Who's the best NFL coach? Worst? Just for fun, not Sunday blood, I'll fling my choices onto the breakfast table. You may argue or laugh or curse or even agree.
HALL OF FAMERS: Bill Parcells (Cowboys) and Dick Vermeil (Chiefs) get my loudest toots, being locks for induction at Canton, having won the Super Bowl and bossed multiple franchises to Big Sunday.
BEST OF REST: Jon Gruden (Bucs) threatens greatness, with a monumental coaching job with the kings of 2002. On his level, I see Jeff Fisher (Titans), Bill Belichick (Patriots), Mike Shanahan (Broncos) and Mike Holmgren (Seahawks).
MOST SIZZLING NEWCOMER: John Fox (Panthers).
GOOD CREDENTIALS: Brian Billick (Ravens), Tony Dungy (Colts), Herm Edwards (Jets), Jim Fassel (Giants).
ONCE HOT, NOW FADING: Bill Cowher (Steelers), Marty Schottenheimer (Chargers), Dan Reeves (Falcons).
COLLEGIATE NATIONAL CHAMPS WHO'VE PROVED ZERO IN THE PROS: Steve Spurrier (Redskins), Dennis Erickson (49ers).
NICE START, NOW PLUNGING: Bill Callahan (Raiders), Gregg Williams (Bills).
STILL NOT SURE ABOUT THESE: Mike Sherman (Packers), Butch Davis (Browns), Mike Tice (Vikings), Dom Capers (Texans), Dave Wannstedt (Dolphins), Mike Martz (Rams), Steve Mariucci (Lions), Andy Reid (Eagles).
INSUFFICIENT DATA: Jack Del Rio (Jaguars), Marvin Lewis (Bengals).
DESERVING A CHANCE ELSEWHERE: Dave McGinnis (Cardinals).
WORST: Jim Haslett (Saints), Dick Jauron (Bears).
Whatever happened to Jeff George?
QUICKIES: Daryl Johnston's grammar teachers surely flinched when the Fox analyst declared during Bucs-Cowboys telecast, "Jon Gruden must've saw something." The Bucs owed Parcells a pop in his famous mouth, having been twice jilted in pursuits of Tuna. Now that the Falcons dance with the NFL's worst, don't try to convince me Atlanta would've contended with a healthy Michael Vick. CBS analyst Brent Jones said, "The only two people in the world who think Keyshawn Johnson is better than Marvin Harrison are Keyshawn and his mom." Thousands of athletes could take a lesson in class from golfer Tom Watson, who earned a $1-million annuity for winning the Charles Schwab Cup and signed it over to ALS research in honor of his stricken caddie, Bruce Edwards. Is there a Senior Seau?
NOW, THE COLLEGIANS: It's even more difficult to assess hotties and coldies among NCAA football coaches. Giving it a stab LEGENDS: Joe Paterno (Penn State) and Bobby Bowden (FSU) have earned a stratosphere to themselves, but both are sweating in search of happy endings; Joe Pa laboring far more.
TODAY'S BEST: Bob Stoops (Oklahoma) is my No. 1, but I'm never quite sure how to rank Larry Coker (Miami), a fellow who has done so splendidly with inherited wealth.
SLIDING: Phil Fulmer (Tennessee).
RISING: Finest coaching work I've seen this season is John L. Smith at Michigan State, a proud old program that was stumbling and heavy in turmoil.
GOOD, NOT GREAT: Frank Beamer (Virginia Tech), Pete Carroll (USC), Jim Tressel (Ohio State), Barry Alvarez (Wisconsin), Lou Holtz (South Carolina).
NICE CREDENTIALS BUT LOTS TO PROVE: Tyrone Willingham (Notre Dame), Ralph Friedgen (Maryland), Nick Saban (LSU), Mike Bellotti (Oregon), Al Groh (Virginia), Jeff Tedford (California), Chuck Amato (N.C. State), Jim Leavitt (South Florida), Mark Richt (Georgia).
OVERRATED: Mack Brown (Texas), Tommy Tuberville (Auburn), Dennis Franchione (Texas A&M).
ODDS AGAINST THEM: Ron Zook (Florida), Mike Shula (Alabama).
GOOD ENOUGH TO BE PENN STATE'S NEXT COACH: Kirk Ferentz (Iowa).
THE LAST WORD: How can anyone figure, or be foolish enough to get to Vegas and bet, on an NFL in which the 49ers embarrass the Super Bowl champion Bucs one week, then lose to the pitiful Cards the next?