I've mentioned in passing the large number of coaching vacancies in the NFL at this moment and that the NBA has already had two coaching changes in
the first third of its season. I'd like to look at those things more closely. Coaching change in the NBA is a way of life; it would not be a shock
to see a half dozen teams change coaches in the middle of any season. Here is one of those 'facts not worth remembering': The longest tenured coaches
in the Eastern Conference of the NBA are Rick Carlisle in Indy and Eddie Jordan in Washington; they are in their third seasons with those clubs.
Bob Weiss and Stan Van Gundy are already gone in the NBA. Aren't you happy that Stan was able to spend so much time with his family during the
festive Holiday Season? That's a story that warms my heart even more than Miracle on 34th Street does. And today there have to be a few NBA coaches
who are looking over their shoulder and wondering if the coaching version of the Grim Reaper is about to tap them on the shoulder.
Doc Rivers in Boston has to feel just a tad uneasy. The Celtics are 13-18 but they play in a division where a .500 record would have you in
contention to win the division - and hence a #3 seeding in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Someone 'upstairs' may think that a coaching change is
all that's needed to goose this team's record up to the .500 level. Sadly, it's the folks 'upstairs' that assembled this team that has played so
pathetically on the road.
They're 3-12 away from home.
Rick Adelman has been in Sacramento for an eon by NBA standards; I think this is his eighth year. But no matter how long he's been there, this is the
last year of his contract; and the fact is that the team never won a conference championship and the Kings now have the second worst record in the
Western Conference. The Kings don't actually 'stink', but you can get a faint whiff of putrescence every once in a while. I'd say Adelman is only
50/50 to finish the season on the bench in Sacramento.
Sam Mitchell is the coach of the Toronto Raptors. That team actually stinks; there's not a really polite way to get around that fact. And when a
team just plain stinks, the coach of that team is often reduced to 'using his network' to find his next place of employment.
Mike Woodson is the coach of the Atlanta Hawks. That team actually stinks; there's not a really polite way to get around that fact. See the
paragraph about Sam Mitchell just above....
The Houston Rockets have been hugely disappointing this year mainly due to injuries. But sometimes the people who run sports franchises forget to
look at that kind of stuff and just fire the coach. Jeff Van Gundy is the incumbent coach in Houston at the moment. If he does get the axe, I hope
he has the chutzpah to stand up at a press conference and say that he chose to resign from the job because he really wants to spend more time with his
In the NFL, coaching changes tend to happen in the off-season; rarely do more than two teams change coaches in medias res. And with so many teams
about to acquire new coaches in the next month or so, there could be only a few coaches who need to be nervous next year. But let me look ahead a
Mike Mularkey better have the Bills at or above .500 next year. The front office took the hit for this year's disappointment; that will not happen
two years in a row.
Dennis Green has changed the Cardinals from a league-wide laughingstock to a team that is laughably inept. That needs to change markedly next year or
Green might be heading on back to 'the high road'.
Jim Mora Jr. saw his team go flat in the second half of the year. He was fined for using a cell phone on the sidelines and had a meltdown-like
experience in a radio interview situation. If you believe in genetics, here is a guy who could snap at any moment.
Brian Billick walked the coaching tightrope this year but the rosy afterglow of his Super Bowl win in Baltimore will have faded to black by the end of
next year if the Ravens offense has to wait until the 10th game to score more than 20 points - as it did this year.
Speaking of NFL teams that came apart at the seams in the latter part of the season, the Dallas Cowboys started off 7-3 and they did not make the
playoffs. Granted, their schedule down the stretch was tough, but going 2-4 in the final games is hugely unimpressive.
Here is another hugely unimpressive stat. The New Orleans Saints had 43 shots in the red zone for the year; that's less than three a game and that's
not wonderful all by itself. However, the Saints also had 43 turnovers for the year. Keep this in mind when you are analyzing team performance.
When a team's turnovers are equal to the number of times it gets into the opponent's red zone, the record ought to be awful. And the Saints made sure
that their record was awful in this circumstance by being penalized 135 times for 1130 yards. Ouch!
People have been speculating on where Terrell Owens will play next season. I even read one scenario about how he would return to the Eagles. Folks,
that is not happening; Andy Reid will win the Mr. Universe contest before that happens. Here's my thought. The Eagles will pay TO the bonus they owe
him in March and then absorb the cap hit when they trade him to Denver. I have no idea what they'll get in return but Mike Shanahan has a history of
taking on 'difficult' players who have caused problems in other venues. The examples that come to mind at the moment are Maurice Clarett and Darryl
Gardner. So, maybe TO will be a Bronco next year?
Finally, here is a comment from Scott Ostler in the San Francisco Chronicle about the recent departure of Norv Turner from the Raiders:
'About the best thing you can say about Turner is that, through hard times and harder times, he didn't lose his players. Which puts him one coaching
notch above Little Bo Peep. (How ironic, then, that Turner became a sacrificial lamb.)'
But don't get me wrong, I love sports... ... ...