Random thoughts from an eventful Ozarks sports weekend…
*So the Chiefs canned Romeo Crennel (expected), but have delayed the occupational execution of GM Scott Pioli (unexpected) on this wild and wacky “Black Monday” in the NFL?
The latter means there are lots of options now available for the Chiefs to sort through for a head coach and both offensive and defensive coordinators with so many guys let go.
The likes of former head coaches/ready to return to coordinators roles like Lovie Smith, Chan Gailey and Norv Turner now are available, new faces like Dirk Koetter (Atlanta OC) and Kyle Shanahan (Washington OC) are popping into head coach conversations and the usual cast of “been out of work” proven commodities (Jon Gruden, Tony Dungy, Bill Cowher, Marty Schottenheimer, etc.) are cropping up as well for anything from GM to HC positions.
But none of it will work, or happen, until Pioli is gone and the house is completely clean. Number one, because Pioli has done nothing to prove his competence in terms of draft record or free-agent signings, inheriting a 2-14 team when he arrived four years ago and producing an even worse 2-14 nightmare this past season. Would you jump at the opportunity to join an organization where you knew your boss was incapable of handling his role, much less advise you on yours?
And number two, because no proven coach in his right mind is going to sign on board with a franchise whose GM has extreme lame duck status at best, knowing full well that if and when Pioli finally goes down like the Titanic a year from now, a new GM is going to want to bring his own right-hand man into the mix to fix it.
Said it before, and will say it again … the Chiefs could take notice of the situation in St. Louis, where the Rams dug out of a deep hole and are clearly headed in the right direction because they hired a proven football man (Jeff Fisher) and essentially gave him total control over all things football-related.
Kansas City must do the same, or be prepared to settle for a second-tier (or worse) option on the sidelines for 2013, which will further infuriate an already aggravated, and up to this point, loyal Chiefs fan base.
*The first Pink & White Lady Classic is in the books, with Little Rock Hall beating Ozark and Republic downing Branson for the respective titles. One can only wonder how much better the inaugural 32-team event, the merging of two previously successful winter girls’ basketball tourneys, would have been had Mother Nature not intervened and kept top-quality programs from Louisville (DuPont Manual) and Jacksonville, Ark., from being able to make the trip.
I heard one coach say they’d rather see the new tournament stick with a purely local 32-team field and skip the out-of-town entries, but I disagree. If you do so, then basically what you have is a more watered-down Pink and White.
Much of the allure of Saturday’s final night was seeing how a very strong Ozark team could match up against a Little Rock Hall squad with a point guard going to Rutgers and a center headed to the Lady Bears at Missouri State (and the answer … quite well). And part of the disappointment was not being able to see defending state champion Republic get a chance to do the same against DuPont Manual, instead being paired up against a very game Branson squad, but a matchup that we’ll also be able to see in Central Ozark Conference play here in the next two months.
That’s not quite the special, buzz-worthy experience for these young ladies like the boys who play in the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions receive each January, even if it is being played for a prestigious local holiday tourney championship.
If you had two out-of-area girls’ teams in the finals, it wouldn’t have the same crowd-luring effect as the T of C finals of the sort simply because the attraction of the T of C, in large part, is seeing in-person future NBA and high-level college stars do their thing in each following winter … which simply doesn’t carry the same weight in the women’s game, where you don’t see their college stars on the tube til late March and the NCAA tourney. And, as far as the pro game, very few are watching the WNBA at all (check those TV ratings for proof).
I think the way the Pink & White Lady Classic was set up this year – virtually assuring that you have a local vs. non-local championship by separating the two groups in the pre-tourney seedings – was ideal.
Ozark-LR Hall in the Pink finals had the feel there for a while of one of that classic Glendale-Christ The King T of C finale back in 1994, and the Ash Grove-Miller Career Academy also created some buzz in the third-place matchup between two teams who would otherwise never see each other. Now, if we could just get a guaranteed snow- and ice-free forecast from one of these local Storm Teams for next December to be assured those types of pairings actually happen …
*Quickies: Not surprised by Bears fans giving Barry Hinson a nice ovation prior to tipoff of the MSU-Southern Illinois game on Sunday. Like St. Louis Cardinals fans, they know and exhibit class when it should be recognized, especially for this first return to Springfield for Hinson. Now, three or four years from now, or maybe even next year, he will surely become just another enemy coach returning to The Q’ and will be treated accordingly. … Among local players in the 32-team field, West Plains’ senior Andi Haney was the best player I saw at the Pink & White this weekend. Harding University out of Searcy, Ark., got a dandy in the point guard who plays with a tremendous amount of energy, fire and grit. … Lady Bears signee Katelyn Weber from Little Rock Hall had her moments, and at 6-4’ish, shows a nice shooting touch coupled with mobility around the basket. She might not be ready to step in and be a force next year, but with 15 scholarships at the D-I level, definitely somebody worth taking and developing. Hard to find 6-5 posts that aren’t headed to BCS schools. … Lost in the weekend shuffle was a big win for the Evangel men over nationally top-ranked Oklahoma Baptist 79-66 at the Ashcroft Center on Saturday. Coach Steve Jenkins’ Crusaders are ranked 18th nationally, and should climb substantially after serving notice that they, too, can be a national factor this season with Zack Kleine playing on the same high level that he did as a prep standout at Mount Vernon. … I keep hearing and reading that Nixa’s run of three straight Blue & Gold titles will come to an end next season with the graduation of senior standouts Austin Ruder and Jalen Norman, but I gotta ask: Do you really believe coach Jay Osborne is suddenly going to quit coaching to win titles, and the Eagles are suddenly going to start running dry of talent? My guess is a younger Nixa team that hears such talk next season might be just as dangerous entering the B & G as the one that, for the last couple of years, really had little to prove in late December to area fans.
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