Beamed up


December 13, 2007|By BILL ORDINE

It's a good thing Bobby Petrino wasn't the captain of the Starship Enterprise. Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy would have been trampled as Petrino made his way to an escape pod the first time the Klingons attacked.

Granted, the 3-10 Atlanta Falcons were fresh out of photon torpedoes and the deflector shields were just about gone, but isn't this rush for the door just a little embarrassing? Especially coming, as it did, after a Monday night whuppin' at the hands of the New Orleans Saints. And spare me the defense that he's taking a cut in pay in leaving the pros for the college job at Arkansas. He'll just have to make do on that $2.85 million a year.

Not that Petrino is any great loss to the Falcons. Dealt a lousy hand, he never managed to figure out how to play the cards he was holding. The Falcons, meanwhile, were just set back at least another season in their rebuilding. I predicted this season that the Vick fiasco meant the Falcons won't even finish .500 until 2009. Having to regroup with a new head coach, you can move that back to 2010.

But what Petrino pulled in Atlanta actually makes me feel pretty kindly toward Brian Billick. This week, the Ravens coach - after his own nationally televised trouncing by the Indianapolis Colts that left Baltimore at 4-9 - announced affirmatively that he would be back in 2008. And then came word yesterday from inside the club that Billick has indeed been told he's coming back.

The Sun's Jamison Hensley reports that a source who should know says team owner Steve Bisciotti has given Billick the word, though Bisciotti won't say so publicly until after the season.

However, level any criticism you want at Billick - for play-calling, for failing to develop a franchise-type quarterback, for whatever - you cannot say he has spit out the bit. You might not always like his explanations for the losses, his offensive scheme or even his attitude. But until I see indications to the contrary, I believe he's a guy committed to the Ravens and the city.

For many understandably frustrated fans, I'm sure that's not enough. Yet, it puts Billick miles ahead of the likes of Bobby Petrino.

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