ESPN college football analyst Mark May began his address to the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Tuesday at the Embassy Suites in west Little Rock with an endorsement of Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema.
"He did a terrific job when he was at Wisconsin, and he will do a terrific job here at Arkansas," May said. "Just be patient. They're getting better."
From that point forward, May, 54, touched on dozens of college football matters. It's what he has done for a living since he retired from the NFL in 1993. He was hired by ESPN in 2001, and currently serves as an analyst on College Football Scoreboard and College Football Final.
May, a former offensive tackle, was taken out of Pittsburgh by the Washington Redskins as a first-round pick in the 1981 NFL Draft. He played 13 seasons in the NFL and started for the Redskins in Super Bowl victories over the Miami Dolphins and the Denver Broncos following the 1982 and 1988 seasons.
In the Super Bowl XXII victory over the Broncos in 1988, Denver had a 10-0 lead after the first quarter, but Washington scored 35 points in the second quarter and eventually won 42-10.
May said that was his most enjoyable day in football.
"That was the first time in a long time that it wasn't a business for me," May said. "It was fun. It was just a good time."
May said he had no difficulty choosing to cover college football rather than professional.
"It was because of the passion, because of the fans, because of what you have and because of what you want college football to be," May said. "You are rarely disappointed, except with losses. You are never disappointed with the game of college football or the history of college football."
He said he tries hard to eliminate complexity from his analysis.
"When I cover games for ESPN, I try to make it is simple as possible so that anyone will be able to understand," May said. "I try to challenge you, to stimulate you, maybe to tick you off, to make you mad, to make you think. I'm not just going to sit there and say, 'That was a great run by him. He put that in there.' I'm not going to do that."
This season will be the first for the NCAA's four-team playoff, with the national championship game scheduled for Jan. 12 after semifinals are played at the Rose and Sugar bowls. May said he supported the move to a college playoff.
"I think it's going to be great for college football," May said. "It's what everyone's wanted. They wanted a playoff. Now they have it, and they have a selection committee filled with a tremendous amount of integrity.
"I'm sure it's just a matter of time before everyone starts screaming, 'If four is good, eight's better.' I don't think so. I think we need to stick with four for awhile and see how that goes."
May said he has been close friends with Bielema for several years and that he is confidant Bielema will succeed at Arkansas.
"He had success running the football in Wisconsin, but you can't really expect him to come here, add a two or three players and make the playoffs," May said. "Arkansas is going in the right direction. They're not going backward.
"Bret Bielema is the right guy. Give him a chance to recruit. Three of four years from now, if he doesn't get it done, he doesn't get it done. But give him a chance to get the type of players he needs."
Sports on 09/03/2014