Sox have any chance of dumping O'Leary for some pitching?
That is the scenario they are hoping for. O'Leary will be hard to trade. He has a big salary ($5 million) and had a bad season. Teams willing to give up a pitcher want Trot Nixon. He has a much lower price tag. As much as the team would like to keep Nixon and trade O'Leary, it will probably have to give up Nixon.
Back to the Red Sox. Where do they go from here as far as getting players?
They would like to get another front-line starter to fit behind Pedro. They feel with Arrojo and Frank Castillo, they have guys to fill in the back end. If they can get Dustin Hermanson, he may be that guy. The other problem they had last year was that their starters, outside of Pedro, were terrible. They didn't give innings and wore out the bullpen. They need a dependable guy behind Pedro to give them innings and win 14 to 16 games.
What is Carl Everett's future in Boston?
It's still undecided. I don't know if the Sox have made a decision as to which way to go. If they got the right kind of deal, they would trade him. The reality is that, as a player, he is very productive. He is relatively a bargain with his numbers and salary. You would rather live with a big producer and a reasonable salary than a problem child who didn't have that set of skills and salary. If they got equal value, they would trade him. They don't think he's that big a problem.
How's Ed Cunningham work with?
It must be Ed himself.
It's great to work with him. I worked with Ed at CBS. Not in the booth, but as a sideline reporter. I thought he was a bright, talented guy. Having spent the year with him, this is true.
If this is Ed, I said that with my fingers crossed.
Who do you think is better, Peter Warrick or Snoop Minnis?
I would say Warrick -- as a college player. Warrick hasn't done much in the NFL, but if you want to compare them at comparable times, it has to be Warrick.
I think Oregon State will put a whoopin' on Notre Dame. Your thoughts?
It is going to be a close game. Nobody put a whipping on Notre Dame this year, and they play an excellent schedule.
Oregon State is a slight favorite, and I would agree with that. Notre Dame is a hard team to blow out because they are so disciplined. They stay away from turnovers and penalties. Oregon State deserves its standing as a favorite.
Thank you for participating and for the questions. I have to go now for my annual haircut.