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Category: Question of the day

Who will be the next big-time college coach to leave for NFL?

Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss which college football coaches might jump to the NFL. Check back throughout the day for more responses and join the discussion with a comment of your own.

Desmond Conner, Hartford Courant

If his LSU club beats Alabama for the national title, could it be Lester Edwin Miles?

The Mad-Hatter? Les Miles?

He had some experience at the pro level as an assistant coach with the Dallas Cowboys years ago, but maybe, just maybe, he's ready for that challenge as a top guy at the top level.

Miles is looking at title No. 2 here (2007) next week and already is one of the highest-paid coaches in college, $3.75 million per season excluding performance bonuses.

How many challenges are left for him at this level?

Miles may be perfectly fine with staying at the college level and winning multiple titles. After all, 'Bama Coach Nick Saban was a college success at LSU before going to the NFL, where he didn't last two seasons.

Saban made his decision to go to the Dolphins after a Capital One Bowl loss to Iowa on the final play of the game.

If Miles, who inked a seven-year deal last January, wins the national title next week, with so much shifting in greed-driven college football and perhaps the potential for coaches salaries to be reined in as well, maybe he gives the NFL a look.

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Should the Indianapolis Colts have fired Bill and Chris Polian?


Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss the Indianapolis Colts' firing of vice president Bill Polian and general manager Chris Polian. You can join the discussion with a comment of your own.

Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times

Let’s limit this to Bill Polian, as he was the true decision maker here and Chris is clearly replaceable. Firing him was the right thing to do because the Colts need a fresh start, and need to be as attractive and malleable as possible to attract the best next coach. With Polian there, an executive with arguably more power than any in the NFL, a new coach would be plugged in to that rigid pecking order. That won’t work for everyone.

The fact that the Colts were a house of cards without Peyton Manning suggests they weren’t prepared to deal with a worst-case scenario. That falls not just on the coaches, but also on the front office. Polian has an impressive resume and clearly knows personnel, but his recent drafts with the Colts haven’t been particularly inspired. It’s not as if a talented new GM would necessarily be a step down, and clearly his iron-fisted management style has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.

Jim Irsay called the firings “an intuitive decision where you feel that the time is right to make a change.” Considering that’s coming from the person who knows the organization better than anyone, it was time.

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N.Y. Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys: Who's going to win?

The Dallas Cowboys at the New York Giants in NFL Week 17 with the NFC East title on the line. It's the kind of scenario the league must have dreamed of when the schedule came out months ago. The winner gets at least one playoff game at home; the loser has to watch the playoffs from home.

Writers from around the Tribune Co. will preview Sunday night's winner-take-all game. Check back throughout the day for more responses and join the discussion by voting in the poll and leaving a comment of your own.

Ron Fritz, Baltimore Sun

Fortunately, I was able to see a fair amount of both teams’ games this season, and to me it looks like the Giants are gaining some momentum while the Cowboys are sinking quickly. Based on that, you’ll see the Giants in the playoffs and the Cowboys sitting at home. Jerry Jones will have all off-season to come up with reasons why he isn’t the problem with the Cowboys. He may even throw some people under the bus.

Unfortunately, if you’re a Giants fan, does making the playoffs mean you have to put up with Tom Coughlin for another year? It might be worth losing just to get him out of there. With young playmakers on offense (Victor Cruz) and defense (Jason Pierre-Paul) and a quarterback coming into his prime (Eli Manning), it would be nice to see what a new coach could do with some of New York’s talent.

But it looks like we’ll have to wait until their first playoff loss to see if the Giants bring back Coughlin.

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Tim Tebow or Kyle Orton: Who would you rather have at QB?

Tim Tebow or Kyle Orton? Who would you rather have as a quarterback?
Tim Tebow or Kyle Orton? The question was asked early and often this season when both players were quarterbacks for the Denver Broncos. The fans seemed to have their minds made up from the beginning -- they wanted Tebow.

The Broncos organization did some flip-flopping, first going with Orton after a terrific preseason but switching to Tebow after a 1-4 start. We all know what happened next -- Tebow leads Denver into the playoff hunt (although the team now has lost two straight) and Orton gets shipped off to Kansas City, where he helped the Chiefs knock off the previously unbeaten Packers two weeks ago.

Well, here we are at Week 17 with another opportunity to ask the question about the two quarterbacks. Only this time it's because Orton is coming into Denver as the Chiefs starter, with a chance to prevent Tebow and the Broncos from completing their miracle turnaround with a postseason berth (Denver is in with a win; otherwise, it needs an Oakland loss to keep from watching the playoffs from home).

So who would you rather have at quarterback, Tebow or Orton? Writers from around Tribune Co. will be discussing the topic. Please check back throughout the day for more responses. And join the discussion by voting in the poll and leaving a comment of your own.

Steve Svekis, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

This is like trying to select the valedictorian of summer school. I'm taking Orton if my idea of success is non-spectacular but decent production, enough to get a team to 9-7. If I want to put fans in the seats, you have to go with Tebow, despite the disconcerting transformation of his Bronco-propelled crystal carriage into a smashed pumpkin the last 10 days.

Poor John Elway and John Fox are in a no-win situation Sunday. Either former Bronco Orton rubs their nose in it by leading the Chiefs past the Broncos in Denver, possibly eliminating the Mile-Highers, or Tebow's bandwagon is refueled by an AFC West-clinching win, further marrying the team president and coach to a QB they really want no part of.

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What Christmas gift would you like to give a sports figure?


Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss. Check back throughout the day for more responses and feel free to leave a comment with a suggestion of your own.

Bill Kline, Allentown (Pa.) Morning Call

Far too many former NFL players struggle with debilitating physical and emotional injuries — the latter caused in part by suffering too many concussions while playing a sport so violent yet so flush with cash. These players have lost their families, homes, quality of life and even their lives themselves (some to suicide caused by depression).

In the Christmas spirit, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s gift is a better conscience so that he can save these former gladiators who have broken-down bodies, minds and lives. Since the NFL inhales $9 billion annually in revenue, Goodell should direct at least $250 million more a year to rescue these ex-players. After all, today’s NFL money machine was built primarily on its players' brawn and — as it turns out — the abuse of their brains.

Joseph Schwerdt, South Florida Sun Sentinel

Gifts can be selfish. Often, gifts are not about giving but about the great feeling one gets from giving. It is in that spirit that these gifts are offered to South Florida’s sports franchises.

To the Miami Dolphins, a franchise quarterback, the likes of which you have not seen since Dan Marino and Bob Griese, so many years ago. To the Florida Panthers, a trip to the playoffs for the first time in an NHL-record 10 years. To the Miami Marlins, success in your new home, new uniforms and with your new payroll. To the Miami Heat, another run at the NBA Finals. Maybe you’ll actually win them this time.

By giving these gifts, South Florida sports fans — and sports journalists — will have more fun and interesting teams to follow.

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Did Ohio State get too light or too tough a penalty? [Poll]

The Ohio State football program received a one-year bowl ban and lost nine scholarships over the next three years after a yearlong investigation by the NCAA's Committee on Infractions
The Ohio State football program received a one-year bowl ban and lost nine scholarships over the next three years after a yearlong investigation by the NCAA's Committee on Infractions ended Tuesday.

Among the violations, eight players were found to have received substantial cash payments or preferential treatment from the owner of a tattoo parlor. One player also received a loan and discount on a car, according to the committee.

Overall, Ohio State was cited for failure to monitor, but not lack of institutional control, which, as any USC fan knows, is a more serious finding. Columnist Bill Dwyre addresses the topic in Wednesday's Times:

Out here, USC loyalists can feel Ohio State's pain. Except that most would testify that theirs has been worse. Most would also wonder aloud, again, why they took such a hard hit when other situations, certainly including Ohio State's, seemed similarly egregious.

The comparable pertinent details are that the Buckeyes were penalized a season of no titles, no bowls and a loss of nine football scholarships over the next three years. USC has just finished its second straight no-title, no-bowl season and its scholarship assessment from the NCAA was 30 scholarships lost over three years.

Writers from around Tribune Co. will also be weighing in on whether the Buckeyes were punished too severely or not enough. Check back throughout the day for their responses -- and join the discussion by voting in the poll and leaving a comment of your own.

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NFL: Which teams will end up as the four wild cards?

The NFL regular season is winding down to its final two weeks, but there is still plenty left to decide
The NFL regular season is winding down to its final two weeks, but there is still plenty left to decide. Writers from around Tribune Co. discuss which teams will claim the two wild-card spots in each conference. Join the discussion with a comment of your own.

Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times

The stunner here is San Diego. I think the Chargers are going to sneak into the postseason -- despite their six-game losing streak earlier in the season -- by winning their final two games at Detroit and Oakland and relying on Miami to beat the Jets in Week 17. So I have the sixth-seeded Chargers playing at Houston in the first round, and Baltimore playing at Denver in the other AFC wild-card game.

In the NFC, I see Detroit and Atlanta being the wild-card teams. So that puts the Lions at San Francisco, and the Falcons at the New York Giants. If those turn out to be the match-ups, the four teams I see emerging from those games are San Diego, Baltimore, San Francisco and the Giants.

Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune

The four teams with the best chances of representing their conferences as wild cards are the Steelers, Jets, Falcons and Lions. The Steelers are the most dangerous of these teams as long as Ben Roethlisberger's ankle injury doesn't limit him too much down the stretch. The other wild-card spot in the AFC could come down to the Jets or Bengals, though there are five other teams with legitimate hopes. 

In the NFC, the Falcons can clinch a wild-card spot with a victory over the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday (unlikely), or a victory over the Bucs in Atlanta one week later (likely). The Lions may have a hard time beating the Packers in Green Bay in the final week of the season, so they need to beat the Chargers at home on Sunday to get in.

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Who should be the next coaches for the Chiefs and Dolphins?

The Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins are in the market for new head coaches after the Monday firings of Todd Haley and Tony Sparano. Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss who might be a good candidate for each opening. Feel free to join the discussion by leaving a comment of your own.

Omar Kelly, South Florida Sun Sentinel

Coaching searches in the NFL usually come down to who you know.

Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland knows former Titans coach Jeff Fisher from his time as a ball boy with the Chicago Bears.

Chiefs GM Scott Pioli knows former Denver coach Josh McDaniels from their time together with the Patriots.

Ireland's working hard to maintain personnel power, and presently has owner Steve Ross' trust. Fisher's presence wouldn't threaten that, and his coaching skills could help Miami's underachieving team blossom.

Pioli needs a coach who can maximize quarterback Matt Cassel's skills, and who better than the person who helped Cassel blossom as New England's offensive coordinator.

The NFL is truly a who-you-know type of business, and this round of hirings will prove it.

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If guilty, should Ryan Braun be allowed to keep the MVP award?

Ryan Braun is the reigning National League MVP. He also is facing a 50-game suspension he has received for violating the league's drug policy. The Baseball Writers Assn. of America has said it has no plans to strip Braun of his award. But if the positive test is upheld after Braun's appeal, should it?

Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses. And feel free to join the discussion by voting in the poll and leaving a comment of your own.

Stephen Gross, Allentown Morning Call

There is no way that Ryan Braun should be allowed to keep his National League MVP award if found guilty of taking a banned substance. For one, it would set a bad precedent. Secondly, if baseball wants to distance itself from the ugly mark left on the sport from the Steroid Era, it can’t continue to allow users of performance-enhancing substances to be rewarded. Finally, while past award winners who have admitted to steroid use have retained their awards, the baseball community now has a golden opportunity to send a message.

For until the punishment is greater than the reward, players will continue to try to cheat the system. Maybe Bud Selig’s three strikes and you’re out stance is too permissive. Certainly, allowing a steroid user to keep or receive an MVP award is too lenient.

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Dwight Howard: Which team eventually will land him in a trade?

Dwight Howard can become a free agent after this season, meaning the Orlando Magic have until then to trade their star center or risk losing him and getting nothing in return. Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss where Howard might end up. Check back throughout the day for more responses and join the discussion with a comment of your own.

Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times

The Lakers will acquire Dwight Howard because making the big move is what they do. Anyone who thinks they are done dealing after getting a draft pick and a trade exception for Lamar Odom probably still believes the Knicks James Dolan is a good owner.

After getting rebuffed in their efforts to land Chris Paul, the Lakers are probably even more determined to land Howard. And imagine how they would feel about the possibility of being upstaged by the Clippers should their fellow Staples Center tenants end up with Paul.

Howard will be a Laker, Andrew Bynum will be a member of the Orlando Magic and it will be a merry Christmas for all involved.

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What is the most and least interesting pre-New Year's bowl matchup?

Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses and join the discussion with a comment of your own.

Matt Murschel, Orlando Sentinel

When the bowl matchups were announced Sunday night, it was easy to pick out the must-see games and the ones that are just background noise to your in-laws holiday visit.

Of the pre-New Year’s bowl games, the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 29 offers one of the most interesting matchups with Florida State and Notre Dame. In front of a possible sellout crowd, two of the most storied college football programs will meet in Orlando. Two eight-win teams that had bigger things expected of them only to find themselves playing before the new year.

It’s ironic that a bowl named the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl would feature one of the least interesting matchups. Utah State will play Ohio on the blue turf in Boise State on Dec. 17 but even those kaleidoscope of colors couldn’t be enough to mesmerize most of us to watch. Even the Ohio punter tweeted he wasn’t looking forward to playing in Boise in December.

Brian Hamilton, Chicago Tribune

Coachless Illinois vs. coachless and sub-.500 UCLA in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl is interesting because of its abiding wretchedness. Utah State and Ohio in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl at least offers potential for riotous scoreboard-busting. Marshall versus FIU in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl? A .500 MAC team versus the fourth-place Sun Belt team, with neither offense portending a fireworks display?  That's must-flee TV early in the bowl season.

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