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A lot riding for Pats

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Robert from Chicago, IL:
Just hoping you could give us a bit of a history lesson. What kind of success have college coaches had coming into the NFL as coordinators? Any familiar names? Just wondering what kind of track record this move has. Thanks, Vic, keep up the great coverage of all things NFL, in addition to Jags-related.

Vic: The one familiar name for Jaguars fans is Bob Petrino, who came to the Jaguars from college football, although he was not officially named offensive coordinator until his second season on Tom Coughlin's staff. Coughlin had a high opinion of Petrino, even though Jaguars fans didn't. Coughlin loved Petrino's organizational skills, preparation and calm. It was very clear that Petrino, who is from an esteemed coaching family, had a very sharp offensive mind. It was no surprise when Petrino left the Jaguars to go back to college football, which was his and his family's pedigree. And it was no surprise that he became a head coach and that he has had whirlwind success at Louisville. But Petrino's route to the NFL is not the norm. Most coordinators come through the NFL ranks, not college football's. Denver's Larry Coyer has some NFL experience, but he has spent the majority of his years in college football. San Diego's Cam Cameron, Chicago's Terry Shea, Miami's Scott Linehan and St. Louis' Steve Fairchild are the same. No coordinator in the NFL in 2004, however, assumed that title coming directly from college football. You may see that change a little bit in the future because more and more teams are denying their coaches permission to interview for other jobs in the league. The rule governing the movement of coaches under contract was changed a couple of years ago. Under the new rule, any team can deny permission for one of its coaches to become a candidate for another job, even if that move was to be upward. What that means is head coaches are probably going to have to turn more to the college ranks to find replacements.

David from Jacksonville:
Why did the 1972 Dolphins have to play at Pittsburgh in the AFC championship game?

Vic: In those days, homefield advantage was on a rotation basis among the divisions; it was not decided by best record. In '72, the AFC Central had homefield advantage. I might add that Miami got very lucky for that game in Pittsburgh. The temperature at kickoff was near 70 degrees. The change to the best-record format that we use today to determine homefield advantage was made, I believe, in the 1975 season.

Rajesh from Jacksonville:
How many underdogs have won the Super Bowl?

Vic: The Jets' win over the Colts in Super Bowl III represents the most dramatic example of an upset. There haven't been many. I can't remember the point spreads for all of them. I think Kansas City's win over the Vikings in IV was technically an upset, although it was widely considered afterward that the better team won. I believe the Giants were underdogs in their win over the Bills in XXV. Most recently, New England won in an upset over St. Louis in XXXVI.

James from Hernando, MX:
When March 2 rolls around, will your columns be all about the draft and free agency?

Vic: The focus will turn toward free agency and the draft sooner than that. By the middle of next week, we'll begin getting an idea of what players are going to be tagged. At that point we will turn our attention to free agency. By late February, after the scouting combine, we can begin arranging the college crop in a preliminary order.

Rajesh from Jacksonville:
Qualify for "Ask Vic" fans what losing in the Super Bowl means to a quarterback's legacy. What if Jim Kelly had won? What if Fran Tarkenton had won? What if John Elway hadn't finally won? How would life be different if Kerry Collins or Neil O'Donnell or Tony Eason had won? And most importantly, what if Donovan McNabb loses on Sunday and never gets back?

Vic: I don't think a Super Bowl win would've significantly changed the lives or reputations of quarterbacks such as Kerry Collins, Neil O'Donnell or Tony Eason. What they did over their careers does not put them among the elite of the position and one Super Bowl win wouldn't change that. Look at Jim Plunkett. He won two Super Bowls but no one talks about him having been a great quarterback. In my opinion, winning the Super Bowl matters most for those quarterbacks whose careers were otherwise great. Jim Kelly and Fran Tarkenton had great careers but Tarkenton lost three Super Bowls and Kelly lost four. What that means is they can't be lumped in the same category with Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Troy Aikman, etc. The same would've been true for John Elway had he not broken through in his final two seasons. Because he did break through, however, his name is mentioned in the same breath as Bradshaw's, Montana's and Aikman's. It would seem there are two kinds of great quarterbacks: Those that were great and didn't win a Super Bowl, and those that were great and did win a Super Bowl. The second category is, obviously, of a higher order. Tom Brady is already in that group. Donovan McNabb will join it with a win this Sunday.

David from Oviedo, FL:
If the Patriots win, the talk will continue about a dynasty, but if they lose, it's likely you will hear that the Pats really weren't that good and that the dynasty is over. This team could go from one of the greatest of all-time to a footnote in NFL history, with one bad Sunday. Isn't that a lot of legacy riding on one game?

Vic: You may be overstating the situation a bit, but not much. I don't think a loss would make the Patriots a footnote in history. I think they have already achieved one distinction: They are the first truly great team of the salary cap era. The Broncos teams that won two Super Bowls in the late 1990s had players that came from the pre-salary cap era. These Patriots, however, are salary cap born and bred. They are a perfect representation of their times and they will long be remembered for that. In fact, it may be a long time before another team wins two titles in three years, let alone three in four years. But you're right when you say people will find reason to knock them down, should they lose to the Eagles. They'll say the Patriots' first Super Bowl win was a fluke, and they'll point to the fact the Patriots didn't even make the playoffs the following season. You're right, a lot is riding on this Sunday's game for the Patriots.

Matt from England:
If a player is selected to the Pro Bowl, but then has to withdraw due to injury, does he get recognition for having been selected?

Vic: Yes, he is forever recognized as having been selected for that particular season's Pro Bowl team, which is more important than actually playing in the game itself.

James from Ashcroft, British Columbia:
Say the Pats win the Super Bowl without Ty Law. With an already shaky relationship with the team and the city, do you think he will be dealt? Even if they don't win the Super Bowl, they have already proven they can win without him.

Vic: If we've learned one thing about Bill Belichick, it's that he's very quick to move older players out. He did it in Cleveland with Bernie Kosar and he's done it in New England with Drew Bledsoe and Lawyer Milloy. Does that answer your question?

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