Monday, January 08, 2007

Mora the same?

With visions of Cam Cameron, Ken Whisenhunt and even Dan Reeves dancing in everyone's heads, the Atlanta Falcons went under-the-radar to hire Bobby Petrino as the team's next head coach. The text message came in bearing the news at 9:13 p.m. yesterday, and my immediate reaction: "Um, wow."

There was no exclamation point behind that "wow," by the way. Just a plain ol' "wow."

I was never a fan of hiring Jim Mora, and I was certainly supportive of his ouster. And if Mark Richt ever left my beloved Georgia Bulldogs, bringing Petrino in as his successor would have me exhausting my supply of ecstatic punctuation.

It's just, well, history ain't on the Falcons' side here. Let's review how a few above-average college coaches have fared recently in the pro ranks:

Rich Brooks: 13-19
Pete Carroll: 34-33
Butch Davis: 24-36
Dennis Erickson: 40-56
Nick Saban: 15-17
Steve Spurrier: 12-20

As Doug pointed out earlier today, only Dallas has seemed to get these kind of hires right.

Now Petrino does have NFL experience, and that's consoling (I hadn't remembered his stint as Jacksonville offensive coordinator at first, but then again, not much is memorable about Jacksonville's offensive output in any year). And there's no bigger fan of Petrino's right now than me. Let's play best-case-scenario here, and hope his playcalling mastery and offensive fireworks turn Michael Vick into the superstar he might be capable of being. Because let's be plain here: Vick is the test. Pass that one, and the hire was the right call.

I'm not sure any coach would have elicited an affirmative exclamation point, by the way. Whisenhunt would have gotten an "Ok, cool." Cameron, the same. Steve Mariucci and Mike Martz? "For fuck's sake." Dan Reeves? "No way, somebody's screwing with me."

So "wow." And here's hoping an exclamation point is on the way.

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