Talk about a turnaround: ESPN plans on casting Matt Millen, who built the Detroit Lions’ winless team last season, as a lead NFL analyst and college game analyst this season.
The formal announcement, says ESPN’s Mike Soltys, is expected to come this week.
ESPN is guaranteed a buzz. When NBC added Millen to its Super Bowl pregame show in February, it drew unprecedented onscreen commentary from its Detroit affiliate station, which ran a graphic noting Millen “was president of the Lions for the worst eight-year run in the history of the NFL” and questioned whether he raised a “credibility issue.”
If so, he wouldn’t be the first. Many leading coaches-turned-analysts brought extravagant résumés to TV – think Bill Cowher, Jimmy Johnson, Bill Parcells, Bill Walsh, Joe Gibbs. But others – Steve Mariucci, Bob Davie and Lee Corso – did not.
And rationally, you can say Millen is a promising broadcaster because, well, he’s already been one. After he retired in 1991 after 12 seasons as a player, his years on CBS and Fox made him a potential successor to John Madden – although nobody really thought Madden would retire.
Instead, Millen will succeed Emmitt Smith, whose fame ultimately couldn’t overcome his on-air miscues, on Monday night pregame shows. And in calling college games and making various studio-show appearances, Millen won’t be hidden away until he proves himself.
And if you buy the idea that the best way to overcome your problem is to shine a light on it rather than try to cover it up, Millen’s ideal ESPN debut would come on its NFL draft coverage Saturday and Sunday. Wouldn’t you love to know the pro prospects Millen really loves?
Stephen A. out at ESPN: Stephen A. Smith, whose six-year run at ESPN ends May 1 after the network decided not to renew his contract, at least proved there are limits to the power of ESPN’s hype.
Smith’s “Quite Frankly” afternoon talk show launched in 2005 with a promotional blizzard that was over the top even by ESPN standards – but it generally didn’t match the ratings of the programming mishmash it replaced and lasted 17 months.
Smith, who also had an ESPN New York radio show but recently has been largely doing spot appearances on various shows, says on his Web site that it’s “been a wonderful, wonderful ride” at ESPN ” but nothing lasts forever.”
White Sox to see Obama
CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox are heading to the White House.
A group of about 35, including players, team officials and family members, will tour the White House on Monday. But it isn’t certain if they’ll get to meet President Obama.
Obama often dons a well-worn White Sox cap and the team has embraced Obama as “First Fan.”
The White Sox are 7-5 and in a three-way tie for first place in the AL Central. They face the Orioles at Camden Yards on Tuesday night.
Obama was invited to the White Sox opener and general manager Ken Williams attended the inauguration ceremonies.
White Sox spokesman Scott Reifert tells The Associated Press that the group will get a private guided tour in the afternoon, which was set up by Obama senior adviser David Axelrod.
A message left Sunday for a White House spokeswoman wasn’t immediately returned.
The Associated Press
Lidell most likely done
MONTREAL – In a mixed martial arts event with plenty worth noting, UFC 97 will likely be remembered for Chuck Liddell’s fourth loss in five fights and his apparent departure from the sport he helped build from the ground up.
The 39-year-old Liddell said it was “probably safe to say” his career was over after he was knocked out by Mauricio Rua in the first round Saturday night.
“It’s not working for me lately,” he said simply before leaving the news conference.
It was up to UFC president Dana White to handle the requiem.
“You’re never going to see Chuck Liddell on the canvas again,” he said. “It’s never going to happen. It’s done. Tonight was the end of an era. One of the greatest guys in the sport fought his last fight tonight.”
White revealed he had tried to get the former light-heavyweight champion to retire after his last loss – a devastating knockout at the hands of Rashad Evans at UFC 88. But Liddell convinced his friend and former manager that he wanted to train for one last go-round.
Liddell (21-7) showed more movement than he had in recent fights and changed up his game, taking Rua down at one point. But Rua, 12 years younger, matched Liddell’s striking.
The Associated Press
Miller’s staff will find the talent for UA
• If they can’t recruit in the West who cares? If they can win with the talent they bring from the East Coast, Europe, South America, China, or anywhere on the planet you will love these guys. It’s a business and it’s all about winning. If his sister could recruit and coach . . . who cares, bring her on.
• OK folks who is the head coach? The unhappy ones seem to think they are. Last time I looked Sean Miller was head coach. Did he not say he would put together a great staff? They will recruit nationwide, not just the West Coast. And don’t get me wrong I feel Reggie Geary is worthy of a assistant coach position.
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ON THIS DATE
1912: Fenway Park opens in Boston with the Red Sox beating the New York Yankees 7-6 in 11 innings. Tiger Stadium in Detroit also opens its doors and the Tigers defeat the Cleveland Indians 6-5.
1990: Brian Holman of the Seattle Mariners pitches 8 2-3 innings of perfect baseball before pinch-hitter Ken Phelps hits a home run for the Oakland Athletics.
1991: Mark Lenzi becomes the first person to score 100 points on a single dive. On his last dive, Lenzi scores 101.85 points on a reverse 3 1/2 somersault from the tuck position to win the 3-meter springboard title at the U.S. Indoor Diving Championships.
1997: Chicago’s Michael Jordan wins an unprecedented ninth scoring title with an average of 29.6 points, the first time in those nine seasons that he fails to average at least 30 points.
2003: Allen Iverson scores 55 points, making 21 of 32 shots while eclipsing his previous playoff high of 54, as Philadelphia beats New Orleans 98-90.
2008: Ex-Arizona Wildcat Lorena Ochoa becomes the first LPGA Tour player in 45 years to win four tournaments in consecutive weeks. Ochoa shoots a 3-under-par 69 in the final round of the Ginn Open and beats rookie Yani Tseng by three strokes for her fifth win in six starts.