Thursday, August 5. 2010
Behind The Scoreboard
If anyone out there wants to accuse me of trying to hurry the new football season along, then I plead guilty. But in my defense, everyone has been talking football for awhile now and teams at all levels, from the elementary to the pros, have begun opening training camps. And our own editor (Barry Burleson) has been running articles on area teams and coaches for a few weeks now.
Yours truly was on the Gulf Coast all last week and, believe me, there was plenty of football talk going on. That area has claimed the New Orleans Saints and the Saints team members have been doing some benevolent works in the area lately. Also their Lombardi Trophy has been on tour along the coast, returning in time for their opening training camp on Friday before some 4,000 fans who had a photo opportunity in a tent set up for that purpose. However, the fans were gone when the Saints got down to business in a practice which had environmental controls to combat a 106-degree, humidity-fed day.
The Saints have been trying to dispel the “Super Bowl Hangover” tag which seems to plague a champion in its following season. Head coach Sean Payton made it clear that “not repeating” was not an option. The coach says they are practicing to repeat. The intention is to let the Who Dat Nation hold onto the Lombardi for another year. There was rumor that Payton is going to talk to Bill Belichik about the repeat feat (Belichik’s New England Patriots 2004 team was the last to accomplish the task).
The Saints’ defensive coordinator (Gregg Williams) fired a scathing retort to those saying that the Saints won’t make the grade. The DC states their workouts will be geared toward returning to the Super Bowl. His head coach supported him, stating “there is only one thing certain and that is that there is just one team with a chance for a repeat this season.” The Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 for the title.
Generally, one will hear of coaches crossing swords in their own ranks, i.e., college to college, pro to pro, etc., however, it is rare when the spat involves college to pro. There has been a non-confrontational feud (so far) between Jeff Fisher of the Tennessee Titans and the new head coach of the USC Trojans, Lane Kiffin, late of the SEC. Kiffin (who seems to have a knack for sudden departures) scooted out West after his one season with the Volunteers. It turns out Fisher had hired the Trojans’ assistant Kennedy Pola back in January. However, before Pola could relocate, he was hired by Kiffin. Fisher says Kiffin gave him no notice that he was interested in Pola.
This developing feud just adds to the woes of USC. The NCAA hit the university with a handful of sanctions lately. They were severe. Reggie Bush had to return his 2005 Heisman Trophy. The former head coach of the Trojans, Pete Carroll, left USC for the Seattle Seahawks months before the hammer dropped. It is not completely clear if Carroll played a part in the infractions.
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