Let's get something straight. If you didn't enjoy the Orange Bowl game between Florida State and Penn State - even if you are a FSU alum - then you
just don't like college football. If you didn't appreciate the way the game ebbed and flowed, then you just don't like watching very good defensive
units impose themselves on the opponent's offense. Granted, the kickers in the game did a great football imitation of Shaq shooting foul shots, but
that was a great game and not just because it had the two winningest coaches on the opposite sidelines.
Thinking about bowl games brings to mind the Maurice Clarett 'situation'. Clarett played in the national championship game three years ago with Ohio
State; this week he turned himself into police to face charges of robbing two people at gunpoint in an alley behind a bar in Columbus Ohio. He plead
not guilty of course and is out on $50,000 bail. Some folks have moaned that it is sad how far Clarett has fallen and how cruel has been his fate.
Sorry but I'm not buying into that. Maurice Clarett did not fall from whatever lofty perch he may have inhabited; he jumped of his own volition. It
may be sad that he made such a choice, but it was a choice and not a cruel twist of fate.
Whenever I write about young athletes whose lives fall apart and I do not exhibit great sympathy, I usually get commentary from readers saying that I
have no compassion or that I am a moron or something like that. I expect to get some of that stuff here too. But no one forced Maurice Clarett to
sue the NFL and end his college football career; no one forced him to show up out of shape at his workouts; and certainly, no one forced him to become
involved in an incident in an alley whereby he could even be accused of robbing two people at gunpoint. Reports said that he had been offered a
contract by an NFL Europe team and was in the process of negotiating terms for that deal. So, how would being out in an alley behind a bar at 2:00 AM
further his football career objectives? Feel sorry if you will that a talent was wasted, but recognize how it was wasted. Maurice Clarett made a
series of choices in his life that wasted all that talent. Once he had a shot at a free college education if he wanted to attend class and work at
it; he tossed that aside. Once he had a promising football career; now that has at least been put on hold for a while.
Here are now eight head coaching openings in the NFL; 25% of the members of that exclusive club will turn over this season and the jury may still be
out on Mike Mularkey. Speculation is rampant on who will get various jobs and what might happen to the head coaches who were summarily dismissed in
the 72 hours after the end of this season. Charlie Walters wrote in the St. Paul Pioneer-Press that Mike Tice could wind up as an assistant with Bill
Parcells in Dallas or with Brian Billick in Baltimore. I think Mike Tice has a safety net in the coaching business. Remember he was the guy who
hired George O'Leary as an assistant in Minnesota after O'Leary was fired from Notre Dame in the infamous 'resume padding' scandal. Well, O'Leary
seems to have put Central Florida on a positive course now - they went to a bowl game this year after going 0-11 last year - and it would not be a
shock to see O'Leary return that favor in the event that Tice is left standing when the music stops in the NFL shake-up.
When Dom Capers was fired in Carolina, Tom Caughlin signed him up as the defensive coordinator in Jax. Capers is 'available' again. Do the Giants
have any openings?
Norv Turner did not survive in Oakland; that cannot be a surprise to anyone including Mrs. Turner. The Raiders have won five games or less for the
last three seasons and that is the first time in the history of the franchise that has happened. (The Raiders were one of the original AFL teams.)
Their offense was mediocre despite the addition of Randy Moss and LaMont Jordan and their defense was less than mediocre; the Raiders had five INTs
for the season; some teams had more than one player with five INTs for the season. A real question for the franchise is what they will do for a QB
next year; Kerry Collins took them to the Super Bowl several years ago but had a miserable season this year. It's not clear who might be available
for the Raiders to sign to play QB and that is a far more important thing for the team than finding a coach.
Oh and here's a comment on the “rabid Raider fans'. These folks have been living on reputation for far too long a time now; once they were great
and loyal fans; now they are front-running posers who think it is still cool to dress up in the same goofy and lame costumes they did 15 years ago.
It isn't. Three times this year, the home crowd in Oakland has been under 50,000 and in the final game, it was under 42,000. Raider Nation is
undergoing a population implosion but you can be sure it will make a comeback as soon as the Raiders are on track for a 10 win season...
Marty Schottenheimer has taken some heat this week for playing Drew Brees in a meaningless game where Brees dislocated a shoulder that will require
surgery. In the glory of 20/20 hindsight, people have said that he should have played Philip Rivers in that game to find out if Rivers is ready to
take over the QB job because Brees' contract is up. Excuse me, but if playing on one 'meaningless game' is all it will take to make that decision,
then send Rivers to NFL Europe for a week or two. Or let him play a full exhibition game next August. If you want to fault Schottenheimer and the
Chargers for something this year, fault them/him for going 4-4 at home this year.
They say that defense wins championships. Well, since their bye week, the Cincinnati Bengals' defense seems to have gone bye-bye. In those seven
games, the Bengals have given up 216 points (31 points per game); they've given up 37 points in each of the last two games; and in that stretch of
seven games, they had three of the games against 'offensively challenged teams' such as Baltimore, Detroit and Cleveland. The Bengals are a fun team
to watch, but their defense had better improve by leaps and bounds this week or their tenure in the playoffs will be brief indeed.
Finally, Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times had this to say about the Maurice Clarett saga:
'Former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett, reportedly on the verge of signing with an NFL Europe team, instead turned himself in to Columbus
police in connection with an armed robbery.
'He must've thought he was joining the Stealers.'
But don't get me wrong, I love sports... ... ...
[Edited on 10/1/06 by TRD]