Once again, it is time for The Spectrum's "Sharpest Point." Only this isn't the same Sharpest Point that you remember from last semester. In this edition, 16 members of The Spectrum staff - ranging from arts editors to sports staff writers - will be involved in a single elimination tournament with one match taking place each Friday from here on out.
Sports Editors Jim Byrne and John Norman will be the judges of this affair, scoring the contestants on a three category scale. Norman and Byrne will rank the competitors on strength of argument, factual evidence and style with 10- point scales for each category. Whoever receives the highest combined score will advance to the next round leaving the loser in their wake.
This Week's Question: Which newly acquired NFL head coach will make the greatest immediate impact upon his respective team?
Nicholas Mendola (Senior Arts and Life Editor): With a diluted pool of prospects to start with, the answer to this question is not a simple one.
First off, neither of the O'Shea brothers, Rick Moranis nor Ed O'Neill, were available, and Gordon Bombay is busy taking Icelandic women for ice cream. That left the market full of coordinators with no head coaching experience and former head coaches freshly removed from their last jobs.
Mike "What a Bunch of" Mularkey is an intriguing option in Buffalo. In Pittsburgh he took two quarterbacks with careers messier than "Necessary Roughness'" Paul Blake and "The Replacements'" Shane Falco and turned them into stars in as cinematic a fashion. He didn't even need a jean jacket or a fishing boat. Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddox simply became better quarterbacks under the tutelage of Mularkey's staff.
What disqualifies Mularkey is the fact that the Bills needed an offensive coordinator more than they needed a head coach. Any fool could walk into Buffalo, give the ball to Travis Henry 25 times a game and leave with a Wild Card.
Lovie Smith is the answer. The Bears, like this year's Bills, are a very talented team with a lot to build around. Young quarterback Rex Grossman is a star in the making, Anthony Thomas and Marty Booker are a quality one-two punch at running back and receiver and the defense includes ferocious linebackers Brian Urlacher and Warrick Holdman as well as one of the league's only clutch safeties, Mike Brown.
Smith took a St. Louis defense that passed by the skin of their teeth during the first years of the "greatest show on turf" and in a season turned the squad into a turnover machine and Super Bowl worthy team. This past season, the Rams led the NFL with an absurd 46 takeaways, something that the Bears will surely benefit from after acquiring a measly nineteen turnovers this past season. Expect a Wild Card run from Smith's Bears.
Daniel Gvertz (Sports Staff Writer): Since we're talking about immediate impact, we can forget about Dennis Green and Lovie Smith, the Cardinals and Bears are years removed from any significant post-season stint, and they don't look to be getting better any time soon.
Tom Coughlin is supposed to crack the whip at his players, but if Jim Fassel couldn't get these guys to play to their potential, they won't respond to being yelled at by Coughlin.
That leaves us with Mike Mularkey with the Bills, and Joe Gibbs with the Redskins. As much as I'd like to pander to my judges' home team, there really isn't much of a comparison to be made here.
In his three seasons as Pittsburgh's Offensive Coordinator, Mularkey changed the Steelers from a run-first offense to a less effective passing offense. He shied away from the talent of Jerome Bettis and Amos Zeroue, in order to flaunt the one-year-wonder talent of Tommy Maddox. The Steelers were 13-3 in Mularkey's first year, and they were 6-10 last year. 'Nuff said.
So that means the coach who will make the best immediate impact is going to be the legend, Joe Gibbs.
Joe Gibbs has a resume that absolutely speaks for itself. In his 12-year head coaching career, he had two, that's right, TWO losing seasons. He is 16-5 in the playoffs, with three Super Bowl championships. Joe Gibbs is going to launch the Redskins straight to the top of an all-of-a-sudden competitive NFC East division, just like Bill Parcells did this year.
John Norman: I'll start off with the scores and explain later. On style Mr. Mendola gets an 8 to Dan Gvertz's 4. On factual evidence I award Gvertz 8 to Mendola's 6. And on strength of argument I am going to give each a 7. I thought Mendola clearly won in style, as Gordon Bombay references will always hold a special place in my heart. As far as evidence goes, it's hard to argue with Coach Gibbs' resume. Three rings in just 12 years in impressive, but so was the job Smith did in St. Louis, hence the close score. As far as the strength of each argument, I thought both made good cases. Chicago went 13-3 a few years ago with a worse team than they have now and the 'Skins are loaded with talent and ready to make a run. While both contestants made very good arguments, Mendola's Little Giants and Mighty Ducks references clearly won me over.
Jim Byrne: Seriously Mendola, the "A-Train?" I may have to give you a "one-two punch" to the face just for that. That brings me to doling out a 6 for factual evidence, however, you do respond well in the style department where I give you a 9. I'm always a sucker for a Gordon Bombay reference. For strength of argument, I give an 8 because Lovie Smith is one heck of a coach and you backed that up well. I love the way Dangerous Danny Gvertz trashes on Mularkey, because seriously, how could you run a team with Plaxico Burress and Hines Ward into the ground? A 9 for factual evidence. It was also a gutsy move not pandering to our Buffalo tastes - even though neither of us are from Buffalo - but nevertheless a 7 style. What brings down Gvertz argument is the fact that he only spent one paragraph, albeit a strong one, on the old Gibbster. For that, I deem a 5 in strength of argument.
This Week's Result: "New Wave" Nick Mendola 44, "Dangerous" Danny Gvertz 40
Next Week's First Round Match: "Boisterous" Ben Cady of the news desk locks horns with "Dazzling" Dan Stein of the editorial section.