The only thing more disastrous than Bob Stoops’s red-zone offensive playcalling Thursday night was Fox’s coverage of the Bowl Championship Series. And it was disastrous.
Starting with the obvious, Thom Brennaman proved that he makes Al Michaels and John Madden appear intelligent.
Take, for instance, in the pregame show, when he introduced us to “Dolphins Stadium,” even though there’s no such place as “Dolphins Stadium.” For those who care for accuracy, the game was played in “Dolphin Stadium.”
Or, in the first quarter, when Brennaman said the Gators had third down and 10, even though it was only second down. Of course, he would later top this gaffe when he would mess up the down six times in one series.
With the score tied at 7-7, Oklahoma was down to the Florida three-yard line with 2nd-and-goal. But Brennaman was convinced it was third down, even though the chains said second down.
Color commentator Charles Davis, who was not afraid to throw in his own mistakes, just went along with everything Brennaman said as Brennaman continued to make a fool of himself. When Florida stopped the Sooners on what was really 3rd-and-goal, Brennaman yelled, “Huge stop for the Gator defense on 4th-and-goal!”
Brennaman finally caught himself after that play, downplaying his mistake by saying, “Now it’s fourth down!”
Nice catch, Thom.
His counting mistakes weren’t limited to just downs, saying that “14 points” were put on the board when the score was 7-6.
Later on, he said Florida had four seconds on the playclock. The Fox graphic popped up two seconds later as the play clock switched from “five” to “four.”
And Brennaman showed he could expand his horizons to rule mistakes. Just before halftime, he said “the clock doesn’t stop for the two-minute warning [in college football].” However, this is because there is no such thing as a two-minute warning in college football, which as worded he claimed there was.
Yet, even the most incompetent play-by-play commentator can be tempered if matched with a good color analyst. Davis most certainly was not.
Besides letting his partner make a fool of himself, Davis found it hard to keep himself from saying some of the dumbest remarks of the season. Midway through the third quarter, Davis enlightened his viewers with the observation, “When it goes from 1st-and-10 to 2nd-and-10, the defense’s odds of forcing a stop increases.”
In fact, the only remark that was dumber this season than Davis’s was uttered by Brennaman during the same game. Brennaman, while exclaiming his praise for Tim Tebow as the model American, tried to describe how he inspired the rest of his teammate’s after the loss to Ole Miss.
He did so by saying, “when Major Wright hits you, you feel it in a major wrong way,” which did not hurt his credibility only because he had already lost all of it earlier when he mistook the down.
That was just one of countless times that Brennaman expressed his love for Tebow. It got to the point where even Gator fans cringed whenever Tebow made a play out of anticipation for what lustful comment Brennaman would have next.
For one of the most competitive national championship games of the BCS era, Fox’s commentating definitely put a damper on the mood.
Even the technical team could not get things correct over the five bowl games televised by the network.
As pointed out by the blog “Every Day Should Be Saturday,” Fox put a picture of Tim Tebow up for the starting lineups. The problem? It was during the Orange Bowl on Jan. 2 between Cincinnati and Virginia Tech, with his picture replacing that of Cincinnati left tackle Khalil El-Amin. That is a mistake that should never happen.
Fox had its share of clock glitches, too, especially in the Cotton Bowl Classic, also on Jan. 2. For nearly the entire game, Fox had to speed its on-screen clock up in order to catch up with the game clock. Someone from the station kept forgetting to start the graphic clock each time the official started the game clock.
But all these other errors aside, Fox needs to ask itself why Brennaman was calling this game? With other more competent announcers such as Kenny Albert, Dick Stockton, or the equally enthusiastic Matt Vasgersian at its disposal, Fox has insisted the past three seasons on having Brennaman call the game.
Did all of these announcers turn down the chance to call one of the fourth-most-watched American sporting events of the year?
And after last night, there is no way anyone can think it was the correct decision.
Regardless if the BCS conferences made a mistake by sending the coverage over to cable network ESPN starting in the 2011 season for slightly more money, they did not make a mistake in keeping it away from Fox.
The coverage for the last three years has drifted between embarrassing and unbearable. Thursday night clearly ran head-first into the latter.
It was never before as awful as Thursday night, but it was always bad. That was just icing on the tombstone.