Ask Gary: How long will Bishop be with the Bolts?

by Gary Shelton on November 26, 2016 · 6 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

(Each week, the readers take over and play Ask Gary. They send in a question, or a couple, on Thursday night or Friday morning and we all talk about the world of sports.  Think of it as a radio show where you don't have to be on hold. Join us and ask a question, make a comment or be funny. Send the questions to

Saturday, 4 a.m.

Do you think that Ben Bishop will be with the Lightning for the entire season?

Jim Willson


It depends on what other teams are willing to give for him. Andrei Vasilevskiy, frankly, has outplayed Bishop so far this season. But it will be a while before any of us trust Vasilevskiy as much as Bishop.

I think they're better off with both of them, frankly. But a team usually can't afford two for very long. So I think this happens: The Bolts continue to play both of them for the time being. But as the trade deadline approaches, they let it be known that Bishop can be had. And then they weigh the offers.

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Obviously, the new Las Vegas franchise would love to have Bishop, but the Bolts don't want to let him walk without anything in return. I was surprised that no one offered more last off-season, to be honest. I don't think Bishop is Martin Brodeur, but he's solid, and I think the Lightning like him in their net.

With Stamkos out, I think Bishop is still needed around here. He's the best the Lightning have ever had. Let's don't throw that away for the heck of it.
Who are you  picking in the Gator-Noles game?
Jim Willson

I have to go with FSU, even though I think, all things considered, the Gators have had a better season. It feels like overachieving; FSU feels as if it hasn't measured up to its ability.

Still, Florida has five defensive players hurt. That has to have an affect when a team has to stop Dalvin Cook and Deondre Francois. FSU is more prone to mistakes, however, so that might play a factor.
The Gators are ranked only 102nd in the nation in offense. Considering that Jim McElwain is once again trying to break in a new quarterback, that's understandable. But it's asking a lot for the Gators to keep winning their division.
In the end, I think FSU is simply too explosive. Unless they turn the ball over, I think they should win.
Do you think that sports reporting is done as well now as it used to be?   There are certainly a lot of sports sites, but is the reporting as good...or is it better?
Jim Willson

Warning: I'm about to sound like a grumpy old guy here. But there is no way in the world that reporting is as good now as it used to be. That isn't the fault of the writers now. They simply have less access to the athletes they are trying to cover than in the old days.

The first day I covered the Dolphins, I was given a list of players and their home phone numbers. That doesn't happen anymore. I was at the door each morning when players walked in. That doesn't happen anymore. I could sit down and have a long interview with players. That doesn't happen anymore. Again, this isn't because I was so darned good. It was just the time I covered sports in.

These days, players talk only once a week, on their designated days. They're in a press conference setting much of the time which limits the follow-up questions by a writer. There are so many websites to get in the way of an interview that it's harder to conduct one.

Writers stopped mattering nearly as much to NFL teams some time ago. It isn't their fault, necessarily. But I think the average Bucs' fan knows much less about Gerald McCoy than he did about Warren Sapp, and less about Kwon Alexander than he did about Derrick Brooks. There isn't as much space for a writer to do a major takeout on an athlete.

In some ways, it all makes it harder to report now than in my day. I never had to tweet. I never had to post video. But, no, the overall product is nowhere near as good.


There is a very likely possibility that Ohio State will be picked for the CFP without even qualifying for the Big 10 conference championship game. Do you think that is a good thing for college football? In order to enhance the integrity of the regular season should there be a rule established that only conference champions or eligible independents be allowed to play for the national championship?

Larry Beller

I don't think so. I think the ultimate rule that the college playoffs have to go by as they pick their four teams is to pick the four best. That's tough enough.

But if Florida, for instance, were to upset Alabama in the SEC title game, well, I'd still take Alabama. I'd pick Ohio State or Michigan over Penn State.

Again, the College Playoff people are trying to pick the best four teams. If conferences want to block sending their best teams, and take a chance with their conference champions, well, they can try. But the bottom line: we want a champion we can all agree on, one that has had the best overall season. That isn't always the conference champion.

We are now about 60% through the 2016 NFL season. Which team has exceeded expectations the most? Which team has been the biggest disappointment?

Scott Myers

I think the Cowboys are the most improved team in the NFL. Remember, they were 4-12 last year. They draft Zeke Elliott and Zak Prescott, and whammo, they're 10-1.  That isn't just because of rookies. Their defense is much better, and that offensive line is playing wonderfully.

It's a tough question to ask which team is the most disappointing. The Panthers were in the Super Bowl last year. This year, they're under .500. The Packers, the Cardinals and the Bengals have all been sad.

Then there is Cleveland. No one should be surprised by the Browns. But it's still sad to see the dysfunction continue.

While reading your column Wednesday about the fun the NFL used to be, the first thing that came to mind was saturation and that was before reading one of the comments that stated the same thing.

It happened kind of in the background for me years ago. Like somewhere in passing I heard certain games would be aired on ESPN. Okay. Then another would air on the NFL channel different days of the week. At that point I thought are you kidding me? We now have to have sports channels to see football? What about those few without those channels? It didn't affect me at the time. Until it did. I thought no way am I going to survive. Seven years and many regular network games later I was quite satisfied. Now I'm able to watch all the games and I am just not that interested in watching every game anymore. Too much of anything is just that. Even when it's football. Especially if it's bad football.

Veronica Richardson

I think a lot of people feel the same way you feel. Thursday night football has been a disaster. If the league really cares about injuries to players, why play in mid-week? Like I said before, it's a K-Mart version of Monday night football.

It's odd. I remember when Monday Night Football was such an event. Now, it's just another night. Sometimes, less is more.

More and more, I think, fans are content not to watch a game but to just see it's highlights. Football is best when you can take time for the entire novel, not just the Cliff Notes.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller November 26, 2016 at 8:39 pm

I don’t think the Big Ten has any say in it as the committee will decide who goes. Alabama looks unbeatable this year so we agree on that. But how can OSU be ranked above the conference champ who beat them in the regular season? Only their reputation keeps them is such a lofty position.

In the NFL and MLB division champs qualify for the playoffs regardless of their record. If I could be the college football czar for a day I would reduce the regular season by 1 non-conference game and expand the playoffs to 8 teams. The conference champs from the 5 power conferences automatically qualify and 3 at large teams are selected. That way another team from the same conference can be selected who may in fact be a better team. Plus the integrity of the regular season is enhanced and we are all spared by having to watch the top teams walk over so many non-conference cup cake opponents.


Gary Shelton November 27, 2016 at 11:01 pm

Ohio State has lost one fewer game is ranked higher in every poll. It has nothing to do with history except that OSU was ranked higher coming in. The playoff committee has no wish to expand; it believes that would dilute the regular season.

One of the major differences in college football and the NFL or MLB is that no one plays below their league in the latter two. You don’t have to say “this team played Appalachian State and this team played Northwest Louisiana. As such, there is less room for interpretation. Alabama won a title (over LSU) in which it wasn’t the conference champion. But it was the best team. That’s what you get when you’re charged with getting the best teams to the dance.


Larry Beller November 28, 2016 at 8:48 am

I guess we have to agree to disagree on this Gary. For the record I think my 8 team playoff idea is better but the regular season needs to be reduced by 1 game at the same time which the committee has no power to do so I can understand why they don’t want to expand the playoffs.

The year Alabama won over LSU was the impetus for the current playoff system because it was wildly unpopular everywhere except in SEC country and had the 3rd lowest TV rankings of the National Championship games. LSU had already beat Alabama in the regular season. They should not have been required to beat them again. As you know anything can happen in a 1 game playoff and the best team doesn’t always win. LSU was definitely out coached in that game and Alabama was the best team on that night. LSU was the best team when the 2 met the first time so they were 1-1 for the season.


Gary Shelton November 28, 2016 at 3:44 pm

I know Bill Hancock, the guy in charge, very well. He has zero interest in going to eight teams. Zero. Go to eight teams, and you take away from the regular season. It will be a lot of years before that happens, no many how many fans want to see it.

The year Alabama beat LSU, they did it by a lot. They were much the better team. I covered that game, and it wasn’t close.


Larry Beller November 26, 2016 at 7:12 am

Gary, I think most people would agree with you that it’s fine to send a team like OSU to the playoffs without winning the conference championship. I don’t like it because the playoff selection process becomes a beauty contest to me. Penn State for example could win the Big Ten, have defeated OSU in the regular season and still not get in. Lets not forget OSU came oh so close to losing to a weak MSU just last week. Colleges decide who they play in their non-conference games and can manage their schedule with cup cake opponents so they appear better than they are. I’m a Michigan fan but will be the first to admit their non-conference schedule was soft and their defensive stats were enhanced by that soft schedule. College football will always be flawed for that reason in my opinion because we are seeing that the big programs are being challenged more than ever but they live by their reputation and everyone wants those same teams in the playoffs each year. Like you said if Florida were to upset Alabama it wouldn’t really matter because everyone “knows” Alabama is the better team and they would be selected to the playoff regardless. I say why have the playoffs at all? Why not just give the trophy to Alabama now because they obviously are the best team this year? What really needs to happen is there should be fewer meaningless non-conference games and an expanded playoff system. The top teams would play the same amount of games but have those games mean something. That will never happen I know but it would make the college season more interesting. But that’s just my opinion.


Gary Shelton November 26, 2016 at 6:27 pm

Alabama played a decent schedule, but you’re right, not all schedules are the same. But if the Big 10 declared that Penn State was their team, I would think the Playoffs would just not go with a team from the Big 10.

I don’t think Alabama is going to playoffs because they did well there in year’s past. I think they’re going because they’re the best team.


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