NFC North: Joe Paterno
So the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox -- er, the New York Giants and the New England Patriots -- will meet in Super Bowl XLVI. We here in the NFC North have a very East-Coast title game to look forward to. (Or not.) Don't worry. We have plenty to keep us busy here in the Midwest.
Tops on the list is the Chicago Bears' search for a general manager, which you would think could near its conclusion this week. The Bears interviewed five candidates for the job last week, including current director of player personnel Tim Ruskell, and probably would have either a second round of interviews this week or simply make a decision.
Stay tuned on that one. The other candidates include Marc Ross (Giants), Jason Licht (New England Patriots), Jimmy Raye III (San Diego Chargers) and Phil Emery (Kansas City Chiefs).
Continuing around the NFC North:
- Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and fiancÚ Kristin Cavillari announced they are expecting, according to People Magazine via ESPNChicago.com.
- Bears cornerback Charles Tillman is one of three finalists for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
- Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel grades the Green Bay Packers' season.
- Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette offers his grades.
- Pete Dougherty of the Press-Gazette recalls how the Packers nearly hired Joe Paterno as their coach in 1971.
- The Oakland Raiders have already interviewed Packers assistant head coach/linebackers Winston Moss and have asked permission to interview defensive coordinator Dom Capers as well, notes AFC West colleague Bill Williamson.
- Lions defensive backs coach Tim Walton interviewed for a job with the St. Louis Rams, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
- Lions place-kicker Jason Hanson figures he'll have to win his job in training camp again this summer, writes Carlos Monarrez of the Free Press.
- Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com wonders why the Vikings hired Fred Pagac as defensive coordinator last year.
- Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports from the Senior Bowl festivities in Mobile, Ala., where the Vikings are coaching the North team.
That's why McCarthy endorsed Packers quarterback coach Tom Clements for the job Friday. McCarthy said he was unaware that Clements was set to interview via phone Friday, as reported by USA Today, but said: "I think it's a great opportunity [and] I think Tom would be an outstanding candidate."
I'm no college football expert, but it's at least worth wondering how good a job this really is, at least in the winter of 2011. Not only will the next coach replace one of the sport's all-time legends in Joe Paterno, but he will also assume control of a program rocked by unprecedented charges of sexual abuse against longtime defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. There are no templates here and no one can say for sure what the program will look like next season from a legal, institutional and NCAA perspective. That's a lot of uncertainty to go with the prestige of the Penn State job.
By all accounts, Clements is a good man with a deft coaching touch, one who doesn't get enough credit for the development of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Packers blocked an opportunity he had to interview for the Chicago Bears' offensive coordinator position in 2010 and, at 58, Clements is probably running out of time to advance his career.
Again, I don't know all of the ins and outs here, including whether Clements would be a courtesy candidate or if there is genuine support at Penn State. But put it this way: It will take a special person to go there, pick up the pieces and maintain the prominence of the Penn State program.
Anyone who watched Big 10 football last year knows Quarless was a scary tight end who weighs 255 pounds but gets downfield like a wide receiver. You might also know that Quarless had so many off-field issues that he had to talk Penn State coach Joe Paterno out of kicking him off the team.
First, here is the off-field history from Scouts Inc.:
2007: Cited for underage drinking two weeks before the start of the season. Penn State suspends him for the first two games of the season. 2008: Gets cited for two counts of DUI, a traffic violation and underage drinking for an incident that occurred at 3 a.m. on March 2. Penn State suspends him from the team until the conclusion of spring practice. Sentenced to 15 month rehabilitation program. Police find a small amount of marijuana in apartment he shares with A.J. Wallace, Abe Koroma and Maurice Evans. He is suspended for the season opener (Coastal Carolina.) Though he does not play, he is reinstated the following week (Oregon State) when information indicates he is not connected to the marijuana. 2009: Head coach Joe Paterno says Quarless has been a leader this year.
Quarless told Wisconsin reporters that he hasn't had a drink since the 2008 DUI arrest. He convinced Paterno that he would change his life. He also said he proved in a drug test that he had not used the marijuana found in his apartment.
Put down Quarless squarely in the risk-reward category. He could be the next Jermichael Finley, or we might never see him on the field.
At Penn State football camp, players are told that everything operates on "Paterno Time" -- defined as five minutes ahead of the rest of the world. So if practice was scheduled at 9 a.m., that meant it started at 8:55 a.m. and you better be ready at 8:45 a.m. just to be sure.
Monday morning, I started thinking about Paterno Time after re-reading Ed Werder's report on the newest timetable for retired quarterback Brett Favre. His potential agreement with Minnesota is very much playing out on Favre Time -- defined as whenever he feels like it -- and there's not much the Vikings can do to speed up or even guide the process.
Favre will make a decision when he's ready and not a moment earlier. Given his propensity for waffling and delaying, there's no way to predict when it could all be resolved. But I don't think the Vikings' ticket sales really falls under Favre Time, nor is his desire to have some clarity in the weeks before training camp. Like Paterno, Favre makes his own rules and sets his own time.
Catching up on the weekend around the NFC North:
- Greg A. Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel takes an in-depth look at the career of defensive end Johnny Jolly and the potential impact of his upcoming trial for felony drug possession in Houston. In the piece, Jolly says he is innocent.
- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times notes that our friends at Football Outsiders are projecting the Bears to win the NFC.
- James "Shack" Harris on his first few months with Detroit: "It's going good -- we're tied for first place, so we're feeling pretty good." Here's the full piece from Ethan Conley of the Monroe News-Star. Later this month, Harris will be inducted into the Grambling Legends Sports Hall of Fame.
- Detroit linebacker Ernie Sims says the Lions' new linebacker trio has "great" chemistry, writes Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
- Appearing on Sirius NFL Radio via the Detroit News, free-agent defensive tackle John Thornton said he turned down an offer to join the Lions and might retire.