January 23, 2007


NFL coaches guaranteed to age quickly


Associated Press/Matt Slocum
Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells is silhouetted before a football game against the Indianapolis Colts back in November. Parcells retired from coaching Monday, leaving the Dallas Cowboys after four seasons and ending a stellar career that featured three Super Bowl appearances and two championships.

AP Sports Columnist

Anyone who watched Bill Belichick in the immediate aftermath of his team’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts should be able to understand why the average career of an NFL coach barely exceeds the life span of a field mouse.
Here’s a guy who won three Super Bowls in a span of four years, and is touted by some as one of the greatest coaches ever. A guy who took a team that wasn’t supposed to be all that good this year and brought it to within a few minutes of yet another Super Bowl.
And here he was, seemingly ready to throw up on his sweat shirt as he answered questions in a barely audible monotone.
Prisoners going to their execution have looked better.
Hopefully, Mike Tomlin was busy making sure all the zeros were filled in properly on his new $10 million contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers and wasn’t watching. No reason to sour Tomlin on his new career path when he’s just getting started.
Likewise, it’s probably a good thing that Bill Parcells announced his retirement in a statement and wasn’t around Monday to talk about why he was giving up more than_$5 million to walk away from the final year of his contract with the Dallas Cowboys.
No need for Tomlin to hear war stories about meddling owners and out of control players. Not when at the tender age of 34 he has just been given the keys to one of the NFL’s most storied franchises.
“I’m still coming to grips with what that means,” Tomlin said.
What it means is that Tomlin will be target No. 1 on the firing line in Pittsburgh, no longer able to enjoy the relative anonymity of being an assistant coach like he was most recently with the Minnesota Vikings.
What it means is that, like 31 fellow head coaches, football will be his life 16 hours a day every day, and that every decision he makes will be second guessed by Steeler faithful who understand he’s inheriting a loaded team.
What it means is that he will be expected to win — and win often.
“The only yardstick for success our society has is being a champion,” John Madden once said. “No one remembers anything else.”
Madden, ironically, is remembered more these days for announcing games, not coaching them. But he won one Super Bowl three decades ago as coach of the Oakland Raiders and never had a losing season before deciding the ulcers weren’t worth chasing another ring.
Parcells hung on a lot longer than most coaches, making it to the age of 65 before finally calling it a career. He won two Super Bowls with the Giants, got to another with the Patriots, but even the prospect of reaching a third with the Cowboys wasn’t enough to keep him around.
The reasons behind his departure weren’t spelled out, but it’s easy enough to read the tea leaves and figure it out ourselves. Massaging the egos of both owner Jerry Jones and Terrell Owens might be too much to ask of any coach.
The marriage between Jones and Parcells began fraying when Jones insisted on signing the petulant wide receiver last year, introducing him at a press conference Parcells didn’t attend. Parcells rarely referred to Owens by name, calling him “the player,” and the going theory was that one would be back and not_the other.
Jones said he wanted Parcells to coach another year, but the fact is Tuna never really got it done in Dallas. In four years he was a mediocre 34-32, the Cowboys lost both playoff games he coached, and the team was maddeningly inconsistent.
The last loss had to hurt the most, if anything for just the way it happened. Parcells knew that at his age there wouldn’t be that many more opportunities, and to lose a playoff game on a fumbled snap by Tony Romo had to make him wonder whether risking his emotional — and physical — health was worth it.
“It’s his life and if it was making him so unhappy he needs to step down. And obviously that was the case,” said linebacker Greg Ellis, Dallas’ defensive captain. “He just felt it was time for him to move on and that’s what he did.”
Unlike most coaches, Parcells was able to do it somewhat on his own terms, his dignity still intact. And, unlike his previous two retirements, this time he’s probably done for good after 19 grueling seasons on the sidelines.
It’s probably for the best because the NFL coaching fraternity is trending younger and younger these days. The word had barely gotten out about Tomlin’s hiring when the Raiders said they had hired the youngest coach of the modern era — 31-year-old Lane Kiffin.
Like Tomlin, Kiffin shouldn’t have any problem relating to his players. He’s younger than nine of them on the active roster at the end of the season.
That won’t last long, though. Kiffin and Tomlin should both age quickly.
Being a head coach in the NFL almost guarantees that.


Homer relay girls run to third

SYRACUSE — The 1,600-meter relay team won its heat and took third overall Monday night to highlight the performance of Homer Central girls at John Arcaro Memorial Indoor Track and Field Meet at Syracuse University’s Manley Field House.
Turning in a time of 4:17.55 was the foursome of Erika Trivisonno (1:05.9 split over 400 meters), Maureen DeAngles (1:04.3), Jessica Bramhall (1:06.3) and Heather Wilson (season-best 1:00.9).
Courtney Rainbow turned in a pair of season-best performances for the Trojans, taking 19th (of 51) in the shot put at 26-7.75 and winning her heat and taking 21st overall (out of 41) in the 200 meters in 30.80.
Wilson finished in the top half of the field in the 55 meters in 8.16, while Shannon Ramiza clocked in at 8.93. Ramiza also took 25th in the 55-meter hurdles in 11.07. Bramhall was 17th in the 1,500 meters in 5:24.30, while Trivisonno took 19th in the 500 meters in 1:31.12.
Caity Baldassarre, despite being ill, managed a leap of 11-11.5_in the long jump (no placing_reported).
The team’s next meet will be this Monday back at Manley.


Coaches’ lax clinic in Cortland

SUNY Cortland will host the fifth annual New York State Public High School Athletic Association Lacrosse Coaches Clinic this coming Friday.
Corey Gymnasium in the Park Center is the site for the clinic, co-sponsored by Brine. There is a fee. SUNY Cortland women’s lacrosse coach Cynthia Wetmore and new Red Dragon men’s lacrosse coach Steve Beville will be among those presenting workshops on various topics.
Also scheduled to appear are Air Force coach Fred Acee; Noah B. Gentner, Ph.D., Ithaca College’s Assistant Professor in Exercise and Sport Science; Jeff Tambroni, head coach at Cornell since 2000 and Assistant Coach from 1997-2000; Scott Marr, seven year coach at University at Albany; Scott Tucker, six year women’s lacrosse head coach at Limestone College in South Carolina; Doug Rowe, girl’s lacrosse coach at Baldwinsville High School; and Linda and Mark Michele, who have teamed to coach girl’s lacrosse for over 15 years.
 A wide range of topics will be lectured on and discussed including goalkeeper development, practice drills, developing team offense, transition offense and defense, defending the fast and slow break, coaching philosophies and parental concerns.
 The clinic will also offer the opportunity for coaches to get involved.  Coaches will have the option of participating in demonstrations and sharing their favorite drill with clinic speakers and attendees.
On Thursday, a casual question-and-answer Cracker Barrel will begin at 8 p.m. in the lounge at the Holiday Inn Cortland at no charge. The clinic will begin Friday morning at 7:30 a.m. and run to approximately 3 p.m. The Holiday Inn Cortland will be accepting accommodations for all clinic attendees. To book a room at the hotel, call (607) 756-4431.
Softball Clinic Site Changed
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association has changed the site for its eighth annual Softball Coaches’ Clinic being held on Friday, Feb. 2.
Due to a scheduling conflict with the Adirondack Sports Complex in Glens Falls, the NYSPHSAA will hold the clinic at Queensbury High School — located west of exit 19 on Aviation Road. The date remains the same.
Registration for the one-day workshop begins at 7:30 a.m. that Friday, with the workshops beginning an hour later. Friday’s lecture will be preceded by a casual Coaches Cracker Barrel session at the Queensbury Hotel on Thursday, Feb. 1, at 8 p.m.
There is a cost for the clinic and registration will be available at the door.
For more information, contact assistant director Lloyd Mott at the NYSPHSAA at (518) 690-0771. To book a room, contact the Queensbury Hotel at (518) 792-1121.