The Saturday Sitdown

Shortly after he was let go as head coach of the Washington Redskins this past week, I had a chance to visit and play golf with my good friend and former Orlando Predators Head Coach Jay Gruden.

 While I felt horrible that a friend had just lost his job, I took some comfort in the dignity and class that Jay displayed in taking the high road about his dismissal. He accepted responsibility for the team’s record and essentially said, “I failed to get the job done.” Jay also repeated a mantra I have heard many times from other football coaches, which consists of the thought, “If you get hired as a football coach, you will eventually get fired.” That said, I am not convinced anyone will win at Washington under the present ownership and front office leadership. Here are the records of Redskins head coaches under owner Daniel Snyder:  Steve Spurrier (12-20), Joe Gibbs (30-34), Jim Zorn (12-20), Mike Shanahan (24-40), and Gruden (35-49-1). You can question whether Jay was “over his head” in his first NFL head coaching gig (I do not), but there are also three Hall of Fame coaches on that list who also could not win in Washington. Add to the fact that Gruden has had more than 50 players placed on season ending injured-reserve in the last two seasons. Numerous players were traded, released or held out because of disagreements with the front office, and the fact that Jay had just a minor “say” in player personnel decisions during his tenure, and I would argue that the deck was heavily stacked against him from the beginning. Bottom line is Jay Gruden is an outstanding football coach, who also relates extremely well to his players. Whether it’s at the professional or college level, he will be back in the game shortly and he will be successful….

I mentioned in a previous column how I thought it was sad that some local Osceola high schools with 1,200 students or more were unable to field a four-member golf team. For example, at last week’s Orange Belt Conference tournaments, Liberty and Gateway failed to field a full team on the boys side, while five county schools could not field a scoring team on the girls side.  That said, St. Cloud girls coach and teaching pro Jim Endicott says help may on the way.

“We have several middle schools in the county with very successful youth golf programs, some with 25-30 participants each,” Endicott noted. “In addition, there seems to be an increased interest in junior golf.  What we need to do is keep encouraging those kids to play and by the time they get to high school, maybe all the county teams will have full teams by then”…

The late, great pro wrestling manager Bobby “The Brain” Heenan once said:  “Everyone was put on this earth for a specific purpose, even if it is to set a bad example.” If there is any truth to that, I can only counter with “Bad Choices Lead to the Best Stories.”

The firestorm between China and the NBA over a tweet by Houston General Manager Daryl Morey supporting Hong Kong pro-democracy activists has created quite a quandary for Commissioner Adam Silver. On one side, Silver has always encouraged and spoke out for the right of players to exercise free speech on social issues.  On the other hand, the oppressive regime of China is the source of potential billions in revenue for NBA owners.  Silver called Morey’s comments “unfortunate,” but later backpedaled and said that his initial response “was not an apology” to China. As to what will eventually happen, it is important to remember that free speech is not protected between employees and employers, and I also believe NBA owners are all for free speech as long as it is not costing them money. If this thing continues to get ugly, look for Morey to be out of a job, which is on some levels is understandable.  Still, if that happens, the whole incident reeks of hypocrisy…

Funny line from Gator Coach Dan Mullen on being two-touchdown underdogs against LSU: “Unless they are actually giving us 14 points it doesn’t matter. Don’t get me wrong, if I first walk out on the field on Saturday before the game starts and the scoreboard says. ‘Florida 14, LSU 0’ I’d take it, but I don’t think they are going to do it.”

Orlando City (Major League Soccer) fired Head Coach James O’Conner less than two years into his tenure.  O’Conner had replaced James Kries, who was also fired less than two years into his tenure. Kries replaced Adrian Heath, who was also fired less than two years into his tenure (noticing a trend here?). While you might be inclined to give new Vice President of Soccer Operations Luis Muzzi (who made the decision to fire O’Conner) some latitude (the general manager in every sport wants to have “his guy” at head coach), you can’t help but wonder what effect this will have on potential coaching candidates and/or potential free agents.  Do you really want to coach or play for a franchise that has had three head coaches (five counting interims) in six seasons? In making the announcement, Muzzi pleaded to Orlando City fans to display patience, a quality that the franchise obviously doesn’t apply when it comes to head coaches…

My buddy Sean asked me how I managed to four-putt from eight feet the other day…I replied…”Simple, I missed the hole, I proceeded to miss the hole again, I missed the hole again…then I made it.”

Y’all have a great week!