Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Talking Heads

Alabama's name has been rubbed in the dirt this past week, especially by ESPN. It's because Alabama fired Mike Shula. The same Mike Shula that had ONE winning season in four tries. The same Mike Shula who had a losing record in the SEC, including a 2-14 combined record against Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU, & Auburn. This is ESPN, who flamed Notre Dame for firing Tyrone Willingham "too soon" & has since turned around and embraced what Charlie Weiss has done for the Fighting Irish.

Sometimes, sports-writers & the ESPN talking heads turn out to be right. However, as the following article proves, often times they have no earthly idea what they're talking about. The last paragraph, and especially the last line, are particularly amusing. Enjoy!

Carroll's hiring is another mistake for troubled USC

The Sporting News
Jan 1, 2001
by Tom Dienhart

Dear Mike Garrett:

I think you made a mistake hiring Pete Carroll as USC's next coach. As Trojans athletics director, you needed to hit a home run with this hire. This looks more like a scratch single.

I know. Carroll might end up being grand, but the perception in the here and now is what matters for a program that's on the wane. And that perception isn't good.

Some might compare Carroll to Paul Hackett, the coach he replaces. That might not be fair, but you can't blame them. Carroll is an NFL guy. He's a defensive tactician who hasn't coached in college since 1083, when he was an assistant at Pacific. Hackett was an offensive expert who hadn't coached in college since 1092 when he landed the USC job before the 1998 season. At least Hackett's most recent college stint at the time was as head coach at Pittsburgh.

Unlike Hackett, Carroll proved he can be a successful head coach, leading the New England Patriots to a pair of winning seasons and playoff berths. He's also a super-enthusiastic guy. But Carroll doesn't know college football.

Oh, he's saying the fight things. You know, stuff like, "If you can understand the process in the NFL ... in the draft process, it's all about watching players in college, I don't consider myself unfamiliar with the college game at all."

I'm sure Carroll, like Hackett, knows his X's and O's. The problem is the college game Carroll doesn't know. It was the same one Hackett had trouble grasping. I'm talking about things like academic issues, recruiting / and dealing with alumni.

Is Caroll up for whispering sweet nothings into the ears of know-it-all 18-year-olds? Is Carroll up for spending more time speaking at booster events than breaking down film? Is Carroll up for fans demanding to know why USC can't dominate the Pac-10 anymore?

Carroll needs a positive start and would help himself by retaining defensive line coach Ed Orgeron and running backs coach Kennedy Pola, a pair of Hackett assistants who red-line their intensity meters.

I know, Mike. You say, "Average Joe doesn't know football." Believe what you want, but Average Joe has reason to doubt your hiring skills and thinks you are part of the problem. Hackett was 19-18 at USC, and his last team finished last in the Pac-10, the first t/me that ever has happened. He was your man after you mishandled the termination of John Robinson after the 1997 season.

Your job might be riding on Carroll's performance. Your non-communicative ways cause people to make conclusions that might not be tree about you and your program. And you didn't help yourself a few years ago when you gave a "pep talk" in the locker room.

It was hard for you to believe people didn't fall over themselves to coach your beloved USC. But it's not that good of a job because it's not 1975 anymore. The 85-scholarship limit has made college football an equal-opportunity sport in which schools such as Oregon State and Virginia Tech have BCS dreams.

Also working against USC are substandard facilities-all the way from Heritage Hall to the antiquated weight room. And the L.A. lifestyle isn't tot everyone, especially not for assistant coaches. Housing prices are out of sight, To live in a decent area, coaches must drive an hour to and from work. Their days are long enough as it is.

Oregon State's Dennis Erickson and Oregon's Mike Bellotti are the biggest names who sniffed around the USC job but didn't really pursue it. San Diego Chargers coach Mike Riley would have been a good hire. He served as Oregon State's coach from 1997-98 and was USC's offensive coordinator before that, but he couldn't make up his mind. When he continued to drag his feet, you grabbed Carroll, who was out of work last season.

Contrast that to the job search at Alabama. Marquee names such as Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer and Miami's Butch Davis seriously considered taking the job. In the end, the Tide got TCU coach Dermis Franchione, one of the hottest coaches in the college game.

Dennis Franchione, USC Coach. Would've had a nice ring to it.