A Tale Of Two Coaches …

When Nebraska fired coach Scott Frost about 2 weeks ago, there were rumors/reports that Urban Meyer might be Nebraska’s target as a replacement.  Those things seem to have been more rumor than report because the current position of the Nebraska athletic department is that they are not going to pursue Meyer for the job.  Fine; take them at their word for that; but there is still space to fill in newspapers and websites, so the field is wide open for speculation and rumor-mongering.

Personally, I find the speculation that Deion Sanders would be the guy for Nebraska to hire to turn their program around and return it to national prominence is an interesting situation.  I find it interesting on several levels.

First is the assumption that Sanders’ stature in the Hall of Fame and as a double-sport athlete would allow him to bring top-shelf recruits to Nebraska.  In my lifetime, I believe I have spent 4 days in Lincoln, NE; that was sufficient for me.  Let me just say that there are other places where I would want to spend 3 or 4 years of my life; so, if Nebraska can get a coach with sufficient personal cachet to overcome some of its “bucolic-ness”, that would be a good thing for recruiting.  And there is at least one indicator that Sanders has some traction in that dimension.

Deion Sanders is the head coach at Jackson State University, an HBCU that plays in the SWAC with opponents there like Grambling and Southern and Florida A&M.  Sanders got a “5-Star Recruit” – – for whatever that is worth – – to pass on schools like Alabama and Florida and the like to come to Jackson State and play for Sanders.  That is not a feather in Sanders’ cap; that is worthy of a “Recruiting Trophy”.

Sanders took the job with no coaching experience but has gone 14-3 in his short tenure there.  Is that because he has been a successful recruiter playing against opponents who are “recruiting-impaired”?  Or is Sanders a great teacher in addition to being a competent recruiter?  Or could it both of the above?

Second, let me imagine for a moment that Nebraska decides to contact Sanders’ agent about moving from Jackson, MI to Lincoln, NE.  Their pitch cannot purely be money; Sanders is hardly destitute.  Their pitch could be that this is a chance to take over a program that used to be a national powerhouse so there is prestige associated with returning it to that state of glory.  The only problem is that if Sanders wanted that sort of challenge, he might keep his eye on his alma mater – – Florida St. – – where he might just have a chance to try that same sort of thing.

The problem with this sort of speculation is that at some point in the logical chain, one must assume something about Deion Sanders, or one must pretend to be able to read his mind.  Sanders is on the record more than a few times that he wants to use his fame and his talents to elevate Jackson State’s football program and as a consequence of that elevation to make the other HBCUs in the SWAC to do the same thereby elevating the athletic profile of multiple HBCUs.  Is all that just coach-speak or is that one of Sanders’ core beliefs?  I have no idea – – and probably Deion Sanders is the only human on earth who does know.

I find the speculation here interesting because Deion Sanders is an interesting character in the sports world, and he is young enough that he will remain on the scene for a long time – – if he chooses to do so.  Having exactly no objective insight into this matter, my guess is that Deion Sanders will not be the next head football coach at Nebraska.  But if the Florida St. job came open and the AD there came calling…???

I want to talk about another football coach today; Kyle Shanahan is the head coach of the Niners – – a team that some folks believe will be the NFC representative in the Super Bowl in February 2023.  Last weekend, the Niners lost their anointed starting QB, Trey Lance, to a broken ankle; he will be out for all of the 2022 season.  Fortunately for Niner fans, the team did not trade or jettison Jimmy G in the offseason so the team can employ the person who was THE most qualified backup QB in the NFL until the point last weekend where he was no longer a backup QB in the NFL.

Much of the commentary surrounding the Niners’ QB situation has focused on the potential for a seamless transition for the team since Jimmy G took the team to the NFC Championship Game last season and came within 4 points of making it to the Super Bowl.  The other popular “angle” for this story is speculation about how good Trey Lance actually is as a prospective NFL QB.  This would have been his second season with the team and his first as the starter after the team spent a lot of draft capital to move up and take him overall #3 in the 2021 Draft.

However, from my viewpoint here in Curmudgeon Central, I see a darker element of this situation.  I see a repeat of a young QB playing in Shanahan’s offense who gets severely injured.  I know; football is a violent game and injuries happen; but this one is eerie for me.

About 10 years ago, Kyle Shanahan was the Offensive Coordinator for the Washington team under its former moniker; his prodigy QB was RG3 and Shanahan devised an offense that featured a lot of RG3 running the football – – until he injured his leg.  Then, playing on that bad leg and on a field that was not worthy of hosting a high school game, Shanahan continued to call for RG3 to run the ball until the QB’s knee screamed “No Mas!”  I am not insinuating that Shanahan was responsible for RG3’s injury; I am saying that his play calling was an element that led to the injury.

Fast forward to 2022 with Trey Lance as Shanahan’s wunderkind .  I watched the play that put Lance on the cart headed to the locker room.  It was in the first half of a game against the Seahawks and the screen graphic said the Niners were ahead 3-0; the down and distance situation was 2nd and 8.  The play looked to me to be a designed QB run between the tackles which is the sort of thing that shortened the career of even a much larger QB, Cam Newton.  This was not a call in a tense situation where fakery might leave the defense vulnerable to a running play “up the middle”; this was a play that gained about four or five yards and put the starting QB out for the season.

  • [Aside:  I recall Lance injuring a knee in a game last season and I believe it too happened on a designed QB run.  I have not gone to try to find video of that play because I am way too lazy to go to that much effort – – so I could be wrong about the play that incurred the injury.]

As noted above, Niners’ fans must be happy to have Jimmy G on the roster and under center for the team.  Now, what they must hope for is the Kyle Shanahan does not try to use Garoppolo as a short yardage back more than once in a long while over the next 15 games.  The reason I say that is that the backup to Jimmy G on the roster now is Brock Purdy – a 7th round pick in April of this year who has never taken a snap in an NFL game.  And the Niners have reportedly held workouts with other free agent QBs such as:

  • Garrett Gilbert
  • Mike Glennon
  • AJ McCarron

If anyone in that trio is “The Answer”, I am at a loss to figure out what the question was.

            Just wondering here … Since Coach Shanahan loves to call for his QB to run the ball, does Colin Kaepernick still reside in the Bay Area?

Finally, here is an observation from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“Yankees reliever Greg Weissert threw a two-hitter in his big-league debut.

“Well, sort of. He plunked A’s batters with his first two pitches.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

 

 

4 thoughts on “A Tale Of Two Coaches …”

  1. There has also been talk about Sanders coming to Atlanta, where he is still very popular due to his playing days with the Falcons and Braves, to take over when Jeff Collins is shoved out at Ga Tech. I have my doubts, but it makes more sense than Nebraska.

    1. Doug:

      Makes more sense than Nebraska except for one aspect. If Sanders leaves Jackson State for a “bigger program”, I think it will be “bigger than Ga Tech”. Nebraska is – or at least was – a bigger deal that Ga Tech. We shall see…

  2. Running quarterbacks in the NFL. I am so sick of running quarterbacks in the NFL. Show me a running quarterback that is around come playoff time?

    1. TenaciousP:

      Do you count Josh Allen and/or Patrick Mahomes as “running QBs”? I believe Lamar Jackson will be in the playoffs and I believe Jalen Hurts will be in the playoffs.

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