Blog Archives

Hiring head scratchers

Two more NFL teams filled their coaching vacancies today. Both moves stunned me.

Carolina hired Matt Rhule away from Baylor, one week after Rhule stated he would be staying in Waco. $70 million over six years was too much to pass up.

Now, Rhule must dertermine whether or not (S)Cam Newton is the right quarterback in Charlotte for 2020 and beyond. Newton missed all but the first two games of 2019 with a foot injury, and he is nowhere near ready to participate in any kind of drills, especially those which involve contact. Newon has been a shell of himself since winning the NFL’s Most Valuable Player and leading Carolina to a 17-1 record before losing to the Broncos in Super Bowl 50.

If I were Rhule, I would wipe the slate clean. Time to move on and groom someone new. Maybe the Panthers go with a bridge–Eli Manning might be interested–and draft Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, which would be wildly popular in the Carolinas, in 2021.

Carolina is nowhere near as wretched as it was in the late 1990s and early 200s, when Rae Carruth was convicted of murder-for-hire and the Panthers went 1-15 in 2001, but nowhere near 2015. The Panthers are clearly no better than third in the NFC South right now. They need to make up their mind on Newton, or else they’ll fall behind the Buccaneers and farther behind the Saints and Falcons.

The track record of college coaches succeeding in the NFL is mixed. Jimmy Johnson and Pete Carroll won national championships and Super Bowls. Barry Switzer did as well, but there’s an asterisk since the team was molded by Johnson. Chuck Fairbanks was moderately successful in New England after leaving Oklahoma. Dennis Green, formerly at Northwestern and Stanford, coached the Vikings to a 15-1 regular season in 1998 with the highest-scoring offense in NFL history at the time, but Minnesota fell in the NFC championship to Atlanta. Sooners legend Bud Wilkinson bombed out with the St. Louis Football Cardinals in 1978 and ’79 after 14 seasons as an analyst and politiicaan.

The Giants, who coveted Rhule, instead looked up Interstate 95 and plucked Patriots receivers and special teams coach Joe Judge.

WHO?

In November 1970, the Saints fired Tom Fears and replaced him with J.D. Roberts (see below), who at the time was the coach of a minor league football team in Richmond. The morning after the hiring was announced, numerous callers to the Saints’ offices asked “Who the hell is J.D. Roberts?”. If this were 1970 or 1980 and not 2020, the Giants’ offices might have callers asking the same question about Joe Judge.

Judge is 38. He has been on Belichick’s staff since 2012. He previously was an analyst or some other low-level staffer under Saban at Alabama for three years, including its 2009 national championship. He played at Mississippi State for Jackie Sherrill and Sylvester Croom during a period when the best the Bulldogs could hope for was not to be as terrible as Vanderbilt.

Supposedly he’s like Belichick and Saban, a douchebag who hates the media and only cares about what a player can do for him right now, not what he did in the past. Eli, you’re better off getting the hell out of New Jersey.

If the Giants wanted a coach on the Patriots staff, why not go after Belichick himself? He was Parcells’ defensive coordinator for eight seasons, including the 1986 and 1990 Super Bowl championship seasons. He didn’t get the Giants job after Parcells was forced to step down in May 1991 becuase Belichick was already in Cleveland.

Belichick has accompolished more than anyone could have dreamed with the Patriots when he was hired in 2000, and with the uncertainity surrounding Brady, this would be the best time to bail. Where better to go than the place where he cut his teeth and became the NFL’s preeminnent coordinator? The Giants are in sorry shape, and if he could turn BIg Blue back into a champion, he would cement the legacy he seeks as the greatest NFL coach ever.

Giants general manager David Gettelman–who drafted Newton in Carolina and somehow kept his job while Pat Shurmur didn’t–is going to offer the offensive coordinator job to Jason Garrett, whose tenure as Cowboys coach was terminated Sunday when Jerry and Steven Jones refused to renew his contract. Not a bad idea to bring in a former NFL quarterback (who played collegiately just down the road from the Meadowlands at Princeton) with head coaching experience. Garrett coached quarterbacks when Saban was with the Dolphins in 2005 and ’06.

I’m beginning to wonder if John Mecom was secretly calling the shots in the Giants’ coaching search.

Mecom, who owned the Saints from their inception in 1967 until selling to Tom Benson in early 1985, made some of the worst coaching hires in NFL history, or at least in the Super Bowl era, which began the year before the pros came to the Big Easy.

Tom Fears, a Hall of Fame receiver for the Rams in the early 1950s, was the Saints’ first coach. He was an assistant to Lombardi in Green Bay before going to Atlanta for the Falcons’ first season in 1966. Fears proved playing the game and coaching it are worlds apart. Fears preferred veterans, which left the Saints as the NFL’s second oldest team (behind George Allen’s Rams) by time the 1970 season kicked off. Save for Doug Atkins, the Hall of Fame defensive end from George Halas’ glory days, and Billy Kilmer, who was buried behind John Brodie in San Francisco, none of the Saints’ old farts did anything.

Like Jerry Jones, Mecom called the shots in the early days, and the Saints made the dreadful mistake of trading the #1 pick in the 1967 draft for Gary Cuozzo, Unitas’ backup in Baltimore. Mecom became enraptured by Cuozzo’s performance in a 1965 game in relief of an injured Unitas. The Colts used the Saints’ #1 pick to draft Bubba Smith, who became an instant All-Pro. He would have followed Art Donovan and Gino Marchetti into the Hall of Fame if not for injuries.

Fears was fired midway though the seaosn and replaced by J.D. Roberts, an ex-Marine who was an All-American under Bud Wilkinson at Oklahoma, winning the 1953 Outland Trophy as college football’s outstanding lineman. Roberts’ training camp practices were pure hell: three hours twice a day, both in full gear. He even ordered full-contact practices during game weeks, a practice which was falling out of favor.

In his first game leading the Saints, Tom Dempsey kicked a 63-yard field goal, a record which stood until 2013, to defeat the playoff-bound Lions.

Roberts was Archie Manning’s first NFL coach. As a rookie, Manning engineered big wins over the Rams and Cowboys, the latter of whom returned to New Orleans three months later and defeated the Dolphins in Super Bowl VI. After defeating the Cowboys, the Saints went 4-16-2 through the end of 1972.

Roberts was fired four games into the 1973 exhibition season and replaced by John North, who was hired in the offseason after a long stint as an assistant in Detroit. North’s first regular season game saw New Orleans get destroyed by Atlanta 62-7 in Tulane Stadium. The Saints had back-to-back 5-9 seasons in ’73 and ’74, up until then their best records. However, after a 1-5 start in ’75, North was gone.

Hank Stram, who won Super Bowl IV with the Chiefs, was hired in 1976. Manning missed the entire ’76 season with an elbow injury, and the Saints went 4-10, although one of the victories was over the Chiefs at Arrowhead. Stram ordered backup quaterback Bobby Scott to throw a pass on the game’s final play, and it went for a touchdown to Tinker Owens. After the game, Stram ordered his players to carry him to the center of the field, but Chiefs coach Paul Wiggin refused to shake his hand.

Manning returned in ’77, but he was still limited. The Saints bottomed out on December 11 of that season with a 33-14 loss to the Buccaneers in the Superdome. It was Tampa Bay’s first NFL victory after 26 consecutive losses. Stram was fired, although Mecom waited until two weeks after Super Bowl XII was held in the city, presumably to avoid media questions.

Dick Nolan, who led the 49ers to three consecutive division championships at the beginning of the 1970s, replaced Stram. Nolan led the Saints to 7-9 in ’78, with two of those losses coming to the Falcons on last-second touchdown passes by Steve Bartkowski. In the 1979 draft, the Saints blundered greatly by drafting Texas punter/kicker Russell Erxleben 11th overall. Erxleben proved his worthlessness in the ’79 season opener. When a punt snap went over his head in overtime, Erxleben went back inside his 10-yard line to retrieve the ball. He threw a chest pass which was intercepted by James Mayberry at the 6. Mayberry sauntered into the end zone to give Atlanta a 40-34 victory.

After defeating the Falcons 37-6 in the rematch in Atlanta, the Saints were 7-6 heading into Decmeber with a Monday Night game vs. the Raiders at home. New Orleans led 35-14 midway through the third, but Snake Stabler, down to his final three games in Oakland, led the Silver and Black to 28 consecutive points and a 42-35 victory. It may have been an omen for Tom Flores, a rookie coach in ’79, for almost 14 months later, the Raiders returend to the Superdome and defeated the Eagles in Super Bowl XV.

The Saints ended 8-8 in ’79 after defating the eventual NFC champion Rams in what was thought to be their final game in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

In 1980, the Saints house of cards collapsed. That was the infmous year of the “Aint’s”, with fans wearing bags over their heads to games both home and away. Following a 27-7 loss on Monday Night Football to the Rams in the Superdome (one night before Roberto Duran said “No Mas” to Sugar Ray Leonard) which dropped the Aint’s to 0-12, Nolan was canned.

Interim coach Dick Stanfel, a Hall of fFame guard during his playing days, was in charge when the Saints blew a 35-7 third quarter lead to the 49ers and lost 38-35 in overtime in the game which began the legend of Joe Montana’s comeback magic.

The next week, the Aint’s won their only game of 1980, defeating the Jets 21-20 at Shea Stadium on a day where winds gusted in excess of 40 MPH (64 km/h).

Bum Phillips, a close friend of Mecom, was hired three weeks after he was fired by the Oilers. Phillips almost got the Saints to the playoffs, but came up just short. In the 1982 strike season, New Orleans was tied with Detroit and the Giants for the last NFC spot at 4-5, but the Lions held the tiebreaker edge and got in. In 1983, the Saints could go to the playoffs by defeating the Rams in their season finale, but lost 26-24 despite not yielding an offensive touchdown. Los Angeles scored its points on two interception returns, a punt return, a safety when Jack Youngblood sacked Stabler in the end zone, and last but not least, a 42-yard Mike Lansford field goal on the game’s final play.

My brother and I attended our first NFL game on 4 November 1984, when the Packers defeated the Saints 23-13. Three weeks later, Mecom announced he was selling the Saints. In March 1985, Tom Benson ponied up the $70 million and became the owner of an NFL franchise to go along with his numerous automobile dealerships in Louisiana and Texas.

Bum stayed around in 1985, but resigned after 12 games. Son Wade coached New Orleans in its final four games of ’85.

Benson hired Jim Finks to run the whole footballl opertaion in January 1986. Finks hired Jim Mora as coach, and the Saints have not been plagued by bad coaching since, save for the three-year disaster with Mike Ditka.

Back to the Giants.

The good news is Parcells was largely unknown when he was promoted from defensive coordintator to head coach in 1983 to replace Ray Perkins.

The bad news is Belichick assistants have largely failed in the NFL. Josh McDaniels was booted after 29 games in Denver. Matt Patricia is an epic fail in Detroit. Even Saban was a pedestrian 15-17 in Miami.

Sorry about the dissertation, but I got on another roll.

Hiring head scratchers

Two more NFL teams filled their coaching vacancies today. Both moves stunned me.

Carolina hired Matt Rhule away from Baylor, one week after Rhule stated he would be staying in Waco. $70 million over six years was too much to pass up.

Now, Rhule must dertermine whether or not (S)Cam Newton is the right quarterback in Charlotte for 2020 and beyond. Newton missed all but the first two games of 2019 with a foot injury, and he is nowhere near ready to participate in any kind of drills, especially those which involve contact. Newon has been a shell of himself since winning the NFL’s Most Valuable Player and leading Carolina to a 17-1 record before losing to the Broncos in Super Bowl 50.

If I were Rhule, I would wipe the slate clean. Time to move on and groom someone new. Maybe the Panthers go with a bridge–Eli Manning might be interested–and draft Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, which would be wildly popular in the Carolinas, in 2021.

Carolina is nowhere near as wretched as it was in the late 1990s and early 200s, when Rae Carruth was convicted of murder-for-hire and the Panthers went 1-15 in 2001, but nowhere near 2015. The Panthers are clearly no better than third in the NFC South right now. They need to make up their mind on Newton, or else they’ll fall behind the Buccaneers and farther behind the Saints and Falcons.

The track record of college coaches succeeding in the NFL is mixed. Jimmy Johnson and Pete Carroll won national championships and Super Bowls. Barry Switzer did as well, but there’s an asterisk since the team was molded by Johnson. Chuck Fairbanks was moderately successful in New England after leaving Oklahoma. Dennis Green, formerly at Northwestern and Stanford, coached the Vikings to a 15-1 regular season in 1998 with the highest-scoring offense in NFL history at the time, but Minnesota fell in the NFC championship to Atlanta. Sooners legend Bud Wilkinson bombed out with the St. Louis Football Cardinals in 1978 and ’79 after 14 seasons as an analyst and politiicaan.

The Giants, who coveted Rhule, instead looked up Interstate 95 and plucked Patriots receivers and special teams coach Joe Judge.

WHO?

In November 1970, the Saints fired Tom Fears and replaced him with J.D. Roberts (see below), who at the time was the coach of a minor league football team in Richmond. The morning after the hiring was announced, numerous callers to the Saints’ offices asked “Who the hell is J.D. Roberts?”. If this were 1970 or 1980 and not 2020, the Giants’ offices might have callers asking the same question about Joe Judge.

Judge is 38. He has been on Belichick’s staff since 2012. He previously was an analyst or some other low-level staffer under Saban at Alabama for three years, including its 2009 national championship. He played at Mississippi State for Jackie Sherrill and Sylvester Croom during a period when the best the Bulldogs could hope for was not to be as terrible as Vanderbilt.

Supposedly he’s like Belichick and Saban, a douchebag who hates the media and only cares about what a player can do for him right now, not what he did in the past. Eli, you’re better off getting the hell out of New Jersey.

If the Giants wanted a coach on the Patriots staff, why not go after Belichick himself? He was Parcells’ defensive coordinator for eight seasons, including the 1986 and 1990 Super Bowl championship seasons. He didn’t get the Giants job after Parcells was forced to step down in May 1991 becuase Belichick was already in Cleveland.

Belichick has accompolished more than anyone could have dreamed with the Patriots when he was hired in 2000, and with the uncertainity surrounding Brady, this would be the best time to bail. Where better to go than the place where he cut his teeth and became the NFL’s preeminnent coordinator? The Giants are in sorry shape, and if he could turn BIg Blue back into a champion, he would cement the legacy he seeks as the greatest NFL coach ever.

Giants general manager David Gettelman–who drafted Newton in Carolina and somehow kept his job while Pat Shurmur didn’t–is going to offer the offensive coordinator job to Jason Garrett, whose tenure as Cowboys coach was terminated Sunday when Jerry and Steven Jones refused to renew his contract. Not a bad idea to bring in a former NFL quarterback (who played collegiately just down the road from the Meadowlands at Princeton) with head coaching experience. Garrett coached quarterbacks when Saban was with the Dolphins in 2005 and ’06.

I’m beginning to wonder if John Mecom was secretly calling the shots in the Giants’ coaching search.

Mecom, who owned the Saints from their inception in 1967 until selling to Tom Benson in early 1985, made some of the worst coaching hires in NFL history, or at least in the Super Bowl era, which began the year before the pros came to the Big Easy.

Tom Fears, a Hall of Fame receiver for the Rams in the early 1950s, was the Saints’ first coach. He was an assistant to Lombardi in Green Bay before going to Atlanta for the Falcons’ first season in 1966. Fears proved playing the game and coaching it are worlds apart. Fears preferred veterans, which left the Saints as the NFL’s second oldest team (behind George Allen’s Rams) by time the 1970 season kicked off. Save for Doug Atkins, the Hall of Fame defensive end from George Halas’ glory days, and Billy Kilmer, who was buried behind John Brodie in San Francisco, none of the Saints’ old farts did anything.

Like Jerry Jones, Mecom called the shots in the early days, and the Saints made the dreadful mistake of trading the #1 pick in the 1967 draft for Gary Cuozzo, Unitas’ backup in Baltimore. Mecom became enraptured by Cuozzo’s performance in a 1965 game in relief of an injured Unitas. The Colts used the Saints’ #1 pick to draft Bubba Smith, who became an instant All-Pro. He would have followed Art Donovan and Gino Marchetti into the Hall of Fame if not for injuries.

Fears was fired midway though the seaosn and replaced by J.D. Roberts, an ex-Marine who was an All-American under Bud Wilkinson at Oklahoma, winning the 1953 Outland Trophy as college football’s outstanding lineman. Roberts’ training camp practices were pure hell: three hours twice a day, both in full gear. He even ordered full-contact practices during game weeks, a practice which was falling out of favor.

In his first game leading the Saints, Tom Dempsey kicked a 63-yard field goal, a record which stood until 2013, to defeat the playoff-bound Lions.

Roberts was Archie Manning’s first NFL coach. As a rookie, Manning engineered big wins over the Rams and Cowboys, the latter of whom returned to New Orleans three months later and defeated the Dolphins in Super Bowl VI. After defeating the Cowboys, the Saints went 4-16-2 through the end of 1972.

Roberts was fired four games into the 1973 exhibition season and replaced by John North, who was hired in the offseason after a long stint as an assistant in Detroit. North’s first regular season game saw New Orleans get destroyed by Atlanta 62-7 in Tulane Stadium. The Saints had back-to-back 5-9 seasons in ’73 and ’74, up until then their best records. However, after a 1-5 start in ’75, North was gone.

Hank Stram, who won Super Bowl IV with the Chiefs, was hired in 1976. Manning missed the entire ’76 season with an elbow injury, and the Saints went 4-10, although one of the victories was over the Chiefs at Arrowhead. Stram ordered backup quaterback Bobby Scott to throw a pass on the game’s final play, and it went for a touchdown to Tinker Owens. After the game, Stram ordered his players to carry him to the center of the field, but Chiefs coach Paul Wiggin refused to shake his hand.

Manning returned in ’77, but he was still limited. The Saints bottomed out on December 11 of that season with a 33-14 loss to the Buccaneers in the Superdome. It was Tampa Bay’s first NFL victory after 26 consecutive losses. Stram was fired, although Mecom waited until two weeks after Super Bowl XII was held in the city, presumably to avoid media questions.

Dick Nolan, who led the 49ers to three consecutive division championships at the beginning of the 1970s, replaced Stram. Nolan led the Saints to 7-9 in ’78, with two of those losses coming to the Falcons on last-second touchdown passes by Steve Bartkowski. In the 1979 draft, the Saints blundered greatly by drafting Texas punter/kicker Russell Erxleben 11th overall. Erxleben proved his worthlessness in the ’79 season opener. When a punt snap went over his head in overtime, Erxleben went back inside his 10-yard line to retrieve the ball. He threw a chest pass which was intercepted by James Mayberry at the 6. Mayberry sauntered into the end zone to give Atlanta a 40-34 victory.

After defeating the Falcons 37-6 in the rematch in Atlanta, the Saints were 7-6 heading into Decmeber with a Monday Night game vs. the Raiders at home. New Orleans led 35-14 midway through the third, but Snake Stabler, down to his final three games in Oakland, led the Silver and Black to 28 consecutive points and a 42-35 victory. It may have been an omen for Tom Flores, a rookie coach in ’79, for almost 14 months later, the Raiders returend to the Superdome and defeated the Eagles in Super Bowl XV.

The Saints ended 8-8 in ’79 after defating the eventual NFC champion Rams in what was thought to be their final game in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

In 1980, the Saints house of cards collapsed. That was the infmous year of the “Aint’s”, with fans wearing bags over their heads to games both home and away. Following a 27-7 loss on Monday Night Football to the Rams in the Superdome (one night before Roberto Duran said “No Mas” to Sugar Ray Leonard) which dropped the Aint’s to 0-12, Nolan was canned.

Interim coach Dick Stanfel, a Hall of fFame guard during his playing days, was in charge when the Saints blew a 35-7 third quarter lead to the 49ers and lost 38-35 in overtime in the game which began the legend of Joe Montana’s comeback magic.

The next week, the Aint’s won their only game of 1980, defeating the Jets 21-20 at Shea Stadium on a day where winds gusted in excess of 40 MPH (64 km/h).

Bum Phillips, a close friend of Mecom, was hired three weeks after he was fired by the Oilers. Phillips almost got the Saints to the playoffs, but came up just short. In the 1982 strike season, New Orleans was tied with Detroit and the Giants for the last NFC spot at 4-5, but the Lions held the tiebreaker edge and got in. In 1983, the Saints could go to the playoffs by defeating the Rams in their season finale, but lost 26-24 despite not yielding an offensive touchdown. Los Angeles scored its points on two interception returns, a punt return, a safety when Jack Youngblood sacked Stabler in the end zone, and last but not least, a 42-yard Mike Lansford field goal on the game’s final play.

My brother and I attended our first NFL game on 4 November 1984, when the Packers defeated the Saints 23-13. Three weeks later, Mecom announced he was selling the Saints. In March 1985, Tom Benson ponied up the $70 million and became the owner of an NFL franchise to go along with his numerous automobile dealerships in Louisiana and Texas.

Bum stayed around in 1985, but resigned after 12 games. Son Wade coached New Orleans in its final four games of ’85.

Benson hired Jim Finks to run the whole footballl opertaion in January 1986. Finks hired Jim Mora as coach, and the Saints have not been plagued by bad coaching since, save for the three-year disaster with Mike Ditka.

Back to the Giants.

The good news is Parcells was largely unknown when he was promoted from defensive coordintator to head coach in 1983 to replace Ray Perkins.

The bad news is Belichick assistants have largely failed in the NFL. Josh McDaniels was booted after 29 games in Denver. Matt Patricia is an epic fail in Detroit. Even Saban was a pedestrian 15-17 in Miami.

Sorry about the dissertation, but I got on another roll.

Hiring head scratchers

Two more NFL teams filled their coaching vacancies today. Both moves stunned me.

Carolina hired Matt Rhule away from Baylor, one week after Rhule stated he would be staying in Waco. $70 million over six years was too much to pass up.

Now, Rhule must dertermine whether or not (S)Cam Newton is the right quarterback in Charlotte for 2020 and beyond. Newton missed all but the first two games of 2019 with a foot injury, and he is nowhere near ready to participate in any kind of drills, especially those which involve contact. Newon has been a shell of himself since winning the NFL’s Most Valuable Player and leading Carolina to a 17-1 record before losing to the Broncos in Super Bowl 50.

If I were Rhule, I would wipe the slate clean. Time to move on and groom someone new. Maybe the Panthers go with a bridge–Eli Manning might be interested–and draft Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, which would be wildly popular in the Carolinas, in 2021.

Carolina is nowhere near as wretched as it was in the late 1990s and early 200s, when Rae Carruth was convicted of murder-for-hire and the Panthers went 1-15 in 2001, but nowhere near 2015. The Panthers are clearly no better than third in the NFC South right now. They need to make up their mind on Newton, or else they’ll fall behind the Buccaneers and farther behind the Saints and Falcons.

The track record of college coaches succeeding in the NFL is mixed. Jimmy Johnson and Pete Carroll won national championships and Super Bowls. Barry Switzer did as well, but there’s an asterisk since the team was molded by Johnson. Chuck Fairbanks was moderately successful in New England after leaving Oklahoma. Dennis Green, formerly at Northwestern and Stanford, coached the Vikings to a 15-1 regular season in 1998 with the highest-scoring offense in NFL history at the time, but Minnesota fell in the NFC championship to Atlanta. Sooners legend Bud Wilkinson bombed out with the St. Louis Football Cardinals in 1978 and ’79 after 14 seasons as an analyst and politiicaan.

The Giants, who coveted Rhule, instead looked up Interstate 95 and plucked Patriots receivers and special teams coach Joe Judge.

WHO?

In November 1970, the Saints fired Tom Fears and replaced him with J.D. Roberts (see below), who at the time was the coach of a minor league football team in Richmond. The morning after the hiring was announced, numerous callers to the Saints’ offices asked “Who the hell is J.D. Roberts?”. If this were 1970 or 1980 and not 2020, the Giants’ offices might have callers asking the same question about Joe Judge.

Judge is 38. He has been on Belichick’s staff since 2012. He previously was an analyst or some other low-level staffer under Saban at Alabama for three years, including its 2009 national championship. He played at Mississippi State for Jackie Sherrill and Sylvester Croom during a period when the best the Bulldogs could hope for was not to be as terrible as Vanderbilt.

Supposedly he’s like Belichick and Saban, a douchebag who hates the media and only cares about what a player can do for him right now, not what he did in the past. Eli, you’re better off getting the hell out of New Jersey.

If the Giants wanted a coach on the Patriots staff, why not go after Belichick himself? He was Parcells’ defensive coordinator for eight seasons, including the 1986 and 1990 Super Bowl championship seasons. He didn’t get the Giants job after Parcells was forced to step down in May 1991 becuase Belichick was already in Cleveland.

Belichick has accompolished more than anyone could have dreamed with the Patriots when he was hired in 2000, and with the uncertainity surrounding Brady, this would be the best time to bail. Where better to go than the place where he cut his teeth and became the NFL’s preeminnent coordinator? The Giants are in sorry shape, and if he could turn BIg Blue back into a champion, he would cement the legacy he seeks as the greatest NFL coach ever.

Giants general manager David Gettelman–who drafted Newton in Carolina and somehow kept his job while Pat Shurmur didn’t–is going to offer the offensive coordinator job to Jason Garrett, whose tenure as Cowboys coach was terminated Sunday when Jerry and Steven Jones refused to renew his contract. Not a bad idea to bring in a former NFL quarterback (who played collegiately just down the road from the Meadowlands at Princeton) with head coaching experience. Garrett coached quarterbacks when Saban was with the Dolphins in 2005 and ’06.

I’m beginning to wonder if John Mecom was secretly calling the shots in the Giants’ coaching search.

Mecom, who owned the Saints from their inception in 1967 until selling to Tom Benson in early 1985, made some of the worst coaching hires in NFL history, or at least in the Super Bowl era, which began the year before the pros came to the Big Easy.

Tom Fears, a Hall of Fame receiver for the Rams in the early 1950s, was the Saints’ first coach. He was an assistant to Lombardi in Green Bay before going to Atlanta for the Falcons’ first season in 1966. Fears proved playing the game and coaching it are worlds apart. Fears preferred veterans, which left the Saints as the NFL’s second oldest team (behind George Allen’s Rams) by time the 1970 season kicked off. Save for Doug Atkins, the Hall of Fame defensive end from George Halas’ glory days, and Billy Kilmer, who was buried behind John Brodie in San Francisco, none of the Saints’ old farts did anything.

Like Jerry Jones, Mecom called the shots in the early days, and the Saints made the dreadful mistake of trading the #1 pick in the 1967 draft for Gary Cuozzo, Unitas’ backup in Baltimore. Mecom became enraptured by Cuozzo’s performance in a 1965 game in relief of an injured Unitas. The Colts used the Saints’ #1 pick to draft Bubba Smith, who became an instant All-Pro. He would have followed Art Donovan and Gino Marchetti into the Hall of Fame if not for injuries.

Fears was fired midway though the seaosn and replaced by J.D. Roberts, an ex-Marine who was an All-American under Bud Wilkinson at Oklahoma, winning the 1953 Outland Trophy as college football’s outstanding lineman. Roberts’ training camp practices were pure hell: three hours twice a day, both in full gear. He even ordered full-contact practices during game weeks, a practice which was falling out of favor.

In his first game leading the Saints, Tom Dempsey kicked a 63-yard field goal, a record which stood until 2013, to defeat the playoff-bound Lions.

Roberts was Archie Manning’s first NFL coach. As a rookie, Manning engineered big wins over the Rams and Cowboys, the latter of whom returned to New Orleans three months later and defeated the Dolphins in Super Bowl VI. After defeating the Cowboys, the Saints went 4-16-2 through the end of 1972.

Roberts was fired four games into the 1973 exhibition season and replaced by John North, who was hired in the offseason after a long stint as an assistant in Detroit. North’s first regular season game saw New Orleans get destroyed by Atlanta 62-7 in Tulane Stadium. The Saints had back-to-back 5-9 seasons in ’73 and ’74, up until then their best records. However, after a 1-5 start in ’75, North was gone.

Hank Stram, who won Super Bowl IV with the Chiefs, was hired in 1976. Manning missed the entire ’76 season with an elbow injury, and the Saints went 4-10, although one of the victories was over the Chiefs at Arrowhead. Stram ordered backup quaterback Bobby Scott to throw a pass on the game’s final play, and it went for a touchdown to Tinker Owens. After the game, Stram ordered his players to carry him to the center of the field, but Chiefs coach Paul Wiggin refused to shake his hand.

Manning returned in ’77, but he was still limited. The Saints bottomed out on December 11 of that season with a 33-14 loss to the Buccaneers in the Superdome. It was Tampa Bay’s first NFL victory after 26 consecutive losses. Stram was fired, although Mecom waited until two weeks after Super Bowl XII was held in the city, presumably to avoid media questions.

Dick Nolan, who led the 49ers to three consecutive division championships at the beginning of the 1970s, replaced Stram. Nolan led the Saints to 7-9 in ’78, with two of those losses coming to the Falcons on last-second touchdown passes by Steve Bartkowski. In the 1979 draft, the Saints blundered greatly by drafting Texas punter/kicker Russell Erxleben 11th overall. Erxleben proved his worthlessness in the ’79 season opener. When a punt snap went over his head in overtime, Erxleben went back inside his 10-yard line to retrieve the ball. He threw a chest pass which was intercepted by James Mayberry at the 6. Mayberry sauntered into the end zone to give Atlanta a 40-34 victory.

After defeating the Falcons 37-6 in the rematch in Atlanta, the Saints were 7-6 heading into Decmeber with a Monday Night game vs. the Raiders at home. New Orleans led 35-14 midway through the third, but Snake Stabler, down to his final three games in Oakland, led the Silver and Black to 28 consecutive points and a 42-35 victory. It may have been an omen for Tom Flores, a rookie coach in ’79, for almost 14 months later, the Raiders returend to the Superdome and defeated the Eagles in Super Bowl XV.

The Saints ended 8-8 in ’79 after defating the eventual NFC champion Rams in what was thought to be their final game in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

In 1980, the Saints house of cards collapsed. That was the infmous year of the “Aint’s”, with fans wearing bags over their heads to games both home and away. Following a 27-7 loss on Monday Night Football to the Rams in the Superdome (one night before Roberto Duran said “No Mas” to Sugar Ray Leonard) which dropped the Aint’s to 0-12, Nolan was canned.

Interim coach Dick Stanfel, a Hall of fFame guard during his playing days, was in charge when the Saints blew a 35-7 third quarter lead to the 49ers and lost 38-35 in overtime in the game which began the legend of Joe Montana’s comeback magic.

The next week, the Aint’s won their only game of 1980, defeating the Jets 21-20 at Shea Stadium on a day where winds gusted in excess of 40 MPH (64 km/h).

Bum Phillips, a close friend of Mecom, was hired three weeks after he was fired by the Oilers. Phillips almost got the Saints to the playoffs, but came up just short. In the 1982 strike season, New Orleans was tied with Detroit and the Giants for the last NFC spot at 4-5, but the Lions held the tiebreaker edge and got in. In 1983, the Saints could go to the playoffs by defeating the Rams in their season finale, but lost 26-24 despite not yielding an offensive touchdown. Los Angeles scored its points on two interception returns, a punt return, a safety when Jack Youngblood sacked Stabler in the end zone, and last but not least, a 42-yard Mike Lansford field goal on the game’s final play.

My brother and I attended our first NFL game on 4 November 1984, when the Packers defeated the Saints 23-13. Three weeks later, Mecom announced he was selling the Saints. In March 1985, Tom Benson ponied up the $70 million and became the owner of an NFL franchise to go along with his numerous automobile dealerships in Louisiana and Texas.

Bum stayed around in 1985, but resigned after 12 games. Son Wade coached New Orleans in its final four games of ’85.

Benson hired Jim Finks to run the whole footballl opertaion in January 1986. Finks hired Jim Mora as coach, and the Saints have not been plagued by bad coaching since, save for the three-year disaster with Mike Ditka.

Back to the Giants.

The good news is Parcells was largely unknown when he was promoted from defensive coordintator to head coach in 1983 to replace Ray Perkins.

The bad news is Belichick assistants have largely failed in the NFL. Josh McDaniels was booted after 29 games in Denver. Matt Patricia is an epic fail in Detroit. Even Saban was a pedestrian 15-17 in Miami.

Sorry about the dissertation, but I got on another roll.

Hiring head scratchers

Two more NFL teams filled their coaching vacancies today. Both moves stunned me.

Carolina hired Matt Rhule away from Baylor, one week after Rhule stated he would be staying in Waco. $70 million over six years was too much to pass up.

Now, Rhule must dertermine whether or not (S)Cam Newton is the right quarterback in Charlotte for 2020 and beyond. Newton missed all but the first two games of 2019 with a foot injury, and he is nowhere near ready to participate in any kind of drills, especially those which involve contact. Newon has been a shell of himself since winning the NFL’s Most Valuable Player and leading Carolina to a 17-1 record before losing to the Broncos in Super Bowl 50.

If I were Rhule, I would wipe the slate clean. Time to move on and groom someone new. Maybe the Panthers go with a bridge–Eli Manning might be interested–and draft Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, which would be wildly popular in the Carolinas, in 2021.

Carolina is nowhere near as wretched as it was in the late 1990s and early 200s, when Rae Carruth was convicted of murder-for-hire and the Panthers went 1-15 in 2001, but nowhere near 2015. The Panthers are clearly no better than third in the NFC South right now. They need to make up their mind on Newton, or else they’ll fall behind the Buccaneers and farther behind the Saints and Falcons.

The track record of college coaches succeeding in the NFL is mixed. Jimmy Johnson and Pete Carroll won national championships and Super Bowls. Barry Switzer did as well, but there’s an asterisk since the team was molded by Johnson. Chuck Fairbanks was moderately successful in New England after leaving Oklahoma. Dennis Green, formerly at Northwestern and Stanford, coached the Vikings to a 15-1 regular season in 1998 with the highest-scoring offense in NFL history at the time, but Minnesota fell in the NFC championship to Atlanta. Sooners legend Bud Wilkinson bombed out with the St. Louis Football Cardinals in 1978 and ’79 after 14 seasons as an analyst and politiicaan.

The Giants, who coveted Rhule, instead looked up Interstate 95 and plucked Patriots receivers and special teams coach Joe Judge.

WHO?

In November 1970, the Saints fired Tom Fears and replaced him with J.D. Roberts (see below), who at the time was the coach of a minor league football team in Richmond. The morning after the hiring was announced, numerous callers to the Saints’ offices asked “Who the hell is J.D. Roberts?”. If this were 1970 or 1980 and not 2020, the Giants’ offices might have callers asking the same question about Joe Judge.

Judge is 38. He has been on Belichick’s staff since 2012. He previously was an analyst or some other low-level staffer under Saban at Alabama for three years, including its 2009 national championship. He played at Mississippi State for Jackie Sherrill and Sylvester Croom during a period when the best the Bulldogs could hope for was not to be as terrible as Vanderbilt.

Supposedly he’s like Belichick and Saban, a douchebag who hates the media and only cares about what a player can do for him right now, not what he did in the past. Eli, you’re better off getting the hell out of New Jersey.

If the Giants wanted a coach on the Patriots staff, why not go after Belichick himself? He was Parcells’ defensive coordinator for eight seasons, including the 1986 and 1990 Super Bowl championship seasons. He didn’t get the Giants job after Parcells was forced to step down in May 1991 becuase Belichick was already in Cleveland.

Belichick has accompolished more than anyone could have dreamed with the Patriots when he was hired in 2000, and with the uncertainity surrounding Brady, this would be the best time to bail. Where better to go than the place where he cut his teeth and became the NFL’s preeminnent coordinator? The Giants are in sorry shape, and if he could turn BIg Blue back into a champion, he would cement the legacy he seeks as the greatest NFL coach ever.

Giants general manager David Gettelman–who drafted Newton in Carolina and somehow kept his job while Pat Shurmur didn’t–is going to offer the offensive coordinator job to Jason Garrett, whose tenure as Cowboys coach was terminated Sunday when Jerry and Steven Jones refused to renew his contract. Not a bad idea to bring in a former NFL quarterback (who played collegiately just down the road from the Meadowlands at Princeton) with head coaching experience. Garrett coached quarterbacks when Saban was with the Dolphins in 2005 and ’06.

I’m beginning to wonder if John Mecom was secretly calling the shots in the Giants’ coaching search.

Mecom, who owned the Saints from their inception in 1967 until selling to Tom Benson in early 1985, made some of the worst coaching hires in NFL history, or at least in the Super Bowl era, which began the year before the pros came to the Big Easy.

Tom Fears, a Hall of Fame receiver for the Rams in the early 1950s, was the Saints’ first coach. He was an assistant to Lombardi in Green Bay before going to Atlanta for the Falcons’ first season in 1966. Fears proved playing the game and coaching it are worlds apart. Fears preferred veterans, which left the Saints as the NFL’s second oldest team (behind George Allen’s Rams) by time the 1970 season kicked off. Save for Doug Atkins, the Hall of Fame defensive end from George Halas’ glory days, and Billy Kilmer, who was buried behind John Brodie in San Francisco, none of the Saints’ old farts did anything.

Like Jerry Jones, Mecom called the shots in the early days, and the Saints made the dreadful mistake of trading the #1 pick in the 1967 draft for Gary Cuozzo, Unitas’ backup in Baltimore. Mecom became enraptured by Cuozzo’s performance in a 1965 game in relief of an injured Unitas. The Colts used the Saints’ #1 pick to draft Bubba Smith, who became an instant All-Pro. He would have followed Art Donovan and Gino Marchetti into the Hall of Fame if not for injuries.

Fears was fired midway though the seaosn and replaced by J.D. Roberts, an ex-Marine who was an All-American under Bud Wilkinson at Oklahoma, winning the 1953 Outland Trophy as college football’s outstanding lineman. Roberts’ training camp practices were pure hell: three hours twice a day, both in full gear. He even ordered full-contact practices during game weeks, a practice which was falling out of favor.

In his first game leading the Saints, Tom Dempsey kicked a 63-yard field goal, a record which stood until 2013, to defeat the playoff-bound Lions.

Roberts was Archie Manning’s first NFL coach. As a rookie, Manning engineered big wins over the Rams and Cowboys, the latter of whom returned to New Orleans three months later and defeated the Dolphins in Super Bowl VI. After defeating the Cowboys, the Saints went 4-16-2 through the end of 1972.

Roberts was fired four games into the 1973 exhibition season and replaced by John North, who was hired in the offseason after a long stint as an assistant in Detroit. North’s first regular season game saw New Orleans get destroyed by Atlanta 62-7 in Tulane Stadium. The Saints had back-to-back 5-9 seasons in ’73 and ’74, up until then their best records. However, after a 1-5 start in ’75, North was gone.

Hank Stram, who won Super Bowl IV with the Chiefs, was hired in 1976. Manning missed the entire ’76 season with an elbow injury, and the Saints went 4-10, although one of the victories was over the Chiefs at Arrowhead. Stram ordered backup quaterback Bobby Scott to throw a pass on the game’s final play, and it went for a touchdown to Tinker Owens. After the game, Stram ordered his players to carry him to the center of the field, but Chiefs coach Paul Wiggin refused to shake his hand.

Manning returned in ’77, but he was still limited. The Saints bottomed out on December 11 of that season with a 33-14 loss to the Buccaneers in the Superdome. It was Tampa Bay’s first NFL victory after 26 consecutive losses. Stram was fired, although Mecom waited until two weeks after Super Bowl XII was held in the city, presumably to avoid media questions.

Dick Nolan, who led the 49ers to three consecutive division championships at the beginning of the 1970s, replaced Stram. Nolan led the Saints to 7-9 in ’78, with two of those losses coming to the Falcons on last-second touchdown passes by Steve Bartkowski. In the 1979 draft, the Saints blundered greatly by drafting Texas punter/kicker Russell Erxleben 11th overall. Erxleben proved his worthlessness in the ’79 season opener. When a punt snap went over his head in overtime, Erxleben went back inside his 10-yard line to retrieve the ball. He threw a chest pass which was intercepted by James Mayberry at the 6. Mayberry sauntered into the end zone to give Atlanta a 40-34 victory.

After defeating the Falcons 37-6 in the rematch in Atlanta, the Saints were 7-6 heading into Decmeber with a Monday Night game vs. the Raiders at home. New Orleans led 35-14 midway through the third, but Snake Stabler, down to his final three games in Oakland, led the Silver and Black to 28 consecutive points and a 42-35 victory. It may have been an omen for Tom Flores, a rookie coach in ’79, for almost 14 months later, the Raiders returend to the Superdome and defeated the Eagles in Super Bowl XV.

The Saints ended 8-8 in ’79 after defating the eventual NFC champion Rams in what was thought to be their final game in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

In 1980, the Saints house of cards collapsed. That was the infmous year of the “Aint’s”, with fans wearing bags over their heads to games both home and away. Following a 27-7 loss on Monday Night Football to the Rams in the Superdome (one night before Roberto Duran said “No Mas” to Sugar Ray Leonard) which dropped the Aint’s to 0-12, Nolan was canned.

Interim coach Dick Stanfel, a Hall of fFame guard during his playing days, was in charge when the Saints blew a 35-7 third quarter lead to the 49ers and lost 38-35 in overtime in the game which began the legend of Joe Montana’s comeback magic.

The next week, the Aint’s won their only game of 1980, defeating the Jets 21-20 at Shea Stadium on a day where winds gusted in excess of 40 MPH (64 km/h).

Bum Phillips, a close friend of Mecom, was hired three weeks after he was fired by the Oilers. Phillips almost got the Saints to the playoffs, but came up just short. In the 1982 strike season, New Orleans was tied with Detroit and the Giants for the last NFC spot at 4-5, but the Lions held the tiebreaker edge and got in. In 1983, the Saints could go to the playoffs by defeating the Rams in their season finale, but lost 26-24 despite not yielding an offensive touchdown. Los Angeles scored its points on two interception returns, a punt return, a safety when Jack Youngblood sacked Stabler in the end zone, and last but not least, a 42-yard Mike Lansford field goal on the game’s final play.

My brother and I attended our first NFL game on 4 November 1984, when the Packers defeated the Saints 23-13. Three weeks later, Mecom announced he was selling the Saints. In March 1985, Tom Benson ponied up the $70 million and became the owner of an NFL franchise to go along with his numerous automobile dealerships in Louisiana and Texas.

Bum stayed around in 1985, but resigned after 12 games. Son Wade coached New Orleans in its final four games of ’85.

Benson hired Jim Finks to run the whole footballl opertaion in January 1986. Finks hired Jim Mora as coach, and the Saints have not been plagued by bad coaching since, save for the three-year disaster with Mike Ditka.

Back to the Giants.

The good news is Parcells was largely unknown when he was promoted from defensive coordintator to head coach in 1983 to replace Ray Perkins.

The bad news is Belichick assistants have largely failed in the NFL. Josh McDaniels was booted after 29 games in Denver. Matt Patricia is an epic fail in Detroit. Even Saban was a pedestrian 15-17 in Miami.

Sorry about the dissertation, but I got on another roll.

Jim Garrett (1930-2018), football lifer

Jim Garrett, the father of Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, died yesterday at age 87. Jim Garrett was a scout for the Cowboys when Jason was a backup quarterback for the team during their glory years, when Dallas won three Super Bowls in four seasons, led by Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and a stout defense which featured Darren Woodson and Russell Maryland.

Prior to joining the Cowboys as a scout near the end of Tom Landry’s 29-year tenure as coach, Jim was an assistant coach for three NFL teams, including a two-season stint in 1976 and ’77 under Hank Stram with the Saints. Garrett was New Orleans’ secondary coach and de facto defensive coordinator, although the title was not yet in vogue.

Below is a link to a NFL Films documentary documenting the Saints’ preparations for a November 1976 game vs. the Packers in Milwaukee, as well as footage of the game itself. Green Bay won 32-27. Garrett is featured at 23:10 and 31:48.

1976 Saints prepare for Packers

Garrett was one of two assistants on Stram’s Saints teams to earn a Super Bowl ring later in their NFL careers.

Like Garrett, John Beake did not earn his coaching on the field.

Beake, the running backs coach for Stram’s Saints, and mentor to the talented but troubled duo of “Thunder” (Tony Galbreath) and “Lightning” (Chuck Muncie), later became an administrator, and was the general maanger of the Broncos when they won Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII in 1997 and ’98. Undoubtedly John Elway learned much from Beake before becoming Denver’s current GM.

In 1978, Garrett moved to Cleveland when Sam Rutigliano, the Saints’ receivers coach under Stram, became head coach of the Browns. He ended his NFL coaching career under a rookie coach named Marty Schottenheimer for the second half of the 1984 season.

Rutigliano’s Browns became famous as the “Kardiac Kids” in 1979 and ’80, winning hte AFC Central divison in the latter season before losing infamously in the playoffs to the Raiders, who won in Clevleand despite it being 1 degree (minus-18) at kickoff with a wind chill of minus-36 (minus-38). Just say “Red Right 88” in northeast Ohio and most will know what you mean.

Schottenheimer was named head coach of the Browns after Art Modell fired Rutigliano eight games into that season. Schottenheimer’s first game as an NFL head coach was a 16-14 loss to the Saints in Clevleand’s former home, Municipal Stadium. The winning points came on a 53-yard field goal by future Hall of Famer Morten Andersen.

In 1985, Garrett was named head coach at Columbia University, the Ivy League school in Manhattan. Garrett took over a team which went 0-10 in 1984 and led it to another 0-10 finish, extending what would become a 44-game losing streak, the longest in NCAA Division I at the time.

The elder Garrett was fired a few days after the conclusion of the 1985 season when allegations of player abuse surfaced, both physical and verbal. According to the New York Times, Garrett slapped one player across the breast plate of his shoulder pads and another on the back of his helmet. It was rough, yes, but nowhere near as bad as Mark Mangino many years later saying a player would “become an alcoholic like his father” and telling another “to go back to the hood and get shot with your homies”.Nor was it anywhere near as bad as Woody Hayes slugging Clemson middle guard Charlie Baumann in the 1978 Gator Bowl, the incident which ended Hayes’ 28-year tenure at Ohio State.

However, the Ivy League is not the SEC, and Columbia wasn’t willing to take the risk, so Garrett was dismissed. After being out of football in 1986, he was hired by Tex Schramm as a scout in Dallas, and stayed through the coaching tenures of Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey and Dave Campo, retiring in 2004, when Bill Parcells was in charge.

Columbia wasn’t Jim Garrett’s first coaching job in New York City. He was an assistant with the Giants under Alex Webester in the early 1970s.

Ironically, three of Garrett’s sons, Jason, Judd and Jim III, had all transferred from Princeton to Columbia to play for their dad. All three ended up going back to New Jersey, and Jason ended up becoming the Ivy League’s all-time most accurate passer, completing 66.5 percent of his throws.

However, Jason Garrett could not prevent the Tigers from losing 16-13 to Columbia in the Big Apple on October 8, 1988, allowing the Lions to snap their long losing streak. Colubmia is no longer associated with football futility; its 44-game losing streak was destroyed by Prairie View A&M, which lost 80 consecutive games from 1989 through September 1998.

Jim Garrett’s only professional head coaching gig came in the infamous World Football League, where he piloted the Houston Texans in 1974. These Texans wore green and gold, not the “battle red”, “liberty white” and “deep steel blue” of the NFL Texans, and played in the Astrodome, as bad a football stadium as one could find.

The Oilers and Astros both played to scores of empty seats in the Astrodome in those days, so you have to figure the Texans before family, friends and a few others who were totally clueless. Indeed they did, and before the season was over, the Texans moved to Shreveport and became the Shreveport Steamer. The Steamer became Louisiana’s second professional sports team at the time, only days before the Jazz began their maiden NBA season in the Big Easy.

Dallas hasn’t been to the Super Bowl since 1995, when Switzer’s Cowboys defeated Bill Cowher’s Steelers. In fact, Dallas hasn’t even played for an NFC championship since winning Super Bowl XXX. Too bad Jim Garrett, by all accounts a good guy, didn’t get to see his son reach the big game with the 2016 Cowboys, who went 13-3 in the regular season but choked in the playoffs vs. Green Bay.

Will the passing of his father spur Jason Garrett on to bigger and better things in 2018? It will be difficult given the reigning Super Bowl champion resides in the same division.  Dallas should be better than the Giants and Redskins, but to say it will surpass the Eagles is a stretch no matter whom Philadelphia starts at quarterback. Even Ezekiel Elliott for 16 games isn’t going to make all the difference.

======================

Yu Darvish signed with the Cubs. I’m shocked…NOT. Like the Brewers or the Twins had a chance against the Evil Empire junior grade. That groan you just heard came from Milwaukee and St. Louis, and smaller ones emanating from Los Angeles and Washington.

Manchester City beat Leicester City 5-1 to keep its stranglehold atop the Premier League. It was 1-1 at halftime, but Pep Guardiola’s club is simply too good. It would be fascinating to see this year’s City team play some of Sir Alex Ferguson’s best Manchester United clubs.

Elsewhere in the Prem, Tottenham beat Arsenal 1-0, Swansea continued its climb out of the drop zone by beating Burnley in Wales, Everton easily dispatched Crystal Palace, while Stoke and Brighton drew.

Tomorrow morning (noon in Britain) finds Bournemouth traveling to Huddersfield as the latter tries to battle its way out of the drop zone. The Cherries looked like they would have to battle the drop earlier in the year, but a 3-0 victory at Chelsea followed by a home decision over Stoke has pushed Eddie Howe’s club into the top half. It has to be troubling to Sunderland, Hull City, Middlesbrough, Aston Villa, Norwich City and the current stragglers in the Prem like West Bromwich Albion and Stoke that a club which plays in an 11,464-seat stadium can be in the top half of the league. Howe should be coaching an international team for those efforts.

Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium (Dean Court) is the Cameron Indoor Stadium of the Premier League. Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham may have the large, flashy stadiums, but Bournemouth has the atmosphere and the fans right on top, much the way Duke has it over North Carolina, Louisville, Syracuse and Virginia in ACC basketball.

In fact, all three matches tomorrow favor the away side. After Bournemouth-Huddersfield, it’s Manchester United at Newcastle and Liverpool at Southampton.

The Olympics are on. My mother is glued to the TV set. YAWN.

At least 58 college basketball games, give or take a few, are on today. That’s 58 more, give or take a few, than I’m watching.

Kinda bored. But it beats being out at an event which might cause trouble.