There are lots of folks out there who just do not like Bill Belichick to the point that some try to deny that he is even a good football coach. It is perfectly all right for someone to dislike Belichick; that is a personal reaction so it belongs entirely to an individual. I had a visceral dislike of Mr. Rogers – - the guy with the kiddies’ show on TV who would start his show by changing into his sneakers. He gave me the creeps about the same way Hannibal Lecter gives lots of other people the creeps. Nonetheless, I would be an idiot to assert that Mr. Rogers did not produce a highly successful and well-received TV program. I may not have liked him, but he did those things.
When I look at Belichick’s tenure in New England, it is easy to count the Super Bowl wins and appearances and the percentage of times that the Patriots made it to the playoffs. However, there are two seasons in that run which ought to tell anyone that this guy is a good coach. The first one was the year that Tom Brady went down in the first half of the first game of the season; Matt Cassell took over having been a back-up QB for his tenure in college and never having started a game in the NFL; nonetheless the Patriots won 11 games. Yes, I know that good teams have lost their starting QBs and have continued to be successful; but this happened virtually as soon as the season started and Brady never took another snap. That was an impressive season…
The other season that convinces me that Belichick is a great coach is this one. The team has had injuries galore again this year – - not to the QB this time – - and the Patriots have had to play as many as two WRs in the defensive secondary at the same time. People say the Pats’ defense is terrible this year and they are correct. The guys the Pats had planned to play on defense have not been able to play together for much of the season to the point where guys from the offense have had to fill in – - or the Pats could have played some snaps with only 9 men on the field on defense. Through all that, the Patriots have 11 wins in the books already; and if the season ended now, they would have home field advantage throughout the playoffs in the AFC.
You do not have to like Bill Belichick based on his coaching achievements. However, in light of his achievements one should not allow a personal dislike to deny that he is very well accomplished in the coaching profession.
Speaking of football coaches, one of Bill Belichick’s former assistants, Charlie Weis, is back in a head-coaching position. Weis took over the Kansas football program after the school parted ways with Turner Gill a few weeks ago. Before Gill was fired, I wrote that expectations at Kansas were not framed in terms of national championships but that expectations were that the team would not be embarrassed on the field very often. Well, if I characterized the Kansas football expectations correctly, they may have found the right guy as their coach. Consider Weis’ college football career arc:
Charlie Weis was a mediocre coach at Notre Dame amassing a record of 35-27 over a five-year span.
Charlie Weis was offensive coordinator for Florida last year. The team record was 6-6 and Florida’s offense terrified no one.
Now he arrives in Kansas where winning 6 or 7 games a year and making it to a minor bowl game would be a welcome achievement.
Here is how Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot characterized the Kansas selection:
“Just asking: When Charlie Weis is hired to coach the Kansas football team, is it an example of failing up?”
Texas A&M also changed coaches this month. After the Aggies blew a bunch of halftime leads – - some of the 20-point variety – - and after a conference record of 4-5 in what was left of the Big 12, the school decided that Mike Sherman was not the person to lead the Aggies into the SEC next season. That may be absolutely correct and if it is correct, the school was on target with a decision to swallow the multi-million dollar buyout figure and move on.
Fans in Big 12 country may not prefer to hear it, but the competition in the SEC is tougher than competition in the Big 12. Yes, I know about the stature of Texas and Oklahoma and I know how Oklahoma State might have deserved a BCS Championship Game shot this year. I am not trying to say that Big 12 football is like the Sun Belt Conference or the MAC or the Ivies; what I am saying specifically is that the SEC is a step up from the Big 12. Moreover, Texas A&M has been a middle-of-the-pack team in the Big 12 for the last several years. Once the school made its jump to the SEC, their choice was clear:
Make changes in the football program to upgrade the quality of players on the team and the coaches on the sidelines – - or – -
Face doormat status in the new conference year after year after…
So, after firing Mike Sherman and eating his contract, the Aggies hired Kevin Sumlin as their new head coach. Sumlin has been the head coach at the university of Houston for the last 4 seasons where he amassed a record of 35-17 against Conference USA competition. Sumlin has a good coaching pedigree. He was an assistant and coordinator with Bob Stoops at Oklahoma; he coached under Joe Tiller at Purdue and was an assistant under RC Slocum at Texas A&M a decade ago. Having said all that, Kevin Sumlin is about to make a leap from Conference USA to the SEC and the core of the team he inherits finished last season with a losing record against Big 12 competition.
On the assumption that Kevin Sumlin is up to the task of building and guiding a successful SEC football program, let me urge the Aggies’ fans to have a measure of patience during the building process. It will take some time…
Finally, here is a comment from Brad Rock in the Deseret News:
“First came the XFL, then the Lingerie Football League.
“Now reports are saying a Stripper Basketball League is about to launch.
“Just wondering: If people really want to watch that, why not just go to a club and skip the bad TV commentary?”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………