Odds and ends on a slow sports week

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 20, 2007

In this space every Wednesday and Saturday, I usually give you the scoop on a certain sports event or figure- local, statewide or national- but during a slow sports week, it is sometimes tough to just focus on one subject.

So this week, I am going to change it up a bit.

I am going to touch on several subjects, from the NFL conference championships to reader feedback on recent articles I've written.

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AFC or NFC?: The NFL conference championships will be taking place this weekend and your guess is as good as mine as to who will advance to Super Bowl XLI.

The Patriots vs. Colts seems to be the most intriguing match up this weekend, but Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning always is.

It is hard pick against the Patriots, who are now 12-1 with head coach Bill Belichick and Brady as a tandem, but the Colts and Manning cannot be the equivalent of Dan Marino and the Dolphins forever.

If there has ever been a coach in the NFL, besides perhaps Marty Schottenheimer, that deserves to win the Super Bowl, it is the Colts' Tony Dungy.

In the NFC, most of the entire United States will be watching as the New Orleans Saints look to make one of the most spectacular turnarounds in sports history by advancing to the Super Bowl just one year after their home city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

The Chicago Bears, on the other hand, have become the Rodney Dangerfields of the NFL this season by earning no respect on their way to the conference championship.

Quarterback Rex Grossman has been hit and miss and the defense has not looked like the 1985 squad since early in the season, but that doesn't mean the Bears aren't dangerous.

The Saints have a potent offense, but the Bear defense may be just as potent.

Both games should be extremely interesting and should set up an exciting Super Bowl.

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Shula to the Dolphins?: If you just heard that loud crack, it was the crack of the Miami Dolphins trying to steal the University of Alabama's thunder.

This week, the Dolphins interviewed former Alabama head coach Mike Shula, son of legendary Dolphins head coach Don Shula, as a possible candidate to replace Nick Saban, who took the job as Shula's replacement at the Capstone.

The Dolphins interviewed Shula twice and daddy Don released a statement praising his son's integrity, class and proven record.

Sounds fishy to me (no pun intended).

Although it appears Cam Cameron will be the next coach in Miami, it would have been interesting to watch both programs next.

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Nix to the U: Former Georgia Tech offensive coordinator Patrick Nix has agreed to terms with the University of Miami (Fla.) this week to take over as the Hurricane's offensive coordinator.

Nix, the former Auburn University quarterback, turned the Yellow Jacket offense into a potent unit that made it all the way to ACC Championship Game this season.

Nix is not the only former Auburn player holding an assistant coaching position in college football either.

Presently, former Auburn lineman, Outland and Lombardi Trophy winner Tracy Rocker coaches the defensive line at Arkansas, former lineman Stacy Searels coaches the offensive line at Georgia, former lineman Mike Pelton coaches the defensive line at Iowa State and former quarterback Dameyune Craig has coached at the Miami Dolphins and now coaches at Tuskegee.

With all these former Auburn players coaching at other schools, including ones that play against the Tigers, one has to wonder why they are not working on the Plains.

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Firing back for Saban remarks: In the aftermath of the Nick Saban hiring frenzy, I have received several interesting comments on my column that appeared in the January 3 edition of The Greenville Advocate.

In the column titled, &#8220Gap between Auburn and Alabama growing larger,” I included a few paragraphs that read:

&#8220The possibility of Saban returning to the college ranks has ‘Bama fans chomping at the bit, but the likelihood that it will happen appears to be slim-to-none.

Just ask Rich Rodriguez and Steve Spurrier.

If Saban does decide Tuscaloosa is where he wants to be, the ever-growing gap between the Tide and Tigers will immediately begin to shrink.

Saban to Tuscaloosa would make the Tide immediate SEC contenders for the 2007 season.”

Although I wrote that article on Monday in Dallas where all the media outlets were shooting down the possibility of such a return, our paper does not print until Wednesday and things changed dramatically in two days.

Since the publication of that article, one reader now refers to me as &#8220Slim-to-none” or &#8220Slim” for short, and one reader wrote in and requested I predict she has a slim-to-none chance of winning the Florida lottery.

Well reader, consider it done.

Austin Phillips is The Greenville Advocate sports editor. He can be reached at 382-3111 ext. 122, by fax at 382-7104 or by e-mail at austin.phillips@greenvilleadvcate.com.