SCREAMIN’ FROM THE CHEAP SEATS : SEPTEMBER 27

By Leo Haggerty

DOES ANYONE HAVE A CLUE

FIRING NCAA COACHES IN MID-SEASON

I cannot believe that LSU jettisoned HC Les Miles.  Miles, for the Bayou Tigers, has an overall record of 114-34 over 12 seasons that includes a national championship and another trip to the BCS final game.  Miles is 2-2 this season with losses against 4-0 Wisconsin at Lambeau Field along with a last-second road defeat to a desperate Auburn team last Saturday.

If you go back and check out my Leo’s Losers column for Week 4, I stated that the losing coach in the LSU-Auburn contest may not survive the weekend.  Well, I was right about that and it was one of the few correct picks I had but that’s for another day and another column.

Don’t feel sorry for Miles.  He has a huge buyout, to the tune of $10-plus million, so he won’t be worried about where his next meal will come.  Feel sorry for the other NCAA football coaches on the “hot seat” because Miles is available with a great resume even though he eats grass.

This only goes to to prove that university athletic departments, along with their fan bases and boosters, are just interested in what have you done for me lately when it comes to the head coach.  I call it the “Mark Richt Syndrome” because all the former Georgia HC did was win 10-plus games a year down in Athens.  That wasn’t good enough for the media along with some Bulldog heavy-hitting alumni boosters and Richt was let go only to fall on his feet at Miami which just happens to be his alma mater.  UGA may rue the day they sent Richt packing and LSU, in a few years, may have the same feelings.

A great many universities have unrealistic expectations about their athletic programs.  Only four teams can go to the playoffs and only one will be crowned champion.  Most schools would take double-digit wins right now and should.  That’s a great season and I don’t care who you play.  two numbers on the left side of the dash is huge.

Pinch yourself, people.  You’re not Alabama or Ohio State or Florida State or Clemson or Stanford.  You are not going to be in the conversation every year for the National Championship.  Take your 10 wins along with a major bowl every year and hope that once every four or five years you make the playoffs.  Don’t blow your coach out at mid-season and then get stuck with the emergency coach as your new head man.  That’s what happened at USC and the powers that be, unless the program gets turned around real quick, may have a bad case of buyers remorse.

Let the season run its course and then take action if you feel the need.  That way you aren’t rushed to replace the head coach and you see what kind of talent pool is available plus it saves money.  It’s the right thing to do so do it.

WHAT’S HOT

CLASS REUNIONS

I was able to attend my 45th  High School reunion (John F. Kennedy High School Class of 1971 in Willingboro, NJ) last weekend.  To anyone who is “on the fence” as to whether attend or not attend a class reunion, please decide in the former.

Some people I hadn’t seen in 45 years.  Part of the blame has to fall on me.  I moved out of “the ‘Boro” in 1976.  Sure, I’ve been back for other reunions and to visit family and friends but not so often lately.  Since 2004, when we moved my Mom to sunny Tampa, I can count on one hand the times I’ve even driven through my old home town.  Obviously, you can see why I was excited to return to my “old stomping grounds” especially since the festivities would be held at our old high school that has been turned into an events center.  If those halls could talk, what stories they could tell.

One of the main draws, besides seeing former classmates, was that the Reunion Committee chose to invite former teachers back as our guests.  Fifteen former educators, of whom four were coaches, were able to attend ranging in age from 75 to 87.  I was asked to introduce them and I humbly accepted the honor of recognizing the people who had such a profound effect on the person I and my classmates became.

I can sum up the weekend in a line from book The Tale of Two Cities which goes, “It was the best of times and the worst of times.”  Yes, we went down memory lane and there was a lot of “tread off the tires” after 63 years.  We celebrated with friends and we mourned those who could not be with us for whatever reason.

The bottom line is a great time was had by all.  As my father would say, “The drinks were cold and the friends were warm.”  What more could one ask.  See you at the 50th!

WHAT’S NOT

CONCUSSION PROTOCOL

Ok, I’m back on my soapbox again.  The NFL, when it comes to the  concussion protocol, is dealing with the effect instead of the cause.  That cause is the improper fitting of the helmets that NFL players are wearing.

It is painfully obvious that, in almost all cases where you see a helmet come off during the game, the instrument that is designed to protect the player’s coconut doesn’t fit.  Twenty years ago, you almost never saw a helmet come off during an entire season.  Today, if only one comes off during the contest, it’s considered a good day.

You should not be able to put your helmet on without having to pull it apart from the cheek pads.  If a player can just take their helmet and put in on by holding on to the face mask, it doesn’t fit and is not protecting the player as it should.

Let’s go back and use recently retired QB Peyton Manning because he’s a perfect example.  Every time #18 took off his lid, you could see an impression across his forehead.  That was a sign that the helmet fit snug to his head as it should.

I have talked to an executive for one of the helmet manufacturers.  He told me that, for a helmet to fit properly, it had to be “borderline uncomfortable.” The helmet is not designed fort the player’s comfort but his protection.

Also, and here’s the big one that I’m assuming few players realize, if anything is worn (bandanas or skull caps) or attached (hair extensions) to the head of a player it voids the warranty.

I applaud the NFL for making an attempt to deal with the problem of concussions.  Now, the league needs to take the next step.  Ban anything that the helmet manufacturer says voids the warranty.  If the National Football League is truly interested in the safety of its players, this needs to be done yesterday.

LOOKING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL

PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

The Crystal Ball is extremely cloudy when asked who will win the first Presidential debate this Monday.  Can’t make out an answer yet.  The Crystal Ball is in sharp definition when asked if it will be worth watching and the answer to that is a resounding yes.

This will be the best television reality program of all time.  Either set you DVR for Monday Night Football or the Presidential Debate.  They should be extremely entertaining because both will be unpredictable.

On Monday night are you ready for some (fill in the blank)?  The Crystal Ball rests.