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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

A Certain Lack Of Welcome
December 13, 2007

The past few weeks produced a couple of coaching changes that have surprised me — and both have related to the University of Arkansas. Neither was exactly shocking, and both had been suggested by observers, but the timing of one of them caught me out.

The first created the vacancy: Houston Nutt resigned as coach of Arkansas. The Razorbacks had started the season poorly, losing three SEC games to fan the heat under his seat. They finished the season 8–4, on the periphery of Top 25 ranking, but with an impressive win over top–ranked LSU, who may yet end up as national champions.

Perhaps it was the fact that Nutt was unable to elicit such a performance from the Razorbacks throughout the season that made him resign, or perhaps it was just the grind of speculation that he might go. Perhaps he just knew that Ole Miss was beckoning, and he likes the opportunity to coach at a program of equal stature, where the atmosphere is more welcoming, and where he has the opportunity to regularly go against his old team.

And who could blame him? It isn't much to ask that somebody who is good at their job (75–48 at Arkansas, 111–70 overall) gets to work somewhere they feel wanted. My surprise at his departure comes from the fact that he wasn't made to feel happier with the win over LSU, that somehow that didn't erase the frustrations of the earlier part of the season. I can only guess that Nutt sensed lingering reservations.

Then the vacancy was filled: Bobby Petrino, who was coach of Louisville only last year, gives up his NFL job with the Atlanta Falcons after only 13 games to return to the college ranks.

The timing of this one really threw me. Only the night before (or because of time differences, earlier that morning from my perspective), Falcons owner Arthur Blank had volunteered to appear in the Monday Night Football booth, and —read Louisville's Brian Brohm they chose in next year's draft. Meanwhile out on the field, Louisville alum Chris Redman was making the best of a losing effort. Nothing suggested that Petrino would be gone within 24 hours.

Three things trouble me about Petrino's decision to quit the Falcons. The first is the quit. I don't like the fact that with the upheaval the Falcons have suffered this season, Petrino walked out after 13 games. The second thing that troubles me is that he's going to Arkansas with greater expectations than Houston Nutt had, but likely won't have Darren McFadden. At least at the Falcons, expectations were bargain–basement after Michael Vick's troubles emerged.

But the thing that really troubles me is that after several veteran players set against Petrino or had run–ins with the coaching staff early on in the Falcons season DeAngelo Hall and Alge Crumpler spring to mind it ends with the coach blinking first. I get the impression that the players basically ran Petrino out of town, starting early enough in the season that you can't point at the 3–10 record and say it was anything to do with that.

It seems to me that at some level the Falcons are still in denial. Hall was a Virginia Tech alum, like Michael Vick, and Crumpler was Vick's favorite target. Even when Roddy White scored this past Monday, he lifted his jersey to reveal a 'Free Mike Vick' T–shirt underneath. This news just in, Rod: Michael isn't going to be freed, because he didn't reach the standards society sets. And if scoring touchdowns for a living sets a different standard, it has to be a higher one, not a lower one.

I believe there is still an element within the Falcons team that hasn't finished smarting from having their franchise quarterback taken away from them. And until they stop sulking, until they stop living in denial, until they are ready to accept that a new franchise quarterback WILL arrive without resenting the coach that brings him in, the Falcons won't move forward.

And no coach is going to feel comfortable coaching them.


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