Last year about this time, Mike Singletary was given the head coaching job of the now, woeful San Francisco 49ers. This once proud franchise had joined the ranks of perennial losers, like the Raiders and the Clippers. In his first game as head coach, Singletary sent one of his players to the locker room, because he felt the player was not trying hard enough. He said that he would only use players, who were trying to win. As a result of this action, the media ridiculed him mercilessly. They predicted that his tough love approach would not work, and that he would be fortunate, if the team allowed him to finish out last season. However, much to the surprise of many, the team improved and has become very competitive. On last Monday night, they had a win over the highly favored Arizona Cardinals. The 49ers now have a record of 6-7, and they now have a chance to have their first winning record, since Skippy was in diapers. Singletary is among those who are being considered for Coach of the Year. They don't make jokes about him anymore.
My heart goes out to his family, and especially to his mother. She had seen her son grow from being a toddler to become one of the most internationally admired athletes of all time. Now, she has seen much of that, not all, tumble away, and her heart has to be broken. Who could have imagined such a catastrophe?
As bad as things are, time has a way of healing all wounds. Tiger will likely find a way to resurrect his career. He may move to Europe for a while, or he may find another solution. There are reports that his wife has moved out of their home in Florida, and bought a home of her own in Sweden. She and her family also have to be devastated. We will likely never know why a man who had so much would take such incredible risks.
Closer to home, Pete Carroll and USC did not have a good year. Looking back, the problems seem to have started, when he became fascinated by the talents of Matt Barkley, his rookie quarterback. It has become axiomatic that quarterbacks must spend at least one year learning what they will have to do in the actual games. Barkley appears to have been ahead of that schedule, but still not ready for prime time. So, he did not do as well as had been the hope for him, and neither did the Trojans.
The team's problems were compounded, when they did not develop a running game. They had four or five running backs, who would have been starters on almost any other team in the nation. However, each of them played only a few minutes in each game, and they never realized their full potential. That is, USC wound up with a team that could not run, pass or play defense. All in all, they are fortunate to have a record of eight wins and only four losses.
They will be exiled to San Francisco to play Boston College in the Emerald Bowl, on December 26, 2009. In order to win this game they will have to slow down running back Montel Harris, who has rushed for 1355 yards and 13 touchdowns. I don't think they can do it, and I am hereby predicting that Boston College will win the game.
Everything is coming up roses for Pasadena! Oregon and Ohio State will play there on New Year’s Day. Wait; there is more. The BCS championship game between Alabama and Texas will also be played in the Rose Bowl on January 7, 2009. These games should provide the city of Pasadena with its own stimulus package. The hotels and restaurants, and other businesses, have seen their wildest dreams come true. The fans of all four of these teams are travelers, so they will be coming. If you have a product or service to sell, this should be your time.
The UCLA Athletic Department is probably starting to have some concerns about their football coaching team of Rick Neuheisel and Norm Chow. When they started, their goal was to catch up with USC. Three years have passed, and they have not accomplished that. At the same time, four other teams; Oregon, Arizona, Oregon State and Stanford finished higher than the Trojans. What do those teams know or have, that UCLA does not? Washington improved from zero wins over last year, to five this season.
Washington State won only one game, so the Bruins don't have to worry about finishing last. The Bruins will play Temple in the Eagle Bank Bowl on December 29. Such a deal!