An ESPN report says Louisville coach Charlie Strong will be at the top of the list of NFL coaching candidates.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Monday Rewind almost morphed into a Sunday edition. When one of the top voices of NFL gossip drops a nugget about the local college football coach, it's time to fasten your chinstrap.
But you also have to read the story. Turns out it was a 72-point headline with 6-point type. So the Rewind arrived on schedule. Let's go.
The headline was talk-show juicy: Charlie Strong Among Top Candidates (link here).
Then I read the seven paragraphs that Adam Schefter wrote on ESPN.com. The story wasn't juicy. This was mostly gruel.
Charlie Strong and Teddy Bridgewater could land together on an NFL franchise in 2014. It will be an upset if NFL teams don't at least try to speak with Strong. Those are the hooks that ESPN used to snag readers.
They can do better.
I don't think that's the story. This is the story: The NFL processed eight coaching changes after last season. None of the eight franchises hired an African-American coach to fill an opening. Not a good year for the league's Rooney Rule, that encourages diversity in the coaching world.
For a league driven by African-American players, that's embarrassing, especially compared to the NBA, which actually practices diversity on the sidelines. The NFL knows that, just like it knows that all this concussion talk makes parents of football players uncomfortable.
That cannot happen again after this season. To get ahead of the story, the NFL formed an advisory committee to uncover solid coaching candidates. They created a list. Schefter got a copy of the list. The list includes Charlie Strong and David Shaw of Stanford. You'd be safe adding Kevin Sumlin of Texas A&M to the list. Maybe James Franklin of Vanderbilt, too.
It isn't complicated. You don't have to be Tom Brady or Peyton Manning to create a list led by those names. Pay attention on Saturdays. It's apparent which guys can coach.
That's the story. If the NFL is going to legitimately lean on franchises to hire more African-American head coaches, Strong, Shaw, Sumlin and Franklin will be asked to interview after the season.
There is little in Strong's coaching background that tilts toward the NFL. Strong has never talked like a guy driven to coach on Sundays instead of Saturdays. That's not to say he couldn't do it. It's only to say he doesn't carry on as if he believes he is the next Jim Harbaugh or Pete Carroll.
It's interesting that multiple NFL general managers have scouted U of L games in person the last two weeks, including GMs from the Vikings, Jaguars, Steelers and Jets. Strong has several NFL players in his lineup. I sat next to a general manager who certainly appeared to be intrigued by Calvin Pryor, Louisville's junior safety, Friday night.
As for Strong and Bridgewater teaming together in the NFL? Now you're hunting for web clicks, ESPN. You're making several assumptions, especially that you know that the same teams searching for a quarterback will be teams searching for a new head coach.
Three winless NFL teams are the leaders for the first pick – Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and the New York Giants. The Jaguars have a first-year coach. They could certainly dump him. Greg Schiano has been awful in Tampa. He's a goner. But do you replace a failed college coach with another college coach?
The Giants have Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin – with two Super Bowl wins. Doesn't seem like a fit for Bridgewater and Strong.
It created an interesting Sunday dialogue – and a launching point for the Monday Rewind. But we're a long way from a Bobby Petrino to the Falcons situation. A lllllong way.
ADVANTAGE CENTRAL FLORIDA – Louisville sits at Number 20, three spots ahead of UCF in the first Bowl Championship Series standings, regardless of what the scoreboard said at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium last Friday night. (Link to the long-form BCS standings.)
For that, Louisville needs to thank the human polls, because the Cards are somehow nine spots ahead of the Knights in the coaches' and Harris polls.
The computers don't see it that way. The Knights' average computer ranking (19) is nine spots better than Louisville. The human polls are a textbook example of benefiting from pre-season recognition.
If you're looking for UCF to stumble this week, it's unlikely. The Knights are 22 ½ point home favorites against Connecticut.
WEEKLY SEC FOOTBALL QUESTION -- I know that Southeastern Conference football is the best football in the universe. But does anybody else find it interesting that barely 1 ½ years after Missouri finished fifth in the Big 12, the Tigers can step right in and lead the SEC East?
For the record, Missouri has beaten Vanderbilt, Georgia and Florida – and averaged nearly 43 points per game while doing it. It has taken two tries for Missouri to prove that both Florida and Georgia can be beaten.
You know what people would be saying if Missouri averaged 43 points per game in the Big 12? Do they play defense in that league?
DABO SPEAK – You want to know why coaches prefer to say, "I need to check the video," when you ask them a question as challenging as the weather forecast?
I was going to get Clemson coach Dabo Swinney to explain, but he's currently wrapped in duct tape. My recommendation for Swinney is to please say nothing stronger than, "No comment," for at least six weeks.
Swinney's Clemson team played host to Florida State Saturday night. Maybe I dreamed the whole thing, but when I joined into the telecast there was some Spielberg-produced video of the Clemson team riding busses to the stadium right before kickoff.
Then I kept looking and discovered Swinney had been giving this game Super Bowl treatment all week. He was quoted as saying, "Ain't nobody gonna skin us and eat us alive." I found this one: "It comes down to execution. This one is a tossup." Don't forget this one: "This is where Clemson should be."
Here is the absolute kicker: Swinney exchanged text messages with South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, who is either a big Clemson fan or an attention-seeking politician. She was worried about the game. Swinney wanted her to relax.
This is what he told the Governor: "This is our time."