How many times have you sat down, hoping to be enlightened by the so-called "experts" of the sports world, only to be completely blown away by the sheer one-sidedness that they have towards their own alma mater or former employer? ESPN hires ex-players because they seem to make the most natural progression to the booth. But - as evidenced by former Hurricane WR Lamar "Don't Come Into The OB With That Weak Stuff" Thomas' comments during last month's Miami-FIU brawl - you can take the player out of the system, but can you take the system out of the player? From 10 to 1, here's the biggest homers in the sports world ...
10. Stuart Scott, University of North Carolina Tar Heels - The lazy-eyed wonder himself barely beats out Maryland's Scottie Van Pelt for SportsCenter anchor ACC pride. Scott makes the list simply because he cannot make it through a SportsCenter without letting you know if a Tar Heel did something big, and beats out Van Pelt because there's way more of a chance for Stu Scott to be calling a Vince Carter highlight than SVP calling a Steve Blake base-line jumper. Boo-yah!
Punishment: Scott should be forced to call a UNC football game twice a year. And get some friggin' surgery on that eye. Not even as punishment. Just so people can eat while he's on TV.
9. Shannon Sharpe, Denver Broncos - This guy has a head like Shrek, lips like a burnt Cher and the audacity to never pick against his former team, even when they're severly over-matched. He's the constant optimist for Jake Plummer, makes sure no one ever forgets he played with John Elway and loves Mike Shanahan more than Grandma Estel Shanahan does. I'm not sure if you can find the clip on Youtube or not, but I'm 99% sure that on last year's pre-Super Bowl coverage, when asked if Pittsburgh or Seattle would win, he picked Denver.
Punishment: Sharpe should have his eyes pried open a la "Clockwork Orange," be strapped down and forced to watch all of Jake Plummer's post-season games as a Bronco. And that weird Bronco hat should be surgically attached to his massive head.
8. Digger Phelps, University of Notre Dame Fightin' Irish - How can a college basketball analyst talk about a mid-level team so much? When he coached said mid-level team for 20+ years. He thinks they should be in the NCAA Tournament every year, despite not having a winning record or talented starting five. He wears their colors on most of his broadcasts - although he's since stopped so that he can match his freaking highlighters to his ties, a tip he got from watching too much "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."
Punishment: Take away the highlighters, first of all, and then make him actually watch the Notre Dame teams play the Big East elite. But make sure you take away the highlighters. Please.
7. Rich Eisen, University of Michigan Wolverines - Don't have the NFL Network? Don't bother. It's basically Rich Eisen interviewing former Wolverines, or mocking former Notre Dame, Michigan St. or Ohio State players for not being Wolverines. He seems to be quiet at least once a year, though, and it's usually the week after Jim Tressel spanks Lloyd Carr.
Punishment: Since he's a regular on VH1's "I Love the 80's" and "I Love the 90's," he should be forced to come up with witty remarks about the 1993 NCAA Championship game. "Fab 5? Is that what Chris Webber got on his SATs?" Beat that, Michael Ian Black!
6. Howie Long, Oakland Raiders - Thank God Gruden left, because if Oakland had been good for much longer, FOX was going to have to ban Long from talking about the greatness of the Raiders. But even know, with his former team an embarrassment to its great history, Long still picks them to win games, and still thinks they have the pieces in place to win. The first five weeks of this season were surreal to watch on FOX's pre-game show, as Long thought first Aaron Brooks, and then Andrew Walter would bring the team victories. He loved the Art Shell hire, the only person on the planet to do so besides Shell himself - although that isn't even certain. Here's hoping the Raiders don't draft his son ...
Punishment: Stick him on the team right now. He'd probably kill himself or ask to be traded like every other smart player on that team ... That or put him and Tom Jackson in the same room before a Raiders v. Broncos game, surrounded by blunt objects.
5. TIE Peter Gammons, Boston Red Sox AND Dick Vitale, Duke University Blue Devils - Two of the most respected professionals in their field, each one absolutely oozes allegiance to a team despite their consumate "professionalism." Gammons got his career started in Boston covering the Sox, and praises everything they do. He grew up a Sox fan, and despite his fantastic coverage of professional baseball, he tends to lean a bit towards Boston in most of his critiques and predictions.
The same cannot be said about Dick Vitale.
Vitale has absolutely nothing to do with Duke. He didn't go there. He didn't coach there. He didn't grow up rooting for them. His parents didn't go there. His mother's maiden name isn't Krzyzewski. And yet every single thing he does, every prediction, every break-down, every praise ... Is directed at the Blue Devils program. He has an extreme bias for Duke, so much so that college coaches have even called him out for it. His favorite cartoon dog? MarmaDUKE. Favorite first person video game from the 90's? DUKE Nuke'em. His favorite position in a sovereignty? A DUKE.
Punishment: They're both too old to really do anything mean to. We'll make Gammons watch the Buckner play over and over, and ... Oh, just shoot Vitale in the head. Dipsy-doo-dunk-a-roo that, baby!
4. Kirk Herbstreit, THE Ohio State University - His dad was a captain for the Buckeyes. He was a captain for the Buckeyes. How can you impartially bestow "expert" knowledge of the game to us when you grew up hating some of the best teams, and then played against those programs yourself? Lee Corso needs to be medicated, but at least he doesn't always pick his Florida State Seminoles. Herbstreit defines the term "homer."
Punishment: Make his first-born son go to Michigan. And like it.
3. Tim McCarver and Joe Buck, St. Louis Cardinals - How can a broadcast team as different as this one both be Cardinals fans? McCarver is a legally retarded, and was a catcher for the Cardinals organization for most of his playing career. Buck, who was born and raised in St. Louis, by his father Jack - the legendary Cardinals announcer - began his own broadcasting career calling games for St. Louis' minor league team, the Redbirds. He then worked Cards games with his dad, before getting hired as a national broadcaster. So how do let these two in a booth together? During the World Series featuring the Cardinals??? I was waiting for Ozzie Smith to start doing the sideline report ...
Punishment: Aside from never being allowed to call a Cardinals game together again, both men should have the Cardinals logo tattooed on their foreheads and have their vocal cords pecked out by a few real cardinal birds.
2. Michael Irvin, University of Miami Hurricanes AND Dallas Cowboys - The only duel threat on this list, Irvin is an NFL analyst for ESPN that manages to defend both the Hurricanes and Cowboys on a weekly basis. Never before has a former player brought so little to the broadcasting world in terms of talent, and yet had so much to say, so poorly dressed. You'd think a born-again Christian cokehead would have more sense ...
Punishment: Make him wear a regular black suit, white dress shirt and solid tie. Every day.
1. Jay Bilas, Duke University Blue Devils - If you've ever heard Bilas call a Duke game for ESPN, or listened to him in the pre- or post-game coverage of one, you damned well know where he went to school and played his college ball. You can actually measure on his body how far up Mike Krzyzewski's ass he is. The guy was a four-year starter for Coach K, went to Duke Law school while serving as an assistant to Krzyzewski and cleaned his office twice a week, too. He has never picked against Duke on the air, wears a one-piece "Blue Devils" pajama outfit (with attached feet) to bed and has almost as much of Coach K's semen in him than Mrs. Krzyzewski (and Dick Vitale).
Punishment: Paint him up like a Cameron Crazy and force him to watch JJ Redick's tournament games versus Kansas in 2003 (2 for 16 shooting), UConn in 2004 (4 for 12), Michigan State in 2005 (4 for 14) and LSU in 2006 (3 for 18). And then sit down and listen to some of Redick's poetry, while watching a Duke football game.