The Ashburn Diaries, Winter 2008

Morning Cup-A-JoeLike the Capitals recently, the Redskins find themselves in search of a successor coach. Any and all similarity of operations ends there. What is ensuing now in the Great Search is, predictably, high burlesque, a lavish local sports soap opera.  
The Capitals had both a qualified general manager and an appropriately removed-from-hockey-decisions owner involved in their search. The Redskins have neither. There is no foundation for believing that a genuinely gifted hockey mind available on the market wouldn’t have entertained an overture from George McPhee to guide the bench of the young and gifted Caps. But the Capitals’ coaching search was efficient and painless and apparently successful precisely because there was in place a plan of succession.¬†Such planning is the byproduct of business competence.¬†There is abundant reason to believe that Tier I coaching choices won’t return Daniel Synder’s telephone calls. Snyder, like a pornographer,¬†runs a successful business¬†by the barometer of profitability margins. ¬†¬†¬†¬†
The general manager’s role in contemporary professional sports, I’ve written before, has evolved remarkably in the past 15 or 20 years, with law schools today clogged with aspiring pro sports executives. We in Washington this past summer, with the Michael Nylander Edmonton-D.C. dust-up,¬†saw first-hand the value of having an executive law trained in a matter of contracts and negotiations. What is it about Daniel Snyder that innoculates him from local press criticism for failing to staff the Redskins with this most basic and increasingly important business role?¬†Clearly, Joe Gibbs’ rerun on the sidelines purchased the owner some years of deferred scrutiny on this front, but with his dismissal of Charlie Casserly years prior, it became¬†standard operating procedure¬†for the boy owner to seat himself in the role of talent evaluator and contract negotiator. The results speak for themselves.
I got a good chuckle from the early replacement speculation stories with their inclusion of Bill Cower’s name. As if such an accomplished coach would deign work for our egomaniacal, control freak¬†tyrant. Notice his name hasn’t been uttered since. Caller¬†ID no doubt ended that courtship.¬†The linear chronology¬†of the search¬†is a bit sketchy, and my suspicion is that this is premised on the Skins’ themselves floating out star quality falsehoods. The architect of the collegiate dynasty out West, Pete Carroll, allegedly surfaced not long after Cower. Yeah, right.
Here’s a list of plausible replacements for the Cerrato-Synder two-(empty)-headed monster to cull from:

Tyronne Willingham;
Wayne Fontes;
NFL interns;
Whoever’s coaching DeMatha — maybe.

The latest, if you believe local press accounts, involves the Mooch, Steve Mariucci.¬†At least he has late ’90s compentency on his CV. His more recent run with the Lions¬†went such that no one’s bothered to ask him to coach since. Now we’re back in plausibility.
The discrepancy in paychecks notwithstanding, one wonders if WaPost’s Jason LaConfora these days pines for the integrity and veracity associated with his old Caps’ beat.
At least in the blogosphere, Snyder is on the receiving end of enough criticism that some of it borders on unfair. He is not, for instance, singularly responsible for Metro’s malfeasance. But at a time when all major college football programs are voraciously recruiting wide receivers 6 ‘2 or taller, the Redskins of recent seasons have insisted on signing smurfs. As with his coaching nostalgia, Snyder is still living in the ’80s. In an Era of the Tall, guess who thinks it’s wise to go small?
Another relic of the ’80s is Danny’s right-hand Yes Man, Vinny Cerrato. His most notable accomplishment prior to arriving in Ashburn? Coordinating the recruiting of 17- and 18-year-olds for Lou Holtz’s Fighting Irish . . . in the ’80s. ¬†
This spring, as college juniors and seniors audition at NFL combines in front of scores of¬†talent evaluators who’ve paid their dues, and are held accountable for their decision-making, it’s necessarily the case that Snyder and Cerrato will be perched hard by the likes of Bill Belichick. That’s a fair showdown of pigskin wits.
In this winter of mild Mid-Atlantic temps, and with his Good Shepherd returned to his NASCAR flock, Daniel Snyder is, perhaps at last, dangerously exposed. He’s the Oz in front of the Burgundy curtain. And an in-kind fraud.¬†
  

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3 Responses to The Ashburn Diaries, Winter 2008

  1. vt caps fan says:

    Tell me about it. That dynamic duo of Vinny and Danny are ruining a once proud franchise.
    The caps better keep on winning, cause Danny sold his soul to the devil, and the skins wont be winning anytime soon.

  2. Wha? says:

    Even on hockey websites, the Redskins (who are in their OFF SEASON!) get coverage.
    I give up.

  3. jdug says:

    No way would Bill McGregor leave DeMatha for that job. Hey maybe if Danny Boy moves the team back to DC DeMatha can play there home games at Fed EX!!

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