EFFINGHAM — Some numbers to put out there. 81-63, 3-3 and 10-6. Those numbers represent Lovie Smith’s career regular season record, career postseason record and the Chicago Bears’ record in 2012. Even though most franchises in the NFL would love the kind of consistency Smith brought to the Bears in his nine-year tenure, I keep finding myself agreeing with the decision made at Halas Hall on Black Monday. Smith has also brought a different kind of consistency around the Bears; namely, the ability to overachieve when the team has looked weak and to underachieve when the team looks like it’s built to contend. The latter has been the prevailing trend in Chicago the past two seasons. The Bears started this season 7-1, only to collapse down the stretch by going 3-5 and missing the playoffs with a 10-6 record. Chicago started out last season in a similar manner, starting 7-3 before losing five straight and finishing 8-8 overall. Sure, there’s been injuries in both disappointing campaigns, whether they be to Jay Cutler, Matt Forte or Brian Urlacher. That may be an acceptable excuse once; but at some point as an NFL coach, it’s about persevering, changing what needs to be changed and crafting a winning season regardless. Lovie’s set in his ways, which could be one of his worst offenses. In today’s NFL, if you aren’t adapting and maximizing all 53 roster spots, you’ll find yourself with Smith. Take Mike Shanahan, the Super Bowl-winning and well-respected coach of the Washington Redskins. His 2011 squad limped to a 5-11 record, and they jettisoned Donovan McNabb to take Robert Griffin III. Griffin’s a superb talent, but Shanahan also found Alfred Morris, went to the Pistol/zone-read option offense and suddenly, the Redskins are the talk of the NFL. It’s time for the Bears to hire a coach who will do the same. Unless they can get a top-flight coach like Bill Cowher, it’s time to look for an innovative mind who can take an offense with pieces like Cutler, Forte and Brandon Marshall, and get this team back to the playoffs. The Bears are reportedly looking to interview Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements and Buccaneers offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, both of which are steps in the right direction. Clements, in particular, coordinated a passing attack in Green Bay with an offensive line that struggled, very similar to Chicago this year. Give him Cutler, Marshall and Earl Bennett, and a running back like Forte, and the Bears could be on to something. An offensive-minded coach like Clements, Sullivan or a college coach like Chip Kelly is where I’d look; the defense has been solid to great for years, and by all accounts, Rod Marinelli is perfectly suited to lead the Bears on defense without Smith. At this point, it was time to cut the line on Smith. The two sides had been together long enough without the kind of success a franchise like Chicago should be looking for. Even if this backfires on the Bears and they head to a period of mediocrity like before they hired Smith, I’ll still tout the decision as the right one. The process wasn’t working, and a new one needs to begin for the Bears to take any significant step forward.
- Altamont's Lange, Loggers make NJCAA D2 tournament SPRINGFIELD — Katie Lange's freshman year was a time of adjustment at Lincoln Land Community College. Lange, the ace for Altamont High School last season, had to adjust her pitches, her expectations, even the amount of playing time she'd receive. "
Lady Hearts close season with loss to Charleston
CHARLESTON -- Amidst the thunder and lightning, and the lengthy one-hour delay, Monday's Taylorville Regional play-in game between Effingham and Charleston turned out to be quite the battle in the early stages.
"Won it for Webby"
OLNEY -- Effingham senior Devin Mayfield made a promise to his fellow senior teammate Austin Webb Monday. Webb's grandmother recently died, and he had to miss the game to attend the visitation services. Mayfield told his teammate he'd do all he could to make sure Webb to not miss the final game of the season and suit up for the game Wednesday.
Flaming Hearts win sectional crown
CASEY - Effingham bested a number of regional foes, including St. Anthony and Teutopolis, on its way to the Casey-Westfield sectional championship Saturday. Effingham had 22 points to win the meet, with St. Anthony and Charleston tying for second wi
- Hablewitz's game-saving catch propels Cougars South Central bests Altamont 4-3 for regional title KINMUNDY — Rudy Hablewitz struggled at the plate this spring upon rejoining the South Central baseball team after sitting out the fall season. But the senior was still a difference-maker thanks to his slick fielding in centerfield. And on Saturday,
- Bulldogs' depth leads to regional championship St. Anthony downs Stew-Stras 5-1 WINDSOR -- The Stew-Stras Comets used a carefully executed gameplan to upset Windsor earlier this week to advance to the regional final -- don't pitch to Lindsay Floyd. It worked so well, they modified the plan for their final against St. Anthony, t
- Second-inning rally lifts Shoes to regional crown ROBINSON -- Holding a 1-0 advantage in the bottom of the second, Teutopolis' Bobby Wenthe stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. Wenthe ripped a single down the right field line, emptying the bags on a three-RBI shot, and the rout w
- Girls' track season wraps up at EIU CHARLESTON -- The Class 1A girls track season ended Saturday, with Windsor, Neoga and Newton earning the area's best finishes at Eastern Illinois University. Windsor took 30th place with nine points, while Newton and Neoga each earned eight points f
- Extra-inning affair Neoga tops Central A&M in 11 frames ASSUMPTION - Seven innings weren't enough to settle Thursday's game between Neoga and Central A&M. Neither were three extra frames. In the bottom of the 11th, however, the Indians finally had their answer. After back-to-back singles from Guy Walk an
- Cougars' bats lead them to regional final South Central downs St. Elmo 12-0 KINMUNDY - During the 2013 season, St. Elmo's Connor Beasley has thrown a no-hitter and struck out 19 batters on two separate occasions. If the South Central Cougars had heard that, it certainly didn't show, as they brought the bats to Beasley and t
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