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December is time for rumors


December signals the start of the "coaching carousel" season and we got a head start on the festivities this week when this Sunday's coaching combatants were each linked to the vacant job at Alabama. Both coaches, of course, denied interest.

With apologies to Jack Del Rio and Nick Saban, I must confess great delight in "coaching carousel" rumors. I love the gossip; the wilder the better.

I especially liked the one that had Bill Cowher going to North Carolina State, solely because Cowher appears headed for retirement in the Raleigh area. Cowher denied the rumor in no uncertain terms this week, but I could've told you there was no chance of "The Jaw" going to N.C. State because there's no way he's going to spend his offseason recruiting.

The rumor, which actually made it into print in a small-town North Carolina newspaper, was laughable. Imagine a recruit and his family slowly becoming covered by spit as Cowher pitches the merits of playing for the Wolfpack.

What if Vince Lombardi had decided to retire in Miami? Would it have been rumored that he wanted the Hurricanes job?

Tell us lies, tell us sweet, little lies … because we've got to have them. We love gossip.

The Del Rio to Alabama rumor had to be a talk-show creation. It was just too lame for a newspaper to spread. Imagine a USC guy living in Tuscaloosa. Imagine coach Jack wearing a long-sleeve white shirt, tie and ball cap on a 90-degree day. Here's a better one: Imagine him leaving a team that may only be a player or two away from becoming a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

The Saban rumor didn't strike me as ridiculous. Saban's already coached in the SEC. He grew up in a small town, Fairmont, W.Va., and it's said he likes small-town life. He's familiar with recruiting and he was very successful at it in winning a national title at LSU.

Walking away from his bountiful salary as Dolphins coach is difficult to fathom, unless, of course, Alabama was willing to dig real, real deep, but consider what Saban is facing as Dolphins coach. He'll go into year three of his contract with a defense that is very, very old, and with a quarterback situation that still needs to be addressed. This rumor got my attention.

So what will next week bring? Greg Schiano to Miami and Bill Parcells to Rutgers? I can't wait.

Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Dolphins.

  1. Protect the ball—The Dolphins' four-game winning streak is the direct result of having forced turnovers.
  1. Force turnovers—Joey Harrington has gotten rave reviews lately, but don't ignore his 11 interceptions. He'll still throw it to the wrong guy.
  1. Go deep—What could it hurt to try?
  1. Win the battle of the defenses—These are two elite units, but the Jaguars defense is better and needs to establish that fact.
  1. Rise to the occasion—This is December. This is the stretch run. Think back to all of that playoff talk in training camp. Now is when you speak the loudest.
  1. Ride the wave—Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew have combined for over 1,300 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. That's a big-time one-two punch.
  1. Be patient—The Dolphins don't have the weapons to run away and hide.
  1. Rush the passer—The Jaguars didn't do enough of that in Buffalo.
  1. Return something—The Jaguars desperately need a lift from their special teams.
  1. Make the big play—This game is likely to be low-scoring and decided by a big play at crunch time. Make that play.
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