- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 18, 2004

A friend claims he watched all 28 postseason games in college football, from Memphis-North Texas to LSU-Oklahoma. And now — wouldn’t you know it? — he’s suffering from Irritable Bowl Syndrome.

• • •

Just for the sake of argument, let’s say Panthers 26, Eagles 17, and Patriots 23, Colts 20.

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Maybe the Mars lander will come back with Otis Sistrunk’s birth certificate.

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Given their need at the position, the Redskins should seriously consider using their second-round draft pick on Maryland defensive tackle Randy Starks, who has decided to come out as a junior. In 2001, you may recall, the Snydermen missed out on another Terps DT, Kris Jenkins, who has become a Pro Bowl player in Carolina. (Jenkins went to the Panthers on the 44th pick; the Redskins took Fred Smoot with the 45th.)

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Bill Walsh, the 49ers’ Hall of Fame coach and current VP/consultant, is auctioning off his 1995 Mercedes-Benz S600 on the club’s Web site (www.49ers.com). The bidding closes Jan.28, so by all means get your checkbook out.

The car, according to the ad, is a “2-door coupe in excellent condition. It is an automatic with a V12 engine, Bose premium sound system, leather interior, sliding sunroof, dual air bags, 4-wheel ABS and alloy wheels. Current mileage is 83,500.”

Minimum bid: $28,600.

One other note: “[The] buyer is responsible for shipping and delivery of vehicle.”

Good thing. I mean, you wouldn’t want Jeff Garcia to drive it over.

• • •

Donovan McNabb’s fourth-and-26 conversion against Green Bay last Sunday gave My Virginia Tech Source a funny feeling in the pit of his stomach. “It reminded me of something he did against us in 1998, his senior year at Syracuse,” he e-mails. “It was the last play of the game. We were leading 26-21, and he had a third-and-13 at our 13. We’d just sacked him for a 12-yard loss. Anyway, he dropped back, was forced to run for his life and threw across his body to the tight end [Stephen Brominski] on the other side of the end zone for the winning score. One thing I remember Frank Beamer saying afterward is that we knew exactly what he was going to do and still couldn’t stop it.”

• • •

Clancy Pendergast, brought in by Denny Green last week to be the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator, has an interesting connection to the team. “He is a member of the Pendergast family,” the Arizona Republic reported, “which owned the land that the Cardinals purchased for their [new] stadium, set to open in 2006.”

• • •

Bill Cowher lost his offensive coordinator, Mike Mularkey, to Buffalo (where he’s now head coach), his defensive backs coach, Willy Robinson, to San Francisco (where he’s now defensive coordinator), and his offensive line coach, Russ Grimm, interviewed for the Chicago head job. With a staff like that, you’d think the Steelers would have done better than 6-10.

• • •

Speaking of the Bears’ job, George Halas’ heirs certainly are taking a chance by hiring a coach named Lovie (Smith). Get a load of the track records of some other, uh, daintily named sports leaders:

• Pinky Higgins, manager, Boston Red Sox (1955-62) — Career record: 543-541, no pennants. As a player with the Sox and others, Pinky was a three-time All-Star who once hit safely in a record 12 consecutive at bats. But as a skipper, his club never finished higher than third.

• June Jones, coach, Atlanta Falcons/San Diego Chargers (1994-96, ‘98) — Career record: 22-37, 0-1 in playoffs. On the plus side, he did tell Jeff George to take a hike.

• Cookie Lavagetto, manager, Washington Senators/ Minnesota Twins (1957-61) — Career record: 276-393, no pennants. In June ‘61, Cookie was given a week’s vacation by Twins owner Cal Griffith. Not long after he returned, Griffith fired him.

• Blondie Purcell, manager, Philadelphia Phillies (1883) — Career record: 13-68. Blondie’s ballclub committed 639 errors that season, making them one of the worst aggregations of glovemen in big league history. Philly pitcher John Coleman set a mark that still stands by losing 48 games.

• Birdie Tebbetts, manager, Cincinnati Reds/Milwaukee Braves/Cleveland Indians (1954-58, ‘61-66) — Career record: 781-744, no pennants. Birdie actually won the AP’s National League manager of the year award in ‘56 with the Reds. That was about all he won, though. His teams almost invariably wound up in the middle of the pack.

• Kay Stephenson, coach, Buffalo Bills (1983-85) — Career record: 10-26. Kay’s ‘84 club flirted with a winless season, dropping its first 11 games.

• • •

Then there was Babe McCarthy. Babe was a cut above the others. In the American Basketball Association in the ‘60s and ‘70s, he was voted Coach of the Year twice, the first time with the New Orleans Buccaneers, the second with the Kentucky Colonels. (The unappreciative Colonels fired him after a 53-win season in ‘73-74 when the club got swept by Julius Erving and the New York Nets in the playoffs.)

“Old Magnolia Mouth,” as he was called, was quite a character. As one observer put it in “Loose Balls,” Terry Pluto’s homage to the ABA, “He had that wonderful Southern accent that made him sound like Charles Laughton in ‘Advise and Consent.’”

One of the more famous Babe-isms was, “We’re going to cloud up and rain all over them.”

Another was, “Tonight we’ve got to get after them like a biting sow.”

Let’s see if Lovie Smith can top that.

• • •

Joe Gibbs isn’t the first Hall of Famer to direct a Washington team to a championship, then come back years later to guide the club again. Bucky Harris — ever hear of him? — did it with the Senators in the first half of the 20th century. In fact, Bucky had three separate stints with the Nats, managing them from 1924 to ‘28, ‘35 to ‘42 and ‘50 to ‘54. The second and third didn’t nearly measure up to the first, though. Consider:

1924-28 — Two World Series, one championship (‘24), 429-334 record (.562 winning percentage).

1935-42 — One winning season, 558-663 record (.457).

1950-54 — One winning season, 349-419 record (.454).

• • •

And let’s not forget Gene Shue, who had two terms as the Bullets’ coach — one in Baltimore, the other in Washington. Geno, too, was better the first time around. The details:

Baltimore, 1966-72 — One NBA Finals appearance (‘71), four division titles, two 50-win seasons, 305-283 record (.519).

Washington, 1980-86 — Three playoff appearances, 236-258 record (.478).

• • •

On the subject of hoops — and Gibbs — you can understand why the Knicks replaced Don Chaney with Lenny Wilkens. Chaney wasn’t nearly old enough.

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Quote of the Week comes from former Syracuse and New England Patriots coach Dick MacPherson, who was hired by the Pats in ‘91 at the then-advanced age of 60:

“It was right around then that companies began downsizing and running out the older people in their organizations … and the Patriots were hiring me. It was kind of a different thing. I think the coaching profession has gained 10 years since I went to the Patriots. Nobody talks about 60 anymore. It’s no big deal. These days, in the 2000s, the number is 70. They’ll talk about 70 today the way they used to talk about 60. And I think that’s good.” (As quoted by the Syracuse Post-Standard.)

• • •

Like I’ve been saying, John Cook, Scott Hoch, Adam Scott, Notah Begay, Matt Kuchar and Jeff Sluman couldn’t carry Michelle Wie’s clubs.

• • •

And finally …

News item: John McEnroe tells a British newspaper he was unknowingly given steroids during his career — “the legal kind they used to give horses.”

Comment: That explains 1981, when Johnny Mac won his third straight U.S. Open and was a late scratch in the Belmont.

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