Injury Report Card: Ladarius Green
December 13, 2014
Random Thoughts From A Disorganized Mind
October 6, 2014
By Bob Neal
One of the delights of hosting Play To Win is “Talkin Football” (a show I loved, now gone with the arrival of the SEC network and demise of CSS) with our PTW producer Steve Graham. First worked with Steve when we were virtual children in 1980 on another show I loved, Football Saturday on TBS. Steve was still in college, and was our go to, do everything guy and I could see then that someday I’d be working for/with him. Now, Steve’s ego is already large, so he doesn’t need this shameless promotion. I only point this out, cause he and I have been solving the issues in college and pro football for decades.
Sunday nights Steve and I discuss our plans for the upcoming Play To Win show. These talks usually go WAY off the tracks because, although we are both impressed with our “creativity”, one thing leads to another and we could morph from talking about the length of a segment on the show to flirting with Sportsporn. Steve will deny this but once when talking about how to jazz up our video presentation of scores, we decided to hire a bikini clad model who would allow us to write the scores on her exposed body parts, have her dance to music, turning slowly to “reveal” the scores! No we weren’t drinking, just imagining the MTV, Laugh In, SNL, good ole boys good time we’d have. Censors squelched it. Damn.
But I digress. This past Sunday night, Steve and I got into a lengthy discussion of this year’s debut of the College Football Playoffs and just how possible it would be for the SEC to get two teams in the Final Four.
First…Nat many are aware of how the 13 member selection will pick the teams.
The committee will begin meeting weekly after the October 25th games. That would be after the 9th week of college games. The committee will then decide on the first CFB Playoffs weekly Top 25, rendering the AP and Coaches polls meaningless.
Here’s the criteria for each week’s poll selection:
1. Conference championships won,
2. Strength of schedule,
3. Head-to-head competition,
4. Comparative outcomes of common opponents (without incenting margin of victory), and, Other relevant factors such as key injuries that may have affected a team’s performance during the season or likely will affect its postseason performance.
So, it’ll be that simple. The top 4 teams in the final poll following the last regular season’s games will selected for big time college football’s first playoffs.
There are other decisions that’ll originate with that poll including the other 6 bowls in the playoff rotation. This year, the Rose and Sugar will host the semi finals with the Fiesta, Orange, Cotton, and Peach getting the best of the rest. This year’s College Football Championship game will be played at Jerry’s World, officially known as AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Oh yeah, see what happens? I morphed from the question of two SEC teams in the Final Four to my complete outline of how the system works. Creative juices, Attention Deficit Disorder, schizophrenia, mania? Pick one.
The answer, which will become apparent when you consider that the two best SEC teams will be most probably come out of the SEC west and one of them won’t even have won a division title, much less a conference championship, is no. However if this week’s AP poll was the final CFBP poll, THREE SEC teams would be in the Final Four with Florida State.
If Steve and I have our way, the Final Four teams will be presented graphically on Play To Win with a politically correct, tastefully clad woman in a bikini dancing to “One Shining Moment”.
September 22, 2014
By Bob Neal
People often ask me how I’ve survived and prospered this long in broadcasting. Since I get blank stares when I answer, “My Greek god good looks”, I’m often forced into this one word answer….
That’s right, sidekicks. My teammates. Since my job is the broadcast equivalent of a quarterback, catcher, or point guard, it really matters who is on my team. Who to throw to, catch for or dish to.
Interestingly, my very first TV sidekick was a quarterback, a record setting, Hall of Fame quarterback named Norm Van Brocklin. In case you need reminding, Norm was an All American at Oregon and led both the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles to NFL championships. Norm still hold the record for most passing yards in an NFL game. throwing for 554 yards when playing for the Rams.
The “Dutchman” was also the coach of the Atlanta Falcons back in the day, from ’68 to ’74. In 1969, Atlanta’s Channel 11 (WQXI-TV, the ABC affiliate at the time) had the rights to the Falcons preseason games and coaches show. I worked for “Quixie TV” and hosted the Norm Van Brocklin Show. It aired at 8:30, leading into Monday Night Football.
Now NFL history buffs will remember Van Brocklin as a crusty, no nonsense perfectionist who was forever frustrated with the talent thin Falcons. He did not suffer fools lightly. I was all of 25, a TV rookie, and Norm’s “fool”. He intimidated me like no one since my high school football coach Ernie Wills who once had me beat the heels of my hands into a concrete wall to “toughen them up”. Ironically, both Coach Wills and Coach Van Brocklin nicknamed me “Neal-y”, a derisive moniker for a guy who was constantly trying to win their approval. If I could have pulled it off, I would have had a stiff martini before playing for Coach Wills and, only a decade later, I DID have a martini before hosting the “Norm Van Brocklin” show. Only time I EVER drank alcohol before a broadcast. Just one martini. Actually made me more nervous, not less. Lesson learned.
Norm would roll into the studio about 8:15pm, screwdriver (not the tool) in hand and say something like, “Heh-heh-heh, Neal-y, whattayagot for me tonight? You didn’t include the two interceptions and the fumble did you?” I did but didn’t tell him. Too scared. Come that segment of the live show, the first interception came up. Nothing from Norm. Not a peep. Then the second and then the lost fumble. Nothing. Silence. Sweat running down my face as I narrated while Norm sipped his screwdriver and started at me.
As time went on The Dutchman warmed up to me, saw how hard I worked and took out his frustrations on the player guests he’d invite on his show. He once said about Ray Brown, a big hitting safety, “Ray’s my gangster with a razor in his sock.” Ray, who did appear intimidating and had a gold front tooth, would just smile and take it. During those six seasons I learned something very valuable from working with Norm and that is to go with the flow, counter the jabs and allow the sidekicks to showcase their personality. The “Norm Van Brocklin Show” became a big hit as the place to go to see just how devilish and quotable The Dutchman would be, especially after Falcons losses.
Since that “debut” as a sports host, I’ve worked with more than 150 sidekicks on radio and TV. Ted Turner co hosted my first show on TBS, SportsWeek. Just a few of the other sidekicks: Harmon Wages, Pat Summerall, Furman Bisher and others on Falcons radio;Paul Hornung, Alex Hawkins, Pepper Rogers and NORM VAN BROCKLIN on Football Saturday on TBS, a live Saturday night show from the Stadium Club at Atlanta Stadium with a slightly inebriated audience and celebrity guests; Tim Foley on TBS College Football; Lawrence Taylor, Kenny Stabler, Joe Namath on the TNT NFL Stadium Show; Red Auerbach, Rick Barry, Bill Russell, Hubie Brown, Doug Collins, Doc Rivers, Mike Fratello, Chuck Daly, Charles Barkely, Patrick Ewing, Danny Ainge, Bill Walton, Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkens and a list too long to remember on the NBA on TNT and NBC. And oh yeah, I faced the challenge of working with Skip Caray on Braves broadcasts.
In coming Bob’s Blogs, I’ll share with you some never to be told before or again stories about my life quarterbacking, point guarding and catching all these and more SIDEKICKS.
On Play To Win, my latest sidekicks include Chuck Smith, our expert game analyst, Nikky Williams, our “Notable”, Adam Brown, a star in the making on Fantasy football, Dr. Andrew Lalaji, our “InsideInjuries.com” medical analyst and of course, Jeffrey “The Edge” Schechter, our preeminent pigskin prognosticator, ATS (for the uninitiated, that’s Against The Spread!) Catch us at Noon every Saturday on Fox 5 and here on playingtowin.tv as these sidekicks contribute to the thrills, trials and tribulations of one Bob Neal, America’s Host!
Where Have You Gone, Joe DiMaggio
August 18, 2014
By Bob Neal
Even during our most trying times, sports has always provided America, and the world, for that matter, with a healthy diversion. A unity building experience that helps us thru bad experiences. Whether it’s worry about enough to eat, global crises, or even an event as horrifying as 911, we come together to find strength and perhaps more importantly, a few hours away from the realities of a daily grind. A way to switch off the news and switch on the sports. A deep breath.
But NOW, the line has been crossed. Not only because sports news is often more about off field events than completion percentage, total tackles and interceptions. Add the change in how we consume news from scheduled newscasts, to instant alarms raised on this thing called twitter and there’s no escaping the real world.
On Play To Win, we may have to create a new segment called The Rap Sheet Report because our games are affected by criminal charges and suspensions as much as player injury reports.
This week alone, there are at least ten stories about off field problems that can and will affect the outcome of games. The ACC’s biggest matchup, Clemson at Florida State is “off the board” in Vegas because of the uncertainty of the continuing saga of Jameis Winston and his monumental lapses in judgement or worse.
I’m thinking of adding my Twitter feed to the screen on Play To Win, just so we can keep up with the minute by minute changes in lineups.
Well, that’s all the time I have for this blog, I have to turn on CNN and check Facebook now to get my latest sports news.
Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? A nation turns it’s lonely eyes to you.