If you read local newspapers, and listen to local radio and television stations, you will discover that most of them are critical of Mike Garrett. He was severely criticized when he hired Pete Carroll. He is possibly receiving even more criticism now that Carroll has left USC for a much higher salary, to coach the Seattle Seahawks. Coaches, at any level, have the right to resign their present positions to get better ones. So, while it is disappointing to the Trojans that Carroll has left, he is following a well-established pattern. Successful coaches follow the money, and unsuccessful ones get fired.
Faced with this surprising turn of events, Garrett did the traditional thing; he recruited a coach from another college. He hired Lane Kiffin, who had been an assistant coach at USC for six years, to be the head coach. Kiffin was the head coach at Tennessee for one year. While he did not set the world on fire, he did demonstrate that he has the potential to become a successful collegiate head coach. He is brilliant and he is driven. These are his good qualities. There has to be a concern that he may break some of the NCAA Rules and get the school put on probation, or keep them there if that is already their status.
So far, Kiffin has not committed any major violations like UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel did. UCLA was mildly criticized for hiring Neuheisel, but it was not nearly as severe as what Garrett has had to face. He hired a coach in the off-season, unlike Notre Dame, who hired a coach and then would not allow him to coach his previous team in a bowl game. Maybe other people know why they are mad at Garrett, but I think that he should be congratulated for doing an outstanding job over a long period of time.
The NFL Playoffs have been fascinating, and now they are down to just four teams. The Jets, Colts, Vikings, and the Saints have survived to fight it out on this coming Sunday. It is interesting to note that the winning teams ran the ball more often than they passed it. Also, the winning teams had fewer turnovers than the teams which lost.
The biggest surprise in the Playoffs was the victory by the New York Jets over the heavily favored San Diego Chargers. The Jets, with rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez at the helm were not expected to survive their encounter with the high-powered Chargers.However, in my opinion, the Chargers lost because they were out-coached, out-hustled,and possibly overconfident. The Chargers and the Cowboys are both teams with owners, who participate in the coaching activities. This undercuts the authority of their coaching staffs, and rarely leads to on-field success. Whatever their teams win, they take most of the credit for the success, and when they lose they blame their coaching staffs.
It is interesting that the baseball fans in St. Louis have welcomed Mark McGwire back to baseball as if he was a returning hero, and not as someone who had been exposed as a steroid user. I am unaware of any current condemnation of McGwire by the goofy Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig. Selig led a highly publicized campaign against Barry Bonds, who was suspected of doing the same thing. McGwire has been hired to be the hitting instructor for the Cardinals. I suspect that he will do a good job. However, there probably isn't a man on this planet who knows more about hitting a baseball than Barry Bonds. Will there also be a place in the game for him?
There has been very little fanfare about Jim Caldwell, who is finishing his first year as the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. His team was unbeaten, until he decided to rest his regular players, as a part of his preparation for the contest in the Super Bowl. African-American head coaches in collegiate or professional sports are no longer the novelty that they were only a few years ago. I think this would have pleased Dr. King.
There has never been a quarterback in the NFL who was as intellectually effective as Peyton Manning. There may have been others who were just a smart, but none of them developed the same mental mastery of the game. He usually lines up under center, at the line of scrimmage with about 15 seconds left on the clock. Then he looks to see where the defensive players are, and then he begins to call signals and point to them. They do not know if what he is saying means anything, or if it is just gibberish. With about 10 seconds left, his team may change their offensive positions.
This can lead to even more uncertainty by the defensive team. Now they are not sure whether or not they are in the right formation. Rather than just react to what the other team actually does, they begin to try to guess what his intentions are. They begin to think, and when they do, that means Manning has won. Manning spends more time in the film room studying his opponents, than any other quarterback in the NFL.
For next Sunday, the Colts over the Jets, and the Vikings over the Saints. Will we see Manning versus Farve in the Super Bowl? Ask me again next week.