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Just do your job

Join Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Dustin from Jacksonville:
I can't comprehend why Brian Kelly would desert his team before such a big game to take a new job. I don't understand what anyone has to gain by it. What could it hurt for him to lead his team in a bowl game and then move on to South Bend after? In my opinion, he's severely hurting Cincinnati and really doesn't have much to offer the Irish until after the bowls are over. What are your thoughts on it?

Vic: It's not Kelly's or Cincinnati's or Notre Dame's fault this situation is the way it is. It's the NCAA's fault. The NFL would never allow this to happen. It would do whatever it needed to do to make sure this didn't happen. If I'm Cincinnati, I don't want him because I don't want somebody else's coach in my hen house. There are recruiting files and data bases and other bits of Cincinnati property to protect and the coach of another institution should not have access to that property. Most importantly, this is prime time for recruits to make their official visits and I don't want somebody else's coach on my property during these visits. Notre Dame needs Kelly to dig into recruiting for the Irish and Cincinnati needs to move on with its life, too, which it has. The unfortunate part of this is that the Cincinnati players, who committed to coach Kelly, don't deserve to have their coach walk out on them at the finest hour in Cincinnati's football history. It's time the NCAA does something to prevent this from happening again.

Dale from Hampton, VA:
I see that Peyton Manning has an injured glute. Do you think the Jaguars will really target that glute in order to knock him out of the game early? Seriously, though, is the Colts extremely long injury list just an artifact of the short week or are they really that bad off?

Vic: Listing 29 guys and their specific injuries on a practice/injury report is nothing more than an attempt to make a mockery of the league's demand that coaches do that the day after a game in a short week. It's just a way of being difficult and expressing their dislike of that rule.

Jeff from Jacksonville:
If you don't play well, there is always someone to replace you. Isn't that motivation enough?

Vic: Always, that's the motivation. Pep talks don't get it done. Players don't want some coach yelling at them. They want an environment that will allow them to focus sharply on the job they have to do because if they fail to do their job, they're gonna get cut. That's the motivation. It's the fans that like the yelling because that satisfies them that their team is giving its all. I have nothing against a coach giving a final thought that might set an early tone, but I think it needs to be simple, to the point and respectful of each player's attempt to strike his own personal message.

Greg from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
My friend, Jim, and I are season-ticket holders. As hard as it is for me to believe, Jim has been selected as the contestant in the "Tire Kingdom Throw for Dough" contest that will take place at the end of the third quarter this Thursday evening. He can win $100,000 if he throws a football through a tire from 25 yards. We started practicing yesterday as soon as he got the word and overnight it occurred to me you were the very best person to turn to for advice on how to tackle this challenge.

Vic: Be the ball.

Thomas from Saint Augustine, FL:
Thanks for "never dispute Elias." This is the second time I have disputed them and I am wrong again. Elias gets paid a lot of money to be mathematically correct, and they always are. Hopefully, you don't get too many more e-mails from idiots like me.

Vic: If you work in this business for any period of time, you learn to never dispute Elias. In terms of stats, historical data and tiebreakers, they are God. I was sitting at my desk writing my game story following Sunday's game and, all of a sudden, a deep voice spoke over the clatter of my keyboard. "The Jags control their own destiny," the voice said, and then followed with, "This is the word of Elias." That's all I needed. I just typed it into the story.

Myles from York, UK:
Why would removing the facemask solve the concussion problems?

Vic: This question is the best example of why the league should not put a team in London.

Clarence from San Clemente, CA:
Everyone is screaming about motivation. Adalius Thomas says motivation is for kindergarteners.

Vic: He's right. It's for players that don't know how to think. They just like to jump around mindlessly and let their emotions carry them, and those are the players smart coaches target. You see an emotionally out of control safety, and you hit him with play-action. You see an emotionally out of control defensive lineman, and you trap him. You see an emotionally out of control wide receiver, and you rough him up a little and trash-talk him. If you're cheering, you're not thinking.

Shon from Bryan, TX:
As a head coach in the NFL, is it more humiliating being defeated because of your run-defense or because of your pass-defense? Why?

Vic: I've never considered defeat to be humiliating, provided the effort is sound. Anyhow, I think it would bother most coaches more to have the ball run on them than thrown on them. A team's run-defense is about strength, toughness and work ethic. The ability to stop the run goes to the heart of a team. Pass-defense is a matter of finesse and scheme. It doesn't tear the heart out of a team to have been beaten by a hot quarterback, as it does to have the ball run down your throat.

Shawn from Jacksonville:
I went to the game last Sunday. Any idea why the club seats were so empty?

Vic: Today's stadiums are very different from the ones of the previous generation. Today's stadiums are loaded with interior viewing areas, where fans can stretch their legs, get out of the weather, get concessions, etc., and still watch the game from inside the stadium. As a result, we don't get a true view of the real attendance in most stadiums because tickets distributed are announced, not actual attendance. I like to know both and I give my game day blog readers both. When I started covering the NFL, the league announced three figures: tickets distributed, actual attendance and no-shows. Those were days of great transparency, which was Pete Rozelle's way of doing things. I know of only one team in the league that announces actual attendance instead of tickets distributed.

Thomas from Cambridge, MA:
In your 10 things, I think you should put, "Knock him on his glute," since Peyton's nursing a sore one. Besides, that always is the key to beating these guys.

Vic: What chance do you think there is of that happening? Nobody knocks him on his glute because before you can do that he knocks himself on his glute. I'm all for a heavy pass-rush, but I just don't see that happening this Thursday. He's only been sacked 10 times all year.

Jason from Norristown, PA:
Listening to John Madden, he firmly believes the five offensive linemen are the most important positions on the field, not the quarterback. I know you believe a team is only as good as its quarterback, but would you rather have a great offensive line or a great quarterback?

Vic: Come on, Madden couldn't possibly have said that. He'd rather have a great line than a great quarterback? Jason, the Steelers were able to win the Super Bowl last year with five subpar offensive linemen because their quarterback had a great year. Linemen you can find, but some teams have spent decades striking out on a quarterback. Always take the great quarterback. Even in the days of yore, the quarterback was always at a greater value than his offensive line. Madden must've misspoke.

Chris from Santa Clara, CA:
In regards to "dumbing down" the curriculum to recruit better athletes, wasn't Notre Dame a success under Ara Parseghian with the same high standards that are in place today? Obviously, Jim Harbaugh has proved that smart kids can play ball. Your thoughts?

Vic: The answer to your first question is no. The higher standards were put into place when Lou Holtz was coach, after he had won a national title in 1988 with Tony Rice at quarterback. Rice was a Prop 48 player, which means he couldn't play at Notre Dame today. I guess Notre Dame got tired of winning. Yes, Notre Dame has always held its football program to a higher standard than other institutions have, but the higher standard when Parseghian was coach was mostly about not accepting bowl bids. Notre Dame didn't start accepting bowl bids until midway through Parseghian's time as coach. It won the 1966 national title without going to a bowl. What they're doing now is extraordinary. I have no problem with the higher GPA and SAT scores, but the calculus requirement is laughable. As far as Stanford is concerned, they finished 8-4, a season to celebrate at Stanford. If you finish 8-4 often enough at Notre Dame, you'll get fired.

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