Sports are all about making calls. Some are good, some are bad and some are absolutely ugly. Here is a sampling.
BAD CALL: Skip Holtz’s decision to the call the Big East Conference office after his University of South Florida football team was flagged nine times for 89 yards against Connecticut. He might have alienated officials who hit the Bulls with 10 penalties for 109 yards in their next game.
MAKE-UP CALL: Holtz should’ve called Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, whose Spartans did not have a penalty in a win over Wisconsin Saturday after getting 13 for 124 yards the previous week. Or perhaps call Navy, which leads the country in fewest penalties per game or Army, which is fifth. Think that military discipline helps with fewer penalties?
By the way, the two most penalized teams in the country are Florida and Florida State. Is it the Florida sun?
GOOD CALL: Joe Kinnan’s decision to play two nationally ranked teams might have cost his Manatee High football team an undefeated season, a drop in the state rankings and two losses, but it has made the Canes good enough to win a state title and beat their old nemesis in Broward County, which some believe has a higher payroll than the Miami Dolphins.
BAD CALL: Admission by Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris that he violated league rules when he called Aqib Talib during the NFL lockout after the defensive back got arrested has proved bad. It set off a series of antics by the troubled cornerback, who hurt Tampa Bay with a penalty when he stuck his fingers into the face mask of Roy Williams in last week’s loss to Chicago. Morris made things worse when he said he was accountable for Talib’s action. Does that mean he takes responsibility for shootings allegedly sparked by Talib and his mother? Maybe Morris should be a psychiatrist instead of a head coach, but then all of this could be over after the season if Talib goes to the pokey on those gun charges.
GOOD CALL: Decision to give Brian Poole a football uniform. Manatee County has turned out a lot of great football players down through the years, but the Southeast High standout looks like the most versatile player ever produced. He can do so many things so well and reminds us of Peter Warrick, the indisputable best to come out of the county. Or maybe Warrick reminds us of Poole.
BAD CALL: Josh Freeman’s decision making. After throwing 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions last year, the Bucs quarterback leads the NFL with 10 interceptions after only seven games. His four interceptions Sunday against Chicago capped Freeman’s worse day as a pro. But more telling is that three of his picks were thrown when there was no pressure, no blitz and he was not hurried. All of his interceptions came on throws down the middle, and three were in the 10- to 19-yard range. However, he is not alone. Tampa Bay receivers have dropped 20 passes, second most for a starting QB.
GOOD CALL: Western Kentucky’s decision to hire Willie Taggart as its head football coach last year is looking to be worthy of being placed in the genius category. The Manatee High product has his Hilltoppers on a three-game win streak after inheriting a program that had lost 20 straight before his arrival.
BAD CALL: Voters who participate in The Associated Press state high school poll apparently don’t read the papers, need a math lesson or perhaps a class in football 101. They have Manatee sixth in the Class 7A poll, though the Canes’ only losses are to the nation’s top-ranked team Don Bosco (N.J.) and to 10th-ranked Good Counsel (Md.), both undefeated. In their four games against Florida schools, the Canes have outscored their opponents 211-31. The run has included a 48-6 win over unbeaten Southeast and a 52-19 rout over unbeaten Venice.
GOOD CALL: Boise State has the weakest schedule of any team in the BCS top 10 standings and could not have a win over a top 25 team even if it goes undefeated. But it’s good for the Broncos, who are coveted by every non-BCS conference and are being heavily courted by the Big East. It proves less is better when it comes to strength of schedule and appeasing voters who only look at won-loss records.
BAD CALL: The Big East Conference called a national press conference last week to announce it was going to expand to 12 teams but refused to name any of them. That’s like telling everyone you are going to the prom with the prettiest girl, but won’t allow anyone to see her. With West Virginia now apparently heading to the Big 12, we can only guess the Big East didn’t want to embarrass itself.
Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be contacted at 745-2112.