Saturday, January 16, 2010

Around and around it goes

Been promising this blog for a couple days--not enough hours in the day, gang...

East Carolina lost Skip Holtz to South Florida this week, and I said on Sports Night I don't see this as an advancing position. Yes, the Big East tie to the BCS is a positive, but beyond that, what does USF have? True, it's Tampa, and Holtz has family ties there which are always nice, but is that Skip's destination job? My guess is, not likely. It will be good for him and his family to be near his parents, his wife's family, etc. Holtz, though, is a highly motivated guy. He wants it all. The fire burns inside him, and I think he wants a big time program. USF isn't that program. Can he turn it into one? Who knows. If he is willing to put in Bobby Bowden years, then maybe. ECU lost a very good coach, a wonderful guy, and someone who has done a great job in reversing the fortunes of that program. I, though, will be in the long line of those who aren't surprised when Holtz puts in 3-5 years at USF, and then bolts to a bigger school, with more of a national brand, and a higher profile. If he stays, I'll be the first to admit I was wrong, but to me, the shift to USF is about personal reasons and not football. Sorry, USF fans, your program isn't Nebraska, Miami, Florida, Penn State, etc. Be wary when a school of that kind gets a hold of his phone number.

Duke's David Cutcliffe chose to remain at Duke, rather than go back for to Tennessee for a 3rd stint with the school. It would have been his first time as the Vols Head Coach, and personally, I am glad he stayed with the Devils. Unlike Holtz, Cutcliffe doesn't seem to be the guy chasing the big school feelings anymore. Age, and perhaps health, is a factor in that decision, I think. He's been in the SEC before, knows the lay of the land, and decided that turning Duke into a winning program--no small task--is more his cup of tea. Duke fans should be thankful that a guy chose their football program over the SEC. The way to show that appreciation is to show up at Wallace Wade Stadium on game day, and do it in droves. Make that place rock on Saturday afternoon and nights.Cutcliffe will get them to a bowl game, sooner, rather than later, and plenty of good seats are available to see it all happen.

As for the Lane Kiffin move than seemed to set the dominoes in motion, allow me to paraphrase my buddy Steve Politi of the Newark Star-Ledger, who penned something along the lines of "co coach has been offered more for doing less than Lane Kiffin." Very accurate assessment. The guy washed out in Oakland, which is no real fault of his own, given the Raiders are an absolute mess. then he takes a job in Tennessee, goes 7-6, and then jumps ship for Southern Cal? It's not like he went 13-0, and won a national title. What makes that guy so attractive to schools? Some say the package of assistants (namely his dad, Monte) that go with him. That "package" was one game over .500 in 2009. Let me know how that works out for you at USC.

Other musings:
  • Carolina Panthers aren't retaining Special Teams Coach Danny Crossman. It was something that many saw coming, although it was never a sure thing until it happened. By my count, and I could be wrong, but the last time the Panthers ran back a kickoff for a touchdown was in 2004. The returner was Rod Smart. Yeah, "He Hate Me" was the last guy to do that. A number of teams have returned punts and kickoffs against Carolina since then, and just about all of those returns came against Crossman-coached ST units. Something had to give, and given the Panthers ground-floor rankings in many ST categories, Crossman was the guy to get the heave-ho.
  • Speaking of the Panthers, they were a sponsor for the Hood Hargett Breakfast Club meeting on Friday morning at Carmel Country Club in Charlotte. ESPN's Trey Wingo was the guest speaker, and what an amazing guy he is. Had the chance to chat with him afterwards, and he is just as sharp in his knowledge as he comes across tv, and as likable as he is on camera, he's 10 times that in person. I enjoyed chatting with him, and hope our paths cross again someday. The club also presented Butler HS LB Alex Polofsky with a $1,000 scholarship. He carries a weighted 4.45 GPA on a 4.0 scale. Impressive. He also told a story about working with people while in middle school to organize, and send toiletries to US troops overseas. WHILE IN MIDDLE SCHOOL. That story made me ask myself, "What have you done today?" He's choosing between Harvard, Princeton, and Duke as his college destination. Talk about a bright future! Good luck, Alex!
  • Last. but certainly not least, the Charlotte Bobcats are hotter than sunburn. 18-19 on the season, and that is with a 7 game losing streak factored into the start of the season. I will admit, I was skeptical when Larry Brown was hired as Head Coach. I didn't think he would make much of an impact. The cynic in me said "he's been to so many teams, seen so much, he's just a name coach to put people in the seats." I will admit, in print, I was wrong. The guy has done everything he promised, and more. he needed a roster of his liking to get the results, and he's almost there. As of now, the Bobcats do not have an All-Star ()officially). I suspect Gerald Wallace will find a spot on the Eastern Conference roster, and it will be a "Jon Beason-like" crime if he doesn't go. Given that the Bobcats have one really recognizable "NBA" name (Stephen Jackson), the fact the Bobcats are in the mix for a playoff spot this late into the season (which really isn't that late), is a testament to Brown and his coaching staff. It also speaks volumes for the players that are executing that style of play, and making it fun to watch. As a franchise, they are officially worth the price of admission.

Mike Solarte

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