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Success of Belichick [and Urban Meyer] Proves 'It's Good To Be Bad'

[Update at 12:10 a.m., Tuesday: Behind running back Ezekiel Elliot's 246 yards rushing and 4 TDs, Ohio State demolished Oregon 42-20 to win the National Championship game Monday night at Jerry World in Texas. Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer won his third national title and first with the Buckeyes. Meyer had the support of Patriots coach Bill Belichick and former Florida and Patriots QB Tim Tebow. Given that mix of moral support, Oregon never really had a chance. Urban, legend. Indeed]

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BIllBelichick
Bill Belichick was cold-blooded against the Ravens on Saturday.Photo/Getty Images


"It's good to be bad."

That was the tagline of an ad for Jaguar that debuted during last year's Super Bowl. A trio of British actors who play dastardly villains, including Thor's heartless brother Loki [Tom Hiddleston], tried to convince us to drive Jaguars because it was the wrong thing to do.

"More focused, more precise. We're always one step ahead. With a certain eye for style and detail. And we're obsessed with power!"

That reads like it could be the intro to William Stephen Belichick's LinkedIn profile. Save for the part about style.

We've seen the virtue in vice during the NFL playoffs, and the college football national championship playoff this month. Bill Belichick, Nick Saban and Urban Meyer all extended their seasons far beyond the norm this year.

Winning with players of dubious repute. Building teams that always exceed far beyond the sum of their parts. A regular participant in whatever conference championship game is on the schedule.

Meyer did it at Florida, and Ohio State. Saban did it at Louisiana State, and Alabama.

That's also the MO of a certain hoodie-wearing mastermind who will be coaching his ninth AFC title game on Sunday.

During Saturday's win over the Ravens, the diabolical Belichick was counting cards at Foxwoods, while John Harbaugh was playing Go Fish with Terrell Suggs.

Hit me.

You have two kings, sir?

Hit me.

Wow. The Ace of Brady. 21

Much to the chagrin of the Spy Gate Truthers, the Beli-cheat crowd, and their sympathizers in the New York and national press, there was nothing illegal about what Belichick did on Saturday.

Even if it was criminal in the most positive sense of the word.

That "deceptive" offensive line set was daring, devious, and devastating. It helped to compensate for whatever shortcomings the offensive line displayed. And it left the Ravens truly baffled, lining up cornerbacks on "receivers" who had been plainly and very audibly been declared ineligible.

As Tom Brady aptly put it: "Study the rule book."

Harbaugh's post-game breakdown destroyed whatever positive reputation he enjoyed outside the Baltimore metropolitan area. Remember, Harbaugh served as the front-man for the Ravens when they had to explain the original two-week suspension in the Ray Rice case. He spoke that day with the same spirit of denial and delusion he carried on Saturday.

After losing to the Patriots, he was the boy who cried wolf after being outfoxed.

The pressure and intensity of competition becomes white hot in the frozen football strata of January. Belichick's body temperature and blood-pressure, meanwhile, appeared to be hovering around "just warm enough" on Saturday.

Belichick's coaching persona is intimately intertwined with both Saban and Meyer. Ohio State and Alabama met in the first National Semifinal in the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day.

For many, the Saban-Meyer matchup was the Marvel equivalent of Loki throwing down with Magneto.

[Eventually, as Patton Oswalt tells us below, all the Marvel/Disney-Star Wars franchises will merge.]

Meyer's Ohio State Buckeyes are underdogs in Monday night's title game against Oregon. Even without another championship, Meyer is clearly the college football coach of the year. For someone whose son attends the University of Florida, whose program was left in ruins when Meyer retired to spend more time with his ESPN family, those are not easy words to write. Meyer's ability to think ahead, above, and beyond the competition is undeniable, no matter what ordinance is contorted.

Bend but don't break. The rules, that is.

Meyer had at least 31 player arrests during his five years in Gainesville, including Panthers QB Cam Newton. Cam's pick-six to Kam Chancellor on Saturday was his worst throw since he tossed that computer out of his dormitory window on the Florida campus in 2008.

Not a single Florida player arrested during Meyer's reign was named Aaron Hernandez, by the way.

Meyer and Belichick share multiple common characteristics beyond Hernandez, Brandon Spikes, and Tim Tebow.

Meyer and Belichick will each have three championship rings as a head coach, if the Buckeyes prevail on Monday night. [Saban has four]

Each has demonstrated a masterful ability to develop and coach quarterbacks. Meyer's third-string QB emasculated Alabama and the SEC in their semifinal game. Meyer was able to simply his offense just enough to allow Cardale Jones to wonder why he wasn't starting in the first place. Meyer won his BCS titles at Florida with two different QBs in three years.

Belichick, meanwhile, has found limited success with a certain QB taken in the sixth round out of Michigan.

All three coaches consistently inhabit the heads of their competition.

Every coach in the SEC is measured against Saban. A lack of success against Meyer was a primary reason the University of Michigan spent $48 million or so to rescue Jim Harbaugh from the San Francisco 49ers. Or, if you believe some of the stories out of San Francisco, rescue the players from Harbaugh. On Monday, the Buffalo Bills hired Rex Ryan. No doubt they nabbed Rexy in part because his teams are nearly always competitive against the Patriots, and because he won't kiss Belichick's rings.

The Dark Side's reach engulfed Denver Monday as the entire Broncos' coaching staff was dismissed. Speculation about Peyton Manning's NFL future raged across websites and airwaves from coast to coast.

Oh, and that "trickery" with the ineligible receivers and running backs set as offensive lineman employed by the Patriots on Saturday? That's something Belichick could have picked up watching his good friend and coaching soul-mate Saban this season.

The Patriots-Ravens game, as expected, was fiercely competitive, and literally went down to the last play. During the game, Belichick was shown talking to his beleaguered defense after the Ravens had taken their second 14-point lead. As expected, those in the know on Monday said there was no panic or urgency in his voice, just a coach reminding his players to "do their jobs."

Belichick believed his players were capable of beating Baltimore. He was, no doubt, 100 percent certain he had the gameplan to do it. A little overconfidence isn't necessarily fatal, especially when your All-Century quarterback can lead the offense back from a pair of 14-point deficits.

When that's not enough, you can always take the former QB from Kent State on your roster, who has yet to attempt a pass after six years in the NFL, and have him connect with Danny Amendola for a 51-yard TD strike.

Oh, and that was a play last seen in these parts 13 seasons ago, before the Patriots had ever won a Super Bowl.

Just another day at the office on the Death Star.


The OBF column is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros. Bill has reported for ESPN, CBSSports.Com, and was a sports/deputy sports editor at the Orlando Sentinel, Denver Post, and several other newspapers. Reach Bill on the OBF Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or at his
OBF email Address
. Thanks always for reading.

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