Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My Apologies -- Busy

This has been me for the last half a month. I have been busy and was not able to post. That will stop now and you can expect much more posting going on in the coming weeks. I have new help with the site coming in. Mike Novak will be helping me out and will have some very informative articles on all the things we do here. For those loyal readers who have been coming and not seeing anything new I apologize. We will get stuff up and new things will be ready very soon.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Valero Speaks Out; Can We Take Off the Petwer Glasses Now?

Ever since Jon Gruden has been the head coach of the Buccaneers there have been negative rumblings about him after players and coaches have left. The comments have come from all sorts of players and coaches. Most of the comments have been behind closed doors and fans only hear about them from certain news media who rely it. Many fans have refused to believe any of the "rumors", and continue to blindly support Gruden claiming that these are just rumors and are made up by Gruden haters. Will Art Valero's public comments he made on the way out change anyone's mind? For intelligent fans yes, but for the fans still wearing the glasses, probably not.

Valero, who was offered an extension, but turned it down, told reporters that it will be nice to work for someone that you know will not changes things as you go down the hall. Valero further went on to discuss how there are some great players and coaches here, but Gruden was not one he mentioned. You can tell that Valero did not want to be here, and hinted that there are others that feel the same way. This is nothing new when it comes to Jon Gruden and how he treats people around him. Have Bucs fans not noticed just how many players and coaches have left this team within the past couple years only to go on and have success on other teams?

What will it take for people to realize that it is not the talent on the team, but the head coach himself? Even Jeff Garcia, who everyone loves and says is "Gruden's" QB, commented on the fact that we did not need to go out and get more talent, but we needed to use the talent already on the team. Maybe if the Bucs were to lose a key figure head of the team, like Monte Kiffen? Kiffen wants an extension and wants to be here in Tampa, but he is not getting the offer he wants, nor deserves. His name is now being mentioned with teams from Atlanta to Oakland. Whatever he wants he needs to get because he is the Bucs, but that may upset someone's ego on this staff.

Gruden is just fine with losing guys like Valero, Joe Berry, Rod Marinelli, and the list goes on. When these guys go it opens up a spot for him to bring in his guys. It is no coincidence that Gruden is looking to bring in Bill Cahalan to be on his staff. The same Cahalan that did nothing as a head coach in Oakland, and single handily destroyed Nebraska football. That is the type of guy that Gruden wants on his team, and Bucs fans will have to deal with. Can we please just take a step back and listen to the guys who have left and finally take of the glasses?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Its Time The Bucs Part Ways With Jon Gruden

Thanks for the Super Bowl Jon, but don't let the door hit you on the way out. These are the words that I hope coach Gruden will hear very soon from the Glazers. Gruden has now coached as many years with the Bucs, six, as Tony Dungy did. Gruden has the Super Bowl title, but has 6 less regular season wins, and only one more playoff win than Dungy. If you take away the Super Bowl season, Jon Gruden has a regular season record of 36-44 and is 0-2 in the playoffs. There are 10 coaches who have coached continuously the last 6 six years, and only 1 has a worse record than Jon Gruden.

I will admit that when the Bucs decided it was time for Tony Dungy to go that I felt it was the right move. He had gotten us as far as it seemed he could and refused to make the necessary changes to his staff that the Glazers wanted. Things seem to have almost come full circle now for the Bucs, except that they are worse off. Gruden has a worse record than Dungy did, the team is in worse shape then when Dungy was fired, and Gruden also refuses to make the changes necessary to fix the problem. The difference with Dungy and Gruden is the changes needed to be made by Dungy were about the X's and O's of the game, while Gruden needs to change everything but the X's and O's. Gruden is a great offensive mind, there is no doubt about it, but he is not a good head coach.

Since Gruden took over the reigns in 2002 there have been 9 other coaches who have coached that entire time as head coach. Of the nine other coaches in the last six years only one, Herm Edwards, has a worse record than Jon Gruden.

Coach Reg. Season Record Playoffs

Belichek 75-21 9-2
Dungy 73-23 7-4
Reid 61-35 5-4
Holmgren 58-38 4-4
Shannahan 58-38 1-3
Fox 51-45 5-2
Fisher 50-56 2-2
Billick 50-56 0-2
Gruden 48-48 3-2
Edwards 42-54 2-3

Of the coaches above, Billick was just fired and Edwards was basically fired from the Jets before going to Kansas City. The three playoff wins that Gruden has to his name all came in the Super Bowl year and since than he has not advanced. The coaches on that list that have kept there jobs are consistent and good coaches. Gruden does not belong in the same discussion with most of the guys on that list. Also, the coach that the Bucs fired to get Gruden has the second best record over the last five years and has almost as many playoff losses as Gruden has appearances.

Jon Gruden helped the Bucs get a Super Bowl and for that I will forever be greatful, but his time here is up. Since the Super Bowl season the Buccaneers have gotten worse and Gruden shows no signs of being able to get this team back on track. The offense, which is why he was brought in, has not been very good and the defense has kept this team alive. The team that lost the playoff game today against the Giants did not lose because they lacked the talent. They lost because they played uninspired football and had a bad game plan; those things are on the coach. Jon Gruden, in the words of Donald Trump, you're fired!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

WVU Hires Bill Stewart After Huge Bowl Win

West Virginia followed up an emotional bowl win by hiring the man who coached the team in that win. Bill Stewart was left with the impossible task of holding WVU together and keeping them focused on playing a dominant Oklahoma team while their head coach left for Michigan, and everyone wrote them off in the bowl game. Stewart not only held them together, but led them to a victory over a more talented Oklahoma team. Combine the win with campaigning from the WVU players and he was awarded the job. The question now becomes, was this a knee jerk reaction after a win, or the right man for the job?

The Mountaineers have been on a roller coaster ride all year from a loss to USF that seemed to end their season, to losing against a terrible Pitt team with a chance at a National Championship appearance on the line, and finishing with a huge win over Oklahoma. The team was down and most expected them to quit, but they came out fired up and dominated Oklahoma. The players credited Stewart for not only helping them through the tough time, but also the win. While it was a great story we have seen a similar one before. When Butch Davis left Miami for Cleveland, Ken Dorsey went the AD at Miami and asked for Larry Coker to be kept as head coach. Miami won a National Championship in the short term, but were left poorly for the long term.

Stewart, like Coker, is the nice guy that players say they love and want to play for. The problem is that sometimes the players don't play hard enough for the "nice guy." While screaming coaches have seem to fallen out of favor for todays athlete, there is still a need for someone who can be the bad guy when needed.

This will be Stewarts second go at being a head coach, with his first go-round not being very good. Stewart was the VMI head coach from 1994-1996, and had a record of 8-25. Since leaving VMI, Stewart has coached on a couple different teams in many different capacities. He was hired in 2000 by Don Nehlen and stayed on when Rich Rodriguez got the job full-time after Nehlen's retirement. Most recently he has been the tight ends coach.

One would hope that WVU had Stewart on the top of the list before the Fiesta bowl and the win was only the final part that put him ahead of another coach, but we will never know. Maybe the players are right and Stewart is the man for the job. He is a WVU guy, the players love him, and he has been with the team for 2007. If he can convince recruits that nothing will change and surround himself with a great staff, he will succeed and this will be a good hire. If he becomes another Larry Coker than it will seem that WVU made a knee jerk reaction and made a bad choice. Only time will tell.

I think WVU did what they thought was best. There was not that big name coach out there to land right now. Ask older WVU fans what they think of a Bowden and they will give you a bad look and tell you how happy they were that Bobby left when he did. WVU fans did not want Terry Bowden, and was another assistant and another school any better of a fit? I don't know for sure if this hire was good or bad, but the move is definitely not as bad as the media is making it out to be.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Capital One Sums Up Season. Could it Continue?

The Capital One Bowl summed up the entire Gator season in one game. The offense went through Harvin and Tebow with a couple contributions from Caldwell, the defensive line got no pressure on the Quarterback, and the secondary was eaten alive. While the offense needs to add one more play maker, they were still great and will be next year. The defense on the other hand needs some major fine tuning.

The Gators will definitely lose one starter, Tony Joiner, to the draft and most likely will lose Derrick Harvey as well. The rest of the 9 starters will return and try to build on the dismal 2007 season. The defense was a very young bunch this season and you would expect them to get better, but many of them did not show signs of improvement through out the season.

Middle Linebacker Brandon Spikes was heralded as the next great middle linebacker at Florida, but he had a disappointing season and was run over in the bowl game. Joe Haden emerged as a great corner, but other than that the secondary will be a huge question once again. Wandy Pierre-Lois was not able to make the plays that the gators need from their second corner. Jacques Rickerson and Marques Anderson did not have good years and were target all day in the Bowl game for big gains. Meanwhile, Major Wright has shown the ability to knock people out with his huge hits, but looks to be lacking in the coverage ability that the Gators will need back there with the corners lacking.

The front four have done a good job of stopping the run, but were not able to get to get the pressure and sacks needed to take the pressure off of the secondary. The Gators may take a huge hit with the loss of Derrick Harvey, the Gators best defensive lineman. If they can not get the pressure up front without having to blitz, it will be a long season again on defense.

From the recruiting trail thus far it is obvious the coaches know what the problem is with the team. Of the 15 verbal commitments thus far, 9 are on defense. The Gators were able to get the number 1 athlete in the country, Will Hill, to commit to Florida and he wants to play safety and soon. The Gators also got 3 other secondary players all in the top 16 of defensive backs and safeties. Also, the Gators also recruited Ahmad Black last season to play corner and he could step up.

If recruits live up to the hype the Gator front four could be amazing. Carlos Dunlap, John Brown, and Justin Trattou are all type defensive line recruits that can clog up the middle and rush the passer. The Gators will need brown to get eligible so he can play, and also for the others to step up. The pass rush will need to help take pressure off of the secondary.

The linebackers were talked about all season as the strength of the defense, but really they were a bit disappointing. In big games Brandon Spikes and Dustin Doe seemed to disappear or get run over. Jeremy Finch, the nations best safety recruit last season, moved to linebacker in the fall, but was injured in the second game. If he can come back healthy that would be a huge boost to the linebackers and may create one of the top linbacking cores in the SEC. The team will need these guys to step up in run defense and coverage with youth in front and behind them.

The Gator defense once again let it's offense down, this time in the bowl game. The defense is young and can go either way. If this defense gets better, there may not be a team that can stop Florida next season. If they get worse or stay the same the Gators will be looking at another failed season and Capital One Bowl game.