The Baltimore Sun

A sampling of columns from around the country this week:

Never blame the owner

Just as we were getting over a string of head-coach firings in the NFL, the stunning news came out of Denver on Tuesday that the Broncos' president, Pat Bowlen, had fired Mike Shanahan. Bowlen walked into Shanahan's office and, in the course of a five-minute conversation, ended a 14-year marriage.


After all, they had made pretty good music together, winning two Super Bowls.

Perhaps Shanahan had become too entrenched. Perhaps Bowlen, like Jerry Jones when his Dallas Cowboys had Jimmy Johnson, wanted his franchise back.

"After giving this careful consideration, I have concluded that a change in our football operations is in the best interests of the Denver Broncos," Bowlen said in a statement Tuesday.

Once, just once, I'd like to hear an owner call a news conference to make the following announcement: As the quarterback of this franchise, I realize that I've made a number of bad reads. I've held the ball too long and taken some bad sacks. We are where we are today because of my bad decisions. I'm going to make a good decision today. Effective immediately, I am firing myself as owner.

This is a dream, of course. The reality is that owners place the blame for failure everywhere except in the owner's suite.



Doubt remains on ACC

Remember what was supposed to happen when Miami and Virginia Tech joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2004 and Boston College came in a year later?

The defecting Big East programs would inject football respectability into a basketball league. The three teams, especially the Hurricanes, would challenge Florida State's ACC dominance and raise the league's national profile.

It hasn't happened that way. It's closer to the opposite, actually.

Miami has yet to even win its division. Boston College has lost twice in the ACC championship game. Virginia Tech has made its mark in the ACC but flops when it's time to earn something more.

Please don't point out Virginia Tech's 20-7 victory over Cincinnati on Thursday night in the Orange Bowl. The Hokies get kudos for ending the ACC's eight-game losing streak in Bowl Championship Series bowl games, but not much else. The victory does little to boost the ACC's national stature, which might be lower than ever. The ACC already was 3-6 this season in bowls before the Orange, and a sloppy Hokies victory over the Big East champs doesn't do much to change things.



Spurrier's fade route

What do you think of Steve Spurrier now?

While he might still be the most important figure in Florida Gators football history, Spurrier currently is irrelevant to his alma mater.

Tim Tebow is every bit the quarterback he was. Urban Meyer just might be every bit the coach he was.

All his accomplishments as a player and coach - and they were many - are vanishing into the mists.

And his current team, a scraggly band of South Carolina Gamecocks, is little more than a speed bump for the Gators as they motor down the fast lane to the Bowl Championship Series title game.

No, we can't yet ask, "Steve who?" but we certainly can plead, "Steve, why?"




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