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PREVIOUS SPORTS
• Sideline: Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
• NCAA Preview 2009
• Sideline: Time For The Talking To Stop
• Sideline: In Memory of Air McNair
• Sideline: Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
• Sideline: Marshall's Not Joshing
• NFL Draft: No Rush To Judgment
• NFL Draft Analysis 2009 (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts
• Sideline: Will Play For Food
• Sideline: Wonderlic Scores
• Sideline: Manning and Sanchez
• Sideline: 2010 Leagues Sci–fi, or Fantasy? / March Madness
• Sideline: Break Out The Brackets
• Sideline: LaDainian Tomlinson On The Record
• Sideline: The Incredible Sulk Continues
• Sideline: Guildford Heat Fired Up
• Sideline: Super Bowl thoughts from the Valley of the Sun
• Sideline: I know I came in here for something
• Sideline: College Football National Signing Day
• Sideline: 27 Points — 27 Super Bowl thoughts
• Sideline: An Epic QB Matchup?
• Sideline: Appreciating Arizona for What They Were
• Sideline: NFL Divisional Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Bowl Season Hangover
• Sideline: Six weeks Later
• Sideline: Wildcard Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Santa's Sackings
• Sideline: A Weis Decision ...for Now
• Sideline: Eye on the Ticker
• Sideline: Lions — An Anagram of Losin
• Sideline: Ready for the Turkey
• Sideline: Making it to the Big Dance
• Sideline: Brighter Days Ahead for Chargers?
• Sideline: Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket / Upset: BYU
• Sideline: Romo's Pause / Seattle Seahawks
• Sideline: Weekend Prep: Red River and More
• Sideline: College Football's 'Crossroads' Weekend
• Sideline: Gramatical Error
• Sideline: Turning The Page
• Sideline: So Cal 'Quizzed
• Sideline: 3rd Tuesday Panic / Forté Yard Dash
• Sideline: Two and Oh; Oh and Two
• Sideline: No More NCAAffeine
• Sideline: Week 1 College Football
• Sideline: How To Spell Heisman / Chad Ocho Cinco
• Sideline: A Second Slice
• Sideline: The Favre story STILL won't go away
• Sideline: Olympic Notes / Ricky's Still Relevant
• Sideline: Committee Meetings
• Sideline: Let the QB Battles Begin
• Sideline: Slinging The Slinger — More Favre
• Interview: Clint Dempsey
• Sideline: Welcome to the 2008 season
• Sideline: Plus One
• 2008 NFL Draft Review
• Sideline: Draft: The Morning After
• Sideline: Draft: Thinking the Unthinkable
• Sideline: Draft: Ready For The Long Haul
• Sideline: Sofa–bound Sport
• Sideline: Post–Winter Wonderland
• Sideline: Six Impossible Things
• Sideline: Brady's Misdirection Play
• Sideline: Colorful Language
• Sideline: Let the Romo–bashing begin
• Sideline: Bowl Bites: The Wrap
• Sideline: All About The Coaches
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 3
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 2
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 1
• Sideline: Coach Situations Vacant
• Sideline: For Some, The Playoffs Are Now
• Sideline: A Certain Lack Of Welcome
• Sideline: Unrelated Notes
• Sideline: Two Thanksgiving thoughts
• Sideline: Halftime: NFC
• Sideline: Halftime: AFC
• Sideline: London / A Tale of Two Chads / Intimidation
• Sideline: Damp Squib / Other London Notes
• Sideline: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em / Dolphins – The Aftermath
• Sideline: The Dolphins Did What?
• Sideline: Notes on the Defenses
• Sideline: Habits to be Broken
• Sideline: Overtime
• Sideline: This Week's Starters
• Sideline: USF: Covering The Spread / Fantastic Football
• Sideline: Grossman: The Final Act? / McNabb, the Epilogue
• Sideline: Eagles QB in Slight Controversy
• Sideline: Leftwich's Parting Gift / Boos cruise
• Sideline: Notre Dame M.I.A.
• Sideline: Looking Beyond NFL Wk. 1
• Sideline: Best Hope For Heisman
• Sideline: Coaching Hot Seats / AP Poll Feeling ’Appy
• Sideline: The NFL’s Prime Cuts
• Sideline: Michigan Falls to Killer Apps
• Sideline: Look Out Couch / The Taint's On You, Bud
SPORTS

SIDELINE
Observations, Opinion & Occasional Silliness by Richard L Gale

LIGHTS, CAMERAS, DISTRACTION
September 7, 2007

Playing sports isn't just about winning and losing. It's also about suspensions and arrests and media hype and quarterback controversies and frustrated sound bites and coaches under pressure. Yeah, I know it SHOULD be about the winning and losing, but let's not kid ourselves – without the other stuff, sports talk radio would just be empty static.

So this year, in addition to musing on weekly performances, winning streaks and playoff implications, we'll be touring the teams intermittently to compile a list of the league's Most Troubled Teams, Top QB Controversies, and Top 10 Coaching Hot Seats.

Clearly, it's too early to deal with arrests, but with Commissioner Goodell this week declaring that there are no more suspensions in the pipeline, now's the best time to start the count. As of right now, nobody is any better or worse than the Bengals, and all existing suspensions don't count. (Of course, all that free time does give some suspended players more opportunity for off-field indiscretions, so it may be only a matter of time before we round up the usual suspects).

QB Controversies? Well, the Jaguars disarmed their own by getting rid of arguably their best passer (not that Quinn Gray can't put pressure on David Garrard down the line), and Charlie Frye/Brady Quinn is a matter of when rather than if. But controversies are just grumbles until an 0-2 or 0-3 record gives local media the ammunition with which to start take pot-shots at incumbents. So we'll come back to that one later on.

Like NASCAR, the Coaching Hot Seat Top 10 enjoys more of a rolling start. Here's our lap one line-up:

1. Tom Coughlin (NY Giants).
With Tiki Barber's retirement reminding us about Coughlin, Michael Strahan's almost-retirement sure seems like another veteran trying to avoid the coach in training camp. A regimental brand of coaching draws respect when it's winning, but following a season when an easy-going coach won a Superbowl with one Manning, a losing record from Coughlin's troops will have people questioning the whole hard-line coach philosophy.

2. Jon Gruden (Tampa Bay).
Gruden inherited Tony Dungy's competitive team and managed them to a Superbowl victory. But Gruden is only 42-42 with the Bucs. A winning record now and overall may be needed ...but that's not improbable.

3. Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati).
Lewis enters his fifth season with a bare positive record (35-30). The off-field antics of some (many) of his players focus the media on the negative, and those story lines threaten to overshadow on-field play for a second season. A playoff visit is probably necessary for Lewis to see year six.

4. John Fox (Carolina).
Fox still has a 49-38 record, but which direction are the Panthers headed? If it comes to switching QB from Jake Delhomme to David Carr, could Fox ride that out without paying with his job?

5. Joe Gibbs (Washington).
There is too much respect for Gibbs in Washington for him to be pushed out of the door, but another bad season from the Redskins might prompt Gibbs to step away. But my guess is they are still in the picture in Week 17, and Gibbs stays.

6. Romeo Crennel (Cleveland).
One of several coaches looking over his shoulder at Bill Cowher rumors.

7. Rod Marinelli (Detroit).
A bit of a nowhere man, heat-wise. Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz will receive any credit for a working offense, and Matt Millen will continue to receive the ire of the fans for any continued disasters. He's probably safe-ish.

8. Mike Holmgren (Seattle).
Holmgren must counter the impression that Seattle are slipping back year-on-year. If they don't win the division again (at least) the pressure for change will increase.

9. Jack Del Rio (Jacksonville).
Del Rio was reportedly keen to bring in a new QB at draft-time, but made the ultimate decision to part with Byron Leftwich. If the season goes badly, plenty of commentators will be revisiting that decision.

10. Cam Cameron (Miami).
The off-season booing has Cameron' seat heated before his season even begins.

AP Poll is Feeling ’Appy In the aftermath of Appalachian State's defeat of Michigan, the AP poll has changed its rules and will now allow voters to give votes to FCS teams such as the Mountaineers. Appalachian would certainly have earned some votes in the most recent poll had the rule change been in place before, but with Appalachian State playing a Division II team this week, the spotlight – and the opportunity to be the first FCS team to receive votes in that poll – may have moved on. Hopefully somebody remembers... even if it's just Steve Spurrier switching his Duke vote.

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