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Hey, Mack Brown, better polish up that resume.
Call a headhunter, Tommy Bowden.
And all the rest of you college football bosses -- at least those of you in warm-weather locales -- start networking. The Ol' Ball Coach is looking for work, and nobody with a job in which year-round golf is an option is safe. Steve Spurrier, generally regarded by Florida fans and easily seduced media types as the World's Greatest College Coach, issued a policy statement this week that he had no interest in heading back to the NFL.
You can't blame him, since his two-year tenure time with the Redskins was a disaster. He learned that there were no Vanderbilts and Western Michigans in the NFL. In fact, by the time he left the big leagues, Spurrier had turned the 'Skins into the pro version of the Homecoming opponent.
Spurrier's declaration about preferring college life did two things. First, it caused embattled North Carolina coach John Bunting to triple his antacid dose. It also filled the heads of ADs throughout the country with visions of high-scoring offenses, happy alumni and overflowing coffers. The thought of Spurrier riding to the rescue of some underachieving or overmatched program is as enticing as a photo op with Tara Reid.
Until you start looking a little closer. Then, the Spurrier-as-savior argument weakens. In fact, it practically falls apart. Any AD in love with the idea of hiring Spurrier had better think carefully about enlisting The Visor to "rescue" his program. Even with Spurrier's substantial track record of success in Gainesville (and before that with Duke) and his reputation as someone capable of turning a sloppy offensive lineman into a Heisman-winning passer, there are considerable entries on the wrong side of the Spurrier balance sheet.
The first is Spurrier's motivation. He's devoted the last year to chasing little white balls around finely manicured golf layouts -- and made no secret of his affection for the lifestyle. Other coaches spend their exile years talking football on TV or traveling the country visiting friends in the coaching fraternity, because the game is their love. Not Spurrier. Also, he'll turn 60 next April, and it's not inappropriate to wonder how long he'll stay at any job. He doesn't seem like the kind of guy who'll fight to stay on the sidelines well into his Centrum Silver years.
There's also the question (and substantial size) of Spurrier's ego. The Florida job became less palatable to him once Gator AD Jeremy Foley and school prez Bernard Machem made it clear they wanted a full-fledged search, not merely stage a Ball Coach coronation. Even if Spurrier does deign to participate in a conventional hiring procedure, if he gets the job, he will arrive on campus with the bulletproof aura of a gridiron liberator. It's unlikely he'll be willing to fit in to an established dynamic or chain of command. You want to win? You do it his way. His time at Florida has earned him that.
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Or has it? Spurrier won a national title in 1996, largely because he acknowledged that defense is a key part of football. Before that season, he hired Bob Stoops to run the defense, and for the first time in his tenure in Gainesville, the Gators stopped people. Will Spurrier put a heavy-hitting defensive coach on his staff, or will he refuse to share the stage? That's a major concern. So is Spurrier's record in his last three years in Florida. During that period, the Gators went 1-2 in bowl games and averaged three losses a year. Worse, UF was 1-3 in Spurrier's last four games against Florida State. Was he slipping? Could be.
Once the regular season ends, and the usual collection of coaching jobs opens, there will be outcries in all corners of the south for Spurrier to ride in on his Fun-n-Gun golf cart and save the day. But athletic directors charged with choosing a new coach shouldn't be fooled. Better to look in another direction than to select a football hero-king whose coronation could be the high point of his reign.
Worried about Ron
At first, the report of Ron Artest's admission that he asked Pacers coach Rick Carlisle for some time off to rest after the rigors of producing his upcoming rap CD produced in El Hombre a rare feeling of giddiness and joy. It was as if Bob Knight had been involved in a food fight at a Lubbock brasserie. Or that studies had shown conclusively that a diet rich in beer and cheesesteaks reverses male pattern baldness.
But after hearing the requisite jokes and outrage regarding Artest's request -- which resulted in a two-game benching -- a different emotion took over: Sympathy.
As humorous as this most recent Rodman moment may seem -- and the possibilities for cheap shots are endless -- Artest must now be viewed less as a black-hatted cartoon character and more as a troubled young man who is grappling with the high-stakes world which he inhabits. His pattern of angry flare-ups, behavioral inconsistencies and oddball antics has provided a slew of warning signals. Let's hope the Pacers will guide Artest gently through this latest incident and look for substantive answers to the root causes of his behavior, rather than implement punitive actions designed to show "zero tolerance" or "a commitment to team."
Oh, well, so much for the giddy feeling. Good thing college hoops starts this weekend.