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Opening Arguments

Is almost great good enough?

We who write columns and editorials sometimes slip into the easy habit of telling people what to do instead of merely laying out the evidence and letting people draw their own conclusions. Slash that budget, Mr. Governor! Leave that adult bookstore alone so the First Amendment doesn't die a horrible death, Ms. Prosecutor! Tote that barge and lift that bale! Even so, this guy sounds a little presumptuous:

It's time for coach Tony Dungy to follow his heart, return home to Tampa and his family and the next chapter in his life. . .

Dungy knows that, and my sense is he has known that every time he has made an in-season trip to Tampa to see his family. Every time he stepped back on the plane to return to Indianapolis, he left a little piece of his heart behind.

Now it's time to go.

And be sure to kiss your wife good morning every day, Tony, and always say nice things to your kids, and don't forget the prayers at night, OK?

To be fair, the guy is a sports columnist who is mainly urging Tony to go because it would be best for the Colts. But I'm not sure I get his reasoning. Dungy is, apparently, too nice a guy. He's gotten the Colts about as far as he can, with that one Super Bowl win, but now the teams needs somebody tougher. But everybody agrees, including the columnist, that if Dungy goes, the next coach has to be Jim Caldwell. But Caldwell is often said to be "Dungy Lite," even more softspoken and easygoing than the one he'll replace. Furthermore:

Go ahead and dream of Bill Cowher or Mike Shanahan, but with the domineering Polian in charge, the Colts will never have a high-profile, independent-minded head coach.

Sounds like the team has a culture that can't produce greatness, so what does it matter who the coach is? Anybody who watched the Bears just fall apart after their magnificent Super Bowl season might have to agree that the Colts' problem is the owner and the person chosen by the owner to run things. They're willing to settle for almost great -- or maybe they're not capable of anything else -- and that affects everything about the team.

Lot of that going on outside of sports, too. Most of us don't do the best we are capable of unless there is somebody pushing or prodding us to do it.

Posted in: Hoosier lore, Sports


Mon, 01/05/2009 - 11:11am

I think Dungy makes the Colts better, not worse. Maybe you could find someone just a little bit better who gets them from perennial 12 game winners to routine Super Bowl winners. But, more likely, you get someone who takes them down to 9 game winners who never sniff the playoffs.