Jan. 04, 2017
"The Stack" 1-3-17
The Stack is back on this Tuesday and today is more of a reaction day than anything. The National Championship game is set in college football. It was Black Monday in the NFL. Plenty of football to talk about so let’s get right to it and see what’s in “the stack” for today, Tuesday, January 3rd:
Black Monday in the NFL
Black Monday in the NFL (not to be confused with Black Friday which is probably a more joyous occasion for people) started off early on Sunday. Head coach Chip Kelly was relieved of his duties after the San Francisco 49ers lost to the Seattle Seahawks. He joined general manager Trent Baalke who confirmed before the game even kicked off that he was gone. Things are not going well in San Francisco. They are a ways from being competitive I feel like. The San Diego Chargers parted ways with head coach Mike McCoy. The Chargers just couldn’t get things going this season and with a likely move up north to Los Angeles coming, the Chargers may want to create a little spark. I hope they stay in San Diego, but I doubt it.
Denver also has an opening. There were plenty of reports earlier Sunday that Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak would likely be coaching his final game due to health issues. He confirmed that on Monday saying he was stepping down and is retired from coaching. We’ll see if he stays retired. He has missed a couple of games, one in Houston and one in Denver due to a seizure and a migraine. John Elway says the Broncos will look outside of the organization for their next hire. The Broncos have the feeling of a team that might be taking another step or two back for the next couple of years before they become a legitimate playoff team again.
By my count, that makes six head coaching openings. They are:
Los Angeles Rams
San Diego Chargers
San Francisco 49ers
The Bills will likely try to keep Anthony Lynn and tab him as their next head coach. He served as the Bills interim coach for their last game against the Jets and is presumed to be the frontrunner. Tom Coughlin’s name has been mentioned in connection with the Jacksonville Jaguars which makes sense since he was their first ever coach. That is the only job I can see him going to. Current New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has been mentioned for the Los Angeles Rams job. The Rams would have to do a sign and trade for him, but that would certainly be a splashy hire. Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia, New England Patriots offensive and defensive coordinator respectively, are in the mix for a number of openings. Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is also generating plenty of interest. Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith, Jacksonville Jaguars interim head coach Doug Marrone and Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott are all going to get at least one interview from a team. There will be a surprise hiring I’m sure and there could still be one surprise firing so definitely stay tuned. News will be coming fast and furious.
Lane Kiffin relieved of offensive play-calling duties
When Alabama takes the field in the National Championship game next Monday night against Clemson in Tampa, they will do so without offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. Kiffin, who was named head coach at Florida Atlantic last month will not call plays. Instead it will be Steve Sarkisian. Head coach Nick Saban said that, “it was in the best interest of our players, our program and for Lane for him to assume his duties at Florida Atlantic. We mutually agreed that this was best for both programs.” I’m sure Kiffin would beg to differ, but if you saw Alabama’s offensive performance against Washington on Saturday, it could be tough to argue that Kiffin head is completely in Tuscaloosa and trying to win a national championship. Still, Kiffin and Saban seemed to have a little friction during most of their time together. Kiffin was routinely at the end of an ass-chewing from Saban. Maybe he started to tune Saban out. One way or the other, Kffin is no longer with Alabama and we’ll see how Alabama’s offense looks next Monday against Clemson.
Coach K undergoing back surgery
Duke men’s head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski will undergo back surgery on Friday and is expected to miss roughly four weeks. Associate head coach Jeff Capel will serve as head coach while Coach K recovers. This has been anything but an easy season for Duke. With all of the fantastic freshman talent coming in, most people (myself included) thought they were head and shoulders over the rest of the field and would win the national championship. Now, this is yet another hurdle this team must overcome. Can Duke hang on? They’re still dealing with Grayson Allen’s tripping suspension. Things could start to go south for this squad.
The College Football Playoff semifinals were New Year’s Eve. Once again, they weren’t really all that suspenseful. Last year, Alabama shut out Michigan State and Clemson handled Oklahoma pretty easily. This year, Alabama handled Washington after spotting them the first touchdown of their game to win 24-7 and Clemson shut out Ohio State 31-0. Back to Bama. This was not a great offensive game by them at all and could be one of the reasons that Lane Kiffin is no longer with them as we discussed above. They were in a dogfight with the Huskies, but perhaps destroyed a little of Washington’s moral when they returned an interception for a touchdown (shocking right?) in the final moments of the first half. They kept Jake Browning and Washington’s offense at bay and turned in another dominating defensive effort.
They will be in a rematch with Clemson who embarrassed Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett did not have a good game. The Buckeyes couldn’t take advantage of an early Clemson mistake and missed a field goal and it was all downhill from there. Deshaun Watson had a good game, Clemson ran the ball well and now they get what they want, a rematch with Alabama in the National Championship game. They thought they should have won it last year. We’ll see if they can win it this year.
Coming up later this week: NFL wild card preview plus other top stories in sports