So after all these years, do the Bengals finally have a general manager?
Someone not named Brown?
I had to do a double take when reading the accounts of what went on Wednesday at the annual NFL Combine. It had nothing to do with the yearly nonsense of testing players in their underwear.
When was the last time a 40-yard dash by a player in shorts had anything to do with how fast he runs in a game, let alone if he's a good football player or not?
The Bengals Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin was at the podium Wednesday. There's nothing new about that. He's has addressed the media in Indianapolis before.
But it was something he said that snapped me to attention.
In an article about the Combine written by ESPN's Katherine Terrell, the reporter who regularly covers the Reds for ESPN, it said this:
"Also on Wednesday, Tobin said he plans to get pass-rusher Carl Lawson on the field more after Lawson was mostly limited to third down and nickel packages in 2017."
Aside from the fact that it's simply good business sense to put a player on the field who was the Bengals' best pass rusher last season, think about that sentence for a moment.
While not a direct quote, what Tobin said is something you'd expect the head coach to say, not a personnel director.
And it made me wonder: What exactly was the deal that Mike Brown extracted from Marvin Lewis, or vice versa, that has Lewis back for two more seasons?
At a news conference a couple of days after re-upping for two more seasons, Lewis hinted that he was sticking around because he and Brown had agreed that the Bengals' front office needed to move at least into the 20th century. Lewis hinted that the organization needed to play the free agent game better.
And now, this.
There's a danger in reading too much into anyone's comments, particularly paraphrased comments. But Tobin's verbiage might be telling, as well. It's believed that Lewis likes the chain of command he's worked through as Bengals head coach.
There is no general manager he needs to go through, work around or work with, when approaching the Bengals' ultimate decision maker.
But maybe Mike Brown and his heir apparent, daughter Katie, would like more of that formal structure that almost every NFL team has. It's hard to tell.
The Bengals keep palace intrigue closely guarded, but when someone who's not a coach talks about how much playing time he wants to get for a specific player, it's attention getting.
On Wednesday, Duke Tobin got my attention. We'll see if it was something, or nothing.
Now, for some random thoughts on this random Thursday.
- Another day, another decent start for a contender for the Reds starting rotation. The contenders are into their second round of outings. On Wednesday, Sal Romano went two outs into the third inning against the Royals and allowed just a run, while whiffing four. Luis Castillo, Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani and Mike Lorenzen have all looked good in their opening starts. It's way early, and between now and Opening Day, every pitcher on every team will get rocked once or twice. But better this than the alternative.
- With a one-game lead over Villanova, Xavier would win the Big East Conference title outright and grab the top seed in next week's Big East Conference Tournament by winning at DePaul Saturday (highly likely). Xavier would also get the outright title if it loses and Villanova loses at home against Georgetown (It could happen. 'Nova looked shaky in its one point win over Seton Hall Wednesday night). But if Xavier and Villanova tie, 'Nova grabs the top seed since it has beaten Xavier twice. Regardless, this has been an amazing year for the Musketeers.
- JP Macura is the kind of player you hate if he's an opponent, and the kind of player you'd love to have on your team. The history of basketball is loaded with guys like him. In a lot of ways, he's the key to everything Xavier tries to do. If he's 'on' with his shooting and playmaking, Xavier is almost impossible to beat. If he isn't, it puts far too much pressure on Trevon Bluiett.
- The latest revelations in the college basketball recruiting scandal are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, according to best selling author John Feinstein. His "Season On The Brink" book about Indiana basketball and Bob Knight a generation ago is still one of the greatest sports books of all time. Feinstein was on my radio show on 700 WLW last weekend. He told me the only program in the history of basketball that was run clean as a whistle was the Indiana program in the one year he spent with them. Feinstein saw nothing out of sorts in the year he spent with Knight and the Hoosiers. Other than that one season. And he's correct. No independent journalist, before or since, has had the total access Feinstein had that one season.
The UC Bearcats are at Wichita State Sunday in a situation much like Xavier's. Right now, the Bearcats lead the American Conference by a game. A loss at Wichita would leave both teams tied for the AAC lead, but Wichita would get the top seed in the upcoming AAC Tournament because of a sweep of UC.
I'd be shocked if the Shockers play as well as they did here a couple of weeks ago. UC's defense (lamented at the time by Mick Cronin. Now he bristles when someone else laments about his defense) was pushed around in that first game against Wichita. UC allowed the Shockers to shoot 53 percent. In the meantime, Justin Jennifer started for the Bearcats. And while point production isn't his primary job, Jennifer played 11 minutes and delivered exactly two points. Worse, he had only one assist. Gary Clark made just three shots. And Wichita State got, and took advantage of, far too many open looks at three point shots. Sunday, I sense, will be different.
The only thing that is holding up FC Cincinnati's expansion bid is a specific stadium site. It can't be anything else. While FCC's Jeff Berding continues to try to work a deal on Cincinnati's West End (just a quick question here: Why is he trying to do that? Is that area so attractive that, besides building a soccer specific stadium, FCC also has to rebuild a high school football stadium and build homes? Just to get a soccer stadium built? And besides, a lot of West End residents don't seem to want a soccer stadium in their backyards), it's more than apparent MLS is giving him plenty of time to get it done. Otherwise, MLS would simply take the money Detroit has and put a team there. Sacramento, short of a Meg Whitman reboot, looks dead. So with Berding needing time, that's what he's getting from MLS.
MLS says any expansion franchise has to have a "soccer-specific stadium." It's not going to place a franchise in Cincinnati, have the team play at Nippert and draw crowds in the 20-25,000 range and have the local and state politicians figure out that now that we have a team, who needs a new stadium? Not happening. The carrot from MLS is the franchise. The stick is to get a stadium built. That's why they're giving Berding time. They want us. Carl Lindner III and his group want them. So while Berding tries to work his magic in the West End and wait on a traffic study for "Plan B," Oakley and the rest of us wait. But from here, it looks like a matter of when, not if.
I can't believe Roger Daltrey is 74 years old, but that's what the calendar says. One of the driving forces in The Who has turned 74 today.
And what we have here, I believe, is Daltrey's finest work with the The Who. First of all, this is with the classic Who lineup: Daltrey, Pete Townsend (who wrote the song), Keith Moon and John Entwistle. This is a long song. But to get it playable on AM radio stations, it had to be edited down. Daltrey hated that. Because of the editing on this song, The Who began to worry less about 'singles' and instead concentrated on making the best albums possible. Townsend is a magnificent songwriter. He's often said this song is about politicians, and how new ones may come along but usually have the same ulterior motives as those who came before.
It didn't chart all that high in the United States, largely because it was chopped down so much. It peaked at #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971. What makes it so good? Daltrey's iconic scream. I wonder if he can still pull that off now at the ripe old age of 74.