Four Downs with Dang & Doc
by Brian Davis and Paul Hopkins
This week Dang and Doc mull over the coaching carousel as it kicks into full swing. Mike Shanahan has finally arrived in Washington, but can he lead them back to glory? More surprisingly, Pete Carroll is the new head in Seattle, with Lane Kiffin filling his boots in California, but who has the better future? Elsewhere, the annual McNabb bashing has begun, but this time is it the end for him in Philly? Back in the colleges, another coach has gone for threatening players; is it time to reassess the pressure put on college athletes?
Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen were the best choices to bring the glory days back to the Redskins.
DOC FACT ! They were the best choices, but whether they will is another matter. I do have some niggling doubts about him, principally because it did take him an awful long time to win a Superbowl in Denver, given the brilliant quarterback he had in the shape of John Elway. And because his defences and drafts towards the end were a little bit suspect. But unquestionably he was the best choice. His resume is very impressive and we all know he can coach. Dan Snyder seems to have finally acknowledged that he can throw all the money in the world at the team but he needs a top drawer man to motivate them, to make them play well and win football games. But I still don’t see the Skins pulling themselves around enough to get near the upper echelons of the NFC anytime soon. They need a QB. Is there one anywhere they can get, either via trade, free agency or draft? I don’t think so. They’ll still be in the ever tough NFC East with three teams well ahead of them, all with young talent, who are arguably more talented than the Skins’ young guns. So, they’ll steady the ship and no doubt the Skins will be among the leaders in the number of changes made this off-season but I don’t see Mike even coming close to adding to his two Superbowl rings.
DANG – This applies to both this and the above story: Let me start by saying the Rooney rule is now becoming a joke of a rule, I fully endorse why it was brought in, all those years ago, but it’s so out-dated these days, as is the way that it’s implemented, as are the coaches that get abused by it when they clearly aren’t going to get the job. If the Seahawks want Pete Carroll, let them take him. If Washington wants Mike Shanahan, let them take him, this rule of having to have guys interviewed just because they’re black is embarrassing. Is it actually really applicable anymore anyway? Dan Snyder must leave Shanahan alone to run the team and let him re-build it in his own way if this works. He’s already started on the Coaching, Jim Haslett has been appointed Defensive Coordinator and whilst he may not have a decent record recently, Shanahan will be sure to get the best out of him. Kyle Shanahan also arrives from Houston as Offensive Coordinator, look at the year the Texans have just put up with Schaub and Johnson! I also believe that Shanahan deems the respect to be left alone with this project to make it work. Rumour is that the Skins will move to a 3-4 Defense now, so you have to think that the Skins are going to be going hard for Linebackers in whatever we have of Free Agency and the draft as well but can Haynesworth play NT in that system? I think it’ll suit Orakpo much more though, he can be an even bigger threat next season. If I were Shanahan, I’d take what I can for Santana Moss, Jason Campbell and Clinton Portis before or on Draft day, stockpile the picks and completely rebuild the franchise from the ground again. Can they turn it around immediately? They won’t have a winning record, but 8-8 should be in their sights. Is he the right man for the job? I can’t think of many people I’d rather have to re-build my failing franchise.
Pete Carroll at Seattle or Lane Kiffin, his replacement at USC. Who will fare better?
DOC LANE KIFFIN Picking between two real shady characters here if you ask me. Carroll might have won all those on-field accolades for the way his team performed and there is no doubt that the Trojans were probably the programme of the 1990’s. But he always came over as a Swiss Tony type of character to me at USC. I won’t doubt his credentials in terms of what was produced on the field, they’re unquestionable. But off the field, he was clearly the ring-leader in a programme awash with agents, inducements, money, glitz, glamour and everything else that I find distasteful about the NCAA. How they got away with it as much as they did only serves to, in my mind, give me the belief they thought they were untouchable. If only the NCAA step up and punish this school heavily for their actions. And how typical of the man, that it is at the point the net seemingly might just close in that he chooses to jump ship for a big wedge of Paul Allen’s money in Seattle. Don’t get me wrong it’s a good move for him, following the village idiot that is Jim Mora Jr shouldn’t be too taxing a task for anyone who isn’t retarded, so Pete will do ok. But it will be no more than ok, as he’s just simply a very mediocre NFL coach. Lane Kiffin on the other hand is a piece of work. Coming into the SEC, running his mouth off probably with good reason on a lot of occasions, but then he skulks off in the middle of the night after getting an offer to go elsewhere what is that all about? And to my mind this is an undeserved offer what has this man ever done as a Head Coach to merit this promotion? Limp at best at the Raiders and moderate in his one year at the Vols. In that one year he riled the entire Conference, broke countless rules on recruiting, seemingly alienated the entire school and now is heading into the far from clean world of USC. Are we meant to think he’ll be able to clean this programme up? So in all probability, USC’s dodgy tactics will continue and will do so until the NCAA finally shows some balls and starts stripping them of National Championships, Heisman trophies, wins and so on for the (albeit unsaid) obvious circumventing of the rules in that programme that went hand in hand with success in the Pete Carroll era. If that happens Pete’s mediocrity will probably see off whatever Lane can manufacture, if not then Kiffin will probably continue to grow his reputation and ego before taking another job back in the NFL.
DANG – This is almost a whole 4 downs in itself this story. As for who benefits the most; Pete Carroll. He leaves behind a school who; Have just lost 4 games in a season for the first time since 2001. Are now in the PAC10 not the PAC1 as everybody else catches up. Is shrouded in disarray with investigations with regard to the Joe McKnight and Reggie Bush cases. May now lose a host of recruits who, allegedly when have made calls into USC to find out what’s going on, have had no calls returned. He didn’t actually have a bad record with the Patriots or Jets before USC, and not doing a bad job at Seattle, will let’s face it, undoubtedly turn them around to a certain extent, but it’ll be tough in a division with the 49ers and Cardinals pointing in the right direction. He seems to be the right kind of Coach that will identify to the Seattle fans, so with him getting GM duties as well shows they’re in it for the long term with him, particularly for $35m. Plus he’s already done it all at USC now, 7 PAC10 titles, 2 National Championships. If Carroll does fail at Seattle, then without doubt, he can come back into the college game and land a top job and be successful again, as long as he can recruit his 5Star Blue Chippers every season. As for Kiffin, there is a whole world of if’s right now, but, bear with me; If, he takes his old man with him as Defensive Coordinator, if he takes Norm Chow with him as Offensive Coordinator; if there are no recruiting sanctions on USC and if he can get this year’s recruits all signed up in the next couple of weeks, USC could get better, despite the slate of Juniors also all leaving. If all this segment happens, then we could actually see Kiffin coming out best out of this, but for now, I’m sticking with Carroll until further announcements are made. No doubt Kiffin will come bowling in, shouting off, getting the PAC10’s back up within a matter of days because that’s the kind of classless punk that he is.
After being soundly thrashed on consecutive weeks by the Cowboys, Donovan McNabb’s time in Philadelphia has finally come to an end.
DOC Ah the annual question about Donovan McNabb’s future. I’ll go FICTION ! simply because I truly don’t know what they’ll do with him and because this comes up year after year and nothing ever really happens, and I’m a bit sick of this ego-maniac getting more and more attention he reads as adulation. I can see why this might be different this time given the fact that it was his first defeat in the first round of the playoffs and it was comprehensive, and because he is getting older at 33. And we all saw glimpses of what Kevin Kolb could do when given the chance earlier in the season (not to mention that Michael Vick with a year under his belt could offer more possibilities in 2010). But for me, at the end of the day it comes down to a few questions. Where would he go? Where would he accept going? And how ridiculous will Philly be in what they seek for him? There’s no doubt that some teams need QB’s like him badly, but he’s old, he has had a lot of injuries and frankly might be one of the biggest chokers in the history of the NFL. People point at Tony Romo and used to point at Peyton Manning and say they choked when it mattered, but I can’t think of another quarterback that when it comes to the clutch bottles it with more awful performances than this guy. A Superbowl, countless Championship games, other big games, how many times do we see those erratic performances, balls thrown into the ground, over-throwing WR’s, under-throwing wide open players, and whinging at the officials for flags? This is what McNabb gets like in the clutch. That being said the team remains very young on offence and is clearly developing around him, so I could see both sides to the stay or go argument. I’ll say he stays and more of the same please Donovan (says the Cowboys fan).
DANG – I’m kind of in-between on this, because anything could happen really. Andy Reid is hanging his hat on McNabb, but I’m not buying it 100% right now, everybody has a price so, somebody from McNabb, Vick and Kolb will be moving on this off-season, I just can’t see the 3 of them battling it out all season. Vick’s contract is up; will the Eagles take up the second year option? They’ve been getting him more involved of late and he still offers them something different in their running and passing games, but he has to be the favourite to be out the door for a possible starting role somewhere. Kolb stood in admirably for McNabb when he was injured, however, if McNabb does remain the #1 guy and Kolb doesn’t get long term assurances, then I could see Kolb possibly traded away to somebody who maybe wants a decent, short term solution at Quarterback and concentrating on other matters in the draft such as the Rams, who could then take Suh #1 overall and upgrade somewhere else in Round 2. The same also applies for McNabb, I’m pretty sure that if somebody offered up a 2nd, or a 3rd and a late round pick, the Eagles would be tempted and stick with Kolb and keep Vick around for insurance. I believe that all 3 guys’ deals are up at the end of the 2010 season, so Reid needs to make a firm decision pretty quick with the new deals. The Eagles stunk up the tail end of the season and Wild Card game, Reid needs to get this team, which is clearly talent laden back on the right path.
Following Jim Leavitt’s firing from South Florida, on the back of Mark Mangino’s similar exit from Kansas as well as the accusations that led to Mike Leach leaving Texas Tech, college football needs to look at itself and how much pressure is being put on young student athletes to win.
DOC FACT ! a hundred million percent yes. Truth is that this has probably been going on across the nation and at all levels for some time. But it’s wrong. Fundamentally wrong. I can hear the macho old school lobby saying that these kids keep to be toughened up after being treated like gods all through high-school and college for having football talent. And that, in my opinion is just wrong. Yes, this is a competitive sport driven by a passion for the game and a passion for excellence but does that excuse physical threats, does that excuse the tactics supposedly employed by Mike Leach, does it make it ok? Of course not, these men are educators. That is the world they work in, would we accept aggression of this kind from a maths tutor or another educator? Of course not, so what makes them any different? This is the difference between the NCAA and the NFL. The college system and the NCAA is also responsible for developing good human beings, giving them education and life skills so that they can go onto the NFL or another career and make the most of themselves. True, each programme will have its bad eggs, but so does every walk of life. The facts are that I believe this is a system that we in the UK should be looking at (not copying though) when we develop our athletes who can barely string two words together without sounding like morons. I understand fully that coaches are driven to win and want to win they themselves have ever-increasing enormous pressures put directly upon them by Athletic Directors, the Universities, boosters, benefactors, fans, national media, you name it. I sometimes think it’s arguably a tougher job than coaching in the NFL and certainly requires more skill and all-round ability to do everything they need to. But why is the pressure increasing? Simple. Because of the ever-increasing levels of money surrounding college football. Pressure to win, to deliver, and to bring money into the school. But yet it still comes down to young men, unpaid young men who are put under a national spotlight, where everything they do is governed by rules (some of which are borderline ludicrous) and where they still need to get themselves an education (I know, before you say it, that some schools give an easy ride, but not all do). It seems to have suddenly dawned on schools they can’t allow this to happen, hence the spate of sackings. I don’t have a solution to this, but aggression, violence and borderline mental torture (in the alleged case of Mike Leach) is inexcusable and should be stamped out. Let’s just remember in all of this that it is just a game being played by very young men.
DANG – FICTION ! – Without stone cold, hard facts on each of these cases yet, it’s hard to make statements with regard to each one individually, so I’m not calling anybody out in this because it really is difficult as to whom to believe. All of them, on both sides of the argument look embarrassingly poor right now with their; The Coach did this
No, he only actually did this
He actually didn’t do anything
We’re sacking him anyway
I’m suing you, give me my job back
There is a difference between being tough and motivating players and it appears that these Coaches have crossed the lines with their motivational techniques, despite the fact that they are claiming otherwise, suing the schools, wanting their jobs back and needing to clear their names to get back into coaching somewhere. It’s an utter shambles and its bringing embarrassment on the NCAA, but why all of a sudden has this come to light, if as we’re led to believe this has been happening, then why only now are we finding out about it? To be honest, Doc calls most of it very correctly.
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