Sports Columns

January 18, 2014

Norman Arey: Scratching my head at these hires

Just when you thought college football was over until next fall, we had one of the biggest news weeks of the season for that sport.

In no particular order of unbelievability (that isn’t really a word, but you understand), Louisville hired Bobby (Hop on my motorcycle, baby!) Petrino as head coach (again), Penn State stole Vanderbilt’s James Franklin and Georgia defensive coordinator Todd (We can’t stop anybody) Grantham joined Petrino to misdirect his defense.

And by the way, Aladambama hired Lane (Where’s my next job?) Kiffin to lead the Crimson Tide’s offensive efforts and coach quarterbacks.

I guess the most jaw-dropping hire belongs to Louisville. If there was any question as to whether morality was dead in the sport, this answers it with a resounding “Yes, it most certainly is.” Forget Petrino loading his mistress onto the back of his motorcycle and then wrecking and lying about it and getting fired at Arkansas. Think about how he left Louisville the first time around to take the job with the Atlanta Falcons. And then how he left the Falcons after 13 games to take the job at Arkansas.

The Cardinals are going into the Atlantic Coast Conference next season, and I have to wonder what their new league must think of them, keeping in mind that Louisville wasn’t a popular addition within the league anyway. The school obviously has a short memory and a shorter grasp on respectability and the concept of what’s good for the student-athlete.

If Petrino is good for college athletics, God help higher education in America.

I don’t want to short-change Alabama’s startling hire, though.

Kiffin in a Crimson Tide hat and shirt? That’s blasphemous. Alabama head coach Nick Saban speaks of Kiffin’s ability as an offensive mind in glowing terms, but I just find him offensive, period.

I can’t wait until Alabama visits Tennessee for a game. Tennessee was where Kiffin was hired to make enemies in the Southeastern Conference and then left the program in a shambles after less than a year. Mark Oct. 25 on  your calendar. That’s when Kiffin, decked out in crimson, will take the field in Knoxville. I can promise he’ll get a suitable welcome.

And I guess all the Bulldogs fans who wanted to get rid of Grantham, their defensive coordinator the past four seasons, are ecstatic. Not only is he gone, he has to pay Georgia about $80,000 in a buyout of his contract. I guess there’s somebody for everybody in this world.

As far as James Franklin’s hire at Penn State, I think it’s a good move for both parties. Despite the rape allegations that involved several members of the Vandy football team last summer, Franklin is the right hire for the crippled Nittany Lions. Franklin is a no-nonsense competitor who will have Penn State right back where Bill O’Brien had them.

• In the pro football world: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league is seriously considering adding two more teams for the playoffs next season. He’s also shopping a Thursday night NFL package to all the television networks, and that could really put the hurt on the college Thursday night package. ... Seattle and San Francisco, who hate each other, will meet in the NFC title game on Sunday. Seattle issued a statement that it would not sell tickets to anyone with a California mailing address! ... A newspaper reporter told the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick he should start showing a little class after the quarterback showed up for an interview with his baseball hat on backwards. I can’t disagree, although, based on the sports writers I know, they shouldn’t be allowed to have an opinion on clothing.

• Finally — and most puzzling — Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt took the job vacated by Grantham at Georgia. Why?

Pruitt is leaving a national championship team (with a good shot of making it two in a row) to go to Athens, where the Bulldogs aren’t slated for a particularly good season.

Makes no sense.

Norman Arey is an award-winning journalist whose column appears in The Daily Citizen on Thursdays and Saturdays. You can write to him at normanarey@att.net.

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