STL sports chat with Ben Frederickson

STL sports chat with Ben Frederickson

Bring your Cardinals, Blues and St. Louis sports questions, and talk to Post-Dispatch columnist Ben Frederickson in a live chat starting at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

    What about Dino Babers? He coached at Eastern Illinois and Bowling green. Syracuse is a similar-level to Mizzou in the ACC, but it would be a bump up to the SEC..
    He might have made a mistake by not jumping last year, when he was coming off a 10-win season and a bowl victory. Instead he went 5-7 this year with a team that was ranked in the preseason Top-25. He's had one winning season in four years at Cuse. Not nearly as hot of a name as he once was. I don't think he had much interest in Mizzou when they shopped around between Pinkel's retirement and Odom's promotion, so no sure why Mizzou would go back that direction now.
    Healy or Harsin? You like the guy with tremendous upside or a guy who’s consistently won at a lower level?
    Make Harsin say no, then pivot to Healy. That would be how I would play it, I think.
    I'm not as high on Kiffin as others -- in part because I used to cover Tennessee and heard plenty of Kiffin stories, some true and some probably false. I don't think Norvell is realistic with the Florida State/Ole Miss/Arkansas jobs open. I like Billy Napier's resume and reputation, but there doesn't seem to be much smoke there with Mizzou. I don't think a triple-option coach is a good idea, for reasons discussed earlier in the chat.
     
    If Harsin can't be convinced, I like the upside of Healy. I would rather go big and take a shot on an up-and-comer than hire a re-tread or past-his-prime candidate.
  • Hey Ben: I think the things you and Dave Matter discussed in your recent Mizzou pod about the complications of firing Odom (athletic department revenue deficits, NCAA sanctions, etc) made the Sterk decision all the more telling. He saw something he really didn't like. It seems clear that his decision was made prior to the Arkansas game. Two questions: what do you think was the primary factor in this decision (quality of play? donor disgruntlement?); 2) do you think he already knows that he has the financial support to cover the buyouts and the cost of the kind of coach he's looking for?
    Thanks for listening to the podcast. 
    I thought that was one our best ones, because it allowed us to cover a lot of ground and get really deep into some of those issues.
    We're hoping to record a new one, about the coaching search, this week.
    I also think the decision was made before the Arkansas game. I asked Sterk if the Tennessee game was the deciding factor, and he didn't really give a straight answer. Looking back, Odom's demeanor on the sideline during and after the Arkansas game -- especially stopping to take pictures with his linebackers -- suggested he knew what was coming.
    1) I think Sterk was really surprised by how far off the rails this season went. Like everyone, he expected this to be a big year. He figured the football team, bowl ban or not, would be one that made noise. He has said from the day he arrived that he wanted a top-25 team. This was supposed to be the one that got there. Easy schedule. Good QB. Bunch of returners on offense. There is always a chance things don't go as planned. Always. But the way it went wrong really soured things. The season-opening loss at Wyoming took the wind out of the sails before the Tigers ever played at home. The no-show loss at Vanderbilt killed all good will from the five-game home winning streak. Sterk was as frustrated by the senseless penalties as fans were. Three five-game losing streaks in four seasons is really hard to square for an AD who did not hire the coach. And that was part of the problem here. Every time Sterk seemed to be ready to make Barry his guy, something happened. A bad bowl loss. A public push for an extension. The Wyoming disaster, and the collapse that started at Vanderbilt and did not stop until blood donor Arkansas arrived. One of Odom's shortcomings, I think, was his tendency to worry about his status. That became more and more clear toward the end. I don't think that helped his case with Sterk, who saw a coach who should have been concerned about winning games instead worrying about if he was going to be around next season. I think it was a combination of all of this as much as it was one big thing.
     
    2) He already does have some of that financial support. When chancellor Alexander Cartwright made it known that the university was going to be giving the athletics department a bridge loan for the missed SEC postseason revenue, it was a pretty good sign Odom was not going to be spared because of financial uncertainty. Sterk made it known during his coaching search press conference that he's in position to pay a new hire more than Odom was making.
    Ben I think one of the major problems with Odom was how unlikable his players were. Colon-Castillo needs to stay off the mic. What are your thoughts? The penalties certainly did not help. But it just seems like Odom promoted an arrogant attitude of “ people are stupid and want us to fail. We know better than them although we are losing a lot of games”
    You're talking to the guy who wrote this column, linked below, about that exact topic.
    I still don't get it.
    Odom is likable. His players, especially Colon-Castillo, were as well when I had the chance to be around them. But when those players got on the field, the talk about playing for Odom and sticking it to the critics often didn't come through -- unless the opponent was clearly overwhelmed.
    What I'll never be able to figure out about Odom's team was how the level of interest and energy could spike so much between weeks. It was absent in bowl games, but present against a ranked Florida team last season, but absent in this season's season-opener, but present at homecoming against Ole Miss, but then gone again most of the rest of this season.
    The massive ups and downs, evidenced by the winning and losing streaks, were to me more frustrating than any of the comments about critics.
    That's how every team at every level in any sport talks these days.
    In  a world where every person has a Twitter account, every person has a critic.
    It's easy motivation -- but only if it actually works.
    Speaking of Castillo, he just declared for the NFL draft.
    That's quite surprising, considering he didn't seem to have a very good year.
    Waino had an ERA under 3 at home and a 6+ on the road. Can you see Shildt putting Waino on the IL for long road trips and giving one of the young guys a shot on the road? Helsley, Woodford, Cabrera, Ponce could do better than 6+ ERA and Waino seems to pitch better with longer resting periods. Your thoughts?
    No. Mainly because you can't put a guy on the injured list who is not injured, and teams that try to abuse it are looked into. The situation you just described would certainly get looked into. And that's if Wainwright agreed to go along with it, which he wouldn't. So, no.
    I just read again about that $10,000 fine the Cards' imposed on Flaherty for not signing last year. That seems like a very foolish thing to do and I predict it will come back to bite the Cardinals big time. Plus it just looks like a very poor thing to do to your presumed potential ace. May wind up being the biggest $10,000 mistake since Augie cheaped out on Carlton.....
    Phrasing it that way is a bit misleading. The Cardinals offered Flaherty more, but he declined it because he did not want his acceptance of that agreement to be on his record when it came to negotiating down the line. For example, every agreed-to salary can be pointed to by a team as proof the player agreed with that value. An imposed value cannot, because the player did not agree. The Cardinals' penalty was not unique to Flaherty. Like most teams, the Cardinals do exact a penalty when they impose a salary after negotiations don't lead to an agreement. That's allowed by the CBA. Most teams take advantage of it. Most importantly. I'd make sure to read Flaherty's comments on the event. He doesn't love the system. He had no beef with the Cardinals operating inside the system. More than anything, Flaherty's handling of this speaks to his wisdom about the business side. That's why I remind those clamoring for a Flaherty extension to realize what it would take. He knows his value, and he knows it's only going to increase as long as he performs. Don't expect him to take a team-friendly deal like some of his peers across the sport.
     
    “It’s nothing on the Cardinals," Flaherty said back then. "They play within what the system is,” Flaherty said. “Their process is great and it makes sense, but in the grand scheme of things the system itself that everybody plays under just isn’t — it’s not a great system for everybody.
    “The system as a whole is not great.”
     
    What are your thoughts on Todd Monken potentially be named HC at Mizzou? Would he run the triple option? Do you think a service academy coach could succeed jumping to an SEC school?
  • You mean Jeff, right?
    Todd is the OC of the Cleveland Browns.
    Jeff's the sixth-year coach at Army.
    I have some concerns about bringing a triple-option coach to the SEC. It might be Vanderbilt's best option to compete. I don't think it's Mizzou's.
    And if you are hiring a triple-option coach to run another system, there is a lot of risk there, too.
    If I had to bet on one service academy coach to make the best transition to the SEC, it would be Navy's Ken Niumatalolo, not Monken or Air Force's Troy Calhoun. 
     
    Hey Ben: Ok, I'm going to give you a "you're great . . . but." I've loved your coverage of the end of the Mizzou season. You basically called out the program as to whether it was going to accept mediocrity or not, and then, once the call was made, you pointed out the ramifications of the decision to fire HCBO. It's been great stuff. BUT, I take some issue with a part of your piece today, referring to Derek Dooley as a "disaster" and the reason Odom was fired. No one thought Dooley was a disaster last year, right? People praised his work with Drew Lock. I thought the writing was on the wall this year early when it was clear that Kelly Bryant's arm strength was so limited that teams didn't have to honor the deep threat. I don't think that's on Dooley. I don't know who was to blame for the struggle of the O-line and the constant shifting of personnel, but when you can't run the ball, when your supposed All-American TE is no-show most of the season, and when you can't throw deep, well, what's left? Was PInkel's OC a "disaster" their first year in the SEC when the O-line took so many injuries the offense could neither run the ball nor protect James Franklin?

    Odom lost his job because of things you pointed out in columns: the same problems hounded the team for the duration of his tenure (penalties, poor to inconsistent defense that was often shredded by one-dimensional offenses, terrible special teams, bad losses to inferior teams, etc.). I'd add his infatuation with field goals and terrible game management.
    Thanks for the kind words.
    I'll stand by my Dooley take.
    Let me answer your question with a couple of questions.
    1) Do you think Barry Odom would still be working at Mizzou today if the offense had not driven off a cliff after the win against Ole Miss?
    2) Isn't the offensive coordinator on a defensive-minded head coach's team the one most responsible for some of the problem areas you just mentioned -- dissolving O line, lackluster play from the start tight end, no go-to receiver emerging, Larry Rountree's regression?
    I'm not giving Odom a pass at all. He's the one who hired Dooley. I wrote back then that hiring a controversial coach who had never once called plays before was attaching his head coaching career to a risky bet. And yes, it did work in one season with Lock. Then it collapsed in year two. Bryant's health complications didn't help. But he regressed under Dooley as well. Every returning player seemed to regress under Dooley.
    If Odom had made a better hire at coordinator, I think he would still be coaching at Mizzou. His problems in hiring -- remember DeMontie Cross? -- were also a part of his downfall. 
    Will be interesting to see if Albert O gets drafted. With the underwhelming performance of the past few seasons, I would have thought a good senior in college would help his stock with the NFL. But obviously someone encouraged him to declare. Maybe this year's crop of tight ends coming out of college is relatively mediocre? Or his potential intrigues at least one team...
    I think he will get drafted, but probably not as high as he hopes. Where you are drafted doesn't mean much when it comes to your ability to carve out a pro career. Albert has the physical gifts. What he lacks is the mental and physical toughness to use those gifts to the best of his ability. His blocking is disinterested. His command of the football when it's in his possession is lacking. NFL teams are going to ride him hard on those things, and if he can't take it and improve on it, he won't be around long. I hope he figures it out. He's a good kid, from all interactions I've had with him, but the NFL is a tough place to improve toughness. You either have it or you don't.
    Cardinals boring us to death with their lackluster off-season....as promised!
    I don't know what boring means anymore. I've been told multiple times that the 2019 team was boring, and it reached the NLCS with really good play in every phase but hitting. So, who knows. The Cardinals made it pretty clear we should not expect major splashes. So, I'm not expecting those. I suggest everyone else does the same.
    Sounds like the Odom situation has been a mess. Be honest was Odom easy to deal with or kind of a jerk? Also I saw Walter Brady came out of the woodworks and went off on Odom.
    Odom and I butted heads once a few years back but he was really good to deal with after that. It was more of a misunderstanding than anything. We worked it out, and he was accessible and helpful in the years that followed. I like him and hope he lands on his feet soon. I have no doubt that he will. I do think he was always a bit insecure, and that wears on a coach. We see now that he had a good reason to be. I also think he did himself a disservice by wrestling so publicly with how to frame his career. There were times when he wanted us to think Gary Pinkel left him a flaming mess. There were times he spoke about Pinkel being a great inspiration. Can't have it both ways. He was either the continuation of the Pinkel era, or the turning of the page, and he kept wanting to flip  it back and forth depending on the circumstances. That got old. I wish he would have been more open to some of the guidance that Pinkel could have offered. For example, I don't think Odom would have hired Cross as defensive coordinator -- whom he later had to fire -- if he would have ran the name by Pinkel first. I think Odom made some first-time coaching mistakes that Pinkel might have helped him avoid if they had a better relationship But that's hard, too, to welcome in the guy you replaced. Pinkel didn't do that at Toledo when he replaced Nick Saban, but he did rely on Don James' instruction and examples. Odom did not have to make Pinkel his James, but I think he could  have tapped into that  resource a bit more.
    I’m starting to believe that Knizner May be trade bait. Lots of talk the same way Kelly was talked about. With Herrera in the fold and Yadi looking for a cpl more years, might be something there. Put him with one fo the OF ( O’Neill) probably get something good back. Would that plus top 20 prospect fetch a #2 starter? Say Jon Gray?
    If the Cardinals do plan to extend Molina and not walk back his playing time, then they probably should trade Knizner before his value starts to drop at some point. We don't know, and I'm not sure the Cardinals do completely, which outfielders they feel comfortable offloading before getting a chance to see what impressions those outfielders can make in 2020. That was their stance at the end-of-season presser, at least. We'll see if it's changed at all during winter meetings. Another thing: If the Cardinals want more pitching, they don't have to trade for it. The free-agent market has pitchers galore, still, at all price and skill levels.
  • I'm still confused on where the offense is going to come from in '20, when you are losing your #4 hitter, replacing him with a prospect that has little or no MLB track record, and pretty much returning the same team that went completely dark in the NLCS? DeJong and Carpenter being filed into the middle of the line-up doesn't inspire a lot of confidence.
    Totally fair question.
    The biggest flaw, clearly, in the 2019 Cardinals was the offense.
    We all agree there.
    The Cardinals have been asked, and will continue to be asked, what must happen to improve that offense.
    So far, the answers have been the returning players will find ways to be better, and the emerging players will offer upside.
    The hitting coach who did not have great results in his debut season should also be part of the discussion on expected improvement.
    None of these topics have touched on adding a player from outside the organization. Winter meetings could change that. That's part of the reason we go cover that.
    But for now, I hear you. What the Cardinals are selling, at least in the moment, is quite heavy on optimism.
    Thanks for the chats. They are entertaining. Question relating to your readers. Have you ever been approached by the Cardinals to discuss a theme or comment in the Chat? Curious if 1) They read the chats and 2) if they "try" to control the message..
    The Cardinals keep tabs on what is being said and written about the team. Those who choose to receive it get a regular update of headlines, etc. Some care more than others. No different than any other team or business that gets regular media coverage. I'm not sure how the Cardinals could control the message. They can control their accessibility and willingness to comment. They can express their opinions when they don't like something. That's dialogue that happens regularly between media and a team. It doesn't mean the coverage changes. Usually, teams feel like coverage is too negative, probably because they weigh what they believe to be negative above what is neutral or positive. Usually, fans feel like coverage is too positive. That's especially true in these chats for some reason. Negativity rules. That's the only complaint I hear about the chats, and it's not from the Cardinals, but pretty much everyone.
    Do you think Sterk had a candidate in his pocket when he fired Odom? If not, boy I don't know....Not against firing Odom, but I don't think you do so unless you have a replacement already lined up....
    I'm sure he had a list of candidates.
    I doubt he had a signed, sealed, delivered hire.
    There's a big difference.
    It's also worth remembering that some of these discussions have to be worked in around coaches currently coaching teams that are preparing for conference championship games.
    Odom was fired Saturday. Sterk sure seemed to know he was making the move before then. But even then, this has not been going on that long. Even if it feels like it.
    Is father time finally catching up with Tom Brady?
    That probably has more to do with the receivers he is lacking this season
    Craig Berube: a genius or the greatest genius?
  • Ha! He certainly has the golden touch when it comes to the lines. I wouldn't mind going to Vegas with Chief.
    If MU hires a coach that is still coaching, do they keep it under wraps, or what does that look like for the coach who might still have a championship game and a bowl game at his current position?
    It depends entirely on the coach and the school he's leaving. 
    It can go different ways.
    Sometimes it's see you later, immediately.
    Sometimes he sticks around to coach the bowl.
    There's no hard and fast rule.
    Who's the odd man/men out when the Blues get some guys back (assuming no other major injuries)? Walker has the least time under his belt but seems to be a great fit for the Blues style.
    Gotta cite the Larry Pleau Rule. There's no reason to decide that until the decision has to be made. With the bad injury luck the Blues have had, it's never safe to assume no more injuries. Agree with you that Walker is flashing.
    Since we are being "honest" - Ben, do you remember your initial reaction to the Berube promotion after Yeo was let go a little less than a year ago? In your wildest dreams, did you envision this kind of success and turnaround? It's pretty crazy when you think about it
    Yeah, I remember. I called it. Berube was gonna win The Cup. Kidding, of course. Like everyone else, I figured Chief was a placeholder. I was wrong. I think I had some company there. Just looked this up. Last night's thumping of the Blackhawks in Chicago was the Blues' 72 win in 118 regular and postseason games coached by Berube. That's tied with Boston for the most wins during the span of Chief's promotion (11/19/18) and today. Pretty crazy indeed.
    Based on what we've seen so far from the MU BB team, is the NCAA still a realistic goal? If not, what's the ceiling for this team?
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