Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Bears In The Super Bowl? That's Crazy Like A Fox

Going with another eclectic post for this week:

On the Bears making the Super Bowl:

-This blog would love to see a new version of the Super Bowl Shuffle. Rex Grossman would make a great new "Punky QB" and everyone wants to see Tank Johnson saying "We aren't here to start no trouble...."

-Over/Under on Tank Johnson getting arrested in a Miami Club: 2 days before the Super Bowl.

-Player most likely to get stopped at the airport for trying to hide his narcotics in his gun: Tank Johnson

On College Basketball

-Something this blog has hypothesized for a while: Nevada's Mark Fox is not a good coach. This game is sort of an example of this. This blog grants that Fox is a tremendous recruiter, he was involved with getting Nick Fazekas, Ramon Sessions, and Marcellus Kemp to Nevada, which isn't the easiest sell for recruits. Even with Fazekas playing at less than 100%, the Wolfpack should have handled the Aggies. Note Fox's mature postgame reaction, refusing to give credit to NMSU's Justin Hawkins after Hawkins proved unstoppable.

Fox has helped build a great program in Reno, but this blog believes that the main reasons for this have been

A) Trent Johnson's leftovers. Johnson was a great coach from an X's and O's perspective. Strangely enough, this blog thinks he might be a little more "handcuffed" at Stanford with higher admissions standards than he was at Nevada with a lower profile. That said, Stanford does seem to be on the rise this year with wins over top-25 RPI teams Washington State and Texas Tech this year.

B) Fox is a great recruiter. This point cannot be denied. Bringing in the level of talent he has to a relatively isolated WAC school in Reno, you have to give him credit there.

This blog doesn't think he's the greatest sideline coach though, there seems to be some immaturity when he gets outcoached, which happens a lot. Witness last year's first-round exit against Montana in a 5-12 matchup. After arriving at the site of their first round game, coaches were introduced to the local media (and national media) at a press conference. Fox took the opportunity to complain about the Wolfpack's inability to get game tapes from Montana. Well Mark, not every school plays on national TV every game. Even Nevada probably only had about 4 or 5 games on national TV last season.

While Nevada might not have the resources of a major conference team, this is something that only Nevada can be blamed for. At the very least, other WAC teams would have probably have had some tape on hand, Boise State had played them earlier in the year. Maybe BSU was playing hardball, (but this blog doubts it) and Nevada might have soured relations with them to create the acrimony. Given Fox's propensity to deflect credit from opponents, this wouldn't surprise Pun City.

This blog would think that the best way for Nevada to improve would be to hire an assistant coach that is more of an on-court specialist, then actually cede control to this assistant during games. Fox's current assistants with on-court duties are also assigned recruiting and scouting responsibilities. A specialist, even an assistant in charge of just scouting on-court duties, would probably resolve a lot of issues that come up when Nevada is playing a strategically difficult opponent.

In any case, being a recruiting specialist isn't the worst thing for a head coach, especially in a conference like the WAC. What stuns this blog is that major programs have looked at Fox to potentially fill openings. This is crazy. Unless a program has had major recruiting deficiencies over the last few years, there is not a great reason to hire Fox at this stage. Major universities should look for a good combination of a recruiter and a strategic head coach.

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