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.
Hearts 5th, St. A 8th at Troy
Effingham went 3-1 at the Troy Triad Invitational Saturday to earn fifth place overall, while crosstown counterpart St. Anthony went 1-3 and finished eighth.
Lady Shoes stay unbeaten
The Lady Shoes kept rolling at the Pinckneyville Showcase, winning both games and moving to a perfect 12-0.
Teutopolis fell behind 3-0 to Pinckneyville after one and it took them until the fourth to get on the board, but once they did, they put up 12 runs in three innings for the 12-6 win.
Bulldogs blow out BCCH 21-2
St. Anthony base runners were active on Wednesday, taking 20 extra bags by steals or passed balls during the Bulldogs' 21-2 rout.
Morgan Gardewine finished among the most greedy, scoring twice on passed balls in a 10-run third inning, while collecting one steal and advancing two other times.
A Deters dynasty
Seven years after her sister committed to Lake Lake College, Jillian Deters did the same.
The National Trail Conference most valuable player will play her college basketball for the Lakers, a program she knows almost inside and out after watching her sister, Mallory, play for them.
Gardewine sharp in St. Anthony win
St. Anthony kept the pressure on from the get-go both on the mound and the basepaths and beat the reigning NTC champion South Central Cougars 8-2.
Stew-Stras' Vonderheide headed to College of the Ozarks
It's not fair to say Windsor/Stew-Stras' Christian Vonderheide has been planning on attending College of the Ozarks since he was 13 years old.
But the seed was planted when the senior righty first attended the Sho-Me Baseball Camp as a 13-year-old, establishing a relationship with the college and the coaching staff over the years.
He made it official last month, inking his letter of commitment to play for the NAIA school in Point Lookout, Mo.
Lady Shoes rout Raiders 10-0
Teutopolis overcame a slow start, got hitting up and down the lineup and took out Central A&M 10-0 Tuesday in five innings.
Hearts girls, Shoes boys win at Effingham
The Effingham girls track team took the top spot at Tuesday's quad meet with Teutopolis, St. Anthony and Newton, topping Newton by 22 points.
Indians edge Bombers 4-2
Malachi Maxey was in the right place at the right time to maintain Brownstown/St. Elmo's 2-0 lead for, at least, one more inning.
His leaping catch on a line drive to second base, started a single-handed double play to end the top of the fifth inning and an Altamont threat with runners at first and second.
The play was one of the last times the ball bounced the Bombers' way in their 4-2 loss on Tuesday.
Five area players named All-EIC
The Egyptian Illini Conference released its All-Conference team this weekend, naming Patoka’s Johnnie Clift as its most valuable player.
Three area players made the first team, including Beecher City’s Brady Barnes, St. Elmo/Brownstown’s Levi Maxey and Cowden-Herrick’s Colton Burrus.
- More Sports Headlines
- Hearts 5th, St. A 8th at Troy