ESPN’s Talking Heads

“What did he just say,” I yelled from across the room. “Did he just say Arkansas is going to beat USC?” My brother shook his head in utter disbelief. Silence filled the living room, which is quite the feat considering it’s opening weekend for college football. “USC is going to lose to Arkansas?” I mulled this statement over for a good five seconds and proceeded to yell, “What is he talking about,” combined with a carefully placed expletive or two. I’m sure you’re wondering where this statement came from. Did it come from your drunken neighbor? No! Did it come from the athletic director at Arkansas? No! It came from the “so-called” NCAA Football expert at ESPN, Lou Holtz.

I’m sure Lou Holtz could school me on the subject of Football strategy until the day Arkansas comes within 20 points of USC in a football game. Unfortunately for the millions of viewers listening to ESPN last Saturday, he didn’t. I respect the majority of analysts ESPN chooses to employ, minus Michael Irvin. Their perspectives and observations are invaluable to true sports fans. In fact nothing gives me a stronger feeling of nostalgia than listening to Steve Young breakdown a quarterback’s performance. The one thing I don’t want to hear is Steve Young tell me the 49ers are going to win the NFC West this year. First of all I like to think Steve Young checks his allegiances at the door, and secondly I like to think that his multiple concussions didn’t knock all the common sense out of him. Lou Holtz has no concussion excuse, although if he did that would explain a lot about his last few years of coaching. Lou Holtz has seen it all from amazing come from behind wins to sixty point drubbings. Which is why I can’t figure out what Lou Holtz was thinking on Saturday when he said there’s no way USC was going into Fayetteville and coming out with a “W.” Not only did USC come away with a “W” they humiliated Arkansas for a second straight year.

All Lou Holtz had to say when he was questioned about his bold prediction is, “We’ll see on the 11:00 PM show.” I didn’t watch the 11:00 show because I don’t like it when people poke fun at old people. It’s not nice, and it’s adorable the way some old people live in an alternate universe. I’m sure Lou Holtz has some extremely thoughtful statements to make in the future, as long as they don’t resemble a guarantee or a prediction, I’m all ears. Having one year of Youth Football coaching experience doesn’t qualify me to be an ESPN analyst, but it did teach me a valuable life lesson: Sometimes one team is better than the other team. Apparently through all his years as a Division 1A Football coach, Holtz never learned this.

To be fair Holtz isn’t the only fortune-teller on ESPN. Whether it’s Michael Irvin claiming T.O. will be a saint in Dallas for years to come, or whether it’s four different geniuses on Around the Horn telling me T.O. can and will destroy the Cowboys entire 55 man roster. What happened to the good old days when ESPN was basically Sportscenter fifteen times a day, with multiple episodes of Baseball Tonight sprinkled throughout. I’m not saying I don’t watch Around the Horn and P.T.I. occasionally. Both shows are entertaining and usually somewhat comical. What I am saying is that ESPN has become less sports news, and more sports gossip.

I must have missed a memo in the last five years stating all sportswriters and ex-athletes have the ability to see into the future. I don’t know who to listen to on ESPN anymore. Will T.O blow up, or will he have a Pro Bowl year. Is Michael Irvin right or is Tom Jackson? Who cares? Let the chips fall as they may. Report what happens on Sportscenter, tell me what this means in the future then move on to highlights, and feel good stories.

This has been a recent epiphany for me. About two years ago, I was somewhat infatuated with P.T.I. I watched almost every episode with my roommate, and then one day it hit me. Wilbon and Kornheiser were constantly feeding me their opinions and predictions, and I was soaking it in like a sponge, but why? Was it because I have a receding hairline? No! Was it because I found Wilbon and Kornheiser’s observations valuable? No! I was watching because it was on ESPN, and I automatically turn my T.V. to ESPN about a hundred times a day. Realistically Tony Kornheiser’s opinions are worthless half of the time, and here’s why: Anyone who watches, or has watched P.T.I. on a regular basis knows Wilbon constantly points out Kornheiser’s early bed time, and how this affects his opinion on West Coast sporting events. .

Kornheiser’s opinion on West Coast sports is useless. When Kobe Bryant scored 81 points in a basketball game, Kornheiser was asleep. When the Angels were busy winning the A.L. West last year, Kornheiser was asleep, yet and still ESPN viewers were forced to listen to his “bold” statements and predictions.

We don’t need these “talking heads,” as sports fans we can formulate our own educated opinions, and make our own predictions. What we do need as sports fans, are facts. I need to know what actually happened and not what “experts” think is going to happen. I need facts such as USC is ranked and USC consistently has had a top five recruiting class every year for the last four years. I need more facts such as Arkansas isn’t ranked, and hasn’t had a top five recruiting class since I was born. With these cold hard facts, a semi-realistic person would come to two conclusions. USC wasn’t going to lose to Arkansas if they played a hundred times, and Lou Holtz is crazy. I didn’t need Trey Wingo, and Mike Golic to tell me that. Just my opinion!

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