Here’s the latest installment of Ron Steiner’s Likes and Dislikes. This week, the subjects range from Former U of L head football coach Bobby Petrino (pictured below) to former Cards playing in ArenaBowl XXI.
WE LIKE the chances that former U of L football coach Bobby Petrino will ultimately be successful as an NFL head coach, although he’s already been thrown a few giant curves in his first months as leader of the Atlanta Falcons.
First, of course, there is the Federal indictment of quarterback Michael Vick, who is charged with some horrendous crimes against dogs. Based on the reaction of team owner Arthur Blank, Vick, the former Virginia Tech star, will likely never play again for Atlanta. His overall football career is clearly in jeopardy if he is convicted.
That in itself is enough to give Petrino a massive headache, but now the Falcon’s star running back Warrick Dunn has been ruled out of action for three to four weeks due to back surgery. What else could happen? Don’t ask.
As for Coach Petrino, one thing we always admired was how he prepared his teams and always seemed to have a Plan B, and a Plan C.
Last year, for example, when running back Michael Bush was injured in the Cards’ season opener, Petrino never let it be an excuse for his team to let down. Instead, he adjusted and challenged his players to be positive and compete that much harder. The result was a record-setting 12-1 season and an Orange Bowl Championship.
This time, the coach is taking a similar approach.
“Our guys (with the Falcons) are professionals,” he said. “They know they have a job do. Yes, this will change what we can do on offense, but as always, we’ll decide what our quarterback can do and what he can’t do, and play to his strengths.”
For now, Petrino will turn to former Detroit QB Joey Harrington and reserves Chris Redman (U of L) and D.J. Shockley (Georgia) and a fourth quarterback to be added. “You have to have four just to throw the ball in preseason drills,” Petrino said during the team’s lengthy press conference on Wednesday.
What Petrino’s overall comments and demeanor said to us is that as usual, he’s supremely confident he and his staff will still find a way to win. History shows that if he has a competent QB who can make the basic NFL throws and does precisely what he’s told, Petrino can produce effective, winning passers who win over the long run. We expect similar results this time.
WE DISLIKE the sad news that Wake Forest head basketball coach Skip Prosser, 56, passed away suddenly on Thursday from a heart attack while jogging. Prosser, of course, was the former coach at Xavier University in Cincinnati. Former UC head hoop coach Bob Huggins nearly met a similar fate two years ago when he suffered a heart attack while on a recruiting trip. Huggins was stricken inside the Pittsburgh International Airport. He was saved only because he was treated with a defibrillator by nearby EMS staff.
WE LIKE the fact that U of L basketball star Angel McCoughtry won a gold medal at this year’s Pan American Games as a member of the victorious American team, and Cardinal field hockey coach Pam Bustin and the U.S. won a silver medal at the event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Look for McCoughtry to lead a Great Awakening when it comes to fan support for Cardinal basketball. We knew she was one of the nation’s best, but after leading the U.S. in scoring in the Pan Am tournament, she’s clearly one of the world’s best. Her presence should translate into some of the biggest crowds in U of L history this season.
WE DISLIKE the plagues that have befallen professional sports, although they are virtually all self-inflicted. If NCAA officials and college sports leaders move quickly they could provide disgruntled pro fans with an option. They could take major steps to make college coaches and players even more accountable than they have been in the past. They could take strong new initiatives to help prevent steroid and substance abuse, to help foster responsible off-the-field behavior and to prevent gambling scandals. However, first the NCAA needs to clean up some lingering messes of its own. An investigation into massive and illegal benefits to Reggie Bush at USC seems to be moving at a snail’s pace. Also, repeat offenses at schools such as Oklahoma are getting old. For some fans, like many Sooners, the /files/storyimages/justifies the means. Cheating is OK if it leads to a championship. As respected sportswriter and author John Underwood said on the subject: “If you have to cheat to win, what have you really won? You’ve sacrificed your honor and institutional integrity for a trophy?”
WE LIKE it that former Louisville offensive linemen Will Rabatin and Jason Hilliard will be playing for the Columbus Destroyers in ArenaBowl XXI in New Orleans on Sunday, July 29. Kickoff at the New Orleans Arena is set for 3 p.m. (ABC-TV). Rabatin, a graduate of St. Xavier High School in Louisville, and Hilliard, a Jeffersonville High (Ind.) alumnus, were Cardinal teammates and now have a chance to write another chapter in their respective success stories.
Their Destroyers (7-9, 3-0) will take on the Jan Jose SaberCats (13-3, 2-0) in the teams’ seventh all-time meeting. The Destroyers have never defeated the SaberCats in six previous attempts, including last season’s 68-47 season finale that left Columbus short of the playoffs by one game. The Destroyers, after finishing the regular season 7-9, have made an improbable run to ArenaBowl XXI. They have defeated the top three seeds in the National Conference, all on the road.
"Our slogan all season has been ‘We Believe,’” said Rabatin. “Once we got to the playoffs that took on added meaning. We have a talented team, strong coaching and our guys do believe we can take the last step and come away with the ArenaBowl title.”
NOTE: Daily columnist Ron Steiner also appears on the Red & Blue Review, a weekly statewide TV sports show (Insight Ch. 2). He’s also published weekly in the Voice-Tribune and is a guest each Friday (5:45 p.m.) on the Cardinal Insider radio program (WKRD, 790AM). He can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]