In this week’s edition of “The Drill”, we will take a look at the loss of a coaching legend, the biggest game of the NFL season, a controversy involving one of the biggest stars in football, a new head coach in the NFC South, and a big free agency signing that just might change the favorite to win the American League from being in the AL East. Joe Paterno Passes – The world of sports lost a coaching legend last Sunday when former the Penn State head coach passed away at the age of 85 due to lung cancer. Paterno, who was fired a little over two months ago by the Penn State board of trustees, coached the Nittany Lions for forty-six years and is the all-time wins leader in college football history with 409 victories. While the Jerry Sandusky scandal will forever scar the Paterno legacy, it can not take away the everlasting difference the man made in the lives of his players, friends, family, and the Penn State alumni. Paterno was the last of a dying breed in college football, and the last few months of his life ended just like the Greek tragedies that he loved so much.
Super Bowl Buildup – Last Sunday also saw the AFC and NFC Championship games being played, and although I was a point away from nailing the New England game (I predicted a 24-20 win for Patriots; the final score was 23-20), I missed the 49ers vs. Giants game, a matchup in which Alex Smith played one of the worst games I’ve ever seen in January but escaped any blame for the loss thanks to two untimely fumbles by 49ers punt returner Kyle Williams. The San Fran loss sets up a Giants vs. Patriots Super Bowl, a rematch of Super Bowl XLII in which the Giants beat the 18-0 Patriots 17-14. The odds-makers in Las Vegas currently have the Patriots as three-point favorites, and even though I will hold off on my prediction for the big game until next week’s drill, I will predict that these teams exceed the 31 points scored in their last Super Bowl matchup.
The Peyton Manning Mess – The Indianapolis are in a tough situation when it comes to future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, and things didn’t get any easier when Manning was quoted saying that the Colts organization right now is “not a real good environment”, to which Colts owner Jim Irsay compared Manning to “a politician” and claimed that Manning should have kept his thoughts to himself. While Manning probably would have been better off keeping quiet, Irsay’s decision to call out the franchise QB on the same day the team introduced Chuck Pagano as head coach was a huge mistake. This situation makes one thing perfectly clear: Peyton Manning has played his last game as an Indianapolis Colt. I predict that Andrew Luck will be the Colts’ starter come September and Peyton Manning will retire due to his neck issues.
Buccaneers Select Schiano – A few days after the Bucs missed on landing Oregon’s Chip Kelly, the team decided to give it the old college try one more time, this time landing Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano. Schiano, who rebuilt the Scarlet Knights’ program and went 68-67 in his eleven seasons there, will be taking over a Buccaneers’ franchise that went from being an NFC contender to a pitiful team that resembled a junior varsity squad more than an professional one. Schiano has his work cut out for him, and his first task should be to hire an offensive coordinator and quarterback coach that can help Josh Freeman regain his composure and become an elite NFL quarterback. If Freeman can get in a groove early on, expect Tampa Bay to battle for a spot in the playoffs next season.
Detroit Crowns Prince – The Detroit Tigers pulled off a huge upset in free agency this week, reeling in first baseman Prince Fielder with a 9-year, $214 million deal. Fielder, whose father Cecil played with the Tigers from 1990 to 1996, was expected to sign with the Washington Nationals, but an injury to Tigers catcher/designated hitter Victor Martinez made the team come to the decision that they needed more power in their lineup. Fielder brings just that to the team, and even though the back-end of the deal will probably see a less-productive Fielder filling the designated hitter role, you can bet that the team will be a threat to win the American League pennant as long as Fielder stays healthy.
Sports Quote of the Week
“To defeat a weak opponent is not the problem: The problem is to win when he is as good or better than you”
– General Robert Neyland, former Tennessee head football coach