Monday, December 11, 2006

Crimson & Cardinal

Well, here we are ... Week 3 of Alabama's search for a head football coach and Week 2 of Stanford looking to fill its FB vacancy.
If only we had a college bowl game this week to take our minds off of this scenario.
But we're still eight days away from the San Diego Federal Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.
So, we sit.
And wait.
On pins and needles.
For Alabama and Stanford to restore some stability to a delicate college football eco-system.

Alabama, obviously, will act deliberate and methodical in replacing Mike Shula, the recently-ousted Tide saviour who was unable to win our hearts and capture our imaginations despite his bloodlines or the fact that he played at 'Bama.
Stanford's situation seems less-sticky, seeing how a short trip down 280 would yield from Dick Tomey's San Jose State staff either O-coordinator Ken Margerum (the former Stanford WR stud and inspiration for the Margerum Trophy as college football's premier receiver ... an award which was mistakenly named "the Biletnikoff Award" when it was created 11 years ago) or D-coordinator Tom Williams, who was a linebacker during the Denny Green/Bill Walsh transfer of power in '92.

So many great names out there. Mike Shula, David Shula, Terry Bowden, Jeff Bowden, Ron Turner, Norv Turner, Terry Shea, Dennis Franchione, Denny Green, Barry Switzer, Nick Saban, Cam Cameron, John Bunting, Gary Moeller, Lou Holtz, Skip Holtz, Rich Kotite, Carl Torbush, Norm Chow, Steve Mariucci, Tom Holmoe, Bill Cowher, John L. Smith, Barry Alvarez, Larry Coker and -- a personal favorite -- Fresno State o-coordinator, Steve Hagen.

Or didn't you notice the bang-up job Hagen did at Wartburg College (Waverly, Iowa) in 1996 when, as a first-time head coach, he guided the Knights to a 7-3 record highlighted by a 50-13 victory over the Blackburn Battlin' Beavers of Carlinville, IL?
That 5-game win streak to end the season perhaps did not rock the college football world to its core, but it did inspire San Jose State to make Hagen its O-coordinator/QB coach/recruiting coordinator on then-head coach Dave Baldwin's first SJSU staff in '97.
For we the alums of Sparta, we were not impressed -- particularly those of us with the knowledge of what Hagen was doin' 19 years earlier, spending the autumn of '77 starring in Stan Paumer's Geometry 2A class at Thousand Oaks High.
Like Gracchus to Falco at the coronation of Commodus, some of us said wistfully, "He enters like a conquering hero. But what has he conquered?"

The Hagen bio aside, no proof exists that anybody in the aformentioned list is either A) qualified or B) interested in the Stanford opening. It's just that any time there's a vacancy, it's fun to act all expert-y and try to wield some expertise by saying, "I've heard that (Crappy Ex-Coach X) might be the leading candidate" or "(Loser Who Doesn't Know Squat) might be the best fit ..."
Normally, it's best to leave the "sorting out" of who lives and who dies to those college football gurus at (that's you, Joe Schad) or to know-it-alls such as Nancy Pelosi or Anderson Cooper.

Truth be told, the candidate who would've received the endorsement of this Haystack probably would have been young Nathaniel Hackett, an assistant on Harris' first staff (autumn '05).
Alas, Hackett is off somewhere, relying on Daddy (Paul Hackett) to brainwash enough people that Little Nat has actual ability (kinda like the way that America believes that David Shula or Shittyheimer's kid or Buddy Ryan's off-spring -- Rex n' Rob -- have talent).
Sorry, Coach ... "no sale."

Obviously, in this, the Year of the Cardinals (see: St. Louis Cardinals, MLB champs and Louisville Cardinals, C-USA champs), the best "re-fit" at Stanford would be to have Denny Green get hisself all axed from the Arizona Cardinals and return to The Farm.
Actually, once we explore that a little deeper, does it not make perfect sense that Denny WILL be fired and then he'll become the new boss at 'Bama?

Possibilities abound -- which is fun for us, the non-affiliated w/ said universities.
For the boosters and alums, a team w/o a coach is always a nail-biter -- the possible exception being when Ted Leland was the Stanford A.D.
Back when Leland ran the dept. at Stanford, the search process was quite simple. It functioned like this:
If you had ever crossed paths with Ted Leland at Dartmouth or University of Pacific -- maybe you brought him a cup of coffee or a Sprite or you Xeroxed something for him or maybe you said "hello" -- you were automatically at the top of the list.
And, you had about a 96 to 97 percent chance of landing that job.

That's how it worked for the past two Stanford coaches -- the recently-dismissed Walt Harris and his predecessor, Eugene "Buddy" Teevens.
Teevens, one of the nicest guys around, is definitely a sh*tty college head coach. He was awful at Tulane (2-9, 3-9, 1-10, 2-9, 2-9 in '92 thru '96, which set the scene for Tommy Bowden resurrecting the Green Wave with a 12-0 season in '98) and, following his three years at Stanford (2-9, 4-7, 4-7 in '02 thru '04), he's stunk it up with back-to-back 2-8 seasons at Dartmouth, where it all began for him, '87 thru '91.
Sure, he was Spurrier's o-coordinator at Florida before taking the Stanford job ... and, yes, he exudes warmth with that big smile, but here's a word to the wise: Keep Buddy Teevens the hell away from your team if you're known as Big Green or the Green Wave.

Walt Harris? He had UOP ties to Leland.
He also had a way of acting irritated and discontented with the talent pool which Teevens left him. Every utterance from Harris reeked of: "Frickin'-A, how is anyone supposed to win ballgames with these p*ssy Buddy Teevens recruits, godammit?!"
It's always good to throw a clipboard as the words leave yer mouth.

The new A.D., Bob Bowlsby, has likely resolved himself to finding a man of great integrity and intellect who also possesses solid, coach-speak, chalk-talk skills, i.e. using expressions such as "putting a hat on somebody" and "playing well in space" and "running downhill" and "too much East n' West running, not enough North n' South."

Programs in disrepair need to choose wisely -- especially when what's at stake is filling the new $100 mil, 50,000-seat, tennis-stadium-shaped ballpark (which replaced the 86,000-seat bowl built in 1921 and which hosted Super Bowl XIX).

Stanford's new coach will need to re-invent an offense which scored a dismal 13 TDs in 12 games.
'Bama? What a fiasco that has become ever since Gene Stallings departed and then the dubious Mike DuBose took over. Upon his departure, the Mike Price/Sylvester Croom/Mike Shula run-around got to be quite amusing.
Price landed in El Paso and made UTEP competitive again -- while Sly Croom followed up back-to-back 3-8 seasons at Miss.Stake in '04 and '05 with a 3-9 campaign this year.
Croom will get the broom following his predicted 4-8 season of '07, leaving the same ESPN talking heads which remarked "Tsk tsk" in '04 (re: 'Bama/Croom) to do likewise at the end of Dec. '07.

Ideally, coaching shifts are best handled swiftly so as to stay competitive in the recruiting battles, but the longer that Stanford and 'Bama wait, the more likely they are to get stuck with a tool as the head coach.

The days/weeks ahead should be a real treat.
Ah, yes ... if only the job entailed nothing more than competitive games against the Blackburn Battlin' Beavers of Carlinville ...

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