Midweek Periscope: Lions, Pistons and BCS

BY foxsports • January 11, 2012

The Periscope surfaces, with the crosshairs on the Pistons, NFL zebras, Lions, college football and the media:

Pistons: I’m putting in print a prediction I’ve blabbed to a few pals: The Lions will win more games than the Pistons will this season.

My only concern is whether I took in too much ground or not enough. The Lions won 10 games in the regular season, and 14 counting a 4-0 record in the exhibition season.
The Pistons are 2-8. They have to go 9-47 the rest of the way to get to 11 wins, and 13-43 to get to 15.

Anyone see nine more wins on that roster, let alone 13?

Review board: It doesn’t take the NFL’s hierarchy long to get its position out when the officials have made a major screw-up — as happened in the Lions’ 45-28 loss to the Saints in their wild-card playoff game.

The controversy centered on a sack-fumble in the second quarter. Saints QB Drew Brees was sacked, and the ball flew forward to linebacker Justin Durant, who scooped it up and headed to the end zone for what would have been a touchdown and a 21-7 lead for Detroit.

However, the officials had whistled the ball dead after Durant made the recovery, nullifying any attempt at a return.

The NFL’s got its explanation out Monday to its favored media sources, explaining that the zebras screwed up. Yes, it was a fumble, but since the whistle had blown, the ball should have gone back to the Saints at the point of the sack — with the Saints retaining possession.

Figure this: It was a sack and a fumble, but then the refs screwed up blowing the play dead. And then they also screwed up in the application of the rule by giving the ball to the Lions in the screw-up of blowing the ball dead.

I guess this falls into what we should call the “chain of screw-ups” clause in the rules book.

Bitter pill: The NFL markets everything, and the Brees' fumble opens a unique opportunity.

Based on some of the bizarre calls we’ve seen this year, the NFL should have a licensing agreement for a “morning-after pill” for teams who’ve been screwed by the officials the day before.

And in case of a blown call costing a team four or more points — the difference between a field goal and what should have been a touchdown (as happened to the Lions in their last game at Green Bay) — see a doctor. He’ll give you two aspirin and a pat on the back, because there is no recovery for an official screw-up.

BCS playoff: It would be a good step for college football to adopt the “add-one” game to determine its national championship. But if that’s just another step in going to a full-scale playoff system, then it should be done immediately instead of in baby steps.

Forget the hypocrisy about any concern over the academic impact it would have on the players.

I offer Wayne State’s football team as evidence that there is no negative impact. The Warriors played five games in the Division II tournament, losing 35-21 to Pittsburgh State in the championship game in Florence, Ala.

It was a long, winding journey for the Warriors, all on the road for five straight weeks with these stops: St. Cloud, Minn., Kearney, Neb., Duluth, Minn., Winston-Salem, N.C., and finally Florence for the championship game.

Academically, Wayne State came through just fine.

Cliff Avril: The Lions should make it a priority to re-sign Avril before he comes up for free agency in March. Avril had 11 sacks, which didn’t put him at the top of the sack list. Avril was tied for seventh in the NFC, but he played left end in a 4-3 scheme, which separates him from some of the six ahead of him — DeMarcus Ware of the Cowboys and rookie Aldon Smith of the 49ers among them.

Avril was a turnover producer, forcing 6 fumbles and returning an interception for a touchdown. Those plays are invaluable to a team.

And any notion that he geared it up in a contract season chooses to ignore that he has been a steadily ascending player since his rookie season in 2008. From his rookie season to 2011, Avril’s sack totals were 5, 5.5, 8 and 11.

Media rare: With full disclosure, Rob Parker is a friend and former colleague from his days at The Detroit News before he moved on to ESPN and 20 or 30 other jobs he holds at a given time.

One of Parker’s gigs is at WDIV (Channel 4) in Detroit, and he recently did the late-night sportscast. It was a little different, with his own style — and part of the wave of the present, with different voices, dialects, backgrounds and genders an important part of the mix.

In that regard, I’ve always questioned the absence of women reporters on our local sports-talk shows.

The idea that a traditional baritone voice of authority is the primary quality in sportscasting is no longer true. If anything, it sends one signal: relic.


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