Archive for November, 2011|Monthly archive page


In MEDIA SOUND BITES Leonard Shapiro on November 29, 2011 at 5:15 pm

I am simply amazed by the restraint being shown by the media and, in fact, almost everyone with regard to the Bernie Fine sex abuse allegations at Syracuse University, especially in light of the unrestrained, virtually out-of-control assault on “everything Penn State” in the wake of the Sandusky scandal.

Sure, Syracuse has fired Fine after being “shaken” by troubling new allegations including a kind of “smoking gun” recorded phone conversation featuring Fine’s wife and one of the accusers from a decade ago.


Where is the outrage on behalf of the two former ball boys who have made the claims of sexual abuse at the hands of a now former Syracuse assistant basketball coach? 

Where is the outpouring of concern from the student body and the university administration for the alleged victims who, unlike Penn State’s known victims, are former members of the Syracuse University community and its basketball program?

Where is the SU alumni fund-raising for child abuse/welfare charities?

Where are student/faculty townhall meetings to discuss the ramifications of child abuse and how to help the community heal?

Where are the child welfare advocates seeking a golden opportunity to educate the university community on how to identify sexual abuse and how to effectively deal with it?

Where is the demand for transparency and accountability from the Syracuse administration to ensure that this never happens again?

Where is the threat of lost revenue from advertisers looking to distance themselves from a program caught in scandal?

Where is the utter shock and dismay at comments made by Syracuse head basketball coach, Jim Boeheim, who called the accusers “liars” and intimated strongly that they were gold-digging in light of the Sandusky scandal?

Where is the 2011 Syracuse internal investigation into the 2005 internal investigation that failed to turn-up evidence that is now known to have been readily available?  Evidence that now appears to be the basis for the firing of Fine.

Where is the disbelief that no one from the Syracuse administration contacted law enforcement regarding their 2005 internal investigation into alleged child abuse involving a university employee?

Where is the NCAA investigation into the “failure of institutional control” that permitted an alleged sexual predator to remain on the job and potentially in contact with teenage boys affiliated with the basketball program?

Where is the Big East conference weighing-in on the appropriateness of Syracuse continuing to play for the league championship and an NCAA Tournament berth as a representative of the conference?

Where are the second thoughts from the ACC about whether inviting Syracuse to join its conference is a good idea in light of current events?

Where is the Department of Education investigation into whether Syracuse violated the Clery Act which requires the reporting of on-campus crime or facing a loss of federal funding?

Where is the “rush to judgment” of those associated with the accused that seemed to be permissible in the Penn State case?

Where are the demands for Boeheim’s head in light of his “in-your-face” defense of Fine?

Where are the questions of “how could Boeheim not be aware (or at least suspicious) of Fine’s alleged actions involving the victims?”  (Honestly, 36 years of working together… neighbors… two of the alleged victims with direct ties to the basketball program.)

Where is the shame of being personally affiliated with a school that could permit an alleged predator to use university facilities and events and the cache’ of the Syracuse athletic program to lure his victims?

Where is the “moral obligation” of those connected to the Syracuse case to have “done more?”

I know there’s no indictment or charges filed in the Fine case, yet.  And Bernie Fine has been adamant in declaring the accusations are “patently false.”  Just the same, as noted above, the Syracuse community has a lot of catching up to do on the “assuring this won’t happen again” front.  And regardless of whether the Fine matter ever reaches a court of law, there’re a lot of questions that the university and others linked to this case still need to answer.

Just like the Sandusky case, the Syracuse accusations could have been completely dealt with long before now.  Syracuse law enforcement appears to have initially been disinterested in the case based on the flimsiest of excuses—the statute of limitations had expired because the alleged victim who made the first attempt to report the abuse was over the age of 18.  (Seriously though, didn’t this deserve, at minimum, more than a cursory look from the cops?  Or another look at New York state law?)

ESPN, which initially broke the story, actually sat on critical information for years—reportedly never sharing the recorded phone call between Fine’s wife and the accuser with Syracuse University or the police.  ESPN claims it held back on reporting the initial allegations because the accuser’s story could not be corroborated, but the sports network still could have notified authorities of what it had found since the accusations involved children, and the target of the allegations still had the potential of ongoing contact with other boys and young men in the Syracuse basketball program.  Obviously, ESPN has now made the phone recording and the story public (although the accuser reportedly is the one who gave the recording to police). But, frankly I wonder if the university had been aware of the recorded phone call back in 2005 that it would have fired Fine then and, at least, disconnected Fine from access to the program that he allegedly used to lure the victims.

ESPN has also been publicly accused by one sportswriter at FOX of shoddy journalism—using the cover of the Sandusky case in an attempt to railroad Fine with sensational accusations.  I still think the bigger issue here is ESPN appearing to protect its “exclusive story” at the expense of the alleged victims.  Why did it take eight years for ESPN to finally hire a specialist to “confirm” the identity of the woman’s voice on the call with the initial accuser?  ESPN claims that it didn’t have an “independent voice match” with which to compare the wife’s voice until recently.  That aside, didn’t ESPN have a “moral responsibility” to involve law enforcement once they determined they could not confirm the truth behind the accusations?   A simple call to police to verify that the cops had, in fact, declined to pursue the accuser’s case based on the statute of limitations would have confirmed a portion of the accuser’s story and might have spurred the police into action again.  Just as Joe Paterno could theoretically have been the 800-pound gorilla in getting police involved with Sandusky after the 2002 shower incident, the knowledge that ESPN was looking into the Fine case (and had evidence unknown to authorities) might have forced the police to take a closer look and, who knows, maybe crack the case 6, 7, 8 years ago.

Whether or not he had prior knowledge of Fine’s alleged actions (or even an inkling that something was not right), Jim Boeheim’s public reaction to the re-surfacing of the accusations was out of line.  Unlike Paterno, Boeheim felt it was necessary to defend his longtime assistant with words he might live to regret.  Child abuse advocates were upset when Boeheim attacked the accusers by calling them “liars” who just wanted money.  The advocacy groups correctly felt that this attitude was insensitive to victims of abuse and could frighten possible additional Syracuse victims from coming forward. Boeheim has since been forced to apologize for those statements and to support, at least for public consumption, the firing of Fine.

Boeheim was also quick to try to re-cast the Syrasuce case as completely different from the Sandusky one.  “I’m not Joe Paterno!,” Boeheim told the media.  And, he was right in one key sense.  Unlike Paterno, Boeheim missed an opportunity to cut Fine off from the university six years ago.  Despite police opting not to legally pursue Sandusky after the first abuse allegation surfaced in 1998, Paterno quietly pushed Sandusky into retirement (fired him???).  You may not agree that was Paterno’s intent at the time, and you may not be pleased with the handling of the later incident at PSU, but had Boeheim done something similar with Fine in the midst of the ’05 university investigation, this would be a far different story today.  A story that might not have to end with the dismissal of Jim Boeheim.

Fire Jim Boeheim?  Are you crazy? What did he do? How could he have known what was going on?

How could he not know something was wrong?  The one accuser claims Boeheim saw him in Fine’s bed on a road trip.  Add to that, the accusations and the 2005 university investigation… Boeheim could have pulled the trigger on Bernie Fine.  It wouldn’t have solved everything.  (It certainly didn’t solve everything at Penn State since Sandusky was using a charity beyond the school’s reach to allegedly find his victims.)  However, Boeheim would be in better shape to survive this mess today had he distanced himself from Fine in ’05.  At least, Boeheim would probably have not damaged his credibility with his bullheaded defense of Fine. Sure, Jim has apologized for his rash statements, but a quick review of on-line published comments from child welfare groups seems to suggest that the apology isn’t having the desired impact or acceptance.

Does Boeheim get canned?  Well, the Syracuse chancellor Nancy Cantor gave Boeheim the old vote of confidence.  That worked at Penn State right up until their president was fired.  ESPN cites sources as saying Boeheim won’t quit.  That sounds exactly like Joe Paterno’s gameplan.  Good luck with that, Jim, and don’t forget to send a strongly worded letter to the Syracuse Board of Trustees telling them not to waste any time focusing on your job security.

The bottom line is this… It’s Boeheim’s basketball program at the center of this issue… It’s one of his (until very recently) longtime assistants… It involves alleged victims who were part of Boeheim’s team… It’s on Boeheim’s watch… It’s Boeheim’s failure to maintain control… and so on.

If Penn State can fire Joe Paterno, Syracuse can cut ties with Jim Boeheim.  It’s really that simple. And, unlike Penn State, Syracuse already has a hand-picked successor under contract—Mike Hopkins.  Nothing like a smooth transition.

The media (professional and social) are watching Syracuse carefully.  If Fine is indicted or charged, the tide will rise rapidly around Syracuse, and there will be a feeding frenzy that could rival what we saw at Penn State.

Boeheim’s once sterling career is now tarnished.  Termination is a very real possibility.  And, there are already those who feel that firing Boeheim is a necessity. For all we know right now, there’s an envelope with Boeheim’s name on it and inside there’s a phone number for him to call… This all sounds very familiar.

Ross, the creator of Throwback Baseball 1.0, also blogs about sports memorabilia at:


In THE SPORTS LANDSCAPE Bill Sullivan on November 22, 2011 at 12:05 pm

The NBA’s been dormant for a month and now that college basketball is underway, do fans miss the pro game? I don’t because I haven’t followed it since the late 60s. I relished match-ups between the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers in the championship round. Sure, New York had flash with point guard Walt Frazier. But the team seemed more about the hobbled but able Willis Reed in the middle as well as outside shooters Bill Bradley and Dave DeBusschere and heralded sixth men Cazzie Russell, Phil Jackson and Mike Riordan.

The “team” concept drew my interest. The Lakers’ Wilt Chamberlain didn’t  – whether it be his point or blocked-shot totals  or off-court conquests for that matter. As a fan, I was concerned with the Knicks thwarting Jerry West’s outside jumper and Jim McMillian’s baseline drives. Those series usually took seven games to decide and every game was interesting.

Since then, there’s been Magic, Michael and Larry. Nowadays, it’s about LeBron and Kobe. The stars today are on a first-name basis. Teams today seek to “buy” titles. Boston tried with Paul Pearce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. More recently, Miami tried and failed with LeBron, Dwayne Wade (should I say D-Wade?) and Chris Bosh. Try and name the other two starters. Sixth man? Don’t even try to guess who.

Sure, the skill level of the pro game is high. But the game’s about acrobatics, clear-outs, one-on-ones, spin moves, dunks. It’s like “Dancing with the Stars” in sneakers. It’s about showtime, not gametine. Then again, the NBA’s always been about flash and the dominant player. Back in the 70s, halftimes of televised games featured 1-on-1 contests which Houston’s Mike Newlin or the Jazz’s Pete Maravich regularly won.  So much for promoting the team concept.

I think of the NBA and I see headbands, tattoos, fights and the latest player to date a celebrity. I don’t see starting fives, unselfish back courts, body-sacrificing screens or the legendary coaches (John Wooden, Coach K, Bob Knight, Don Haskins, John Cheney, Eddie Sutton, Tom Izzo, John Thompson, Jim Boeheim, Jim Calhoun, Gary Williams, Dean Smith, Roy Williams, Rick Pitino, Ray Meyer, ) whom players not only respected but listened to. The college game is unified, the NBA divided, individual and therefore, sterile.

Here it is, November, and there’s already brimming excitement in the college game. The MEAC’s Norfolk State was a soft-rim away from upsetting nationally ranked Marquette in a Virgin Islands tournament. Maybe there’ll be another “Hawaiian Punch” similar to Chaminade’s upset of Virginia and Ralph Sampson. I can’t see the L.A. Clippers ever doing that to the Mavs or Heat.

The NCAA Tournament, itself is a showcase of David, not Goliath. The little guys who led their teams to new levels — Billy Donovan’s Providence team advancing to the 1987 Final Four. The heroics of Cleveland State’s Mouse McFadden, N.C. State’s Monte Towe, Valparaiso’s Homer Drew and a service academy led by David Robinson which toppled mighty Syracuse. Or the CAA’s George Mason and VCU each advancing to a Final Four in the last five years. Then there’s Butler, giving life to the Gene Hackman-led Hickory HS team in “Hoosiers.” It’s all storybook stuff absent in the pro game.

What else makes the college game better? Maybe it’s because college players have no agent or harem or paycheck or weapons arsenal or shark tanks in their living rooms or garages full of Bentleys. Maybe it’s modesty and a degree of innocence the fan prefers to embrace. For the ‘love of school” is a better attraction than “love of self.” During this two-year recession when the average Joe fears for his job and no longer looks at the mutual fund statements, it’s healthier to root for the “regular ” guy. Does anybody feel sorry for Kobe missing out on a million-dollar paycheck? OK, maybe his wife does.

Too bad the CBA isn’t healthier. That used to stand for the Continental Basketball Association but today is more commonly knows as a collective bargaining agreement. I once saw ex-Maryland guard JoJo Hunter play for the Albany (N.Y.) Patroons for Coach George Karl at the downtown Civic Center. Small crowd, rickety old gym, a heating system that didn’t work, cold hot dogs and meager pay-day for the CBA players. Those things, alone made it appealing. It had a small-college atmosphere. The lights in the ceiling weren’t all working. The public address system was scratchy and the uniforms on the same team didn’t match.

It was fun to see the starting lineups announced without erratic strobe lights, decibel meters on “tilt,” billowing smoke, seductive dance girls jiggling, ribbon lights gone wild and sirens blaring. Just give me the game of basketball and save the glitz for when the circus comes to town.


In MEDIA SOUND BITES Leonard Shapiro on November 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm
Just call him The King, because Arnold Palmer truly is golf royalty, the winner of 62 PGA Tour events and seven major championships and a man many believe is singularly responsible for popularizing golf in the United States over the course of his brilliant career. Now an octogenarian who regularly shoots his age, or much lower and plays or practices virtually every day, Arnie recently took a few minutes to provide two most telling lists.

My Greatest Shots:

5. 1968 PGA Championship. A three-wood out of heavy rough to the 18th green in the final round was a career best shot that didn’t produce a victory. I missed an eight-foot birdie putt and lost the championship by a single stroke to Julius Boros at Pecan Valley Country Club in San Antonio.

4.  1958 Masters. A three-wood to the 13th green in the final round set up an eagle with a ruling awaited on an embedded ball drop at No. 12. The drop eventually was allowed and I won the first of my four Masters by a shot over Doug Ford and Fred Hawkins.

3. 1961 British Open. I hit a six-iron to the green from a very difficult lie at the 15th hole in the final round at Royal Birkdale.  I made a critical par there and beat Dai Rees by a stroke, the first of my two British Open titles.
 2. 1960 Masters. I made a 30-foot birdie putt at No. 17 in the final round and won the tournament  by a shot over Ken Venturi.
 1. 1960 U. S. Open. When just everyone had written me off when I trailed the lead by seven shots after three rounds at Cherry Hills in Denver,  I drove the green on my tee shot at the 346-yard first hole in the final round. I made a two-putt birdie there—the first of six birdies on the opening seven holes–and beat Jack Nicklaus by two shots for my only Open title.
 My Five Most Important Victories:
5. 1955 Canadian Open. It was my first of 62 career victories on the PGA Tour. I beat Jackie Burke Jr. by four shots at the Weston Golf Club in Toronto.
4. 1961 British Open. At Royal Birkdale, it was the first of my two British Open championships in a year when I won six events.
3. 1958 Masters. The first of my four Masters championships.
2. 1960 U.S. Open. My only Open championship in a year I was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year. The tournament at Cherry Hills in Denver is considered one of the greatest Opens in history.
1. 1954 U.S. Amateur.  I was 24 years old and seven months out of the Coast Guard. I defeated Robert Sweeny, a 43-year-old businessman and a very fine player, 1-up over 36 holes at the Country Club of Detroit. I’ve always considered winning the Amateur the turning point of my career and my life.




In MEDIA SOUND BITES Leonard Shapiro on November 13, 2011 at 7:20 pm

There were many poignant moments in Saturday’s Penn State-Nebraska game… quite simply, a game like no other that I have ever attended.

Played in the shadow of the shocking revelations of alleged criminal acts on children by a former Penn State assistant coach.

Played in the shadow of investigation, implication, indictment, innuendo, internal conflict, impropriety, involuntary separation from employment, and institutional failure at the highest of levels.

Played without the man who had placed Penn State among the elite during a tenure that spanned six decades and generations of students and athletes alike.

Played without the man who preached integrity… Success with Honor.

Played without Joe Paterno, who was unceremoniously fired for either what he did do, or didn’t do, depending on how you view the situation.

And believe me, there are differences of opinion that have divided the university community and, it seems, the entire country.

So, at the end of a week of gut-wrenching criminal accusations, a national media frenzy, uncivil behavior by students, unprofessional behavior by administrators in the guise of “acting in the best interests” of the university, and the outright rudeness of people in general in what seemed like a blind rage to assign blame as widely as possible, fell a football game. A game that had to be played.

Into that game walked the Penn State players, a group of blameless student-athletes caught in the crossfire. In a show of solidarity for their former coach, they entered the stadium arm-in-arm. Marching, not running, through the usual gauntlet that featured members of the university’s Blue Band, cheerleaders, and what seemed like several hundred former players. (One of the former lettermen, who happened to be seated in front of me, later told me that he had never seen that many of his fellow former players at a single game before. I was not surprised.)

This was the beginning of a pre-game like no other.

There was a midfield prayer gathering of both teams. A simple, but powerful moment where players and coaches in blue and red huddled as one to remember the victims of the child abuse scandal that had engulfed an entire university. Led not by a Penn Stater, but by a Nebraska assistant coach in a gesture of unity and a show of support that was meant to be first step in a healing process for a community shaken to its very core.

There was a moment of silence. A time to reflect on the children, some now grown, who were the true victims of the most shocking criminal act in the history collegiate athletics. Nearly 108-thousand fell silent. It was as if the stadium was empty. (I hadn’t felt such silence at a sporting event since Pimlico went eerily quiet as Barbaro broke down on the front stretch of the 2006 Preakness.)

But, the most poignant moment had to come during the singing of the Penn State Alma Mater when the one hundred thousand-plus in attendance looked to the giant video screens for help in recalling the words from the later verses that, no doubt, often escape them, and saw the words, “May no act of ours bring shame….” I personally had forgotten that phrase was in our song, and I fumbled those words as I suspect others did as the meaning hit home.

A member of our college’s family, in a way so heinous and disgusting, had violated the meaning of those words, and in doing so, left us embarrassed, shocked, shamed for our school’s alleged role in failing to identify a serious problem and act properly to protect children who were in need of our help.

Despite being an alum and a fan, I hadn’t been on the Penn State campus for a football game in a couple of years. Work schedules, family issues, etc. sometimes conspire against seeing the alma mater play in person. This fall was to be different.  I had purchased tickets to the Nebraska game with the thought in mind that this could very well be 84-year-old Joe Paterno’s last home game as Penn State head coach. I expected to see the end of an era that spanned decades, brought us hundreds of victories, national titles, and memories that rivaled those of any college.

The trip to the game took me over familiar, traffic-packed roads back to State College. It was a normal football Saturday. Thousands were tailgating on the grassy parking areas that surround Beaver Stadium. But, it seemed more subdued somehow.

The walk to the stadium through the crisp late autumn air took me past the usual cars and RV’s bedecked in Penn State colors. But at the stadium itself was evidence of the week gone by. In addition to the throngs of people, there was a greater media presence and more police than normal. I could not specifically recall ever seeing mounted police with both the rider and horse wearing riot visors. It seemed unneeded, but then again, there had been violence and threats of violence in the wake of Paterno’s firing and the allegations that swirled around former administrators and coaches.

An airplane circled overhead trailing a banner with an anti-Paterno sentiment. The red letters were difficult to read against the sunny sky. And, I wondered if the person behind the flying protest got his money’s worth since the plane was forced to maintain a fairly high altitude and to keep its distance from the stadium by the State Police helicopter that hovered nearby.

Talk of protesters was just talk. I didn’t see any until after the game – a small religious group with a bullhorn. Sure, there were students carrying signs in support of Paterno and many that read, “We are STILL Penn State!”

There was a good-sized gathering at the Paterno statue on the east side of the stadium. I felt it had a funereal quality to it, as though someone had died.

I was among the first to arrive in the section where the seats were located. The stadium seemed too empty for a game that was roughly an hour away. But, it did fill to capacity, and beyond.

Nebraska fans who had been warned by their administration to maintain a low profile for safety reasons wore red proudly anyway. An announcement over the loudspeaker reminded Penn Staters to display good sportsmanship and respect their guests from the Big Ten’s newest member, who were sprinkled across several sections of the stadium. It seemed condescending and unnecessary. Of course, I hadn’t been among the students who had triggered a small riot three days earlier. I knew we would be good hosts and we were. I hope Penn State fans will be treated as kindly at Ohio State and Wisconsin in the coming weeks.

The pre-game that I described earlier was appropriately subdued, but as the game began I wondered if the players would lose the homefield advantage due to the clear lack of energy in stands. The Penn State fans seemed afraid to cheer or even make noise. Fight songs were sung half-heartedly, and the words of the alma mater seemed to sting not stir.

“We are Penn State!!!,” was heard throughout the game, but it too, lacked gusto. To many, I suspect, its meaning had changed.

The “Blue-out” intended to honor the victims of child and sex abuse was well received, but it really lacks the impact of a “White-out.” And, the effort by the student “S-Zone” to create a blue ribbon alongside the “S” was… well… you know what they say about the best laid plans.

As for the students, they remained fiercely loyal to Paterno, and they periodically chanted his name. Although, at one point, it seemed that some fans purposely tried to drown out the rhythmic “JoePa-Terno” with a round of “We are Penn State!”  I’m not sure it had it intended effect on the student section or their fellow fans as the number of people joining in the JoePa chorus seemed to increase with each repetition.

The players themselves had to be emotionally drained. They were caught in a situation over which they had no control. At once, playing for their current coach and their deposed coach, and for two distinct groups of fans – the ones who still support Joe and the way he handled the initial allegations of the crime and the ones who don’t. It was a tough week for them, to be sure.

To their credit, the Penn State players rallied from 17-down and made a game of it. They lost by 3 when an offense that had been anemic all season could not muster one final drive; sputtering for no gain on a fourth and one.

At the end, the players were obviously disappointed and they hung their heads as they exited the field. But, they did not depart to boos. Instead they received a rousing ovation from fans and students who initially seemed reluctant to leave the stadium themselves.

It was a strange feeling. This technically was a devastating home loss that could derail our chances of winning the Big Ten title with our remaining games on the road. But, I felt more of a relief at the end. The loss didn’t seem to matter in the midst of everything else that was going around Penn State. The game had to be played, and it was. And, it seemed to do what I think I hoped it would do. It began the process from which the new Penn State will emerge.

As I drove out of town Saturday night, I happened past the building where the Second Mile is located. This is the foundation at the heart of the child abuse scandal. Founded by a Penn Stater with sadly the worst of intentions, I wondered if it would survive.

But I also wondered if Penn Staters with the best of intentions could now remake Second Mile into the children’s foundation we all believed it was.

A new Second Mile to go with the new Penn State.

Ross, the creator of Throwback Baseball 1.0, also blogs about sports memorabilia at:


In THE SPORTS LANDSCAPE Bill Sullivan on November 2, 2011 at 7:31 am

Washington Redskins fans wonder why a coach fitted for two Super Bowl rings and a $5M salary can lose three straight games – twice to teams with just one win and another by way of shutout for the first time in his 267 games as a head coach or offensive coordinator.

During the Buffalo game, Thom Brennaman and Troy Aikman snickered, watching the Redskins’ offense fall apart and later criticized their offense for not calling two plays in a huddle while down by 20 in the fourth quarter.

At one point, Aikman said, “It’s beyond the head coach.” But this was a stretch. Before Dan Snyder hired Mike Shanahan, he fired deputy Vinny Cerrato and since, has stayed out of Shanahan’s way. There have been no more “sexy” player signings or meetings with the coach in the bowels of FedEx Field after games.

Point is, Aikman still is bitter toward Snyder for firing Norv Turner – Aikman’s offensive coordinator in Dallas during that dynasty’s trio of Super Bowls.

Back in the spring of 2010, how could Shanahan have been wrong on quarterback Donovan McNabb? He’d coached for 25 years and McNabb had played for 11. What didn’t he know about the Philly veteran? He was supposedly the expert on quarterbacks. Then, months after signing McNabb, son, Kyle tried to change McNabb’s drop-back style. Seems odd, a then 29-year-old assistant toying with the mechanics of a player who’d been to five NFC Championship games. It’s hard to fault McNabb, wondering why his footwork was – all of a sudden – being scrutinized, especially by an assistant coach five years his junior.

The next Shanahan gaffe was Rex Grossman, who “roomed” with Kyle while the two were with the Houston Texans in 2009. Rex was benched as the Redskins starter after a 4-interception game vs. Philly, less than a third the way through the season. The fact he roomed with a player he coached points to Kyle’s naivete. Knowing this, think John Beck was surprised when he wasn’t named the starter seven weeks ago?

In the Buffalo game, Leron Landry and DeAngelo Hall’s names were hardly heard until a blown coverage in the Skins secondary helped give the Bills a touchdown. London Fletcher played with a pulled hamstring but made 12 solo tackles and had an interception in the end zone. How many stops did the Skins safeties make? How many INT’s? How many times did the duo reach the quarterback on a safety blitz? Besides six combined solo tackles, “nada” are your answers.

We’ve been force-fed the “3-4” as if it’s a magic potion concocted by defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. Basically, the Skins have a four-man front, only Ryan Kerrigan isn’t bent over in a 3-point stance. Former defensive coordinator Greg Williams had a much better defense here but was bypassed for the head coaching job that went to Jim Zorn. A year later, Williams took over the defense in New Orleans and won a Super Bowl.

Barry Cofield is an upgrade over Haynesworth at nose guard but he doesn’t remind anyone of Bob Lily, Randy White or Merlin Olsen. How many times have we seen him break through the muck to reach the quarterback? Again, nada is your answer. When Bills running back Fred Jackson took a hand off , he usually ran untouched until he reached the second level on his way to 120 yards.

We know the Skins’ replacements are lean on the right side of the offensive line. So why weren’t there roll-outs designed to take Beck to the left? Why wasn’t an H-back planted in the backfield? Why didn’t the team have a tight end on the right side the entire game? Where were Beck’s hot reads? It’s up to the Shanahans to provide answers but there weren’t any versus Buffalo.

Snyder should be fuming. As one writer put it, he could have kept Jim Zorn around for these results at a much cheaper rate. The owner didn’t balk when Mike wanted to deputize his son to run the offense. But how much experience did Kyle have? A couple seasons with the Texans? He was the coordinator there because Texans Coach Gary Kubiak was an assistant on Mike’s staff in Denver for years. Snyder should have balked and said, “OK Mike, bring your son on board but as an ‘offensive assistant’ under a seasoned coordinator like Mike Martz or Kevin Gilbride”

Buffalo is 5-2 with Fitzpatrick running the offense. He’s the same age as Beck with equal experience. Yet against the Redskins, his passes were uncontested, like practice where receivers are “allowed” to catch the ball. Buffalo is Fitzpatrick’s third team. Before this year, he’d never played on a winner but now his team is tied with the Patriots for first place in the AFC East. Fitzpatrick was a seventh round pick, Beck a second-rounder. And Beck played at BYU, whose pro-style offense threw the ball a bit more than did “Fitz” at Harvard.

For years as a landscape designer, my customers ask, “Is it the soil? Do we need to take out the old and bring in all new for the plants?” To that, I always say, “That’s unnecessary.” But when I apply the axiom to the Skins, I’m unsure.

Why is Marty Shottenheimer fired after going 8-8 and the very next year goes 14-2 with San Diego? Why does Steve Spurrier “lose” his coaching acumen with the Skins but regains it in Columbia, S.C., transforming an anemic Gamecock program into a national contender? How does Turner go from being fired in D.C. to taking his Charger team to the playoffs every year? How does Marty’s son, Brian go from being clueless with the Redskin offense, to advancing to two straight AFC Championship games as the New York Jets coordinator? What about Hue Jackson, who was fired here as a Zorn assistant, yet has his Raider team tied for first place? And while I’m at it, Bills’ defensive coordinator George Edwards (who coordinated the Skins defense in 2003) designed a defense last week that held the Skins to 26 yards rushing and 4-of-14 on third-down conversions.

It’s yet another coaching regime at work in Washington, producing the same, lame results. No one has answers, not even those at the top.