The Bryan Harsin Auburn Marriage Was Doomed From the Start. What’s Next for Both Parties?

We need to talk about Auburn and Bryan Harsin.

On Halloween, Auburn gave Bryan Harsin a trick and the War Eagle fan base a treat by firing their embattled head coach after a 3-5 start to the season. 

Now, two things can be true. You can have toxic working conditions, and a bad head coach. Some people might try to make it seem like Bryan Harsin was doomed from the start because he was brought in to a school that is notorious for dictating to its coaches which assistants to surround themselves with, but at the end of the day, for the school to be at blame, you still would have needed to see maximum effort from the coach in order for him to remain blameless. 

Now, I don’t think Bryan Harsin is worried about blame. He’s got another $15 million coming his way on top of about $8 million dollars worth of checks cashed for less than two years’ work. Nobody’s crying for Harsin, much less anybody with the last name Harsin. 

But let’s get into what exactly made Bryan Harsin such a bad coach. 

First, you can’t come into the SEC without a plan to recruit. Boise State spent over a decade as the Alabama of Group of 5, and if a west coast three-star recruit wasn’t getting offers from USC, UCLA, Oregon or Washington, they had as good of a chance at ending up at Boise State as anywhere else. Auburn doesn’t recruit itself, and even if it did, it’s not a task you can pawn off on assistants… and even if you can, you have to be surrounded by assistants that you trust and treat with dignity. 

It took just four games into Harsin’s tenure to fire wide receivers’ coach Cornelius Williams, a Birmingham native, who was then scooped up by rival Alabama. 

Bryan Harsin kicked offensive coordinator Mike Bobo out the door after one year, only to replace him with a 32-year-old Austin Davis, who resigned after six weeks. Defensive Coordinator Derek Mason took a $400,000 paycut just to not have to see Bryan Harsin’s face around the office anymore when he bounced to Oklahoma State.

But at least the players had Harsin’s back right?

Well, sort of. Every player is built differently, and you saw a pretty clear split between the Auburn players that wanted someone that was invested in who they were on and off the field, and the players that didn’t need anything but a coach to push them on the gridiron. 

Of all the players that left Auburn, one of the most common criticisms was that Bryan Harsin had no interest in who they are or where they came from. Smoke Monday, now with the Saints, said Harsin had no curiosity or interest in him as a person.

Former Auburn WR Kobe Hudson, now at UCF, said“If Harsin learned to relate to the people … he’ll be the next Nick Saban.”

Maybe the best evidence that Harsin was an uncaring football robot came in his refusal to discuss the issue of vaccination publicly in fall 2021, when the state of Alabama was being ravaged by Covid deaths and hospitalizations. 

Harsin’s interpersonal issues, along with the program’s worst record in a decade and massive roster exodus, led to one of the uglier attempted booster coups in college football history, with rumors of an affair with a staffer dominating the headlines. Once that happened, it was only a matter of time before the situation became untenable. Not only are the Tigers 3-5 at the end of October, their 22 total touchdowns this year is nine less than their former QB Bo Nix has produced in the last seven games alone.

So now Auburn is back in the situation of needing a new coach while two dozen influential boosters likely make some more of the “too many cooks in the kitchen” mistakes they made the last time around. Auburn is a circus, and a circus needs a clown. 

Jimbo Fisher already identified two clowns in the SEC, and you ain’t getting Saban, so it might be time to hop on the Lane train. 

Lane Kiffin, come on down.

As for Bryan Harsin, he’ll be fine. His track record and reputation out west will get him in the door for every interview that comes open, and it’s not crazy to consider him as a clubhouse leader for University of Colorado, or any Mountain West job that opens this offseason.

The marriage between Auburn and Harsin severely exposed the flaws of everyone involved.

If Auburn’s boosters can’t back off and let their next coach build his own program, and if Bryan Harsin can’t find a way to relate on a human level to everyone around him, the next chapter for both parties involved in this debacle is going to have the exact same ending.

Let that sink in.

The Seattle Seahawks Chose To Sit Out of the NFC West Arms Race, Now They’re In First Place

We need to talk about the Seattle Seahawks.

When everyone else in the NFC West was zigging, Pete Carroll and the Seahawks decided to zag. 

That zag has Seattle in first place in a division where they were the only team to not make the playoffs last year, sitting at 4-3 despite Las Vegas having their preseason win total odds at 5.5.

Outside of the Giants and Jets, the Seahawks have been this year’s biggest surprise. 

So how did they make that happen? Let’s get into it.

A few years ago, the LA Rams decided that the salary cap was imaginary and that future assets were better as current commodities. They dealt off second round picks for Sammy Watkins and Marcus Peters. They turned three first round picks into Brandin Cooks and Jalen Ramsay. 

And finally, they offloaded Jared Goff, their first three picks in this year’s draft, and next year’s first rounder for Matthew Stafford and Von Miller. 

The strategy to mortgage their future for a shot at glory in the present paid off, as Sean McVay got Los Angeles a Super Bowl Ring.

Now, we all know it’s a copycat league. Even before the Rams traded all their picks for Pro Bowl talent, it was clear that the rest of the NFL was obsessed with trying to find young, energetic coaches that either had worked with Sean McVay, or could be considered Dollar Store versions of him. 

But teams in the NFC West went beyond mimicking McVay’s coaching brand… in a league where trades are relatively rare, the 49ers and Cardinals began to engage in an arms race to keep up with the Rams.

In the last three years, Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers gave up picks for Trent Williams, traded off a bunch of assets for the ability to move up and draft Trey Lance, and just sent four picks to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for Christian McCaffrey.

Not to be outdone, the Arizona Cardinals committed felony armed robbery against the Houston Texans when they acquired Deandre Hopkins, and since then, they haven’t been shy about wheeling and dealing to try and shore up weaknesses. They added Pro Bowlers Zach Ertz and Rodney Hudson, and grabbed two more receivers in Hollywood Brown and Robbie Anderson.

Meanwhile, while the rest of the NFC West is out here putting everything on credit, the elder statesman Pete Carroll, who is the oldest coach in the division by 28 years, is holding two middle fingers up to the Millennials and their “instant gratification” by stockpiling assets for the future.

The Seattle Seahawks pulled the plug on the Russell Wilson era during the offseason, and in their trade with the Broncos, added what might be a franchise left tackle in 2022 #9 overall pick Charles Cross, had 10 total picks in the 2022 draft including Kenneth Walker, who looks like a star, and have almost as many picks in the first five rounds of next years’ draft (7) as the other three teams combined (9).

In free agency, the Seahawks didn’t overextend themselves. They rewarded some of the top performers on last year’s team, like Rashaad Penny, Al Woods, and Quandre Diggs, and they improved their pass rush by stealing Uchenna Nwosu from the Chargers. 

And despite wide receivers all over the league using Christian Kirk’s contract to price them out of a spot on their current roster, the Seahawks stood by DK Metcalf and gave him a long term deal. Things like that can go a long way in galvanizing a locker room.

Maybe the most important thing that Pete Carroll and Seattle did was to give an experienced starter that had been serving in a backup role for the last two years a shot at the starting quarterback job. 

Seven weeks into the season, Geno Smith is top-7 in Completions, Yards, and Touchdowns, and he’s having the third-best season in the history of the NFL when it comes to completion percentage. And if you think that it’s because Pete Carroll scaled way back on pass attempts since trading Russell Wilson to Denver, you’d be wrong. The Seahawks are actually airing it out more- they’re just not addicted to the deep ball. 

It remains to be seen if Seattle will be able to keep up their early season momentum. Injuries are piling up, and a look at their remaining schedule reveals two games left against the Super Bowl champion Rams, a trip to Kansas City, and games against the other two teams I mentioned earlier on- the Giants and Jets. If they can manage to play .500 football the rest of the way, they’ll shock the NFC by stealing a playoff spot, and potentially be in play for first place in an NFC West division that has sent a representative to the Super Bowl six out of the last 10 seasons. 

And even if they fall off, they’ll be sitting on the most draft picks while having more cap space in 2023 than the Rams, 49ers and Cardinals combined.

Let that sink in.

Massive Buyouts Take The Sting Out Of Losing For College Football Coaches Like Jimbo Fisher

We need to talk about college football coaching salaries.

Look, I’m never going to get mad at someone for cashing a check. You shouldn’t either. 

I’ve never been to a movie theater and seen empty concession lines. 

If someone wants to pay movie theater prices for M&M’s and Skittles, when pants pockets and purses are perfect for candy smuggling, that’s on them. What I’m not gonna do is hate on the movie theater for taking their cash.

But just like people standing in line at the theater, volunteering to get ripped off, these colleges continue to pay out the nose for college football coaches, stacking years of guaranteed salary and escalating outlandish buyouts because they think it will correlate to Alabama-like results. 

Well, two things about that-

1) You’re not Alabama, and…

2) Alabama is rewarding Nick Saban for years of results. 

Imagine going to a car dealership in hopes of purchasing a Lamborghini, but all the lot has available is a variety of used Kia Sorrentos. What would a normal person do in that scenario? Maybe look at a different dealership? Maybe delay their plans? Maybe settle for a Sorrento? I don’t know, I guess it depends on the person. 

What a normal person would NOT do is offer the dealership Lamborghini money for the Sorrento and just hope that a Kia magically gains the ability to hit 60 in less than four seconds. 

Now, you might be listening to me right now and thinking, “Wow, George is really going in on Texas A&M for having Jimbo Fisher locked up through 2027, and then handing him four more years and a raise on top of that despite a body of work that doesn’t even measure up to what Kevin Sumlin accomplished.”

And you’re right, I am. But it’s not just a College Station problem.

Halfway through the season, four of the top 10 coaches in annual salary outside of Nick Saban have losing records. One of those coaches, Mel Tucker, has NINE years left on his contract after this one. 

And you might be saying, “Sure, but Michigan State poached Mel Tucker from Colorado, so maybe they were just making sure they don’t get cheated on by the partner they cheated with.”

But Michigan State didn’t include a large buyout for Mel Tucker should he look to jump to the SEC. All they did was bid against themselves to ensure that if things in East Lansing went south, the boosters that volunteered to fund this contract were on the hook. 

And that Mel Tucker contract, which should have been an anomaly because of the way it’s being funded, ended up setting the market. If you are a Perennial top 25 team in the Power 5, or even if you’re one of these “Stella” schools like Miami trying to get your groove back, these coaches’ agents are going to point to Jimbo Fisher and Mel Tucker and Brian Kelly and say “unless you’re willing to drop $80-100 million, you’re out of the game.”

Nothing about the way these colleges keep falling for the con makes any sense. Why does any college coach need a 10-year contract? Think about it, any time Jimbo Fisher loses a game, which he’s done more in the last 13 months than Nick Saban has in the last six years, he gets closer and closer to Aggie fans demanding that he be paid a near-$86 million dollar buyout. 

Think about that ungodly amount of money while I read you a quote from former LSU Head Coach Ed Orgeron in my best Coach O voice:

Scott Woodward is a friend of mine today, really. Lot of respect for the way that they handled me. He said ‘Coach, you got 17.1 million dollars on your contract; we’re going to give it to you.’

“I said, ‘What time you want me to leave and what door do you want me to leave out of brother?’”

Scott Woodward is a friend of mine today, really. Lot of respect for the way that they handled me. He said ‘Coach, you got 17.1 million dollars on your contract; we’re going to give it to you.’

“I said, ‘What time you want me to leave and what door do you want me to leave out of brother?’”

Ed Orgeron

If that’s the way that Ed Orgeron reacted to being handed a check for $17 million to walk out the door, how do you think Jimbo is going to react to getting five times that?

Jimbo Fisher might just crip-walk from end zone to end zone in Kyle Field. 

I might be more upset at the lack of sense being displayed by college administrators if we didn’t currently live in a world where players could be compensated for their name, image and likeness. Seeing a coach get a 10-year fully guaranteed contract to be mediocre stings a lot less when you know Bojangles is writing checks to quarterbacks that are getting benched. 

But I want to circle back to one of the reasons so many of these colleges pushed back on the idea of players getting compensated at all. 

There is an entire economic network built on the idea that a group of athletes were giving their best effort because the only guarantee that their effort would be compensated is if they were good enough to make it to the NFL. 
Colleges worried that if the players were rewarded right now, their motivation to push themselves to higher heights would be diminished, and in turn, disturb the access to the pot of gold for everyone else. 

College administrators and the NCAA have done and said a lot of evil things in the name of keeping all the rewards for themselves, but this particular train of thought isn’t necessarily evil, in fact, it’s perfectly logical. We see it in boxing all the time- an athlete goes 30-0 on his way to a title fight, wins a belt and a purse, then struggles to make weight in their next bout and spends the next 10 years losing half their fights. 

While that train of thought isn’t evil, it is hypocritical, especially when schools have no problem handing out life-changing Saban-level money to coaches that aren’t Nick Saban. 

For guys like Jimbo Fisher and Ed Orgeron, they might be wired to give everything they have to try and win, but the industry of college football has taken away the sting of losing. 

For Jimbo Fisher, there is no such thing as a loss. There is only winning, and negative winning. 

That direct deposit hits no matter what. 

Let that sink in.

Why Your Favorite Eastern Conference Team Won’t Win An NBA Championship This Year

Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets / NBA

We need to talk about the NBA, and why your favorite Eastern Conference team is on the verge of falling apart.

Ever since Michael Jordan retired the second time, the West has run the NBA, winning titles at a 2-to-1 rate. LeBron did most of the heavy lifting, but every once in a while a plucky team would rise up and make the East proud. I’m talking to you, Toronto. 

Well with the NBA season kicking off this week, I’m here to tell you why this won’t be one of those years. 

Here’s why your favorite Eastern Conference team is closer to falling apart than they are to an NBA Championship.

Let’s start with last year’s #1 seed Miami Heat, where Erik Spoelstra is in his eighth consecutive season of convincing Pat Riley to pay Udonis Haslem to hang out with him on the bench and protect him from Jimmy Butler’s mood swings. This team has a top seven that are a danger to everyone in the NBA, including themselves. They might outsource you, they might shut you down, or they might collectively miss 200 combined games due to injury like they did last year. Granted, a lot of that was due to Victor Oladipo, who is, *let me check my notes here* STILL NOT HEALTHY.

Some say the Heat have lost a bit of last year’s edginess with PJ Tucker and Markieff Morris both moving on, but with Tyler Herro getting paid means we might see triple the post-three-pointer Elvis lip curls, and that’s plenty enough edge for everyone.

And what about last year’s Eastern Conference champion, the Boston Celtics? Surely they’re ready to build on last year’s success right? It’s not like they had a drama-filled offseason that included floating their second best player, Jaylen Brown, in trade talks… or suspending their head coach for an entire season for cheating on his actress wife with a team employee?

I’ll give the Celtics this, adding Malcolm Brogdon was an underrated move, and Jayson Tatum is the closest thing to an MVP candidate that the East has outside of Giannis. But this team is only going as far as Robert Williams’ knees will take them. If I’m Boston, I’m only playing my defensive stopper sparingly until the playoffs.

Speaking of Giannis, what about the Bucks? Surely the team that still looks exactly like the 2021 NBA champions has a shot, right? 

And the answer is no. No they do not. The coach is still Mike Budenholzer. The team still doesn’t play defense. They’re gonna live by the three, and die by the three, and if they want to live, Khris Middleton has to find his stroke the way that Jrue Holiday did. If Middleton continues to fall off, no amount of uncalled offensive charges on Giannis is going to save this Bucks team.

Now, I’ve mentioned two teams that failed to hold on to PJ Tucker, so what about the team that added him- the Philadelphia 76ers? They’ve got the best center in the NBA in Joel Embiid. James Harden decided that he wants to actually be in shape this year because Tyrese Maxey is effortlessly running up and down the courd making him look bad. And Tobias Harris gets paid more money than God so he must be good, right?

The problem is that the chemistry on this team stinks, and it might take the team moving on from Doc Rivers in order to fix it. What’s Mike D’Antoni up to these days?

Last but not least, let’s talk about the Brooklyn Nets. Apologies to Bulls fans, Lonzo Ball’s knee is too much to overcome. And apologies to Toronto. Me not loving you isn’t the problem. Kawhi Leonard not loving you is your issue. Blame him. 

And you can tell I’m not a Knicks fan, because I’ve made it this long without bringing up Atlanta and Trae Young.

The Brooklyn Nets have no excuse not to run through the Eastern Conference, but they’ll find one. Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons and Kyrie Irving are so busy looking for ways to make NBA fans mad that they forgot that the easiest way to piss everyone off is to win games. Despite KD’s tantrum this offseason, the Nets roster is actually impressive. Sean Marks should get credit for adding TJ Warren and Seth Curry, who can get you 20 apiece on any given night when healthy. People are saying this team can’t rebound, but give Day’Ron Sharpe 30 minutes a night and he might lead the league. Plus, Ben Simmons 6-10 ass isn’t doing anything else, make him crash the glass. 

Do I have any faith in Steve Nash? No. He’s terrible. But this team is good enough to overcome that and win it all. 

But they won’t. By March, Kyrie will be protesting the existence of leather basketballs as a form of animal cruelty, KD will have found a way to force a trade to Phoenix, and Ben Simmons will have been memed to death for all the times he passed the ball from under the basket to a triple-teamed Joe Harris. 

The Eastern Conference has the most talent it’s ever had. They have no excuse to not produce a serious contender this year. But they won’t.

Let that sink in.

Why Your Favorite Western Conference Team Won’t Win An NBA Championship This Year

LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard

We need to talk about the NBA, and why your favorite Western Conference team is on the verge of falling apart.

Every year, the delicate dance begins of basketball’s most gifted multimillionaires balancing fragile and insatiable egos against psychopathic levels of competitiveness and drive.

If we’ve learned one thing about today’s NBA, it’s that a championship window is only opened by talent and teamwork, but that same window can be slammed shut for a million different reasons. 

Today I’m here to with a full glass of Haterade to explain why your favorite Western Conference team is much closer to falling apart than they are to hoisting up the gold ball. 

Let’s start with my beloved Lakers. After several months of trade rumors, not only is he still on the team, the Lakers brought in his on-court nemesis Patrick Beverly, and might even start Pat Bev over Russ. Is Westbrook ready to run the bench unit for the good of the team? Will Anthony Davis’ body hold up? Is winning still the most important thing to LeBron James? Is there ever going to be a day when Dennis Schroder shows up to work and isn’t remined that he fumbled an $84 million dollar bag? This Lakers team has so many question marks that the Riddler could wear them as an outfit.

And what about the defending champion Golden State Warriors? Jordan Poole is going to get mocked in every arena he goes to, and don’t think it’ll just be the fans with something to say about him eating a punch. Is Draymond Green ready to spend an entire year playing big brother and defending a teammate from slander that he helped create? More importantly, does Draymond Green have the stamina to not get sensitive himself about being the only core piece of the Warriors team that isn’t locked up long-term? The Warriors need Draymond to be volatile on the court to keep other teams off guard- they don’t need internal volatility off the court. As Draymond goes, the Warriors go.

And what about the other so-called contenders in the Western Conference?

The Mavericks lost Jalen Brunson. Don’t underestimate the attitude that a two-time NCAA champion brought into that locker room. They don’t beat the Suns to advance to the conference finals without him. Now you’re going into a season with your second and third best players being Spencer Dinwiddie and Tim Hardaway Jr? Yikes.

The Phoenix Suns gave Deandre Ayton his money, but not without pissing him off first. The one thing this team had going for it was its chemistry, and now Ayton’s comes to media day acting like a very rich grouch, Jae Crowder is sitting at home waiting to be traded, Cam Johnson had negotiations with James Jones break down, and Devin Booker and Chris Paul were on opposite ends of the choice to speak out about the Robert Sarver reports. It’s a good think Cam Payne and Mikal Bridges like to dance, because with chemistry like this they’ll be dancing their way to the seventh seed. 

The Utah Jazz blew their team up after winning the Northwest division because their stars couldn’t get along, and now they’re in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes. Good luck with that. We all know you’ll end up picking a Gordon Hayward close with the 8th pick.

The Nuggets believe they’re the Warriors, like Jamal Murray taking two years to heal from injury is the same as Klay Thompson. But your team still doesn’t play defense, and your title chances are as fragile as Michael Porter Jr’s back. And I’m sorry Denver, but Nikola Jokic isn’t getting a third straight MVP on a 45-win-team. 

And what about Memphis? I like the Grizzlies- they’re in a sweet spot where the team is young, they all have friendly contracts, and they seem to like playing together. But they’ve never come into a season with expectations, and expectations can be suffocating when the national media starts to pick apart your flaws. When Jaren Jackson Jr. returns from his foot injury in a couple months, and he doesn’t improve his 40% shooting from the field? What then? What about the next time Ja Morant threatens some random stranger who is trolling him online? 

Last and least, we have the Clippers. Look, I’m happy to see John Wall happy and ready to roll. He’s only played in 40 games in the last three years, while bringing in over $120 million in salary. His story goes a long way to show that money doesn’t buy happiness. I’m rooting for him. But the Clippers are still the Clippers. Kawhi is healthy, for now. Paul George is healthy, for now. But the track record of those guys makes me feel like it might be smart money to wager on Norman Powell as this team’s leading scorer. I’ll take the Clippers seriously when they do something serious. Until then, they’re still just the Clippers.

Let me know if you think I’m Wrighster or Wrong about your favorite Western Conference team’s chances. Or let me know if you’re a Minnesota Timberwolves fan and you’re mad that I didn’t take your team seriously enough to include them. 

All I know is that if my team can’t be happy, I don’t want to see any of your teams happy. And if my Lakers do find a way to figure this out and get another title, I get to see your team unhappy either way.

Let that sink in.

Kliff Kingsbury’s Coaching Style Has Gone From Offensive Genius To Just Plain Offensive

We need to talk about Arizona Cardinals head coach (for now), the “offensive genius” Kliff Kingsbury.

On Sunday, Arizona faced off against Seattle and their #32 ranked defense. The Cardinals managed a field goal on their opening drive. They did not score an offensive point after that. 

Hey Kliff, 3 points on offense might have been enough to get a win in Seattle if you were playing the Mariners, but this is the Seahawks, buddy.

I’m not questioning the idea to hire Kliff Kingsbury in the first place, though there were plenty of reasons to question it at the time. 

You have to remember, he had just been fired from Texas Tech for not being able to recruit or coach a functional defense. 

His offenses were never the problem. In the NFL, you can put the defense in your coordinator’s hands, the recruiting in your GM’s hands, and just focus on doing the one thing that you’ve proven you can do at a high level- manufacture points.

It’s also important to remember that when the Cardinals chose to get into a bidding war with the New York Jets for Kliff Kingsbury, they were coming off having the worst yardage offense and second worst points per game in the last 10 years. 

GM Steve Keim didn’t worry about the costs that had been sunk into having Head Coach Steve Wilks and quarterback Josh Rosen in their first years- he blew it all up for Kliff Kingsbury, and paired him with #1 overall pick Kyler Murray.

And for a minute, it worked.

The Cardinals improved in points per game three seasons in a row, going from 32nd in 2018 under Wilks to 11th last year. In both 2020 and 2021, the Arizona Cardinals also had a top 8 offense in total yardage.

Despite the fact that the Cardinals finished 2-4 after the bye last year, and got absolutely embarrassed in the playoffs, Steve Keim, Kliff Kingsbury, and Kyler Murray all got five year extensions. 

Fast forward to today, the Arizona Cardinals are 16th in total yards, and 22nd in points per game. Despite leading the league in plays run per drive, they’re outside the top 10 in points per drive.

And they’ve completely forgotten how to start games. They’ve put the ball in the end zone on offense in the first half just twice in the last 9 contests. This game was the first time they’ve scored in the first quarter all season.

At 2-4, the Cardinals are one Hunter Renfrow overtime fumble away from being 1-5, and if we’re being honest, a no-call for offsides that led to a game-changing pick-6 against Carolina gave them a boost that you can’t exactly attribute to the “offensive genius” of Kliff Kingsbury. 

If it wasn’t for defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, and a touch of good luck, this team might be winless.

But hey, at least the Cardinals can throw the ball downfield, right? Because that’s the one reason you’d hang on to Kingsbury despite regression everywhere else.

Well, it turns out they only have two 300+ yard passing games in their last 21 games, but not for lack of trying. Kyler Murray is second in total pass attempts this season, but dead last in yards per attempt at 5.8, and he doesn’t have a single passing play longer than 32 yards.

The Arizona Cardinals are paying Kyler Murray Patrick Mahomes money to throw screen passes. 

The average air yards of a Kyler Murray pass attempt this season is 6.5 yards. 

Kliff Kingsbury turned Kyler Murray into who we thought Jalen Hurts would be, meanwhile Jalen Hurts looks like the NFL’s MVP.

When a coach fails his players with his schemes, the reputation of those players can be irreparably damaged. The narrative about Kyler Murray is being set in stone right now, and it’s going to be extremely tough to change people’s minds.

On Thursday night, the Cardinals will host the New Orleans Saints in an attempt to avoid their 9th consecutive home loss- a streak that started on a Thursday night last year. They’ll have Deandre Hopkins back after serving a six-game suspension for a positive PED test, and unless absolutely everything about the Cardinals looks different, from first-half energy to pushing the ball down the field, it should be Kliff Kingsbury’s last game as Arizona’s head coach.

That is, unless Michael Bidwill, Steve Keim, and the NFL in general have different standards for a white head coach than the black head coach they had no problem kicking to the curb after one season. 

At least Steve Wilks never went a full season’s worth of games without getting a win at home.

Let that sink in.

ESPN’s Report On Commanders Owner Daniel Snyder Confirms What We Already Know: Mutually Assured Destruction

We need to talk about Washington Commanders Owner Dan Snyder

This week ESPN dropped a report that to some of you, must have seemed like a bombshell.

Multiple sources claim that in an effort to entrench himself as indispensable from his position as one of only 32 NFL team owners, Dan Snyder has used private investigators to compile dossiers full of dirt on everyone from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. 

I have been shouting from the mountaintops for years now that the only plausible explanation for Dan Snyder not being removed by the other 31 NFL owners is that there has to be a system of mutually assured destruction in place. 

Dan Snyder is accused of so many misdeeds over the last two decades that we don’t have time to get to right now, but just know that the reason Snyder is in the NFL’s crosshairs in the first place has nothing to do with the toxic culture, accusations of sexual harassment, or being on the wrong side of history over the team being named the Washington Redskins.

He’s not even on the chopping block for interfering with his team’s own investigation into it’s toxic culture to the point where he had to pretend to relinquish day-to-day decision making duties to his own wife.

Dan Snyder is in deep shit because he messed with the league’s money by underreporting ticket sales to the NFL and IRS in order to pay a smaller share into the NFL’s Visiting Team Fund. Beyond that, Snyder has run this team so poorly that he risks being the first NFL owner to not be able to secure public funds for a new stadium, which will result in even less shared revenue.
Dan Snyder reportedly privately calls the NFL ownership group a “mafia,” and if he honestly believes that to be true, then he has to be a special kind of idiot for trying to steal from the mob.
All this explains why so many owners would be willing to speak to the media about Snyder, even though doing so could result in massive fines from the league office. 
This media report is step one in preparing a pair of cement shoes for Dan Snyder to wear at the bottom of the Potomac.

Metaphorically, of course.

Now, for their part, the Washington Commanders organization has categorically denied ESPN’s entire report. Then again, what else do you expect them to do? The Phoenix Suns did the same thing when ESPN’s Baxter Holmes rolled out a laundry list of idiocy that Robert Sarver was involved in. One year after the report, the NBA investigated and found much of it credible, and now public pressure is resulting in Robert Sarver selling off the Phoenix Suns to the highest bidder. 

What makes this report different, is that it anonymously quotes multiple NFL owners about Dan Snyder. Those quotes include:

“All the owners hate Dan.”

“(Dan Snyder told me) he has dirt on Jerry Jones.”

“(Dan Snyder) is behaving like a mad dog cornered.”

Another quote calls Dan Snyder a “bad person” and claims the owners won’t oust him because “he’ll burn their houses down.

Now, at the heart of all of this is Jerry Jones, who has often stood alone as Dan Snyder’s only defender over the last decade.

Before this ESPN report, it was easy to assume that Jerry Jones was being selfish in his defense of Dan Snyder. It often felt like the Harlem Globetrotters defending the existence of the Washington Generals, because as long as Snyder was around to mismanage his franchise, Dallas was looking at increased odds of two extra wins per season. 

There was also the thought that Jerry Jones has a little bit of a Libertarian streak, and Dan Snyder’s follies are a litmus test for what an owner is or is not allowed to do. If the NFL pushed Dan Snyder out for the way his personal life bled into how he ran his franchise, then it was only a matter of time before Jerry Jones and his many scandals would become more of a focus.

But the best explanation for why Jerry Jones backed Dan Snyder is that they have a shared hatred of Roger Goodell. We already know that they tried to use Papa John’s founder John Schnatter and his NFL sponsorship dollars to try and push Goodell out back in 2017. 

It’s completely plausible that any dossier compiled on Roger Goodell wasn’t just the brainchild of Dan Snyder, but Jerry Jones as well. 

But Dan Snyder, in his infinite paranoia and stupidity, decided he needed leverage on his only friend as well.

Several owners acknowledged to ESPN that they are aware Dan Snyder is using private investigators to track his contemporaries, but none would reveal their source. You could almost blame this belief on a rumor gone wild if ESPN also hadn’t quoted former Washington team executives as having heard Dan Snyder talk about it himself. 

If the NFL doesn’t initiate its own investigation into whether Dan Snyder is paying to have the other owners tracked by private investigators, then that will tell you exactly what I’ve known all along- that not only is the NFL already aware of Snyder’s actions, but that they know Snyder has the goods to make it more trouble to expel him than to tolerate him. 

Let that sink in.

Davante Adams May “Push” the NFL to Restrict Sideline Access

We need to talk about Davante Adams getting charged with misdemeanor assault for pushing a photographer.

The discussion around this incident has been insufferable, but there are some elements of it that could result in positive change. 

To recap what happened, the Raiders were trailing the Chiefs 30-29 late in the fourth quarter, with Las Vegas attempting to mount a drive for a game winning field goal attempt. A fourth down mix-up led Hunter Renfrow and Davante Adams to collide while running their routes, and it resulted in the Raiders collecting their fourth loss of the season. 

The last time a team that Davante Adams was on a team that started 1-4 was never. 

The last time a team that Davante Adams wasn’t redshirting on had a losing record after 5 weeks was never. 

Adams is arguably the best receiver in football, and he’s brand new to losing. 

After slamming his helmet on the sideline, Adams was in the process of exiting the field when photographer Ryan Zebly crossed into his field of vision, and Adams shoved him to the ground. 

We can debate whether or not Zebly put himself in a position to be bumped by Adams by unnecessarily walking into his path, what we can’t do is justify the shove when Adams himself immediately publicly apologized. 

Here’s what Adams has to say in his tweet:  

“Sorry to the guy I pushed over after the game. Obviously very frustrated at the way the game ended and when he ran in front of me as I exited that was my reaction and I felt horrible immediately. That’s not me.. MY APOLOGIES man, hope you see this.”
So Davante Adams is sorry, and he should be. But is he a criminal?
After the game, Ryan Zebly filed a police report, and the

 Kansas City Municipal Court issued a citation for misdemeanor assault on Wednesday, alleging that Adams “did, by an intentional, overt act, inflict bodily injury or cause an unlawful offensive contact upon Ryan Zebly by pushing him to the ground using two hands, causing whiplash and headache. possible minor concussion.”

On one hand, It’s good to see that the Kansas City Municipal Court takes brain health more seriously than the Miami Dolphins. 

On another hand, I’ve watched enough Better Call Saul to know that a police report like this is almost always a precursor to an attempt at a civil settlement. 

And anyone that follows the NFL knows that Davante Adams can afford it. 

If you’ve been on an NFL sideline, you know that there are ten dozen credentialed people looking for any and every way to capture and pass on any moment of exuberance or frustration to pass on to us, the consumers. 

And if you’ve been a participant in an NFL game, as I have, you know that those people are more often than not a hindrance, and one or two are guaranteed to go down like bowling pins due to incidental contact with superhuman athletes moving at otherworldly speeds. 

It’s already a “keep your head on a swivel” environment, and what Ryan Zebly might not realize is that this criminal charge, and likely eventual lawsuit, could create changes for the amount of access that multimedia journalists can access during and after the game.

Truth be told, maybe the tunnel isn’t the best place to be chronicling the emotions of someone that is processing not only a loss, but the fact that hundreds of thousands of people are in the process of memeing you to death for running into your teammate. 

Again, I’m not making any justification for Davante’s actions, but if this does result in any changes being made to where photographers can go and when they can go there, not one NFL player is going to lose a second of sleep over it.  

Let that sink in.

There Is No Defense For The Nepotism That Has Kept Brian Ferentz As Iowa’s Offensive Coordinator

We need to talk about the nepotism that is ruining the football program at University of Iowa.

Some of you might not know what’s going on at Iowa, and some of you might just be checking college football box scores on Sunday morning and wondering if the Iowa score was an accidental century-old misprint from the era of leather helmets and no forward pass.

So for those of you that aren’t up to speed on the country’s slowest offense, here’s the deal:

Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz, who has been with the Hawkeyes since the 1900’s, has had all three of his sons come through Iowa as players during his tenure. His oldest son Brian was hired on at Iowa to be the offensive line coach in 2012 after three years as an assistant in the New England Patriots organization.

If you follow football at any level, you know that nepotism is beyond commonplace. Plenty of coaches throughout the country have their children on staff in some capacity. The list is endless- Bill Belichick, Mike Shanahan, Pete Carroll, Marvin Lewis, Andy Reid, Jeff Fisher, Steve Spurrier, Bobby Bowden, Shane Beamer, Joe Paterno, it might be easier to make a list of coaches that didn’t employ their own kids. 

So what makes the Kirk Ferentz, Brian Ferentz arrangement any different?

Well, first of all, the University of Iowa actually has rules and regulations in place that are supposed to prevent nepotism.

In order to get around those rules back in 2012, the program was forced to lie and cover up that Kirk had any hand in hiring Brian to be on staff, despite Brian saying the reason he took the job was that his father called him up and asked him to apply.

After that initial lie, the guardrail Iowa supposedly put in place to give the appearance of objectivity, is that for the last 11 seasons, Brian Ferentz has technically been a direct report of athletic director Gary Barta.

So, father and son technically have the same boss, and that boss, independent of any input from Brian’s father, decided that after five seasons of coaching his own brothers on the Iowa offensive line, Brian was ready for a promotion to offensive coordinator. 

That brings me to my next point about why this is an extra special brand of nepotism

Brian Ferentz absolutely, objectively sucks at his job

In the last five recruiting classes, Iowa has landed two total four-star skill position players- Arland Bruce and Keagan Johnson. They would have had a third, but 2023 RB Kendrick Raphael saw this offense in action and decided black and gold weren’t going to be his colors.

So he can’t recruit, so what? Some people are more innovators and less salesmen. 

Just not Brian Ferentz. He managed to have 7+ future NFL players on his 2018 and 2019 offenses, and never ranked better than 86th in the country in those seasons. 

But hey, sometimes it’s about getting your own players into your system, right? So let’s look at the last three years, over which they’ve gone a very respectable 19-9. 

The Hawkeyes went from 40th nationally in points per game in the Covid-shortened 2020 season, to 99th last year, and are sitting at 127th this year, just ahead of University of Colorado. And in offensive yardage, which Kirk Ferentz has called an overrated stat, Iowa went from 13th in the Big Ten last year, to dead last in the country this year, and so far behind last place in the Big Ten that if you doubled their output, they’d still only be in third place.

There are statistics and realities that can be used to crush every excuse for continuing to employ the head coach’s son as the Hawkeyes play-caller. For those who say Iowa is a running team and they shouldn’t be expected to put up big numbers in the passing game, there are currently 38 FBS players that have rushed for more yards than Iowa has as a team, plus the Hawkeyes haven’t had a running back selected in the NFL draft since 2009.

For those that say Iowa is all about playing for the field goal, four out of every 10 possessions for Iowa this year have ended without a single first down. They aren’t playing for the field goal, they’re lucky to ever even get an attempt. 
Six times in the last calendar year, Iowa has been held to seven points or less, and they only have 18 offensive touchdowns in their last 14 games. You can tell yourself “That’s just Big Ten Football,” but isn’t Marvin Harrison Jr. playing in the same Big Ten as Iowa? He has 12 touchdowns in his last seven games by himself. 
Gary Barta, Brian’s “real boss” says that they’re not going to evaluate the status of any position coach until the end of the season. Which means we’re going to get to see the worst offense in football take the field six more times this year, starting with a guaranteed bloodbath at Ohio State on October 22nd. 

We don’t have the ability to see Iowa’s struggles through a father’s eyes. All we see from the outside is an offense that 

can’t gain yards, can’t score, can’t recruit, and has had one wide receiver selected in the NFL draft since 2013. 

If Brian Ferentz didn’t have his father’s last name, what defense would there be for keeping him on? I can’t think of a defense on earth that would be good enough to justify keeping him.

Not even Iowa’s.

Let that sink in.

Matt Rhule Will Be In-Demand in College Football, But His Time with Carolina Should Serve as a Warning

We need to talk about what’s next for recently fired Carolina Panthers Head Coach Matt Rhule.

Nobody feels sorry for Matt Rhule right now. His contractual buyout is in the $40 million dollar range, and despite an absolutely putrid record of 11-27, wasting an awesome defense in 2021 due to a bottom three offense, making three different quarterbacks look washed, and emptying Bank of America Stadium of any trace of Panthers fans over the last two weeks, he’s still somehow the hottest name on the college coaching market heading into next season!

Yes Matt Rhule turned around Temple, and yes Matt Rhule brought Baylor back to life. It was those efforts that led owner David Tepper to personally recruit Rhule to the Carolina Panthers like Rhule was the LeBron James of football coaches. Maybe that goes to show that David Tepper didn’t understand the nature and history of his own team. 

Matt Rhule is a proven commodity as a re-builder. The Carolina Panthers didn’t need a rebuild. The Panthers, historically, have been a bounce-back franchise. Despite two Super Bowl runs in the last 20 years, and two other NFC championship appearances in the franchise’s short history, the Carolina Panthers have never had back-to-back winning seasons. Not even in the run of making the playoffs four times in five years under Ron Rivera. 

But what have the Carolina Panthers traditionally always had? Stability at quarterback. Whether it was Kerry Collins, Steve Beurlein, Jake Delhomme, or Cam Newton, for 90% of this franchise’s history, they’ve had the right piece under center that allowed them to tinker everywhere else until they put together a team capable of a playoff run. 

The Panthers worst years have always come when it was obvious that they didn’t have someone that should be starting in the NFL under center. In fact, you can thank Chris Weinke going 1-14 in 2001 for the Panthers ending up with Julius Peppers, and you can thank the combination of Jimmy Clausen and Matt Moore going 1-14 in 2010 for the Panthers ending up with Cam Newton. 

Matt Rhule didn’t walk into a situation where the Carolina Panthers needed a complete overhaul, they just needed a competent quarterback to take over for the physically spent Cam Newton. And even if they did need a complete overhaul, they never completely went in that direction. 

Instead of looking to chase a QB in the draft and start from scratch, they’ve been content to see if they can make reclamation projects out of castoffs three years in a row. They still have the same primary running back and primary receiver as they did when Matt Rhule took over. Guys that Matt Rhule inherited on defense like Donte Jackson, Shaq Thompson and Brian Burns are all still the heart of what they do defensively. 

He didn’t even make a symbolic change at longsnapper.

A lot of people are going to ignore his time in Carolina and only look to the collegiate experience, but I think Matt Rhule’s time in Carolina is exactly why he’s a higher risk than most other pundits. 

People are quick to point at Steve Spurrier or Nick Saban or Chip Kelly’s time in the NFL as a reason that the pro experience need not be taken into account, but people forget that those three, while they might not have been a perfect fit, looked competent in the NFL in a way that Matt Rhule never did. 

But let’s say everyone is right, and that a trip back to college football will show the world why an NFL team was willing to drop $70 million on Rhule in the first place. Where does he fit best?

We don’t know if Matt Rhule is capable of sustained success, and it seems we do know that Matt Rhule might not be the best coach for a team that is just one or two pieces away from being competitive. The only thing we know is that Matt Rhule can create something from nothing. So which college programs will give him “nothing” to work with?

Well, there are two in the Pac-12, that are potentially future members of a conference where he’s already coached, that might offer him the blank slate he needs to work his magic. 

Arizona State currently has about 70 players on scholarship, and probably 10 of those are former walk-ons, while another 6-7 are quarterbacks that don’t play. Beyond that, they’re facing sanctions from their time under Herm Edwards, and rumors that someone on staff was leaking information to quicken Herm’s firing means that in order to take the job, everyone down to the stadium window washers would probably have to be replaced to make a high profile coach comfortable with taking that job. It’s as close to a true rebuild as you can get. 

And what about Colorado? They’re in the opposite boat, with too many kids on scholarship. But under NCAA rules, a new coach is allowed to make cuts in order to reshape the roster to their liking. Colorado’s best years came from recruiting connections established throughout Texas, and Matt Rhule in only 2.5 years removed from having to recruit the state in order to resurrect Baylor. Colorado might not have the financial considerations that you’d need to typically attract a top-level coach, but Matt Rhule is sitting on more unearned cash right now than a January 2021 Gamestop investor, so that shouldn’t be an issue. 

Some people might say that Nebraska needs a rebuild, but if I’m Matt Rhule I’m looking at Lincoln, Nebraska like it’s the Charlotte of the Plains. Nebraska seems to have plenty of talent, but unless you attract a quarterback that is either transcendent as either a runner or passer, you’re going to fall into the same trap that Mike Riley and Scott Frost did. And the one thing that Nebraska can’t afford Matt Rhule in the way that Arizona State or Colorado can is lowered expectations. If the Huskers aren’t on the verge of 10 wins by 2024, we’re going to be right back here talking about the next reclamation project for Matt Rhule.

But he won’t have the same shine he has right now, and instead of Tempe or Boulder, we might be talking about Troy, Alabama or Reno, Nevada. 

Let that sink in.