Northern Wyoming News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Alex Kuhn
Sports Editor 

Hear me out...Stop that hire!


December 2, 2017


Last Sunday was an interesting day in the world of football.

First off, after playing sluggish for most the game, my Jacksonville Jaguars were finally able to take a lead, lose it, regain it and pick off Cardinals QB Blaine Gabbert. The game looked well in hand, all the offense had to do was work the ball into field goal range and run some clock.

Jags QB Blake Bortles had other plans.

Bortles threw a soul-crushing interception, a staple of his time under center in Jacksonville. The Cards didn't do anything with the pick because the Jags D is otherworldly and forced a punt. But bad clock management on Jags coach Doug Marrone's part gave Arizona one last shot to get into field goal range for 178-year-old kicker Phil Dawson to kick a 57-yard game-winner, the longest of his career.

Frustrating, yes, the Jags had a chance with their remaining schedule to push the Steelers for that No. 2-seed in the AFC, but with that loss not so much anymore. Yet, I'm not as annoyed, because when you've stunk for close to a decade being in the driver's seat for a playoff spot is a win unto itself.

So rather than breakdown the categories of Bortles INTs from "Why, Blake?" to "That might be his worst pick of his career?" there was another noteworthy event happening in football.

More specifically in the world of college football.

Sunday morning the University of Tennessee announced they were hiring Greg Schiano as their next head football coach. By the late afternoon, UT AD John Currie (now former UT AD) said they were backing out of their deal with Schiano, who was a solid college coach and terrible NFL coach, due to the intense backlash from the UT fan base.

Good on the UT fans, they saw a bad hire and put the kibosh to it. Other than the delusional thought of running a program or sports franchise, this a dream for most sports fans. Their voices were heard and prevented a miserable three- to four-year stretch from happening.

I'm a little jealous because I wish this could happen for the Chicago Bulls. It's at the top of my sports Christmas wish list that they'd be sold to a passionate owner whose first priority is winning and giving the fans the best product available. This said owner would ride in and clean out the Bull's front office like the Archangel Michael running through Satan's armies.

Admittedly, that's a slightly extreme example but truth be told it brought a smile to my face. The idea of living in a world in which the Bulls are run by competent basketball people caused me to daydream a bit...



OK, crashing back to reality.

Back to Tennessee, the whole situation has me feeling a bit mixed. I like the idea of fans having a say in their next coach, but, fans can also be very dumb. I say that as a passionate fan myself of all the teams I follow.

I understand the plight of the decision makers for these programs and franchises. It's an either-or- job, you're either getting far too much credit or taking far too much blame. Then to top it off you have to deal with us fans.

As fans we're very emotional and live entirely in the moment. The word fan is shortened from fanatic, which according to Merriam-Webster is a person exhibiting excessive enthusiasm and intense uncritical devotion toward some controversial matter. Fanatic originates from the Latin word fanum, meaning sanctuary, temple. The first use of fan popped up in the 17th century but it wasn't until the 19th century that is became widely used to describe followers of the sports teams.

(You're welcome by the way for the interesting tidbit. Feel free to use that during the upcoming Christmas party circuit. It can be used to show someone that you actually know something or bore someone so much that they run away to talk to someone else.)

When you look on any sports team fan forum, it's clear by the comments that the definition is an understatement. The moods on those message boards tend to either be "burn it all to the ground" or "Let's raise money to build a shrine to [X person in charge] that will make the Vatican and Mecca look like one of those rundown combo Long John Silver's/A&W's" with very little in between.

But that little "in between" is often filled with wonderful nuanced observations from people who are very invested into whatever program or franchise they're rooting for.

So it comes down to a balancing act for those in charge. You can't place a lot of weight in fans opinions, because what you'll eventually turn into is a Marco Rubio-like politician. A person who at one time had original thoughts, but after many decades of making decisions by "testing the waters" has lost the ability to do so. Crowd pleasing only gets you so far and can dry up quickly if positive results do not follow.

Now, completely ignore a fan base and your days are likely numbered, as Currie knows now. UT fans wanted a return to the glory days of being an SEC contender and Currie delivered a guy in Schiano who is nearly the definition of mediocre. All they wanted was some hope even though, deep down inside they know, like the rest of us outsiders, that UT isn't going to be returning to a superpower anytime soon.

Again, congrats to UT fans for dodging the Schiano-bullet but don't take it too far. You don't want that people pleaser coming in and making things worse. Just root for someone who is confident and competent in their abilities to guide the program.


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