Another Tuesday, another edition of Rich’s Rants. This volume of Rich’s Rants is special; it’s my 50th article for the Sports Nickel. This week I’m covering the most topics I ever have, so let’s get right into it.
The first topic is about Tony Sparano and the Miami Dolphins. Last week, the Miami Dolphins were in talks with Jim Harbaugh to be their new coach. Nothing wrong with that except Tony Sparano was still their head coach! That’s right, the Dolphins were trying to find a replacement for a coach that hadn’t been fired yet. It’s been a rough month or so for Sparano – first his players were calling him out in the press and now the team was trying to replace him. After Harbaugh announced he was going to be the 49ers new head coach, the Dolphins wanted to offer Sparano an extension to his current contract (which was for one more year). If I was Sparano, I would have turned down the extension and did what I could to get fired, but to get fired in such a way that the team would still have to pay the rest of the contract. Turns out, he accepted a two year extension through 2013. Sparano’s in a bad position – his players don’t support him and obviously the team doesn’t think he’s the man for the job so it should be an interesting three years. This also brings up another question – as an unemployed coach (or a college coach looking to move up to the NFL), do you interview for a job that technically isn’t available yet? Also, did the fact that the Dolphins were looking to replace their current coach before he was fired come into the decision for whether or not you want to take the job? Is this why Harbaugh said no to the Dolphins? If they are willing to do that to Sparano, how long into your contract before they’re interviewing replacements while you’re still the head coach? The Dolphins really messed this up; all they did was show to the players that they pretty much agree with them that Sparano isn’t the coach they want. I don’t think Sparano lasts into year two of his new contract and if I was him, I would hope it’s much sooner than that.
The next topic is about Tony Gwynn and his cancer treatment. Tony has been undergoing treatment for the last eight weeks for a malignant growth in his salivary gland. This has been his third procedure since 1997 due to tumors in his parotid (the largest salivary gland), he also had surgery back in August 2010 to remove some lymph nodes. He has an MRI scheduled for next week to determine how effective the treatment was and his doctors have said they believe he is ahead of schedule. Tony believes he’ll be able to resume his color-commentary job for the San Diego Padres and that he’ll be able to resume his duties as baseball coach for San Diego State. Best of luck Tony on your continued recovery.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame has announced it’s finalists for it’s 2011 class. There are lots of great names on the list, including Deion Sanders, Marshall Faulk and Curtis Martin among others. I’m not going to discuss each player’s Hall of Fame credentials, instead I’m going to talk about the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the problems I have with how they handle voting etc. If you thought the Baseball Hall of Fame voting had problems, they’ve got nothing on the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Let me start with what they do right, well the only thing they do right – instead of hundreds of sports writers having a vote, it basically comes down to a bunch of guys in a room debating each player’s merits (at least the ones that made it as a finalist) and then taking a vote. This is the best way in my opinion; one person normally is charged with stating the case for a player, then they vote yay or nay. Simple and direct. However, it’s everything else they do that I have problems with. They have a minimum required to be elected each year and a maximum; I don’t really have a problem with a maximum (but if they have a maximum and a huge backlog why hasn’t the maximum per year ever been inducted?) but I do have a problem with a minimum required each year. Minimums the last couple of years haven’t been a problem because of the huge backlog of worthy players but requiring a minimum can mean in a thin year you will have non-HOFers actually get in simply because someone has to. My biggest beef with the Pro Football Hall of Fame is that one position has been completely neglected – kicker/punter. Yes, guys like Sammy Baugh who were kickers along with being QB/DB etc are in, however, the game’s best punter ever, Ray Guy, hasn’t come close to being a finalist in years. Most players and obviously writers don’t think of kickers/punters as “real” football players, however, special teams is a key component to winning games and the Pro Football Hall of Fame needs to recognize this fact, starting with Ray Guy, or they will have big problems when Gary Andersen and Morten Anderson and possibly Jeff Feagles come up for election. You just can’t ignore one of the three components (offense, defense, special teams) of football if you’re going to call yourself a Hall of Fame (just like the Baseball Hall of Fame won’t be able to ignore full-time DHs forever). If I had a vote, I would vote for Deion Sanders, Curtis Martin, Willie Roaf, Marshall Faulk, Andre Reed, Tim Brown and Ed Sabol from NFL Films (a max of seven is allowed right now, so those seven would get my vote).
Saturday, the Seattle Seahawks upset the New Orleans Saints, becoming the first sub-.500 team to win a playoff game in NFL history. In last week’s Rich’s Rants, I talked about how the NFL needs to reseed the playoff teams so teams with the better records host games instead of automatically letting division winners host them, regardless of their record. I still stand by my viewpoint. All Seattle’s win showed was that on any given Sunday (or in this case Saturday), any team in the NFL can beat another team, no matter their record or the point spread.
Last night, the BCS National Champion was decided with Auburn narrowly defeating Oregon. However, you still have TCU as an undefeated team after their defeat of Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. Once again, the BCS has failed to give us an undisputed National Champion. If the NCAA is going to stick with not having a playoff, they at least need to do a plus-one (or at least have something in place) in case there are two teams that are still “tied” after all the bowl games are done). TCU deserves to at least play for the title, and don’t tell me “they wouldn’t be able to handle a real school” because their performance against Wisconsin showed they can. This is why casual college football fans like myself will never follow that sport as much as we do the NFL – there is not a “true” champion.
Finally, I’d like to talk about what happened in Tucson this past weekend. As you all know, a gunman opened fire at an event being hosted by Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, killing six people and critically wounding Congresswoman Giffords and injuring twelve others. The six people killed were U.S. District Judge John Roll, 63; Giffords’ aide Gabe Zimmerman, 30; Dorothy Morris, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; and Phyllis Scheck, 79. Also killed was 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, who was born on Sept. 11, 2001 and is the daughter of John and Roxanna Green (John is in the scouting department for the Los Angeles Dodgers) and granddaughter of former MLB player/manager Dallas Green. Anytime something like this happens, it is a tragedy especially when young children are involved. My thoughts and prayers go to the family and friends of those affected by this tragedy and truly hope everyone can keep politics out of it. I spent four years living in Tucson while in the Air Force (not counting my hometown, it was the second longest amount of time I’ve spent living anywhere) and I know the people of Tucson will bond together and be able to overcome this tragic event.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? You can send questions or comments via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, you can also leave a comment below, on my Facebook Page or on Twitter. Remember, any email or comment you make, may just make it into Rich’s Replies each Friday!