Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sarcastic Guy, Vol. 5

At about 1PM Eastern today, the Seattle Seahawks will hold a press conference announcing Pete Carroll as their new head coach. He leaves behind a USC program that went 97-19 under Carroll in 9 years, including a 7-2 bowl game record and 2 national titles.

The words of the immortal Ron Burgundy come to mind, "I immediately regret this decision." Yes, Seattle is about to throw caution to the wind, and in an effort to save a team that's flailing for its life, jump into a pit full of bears.

Apparently the decision to can Mora was made by Paul Allen, who decided that he wanted "the biggest name out there", and gave his CEO a list of names he would be okay with as the new head coach. That list supposedly had one name on it. Now, Paul Allen did something similar once before, back in 1999 he fired Dennis Erickson (showing incredible football acumen) and threw the kitchen sink at Mike Holmgren, offering him both the GM and head coaching positions. While this would end up being a great success (especially in Seahawks terms) it was only after Allen forced Holmgren to relinquish his GM duties that this team went anywhere. And Mike Holmgren was on top of the NFL world at the time, coming off a 3 year stretch with 1 Super Bowl win and another appearance.

Now Allen is going back to the well, only this time he's hiring one of the guys on top of the college coaching world. When will people finally get it? Coaching college football and coaching professional football are 2 entirely different animals. Pete Carroll has had 2 short stints in the NFL already: 1 year with the Jets (6-10 record), and he took over a Patriots team fresh off of a Super Bowl appearance (10-6/1 playoff win, 9-7/0 playoff wins, 8-8, no playoff apprearance) before the Patriots realized he had lost the team and fired him. Carroll then landed at USC (as its 4th choice) and built himself an empire (see the top of this article for the stats).

Carroll is such a success at the college level in part because he failed at the pro level. On the spectrum of hard nosed coach to players coach, the extreme end on the players coach side might as well be renamed the Carroll wing. Carroll doesn't seem to have it in him to be a disciplinarian. At the college level, a 58-year-old with ADD (Carroll's never been diagnosed, but has many times diagnosed himself) who throws himself into drills with the players,] plays pranks on them (youtube USC lean on me), and creates an atmosphere where they feel comfortable posing for pictures with the Governator on the sideline during a game can be emperor. 19-year-olds with NFL dreams will eat that stuff up. All Carroll has to do to keep them in line is remind them that their dream of playing football in the NFL and making it big goes through him.

In the NFl, however, most of the players already have financial security. Motivating millionaire adults is totally different from motivating college kids. Carroll has taken a couple of swipes at motivating millionaires, and it didn't work. By the end of his term with the Patriots, story after story was leaking out that he had lost the locker room, that players did not respect his authority. Sounds like a great guy to be coaching your team, Mr. Allen!

Could Pete Carroll have learned something from his failures? Sure, it's possible. But his success at USC had a lot to do with his personality, a personality he had back in his previous NFL stints. He didn't have to change himself to create the dynasty at USC, he just had to change his arena. This brings up a great question, "Why would Carroll leave his empire in Los Angeles for a faltering team in the NFL's Siberia?" If you listen to Pete Carroll, he relished the challenge. If you look just a little deeper, you see the vultures circling USC's football program. Rules appear to have been bent at the very least during Carroll's tenure at USC, and many people believe sanctions are coming for the football team (and that USC is trying to sacrifice its basketball team to avoid these sanctions).

So, before I write the next great American novel, let's review the facts:

Seattle is about to hire a guy who succeeded at the college level because...
- He accumulated more talent that most everyone else on his 85+ man roster. The NFL has 53 man rosters and a salary cap. This method doesn't work in the NFL.

- His personality. A personality that has been shown to not work in the NFL (see Jim Mora, Dennis Erickson, Barry Switzer. I can see you getting ready to argue. Don't. Don't use the Super Bowl XXX win to argue on Switzer's behalf. We could have gone to the Ukraine, picked a random person off the street, and that person could have coached the Cowboys to that Super Bowl title.)

- Good defensive schemes. This might be a plus for Seattle, as he cut his teeth as an NFL defensive coordinator. But he was last involved in the league 10 years ago. Who knows how well those schemes have aged, with regards to the NFL.

In sum, this is a terrible move for the Seattle Seahawks. Paul Allen's heart may be in the right place, but he is going to end up firebombing the team in an effort to save it. Perhaps if they hadn't botched the hiring process (allowing Mora to address the media as if he was staying another season, talking with Carroll behind Mora's back while he still had the job, all the leaks ahead of any interviews they did, making a complete mockery of the league's Rooney Rule, having candidate after candidate pull out of interviews for the Seahawks GM job, the list goes on) I hope I am 100% wrong, but I just can't see it. The team I love is heading back to the Dark Ages, and thanks to his giant contract and the faith of the man in charge, I don't see an Age of Enlightment coming anytime soon.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Strike a blow for fairness in college football

If you care at all about fairness, or college football, or fairness in college football, if you despise good-ol-boy networks and societies designed to keep the same group of people in charge year after year after year, do something about it.

Turn your TV to FOX. Right now. Seriously, drop what you are doing and put on FOX right now. Leave the TV on FOX for the next 3.5 hours. If you happen to enjoy good college football, then watch the Boise State-TCU game and enjoy the bonus.

TCU and Boise State are both outside of the 6 BCS conferences, which means they have to jump through a bunch of extra hoops just to play in these featured bowl games, and it's just about impossible for them to get serious consideration for berths in the national title game. A big reason for this is the major bowls are worried these teams won't travel well and that casual fans won't tune in to watch games featuring these teams, preferring games with big name schools instead.

Show them they are wrong. Do it for fairness, if you don't want to do it to see some good college football. These are the #3 and #6 teams in the country this season. One of these teams has the #1 defense in the country. The other just put forth the most exciting bowl game of the decade the last time they were in the Fiesta Bowl 3 years ago.

Watch the game, or at least have it on in the background.