TIS THE SEASON...FOR A NEW SPECIAL TEAMS COACH. Larry Pasquale, Bobby April, Mike Stock, and now Bob Ligasheshky. All hired and fired since Frank Gansz left with Dick Vermeil following the 1999 season. The Rams return units have been consistently ineffective under the aforementioned coaches. But, I thought the coverage units moderately improved under Ligasheshky. Scott Linehan thinks he can do better. Let's hope so. This story is getting old. Until the kickoff return blocking improves, it doesn't matter who you have returning kickoffs. Deion Sanders in his prime wouldn't be a factor.
I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO SITTING DOWN WITH ANDY MURRAY FOR THIS WEEK'S EDITION OF SPORTS SUNDAY. His impact has been incredible. It's common for teams to get a short-term lift from a new coach. Like the Chicago Blackhawks got from the hire of Denis Savard(no relation). But that lasted only about six games. The Blues are 12-4-4 under Murray. That's 20 games. The cast is essentially the same that opened the season 7-18-3 under Mike Kitchen. Blues play by play man Chris Kerber tells me one of Murray's strengths is his ability and willingness to communicate. Kerbs says the guy has been fantastic for he and Kelly Chase to deal with--always open and honest. If the Blues make the playoffs, Murray has to be coach of the year, maybe the decade.
DID YOU CATCH ROGER FEDERER'S ROUT OF ANDY RODDICK IN THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN SEMIFINALS? More proof that Federer is tennis' Tiger Woods. Seven straight Grand Slam finals ties the all time record. And, If I'm any of the top rated women in the world, I'm hoping Serena Williams doesn't get herself in shape. She's reached the finals without any level of fitness. She's only 25 so if she gets serious and drops some weight, she could dominate again.
THE BEARS DECLINED TO GIVE LOVIE SMITH A CONTRACT EXTENSION BEFORE THE SEASON BEGAN. They'll pay through the nose now. Lovie and Tony Dungy's success is refreshing. They prove you don't have to be a sour-pussed screamer to get results in the NFL. You just have to command your players' respect. Mike Martz told me something very interesting a couple years ago. He said an NFL player will listen to a coach if the player believes the coach will make him a better player and as a result make him more money. When the player doesn't believe the coach can make him better and wealthier, he'll tune him out.
SPEAKING OF COACHES, can't the NFL get Bill Bellichick out of that nasty grey sweatshirt? Respect the game for crying out loud. Respect men like Lombardi, Halas and Landry that came before you.
THE ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF JACK SNOW'S DEATH JUST PASSED. I miss him as much today as I did 12 months ago. I'm blessed to be able to work with another friend in Jim Hanifan. But, Jack was a one-in-a-million friend. I wish everyone could have known Jack the way I did. I cannot tell you how much fun we had together in the broadcast booth. Silly and juvenile fun at times, but always a blast.