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Old 02-18-2007, 06:59 AM   #1
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Default Smizik: No TV power for Cowher

Smizik: No TV power for Cowher
Sunday, February 18, 2007

By Bob Smizik, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It's never a good idea to question the wisdom of network television executives. Generally speaking, they are very smart men who have achieved a high level of success in their lives. Like everyone, they make mistakes. But they don't often make important decisions without thorough documentation that the decision is the right one.

Which means the big shots at CBS know something about Bill Cowher that people in Pittsburgh, who have been following him closely for 15 years, do not.

There's no way CBS would have plugged Cowher, who resigned after 15 years as coach of the Steelers Jan. 4, into its Sunday studio show, "The NFL Today," unless it believed he could make a significant contribution.

The show was fine, as those shows go, with headliners Dan Marino, James Brown, Boomer Esiason and Shannon Sharpe, along with former NFL general manager Charley Casserly. It is typical of the fare built around major game-day productions. A lot of laughing and all-around good times coming from likable personalities. They spew a lot of cliches and generate some, but not many, insights. The shows are entertaining to some but not as informative as people might believe.

In a pre-Super Bowl radio spot, for example, Esiason said the important thing for Chicago quarterback Rex Grossman was to "avoid mistakes." Doesn't get much more insightful than that.

Cowher lacks the main quality necessary to be part of a studio show. He's not a likable personality. That's not meant to be mean toward Cowher. It's a fact. He's not warm and fuzzy. He doesn't relate well to people. But ESPN has managed to make Michael Irvin, widely despised outside of Dallas as a player, a reasonably likable person, so perhaps CBS can do the same with Cowher, who doesn't enter with nearly the handicap of Irvin.

Cowher's hiring is neither a triumph of style over substance or substance over style. He has no style -- not in TV terms -- and, being a coach, he will hold his substance close.

The move is peculiar because, if we are to believe Tony Petitti, the executive vice president of CBS sports, "The NFL Today," is coming off its best year. Why then add an unknown quantity and a man who has been known to have trouble with the language?

Petitti said, "To have a coach that's been in the league as recent as Bill has, it gives us that great analysis. We haven't really had a coach in our lineup for some time. That perspective is really important to the fans of the game. We think he'll offer a unique perspective and obviously great familiarity with the players that are still playing in the league.''

It remains to be seen what kind of perspective Cowher offers. We can only assume that after all these years he will be told by CBS that the word "deter" is not pronounced "de-tear" and that "terse" is not pronounced "tearse." Those are the small hurdles. He has much larger ones to surmount to become successful on television.

When asked in a conference call Thursday about how he would deal with the Steelers, Cowher said he certainly knew the personnel and then rambled on like a fan about wanting to see how free agency and the draft played out.

When pressed about his style -- what would he say about Willie Parker if Parker fumbled on the 2? -- Cowher went off on a tangent about what kind of player Parker is. He either didn't understand the question, which was pretty clear, or, even in this setting, didn't want to criticize.

Cowher's national reputation as a tough-guy coach might have helped him land this job. Except he's not a tough-guy coach. Once you get past the spittle, he's a softie. He rarely, if ever, punished players. It is believed he didn't even fine Plaxico Burress for missing minicamp in 2004.

So he's not going to be a tough-guy commentator. Here's betting he won't just pull his punches, he'll rarely throw them. That's because regardless of how long he stays with TV, he's eventually going back to coaching. And there is no way he is going to criticize a player who might some day be on his team.

CBS isn't looking for Cowher to come in and attack people. If you listen closely to these shows, there's very little criticism. Criticism offends somebody and TV hates to offend. That's why everyone is smiling and laughing all the time.

So why did CBS hire Cowher?

Because he'll draw attention to their show.

Every time there's a hint of a coach being fired, Cowher's name will surface. And CBS will have exclusive entree into this particular newsmaker. It should make for a juicy segment, particularly late in the season.

We'll close with these words for Cowher, something he'd never have said to one of his players:

"Break a leg, Bill.''

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07049/763109-194.stm
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Old 02-18-2007, 07:32 AM   #2
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Default Re: Smizik: No TV power for Cowher

I dont get how Cowher is 'not a likeable personality' - when did this get decided?

As far as im aware Cowher is generally well liked in the NFL community and to compare him to Michael Irvin seems laughable - Irvin is an arrogant jerk by all accounts, someone who thinks no team matches up to his 'Dynastic' Cowboys team.

I think Cowher has the potential to be an excellent analyst, one who doesn't find the need to 'fill air time' with pointless clich?s - he'll be able to 'say what he sees' because up until a few months ago thats what he made a living out of.

I dont know much about Smizik but he obviously has a problem with Cowher - plenty of bitchy sniping - everything from the patronising way he mentions Cowhers accent, through to basically calling him a soft coach - who is all mouth and no pants.

I don't think the Steeler faithful are going to like this one.

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The Patriots didn't bother with swagger to start this NFL season; they went straight to defiant. Either you're one of them or you're about to get crushed.
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Old 02-18-2007, 08:53 AM   #3
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Default Re: Smizik: No TV power for Cowher

You're right. I'm not thrilled with this article. Any comparison between Cowher and Irvin is ridiculous. I specifically don't watch the ESPN show because of Irvin.

Cowher is a players coach for sure. He's also a fans coach. I think he will do well analyzing the games and such. I also don't think he needs to pull many if any punches. I hope he will just tell it like he sees it. That would be refreshing.
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Old 02-18-2007, 08:56 AM   #4
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Default Re: Smizik: No TV power for Cowher

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Originally Posted by PisnNapalm View Post
You're right. I'm not thrilled with this article. Any comparison between Cowher and Irvin is ridiculous. I specifically don't watch the ESPN show because of Irvin.

Cowher is a players coach for sure. He's also a fans coach. I think he will do well analyzing the games and such. I also don't think he needs to pull many if any punches. I hope he will just tell it like he sees it. That would be refreshing.
Good news for you, then.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2769871

Michael Irvin and ESPN are no longer.

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The Patriots didn't bother with swagger to start this NFL season; they went straight to defiant. Either you're one of them or you're about to get crushed.
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Old 02-18-2007, 09:16 AM   #5
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Default Re: Smizik: No TV power for Cowher

Methinks that Smizik doesn't have "the warm and fuzzies" for Cowher, and vice versa, which probably colors the article.

I heard Cowher on Mike & Mike last week, and he sounds to me like he'll be fine. He understands the difference between analysis and criticism, and he intends to walk that line. Parker fumbles on the 2, that's part of the game that doesn't need comment. Parker fumbles 3 times in 5 plays, that requires analysis. Cowher defined the difference by saying that analysis means him pointing out what he sees and then saying what he would do in that situation. Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

Re: Irvin: HALLELUIAH! TO's personal apologist is gone!

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Old 02-18-2007, 10:12 AM   #6
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Default Re: Smizik: No TV power for Cowher

This column is Smizik's petty attempt at payback.

Cowher treated the reporters like trash over the years at the post-game and mandatory Tuesday press conferences; my guess is he was even less polite when the cameras were not rolling.

Noll had as much disdain for the media as Cowher but would simply give them the gritted teeth smile as opposed to Cowher's more in your face response. Given Cowher's lack of charm in dealing with the scribes (I specifically recall him getting into it at the end of the year with Smizik when Bob had the audacity to ask whether Cowher was coming back in 2007) I assume they regard him about as fondly as AJR II and Ron Erhardt do.

Cowher will probably do no better or worse than anyone else has on the pregame shows, which simply is an easy payday for him until he gets back into coaching. The only incentive Cowher has to do well next fall (aside from personal pride) is that he may want to do it again for the income if his next coaching gig does not end badly and he is not regarded as a has been when he actually retires from coaching.

As the attached link to a New York Post column today states, these shows are tiresomely formulaic; I quit watching them years ago.

http://www.nypost.com/seven/02182007...l_mushnick.htm
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Old 02-18-2007, 11:27 AM   #7
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Default Re: Smizik: No TV power for Cowher

Quote:
Originally Posted by 83-Steelers-43 View Post
The move is peculiar because, if we are to believe Tony Petitti, the executive vice president of CBS sports, "The NFL Today," is coming off its best year. Why then add an unknown quantity and a man who has been known to have trouble with the language?
Um, has this guy ever bothered listening to Sharpe? Talk about a real-life adult version of "Mushmouth" from "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids." This article is ridiculous.

Last edited by fansince'76; 02-18-2007 at 11:52 AM. Reason: Grammar
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Old 02-18-2007, 11:30 AM   #8
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Default Re: Smizik: No TV power for Cowher

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This article is ridiculous.
And some feel Bouchette is bad, meet Bob Smizik. Pirate apologist and Penguin hater.
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Old 02-18-2007, 11:59 AM   #9
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Default Re: Smizik: No TV power for Cowher

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And some feel Bouchette is bad, meet Bob Smizik. Pirate apologist and Penguin hater.
I haven't lived in the 'Burgh since I was a very young kid, so this is a guess - I'm guessing Smizik spent the last 15 years bashing Cowher as a coach as well?
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Old 02-18-2007, 12:01 PM   #10
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Default Re: Smizik: No TV power for Cowher

I've never really enjoyed anything from Smizik anyway.....so here's my "grain of salt" that I will ingest as I read his words of wisdom concerning Bill.
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