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.
Flaming Hearts win St. Anthony Invitational
The Flaming Hearts of Effingham were the overall winners and also had the medalist. Effingham shot a team score of 312 to beat the host Bulldogs by nine shots. Hearts senior Jackson Wendling finished with a 72 to take medalist honors.
Teutopolis takes opener against St. Thomas More
Teutopolis took the course with a new coach and four players, but as coach Becky Probst said, it takes four to score.
And those four Lady Shoes took their first match of the year, topping Champaign St. Thomas More 216-227 in both teams' openers at Cardinal Golf Course in Effingham.
Time to tee off, golf season starts fall sports campaign today
The fall sports campaign kicks off in earnest Monday afternoon, with the first area varsity contests being held in Windsor and Effingham this afternoon.
The St. Anthony Invitational boys golf tournament will be held at Fox Prairie Golf Course at 1 p.m. in Windsor, while the Teutopolis Lady Shoes host St. Thomas More at Cardinal Golf Course at 4 p.m.
Flaming Hearts' flexibility a plus; Effingham prepping for upcoming soccer season
Three days into the practice season, Effingham soccer coach Aaron Witges sees a lot of flexibility.
It was something his squad had last year, with 10 seniors but young players forcing their way into the lineup as well.
Coming off a 10-8-3 season, some of those young players will find themselves in new positions for the Flaming Hearts this season.
Flaming Hearts set with new coach
The Effingham Flaming Hearts volleyball team will have a new but familiar face leading them on the sideline this season.
As a former player for the Hearts, coach Mindy McCollum-Boswell will look to lead her team to their first regional title since 2008.
Czachorski: Bears backups worrisome
This might sound shockingly similar to a number of columns I've written in the past, but it bears repeating (excusing a terrible pun).
The quarterback situation is worrisome.
Newton soccer kicks off, inaugural season starts Sept. 2
For the first time in the history of Newton High School, a soccer team will be a part of the fall sports season.
Pocrnich wins national ATV title
As people get older, their chance at a national championship diminishes, but Effingham’s Kevin Pocrnich was able to win one at 49 years old.
Pocrnich won the Class 16 Senior 40+ Mountain Dew ATV Motocross Championship and according to the league website, finished fourth in the Class 14 30+ Veteran division. He went out with a bang, winning the final race of the season in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee Saturday.
Teutopolis alum Thompson part of no-hitter
A pair of Effingham natives are making some noise up in the Northwest League.
Teutopolis alumnus Derek Thompson and Effingham alumnus Nick Gardewine, both members of the Spokane Indians in the Texas Rangers organization, earned some recognition over the past week.
Comets coming off stellar season
The Stew-Stras Comets finished in second-place at the state championship last season, a high-water mark for the program in recent years.
Coach Ronda Schlechte lost five players who played quality minutes from last year’s team, but she said she has a lot of freshmen that have the ability to help the team.
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- Flaming Hearts win St. Anthony Invitational