Monday, December 31, 2007

Billick fired after 9 seasons in Baltimore

December 31, 2007

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) -- Brian Billick was fired as coach of the Baltimore Ravens on Monday, less than a day after his team concluded a disappointing 5-11 season.

Players were told of the dismissal as they packed up their lockers at the team's practice facility.

Billick won the 2001 Super Bowl in his second season with the Ravens, and led the team to a franchise-best 13-3 record in 2006. But Baltimore lost a team-record nine consecutive games this season before ending the skid Sunday with a 27-21 win over Pittsburgh.

"This is the reality of our business," cornerback Samari Rolle said.

Billick's nine seasons with Baltimore was tied for third with Philadelphia's Andy Reid as the third-longest current run with the same team. He took the Ravens to the playoffs in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2006, but Baltimore won only one postseason game since its Super Bowl run after the 2000 season.

"Sometimes the message can get repetitive after a while," 12-year offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden said.
Ogden said this month that Billick had informed the team he would be returning in 2008. But owner Steve Bisciotti evidently changed his mind.

The Ravens expected to compete for a world championship this season after bringing back almost every starter from last year's AFC North champions. But injuries and a turnover-prone offense contributed to a complete collapse after a 4-2 start, and Baltimore finished last in the division.

"This year the injury bug not only hit us, (it) hit our prime-time players," linebacker Bart Scott said.

Billick, 53, was hired as Baltimore's second head coach in January 1999, succeeding Ted Marchibroda. In Billick's first season, the Ravens reached .500 (8-8) for the first time. Then he led Baltimore to a 12-4 record and a berth in the Super Bowl, where the Ravens beat the New York Giants 34-7.

Billick was 80-64 as Baltimore's coach. He was the offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings before being coming to the Ravens.

"I'm not saying I agree with it," kicker Matt Stover said of Billick's dismissal, "but sometimes things have to change."

Ted Strickland - Clinton Backer Slams Iowa Caucuses As Undemocratic -

Senator Clinton seems to have a habit of attracting political supporters who can't seem to say the right thing, or more to the point, they say the wrong thing at the wrong time. It's three days until the Iowa Caucuses, yet Ohio Governor Ted Strickland can't help but slam the Iowa Caucus process as undemocratic. Like his comments are going to make them so? Read the rest below!

Strickland, stumping for Clinton, gets a chilly reception in Iowa
Sunday, December 30, 2007 11:12 PM
By Joe Hallett
The Columbus Dispatch

DES MOINES —Gov. Ted Strickland's viewpoint that Iowa is the wrong place to begin the presidential nominating process caused some angst today in the campaign of Hillary Clinton and drew the ire of some voters here.
Despite saying that Iowa does not deserve its first-in-the-nation status, Strickland has made three trips to the state on behalf of the Democratic New York senator, showing up again Saturday, with no advance notice, to join Clinton for several campaign rallies in eastern Iowa.

As governor of arguably the most important battleground state in the 2008 general election, Strickland's mission was to assure audiences that Clinton can win Ohio and help ease fears by some Democrats about the senator's electability.

In an interview with The Dispatch last week, Strickland said the Iowa caucuses make "no sense." He called the GOP and Democratic caucuses "hugely undemocratic," because the process "excludes so many people." Anyone who happens to be working or is sick or too old to get out for a few hours Thursday night won't be able to participate, Strickland said.

"I'd like to see both parties say, 'We're going to bring this to an end,'" Strickland said, adding that he has no problem with the New Hampshire primary Jan. 8, because "at least it's an election."

Since endorsing Clinton in September, Strickland has campaigned for her three times in Iowa, including what was to be a quick trip Dec. 9 that turned into "the trip to hell and back," Strickland said. He expected to return to Columbus via Chicago early that Sunday night but was waylaid by bad weather, getting home at 6 a.m. Monday — via Las Vegas.

"Iowa is not an attractive place to be in the wintertime," Strickland said, adding that Iowa "is not a representative state and the caucus is not a fair way to register public opinion, in my judgment."

The Clinton campaign today sought some distance from the governor's comments.

"Sen. Clinton believes that Iowa and New Hampshire play a unique and special role in the nominating process, and that process should be protected," spokesman Issac Baker said. "We're proud to have Gov. Strickland's support, but on this issue they disagree."

A half-dozen Iowans who were asked about Strickland's comments today all disagreed with him. Kent Balduchi, a Des Moines lawyer attending a rally for New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, said Strickland was "sadly mistaken."

"The process here leads to a lot closer contact with the candidates and you get to put them to the test," Balduchi said. "You get to ask them questions and then judge for yourself whether they give you straight and honest answers."

Jerry Stewart, a woodworker from West Des Moines also attending the Richardson rally, said Strickland "doesn't seem to be paying attention when he's in Iowa, because in some ways it's the most democratic process you can have. We get an opportunity to really decide what the candidates are made of, and if you don't have an Iowa or New Hampshire, the national media do that for you."

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