Friday, January 29, 2010

Opposites Attract: Steve Young vs. Kurt Warner

Kurt Warner may go down in history as the most improbable superstar quarterback ever to play in the NFL and his retirement has pundits across the country weighing in on his place in the history of the game. Most, if not all, agree that Warner crafted a Hall of Fame worthy career and I certainly agree with that sentiment.

But while I watched the 38-year-old Warner step down with the same kind of cool, composed demeanor in which he stepped into the spotlight, I couldn't help but think of another quarterback who retired at the age of 38, Steve Young.

Now you must be thinking, Steve Young and Kurt Warner? They're nothing alike. And you'd be right.

The left-handed Young was a scrambler, a daredevil and one of the most athletic players to ever play the position. Warner meanwhile was a stationary target, a right-handed pocket passer of the highest order who succeeded by getting the ball into the hands of his playmakers.

But the differences don't end with their playing styles.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Live By The Sword, Die By The Sword

I've got some news for all the Tennessee fans and students who have acted out in anger over the news that head football coach Lane Kiffin is trading in Rocky Top for SoCal.

You asked for this and now you have to live with the consequences.

By "this" of course, I'm talking about the winning-above-all-else attitude that is so prevalent in the world of major collegiate athletics, to which Tennessee has been a willing follower. So it should really come as no surprise to anyone with half a brain that the ego-maniacal Kiffin would skip town after less than a year and a half on the job.

As universities and their athletic directors look to satisfy rabid fan bases and deep-pocketed boosters, it is inevitable that this kind of thing is going to happen. The pressure to win is getting coaches fired before they can even see their first recruiting class graduate, can you really blame coaches for always having an eye on the next best gig?

When Tennessee fired long-time head coach Phil Fullmer it traded in any chance of the Paterno-like loyalty their fans would all like to think their head coach would and should bring with him. Fullmer, as much as I didn't care for him as a coach on the field, was (and is) a loyal and steady presence. But in the end, with rival schools like Florida and Alabama asserting themselves thanks in large part to new head coaches, that stability just wasn't good enough any more.

Some Vols fans are mad at athletic director Mike Hamilton who bowed to the pressure and fired Fullmer, making way for Kiffin and his traveling circus? But even Hamilton was just doing what he thought was in the best interest of the program. Surely even he couldn't have predicted the wonderful mess his school now finds themselves in.

Like so many schools before them (ahem, Notre Dame), unrealistic expectations from nearly everyone involved led them to this point. Head coach gone, recruits jumping ship and a fan base on the verge of revolt. But in the end Tennessee, their fans and their boosters, have no one to blame but themselves.

Guilty Pleasure

We all know that earlier this week that Pete Carroll bolted from USC to become Head Coach and President of the Seattle Seahawks. My question is why?

USC, college football's team of the decade, is arguably the top job in the world of college football. Year after year the Trojans land top recruits from all across the nation, and are amongst the favorites to win the national title.

What's wrong Pete? Was the 97-19 record you compiled at USC not good enough? Was your 2003 AP National Championship, and your 2004 National Championship not good enough? How about your 7 consecutive Pac-10 titles and BCS appearances? How about your back-to-back Heisman trophy winners (Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush) is that not good enough? Ah, I got it. It must have been the $4.4 million you made last year.

Enjoy your stay in Seattle. Enjoy your team that has won a combined 9 games the past two seasons. Enjoy your aging quarterback, wide receiver, and left tackle. The move from So-Cal to Seattle will most certainly be rainy. This team has very little to get excited about, and turning it around will truly be magical.

Yes, you got a raise but my sense doesn't think you made the move for the money. So again, why? Wait a minute. I figured you out. There's a meeting between NCAA officials being held next month to discuss possible sanctions against your former university regarding illegal benefits distributed to some of your premier players. That wouldn't have anything to do with your departure now would it Pete?

When USC gets penalized for illegal connections with former stud running back Reggie Bush, and recent NFL declaree Joe McKnight, you better be penalized as well. Shame on you for bailing out on kids to head north just so your image would not be tarnished. Shame on you for entering the homes of these kids and promising national championship opportunitites, only to leave right after you had a sub par season for the Trojan's football program (9-4).

Nice call Pete, or should we call you Calipari?