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The politics of coaching
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Forsyth County News

Here now the latest news from Election Central, where we have calculated the weekend results and are now prepared to make projections on key races around the country.

In the race for mayor of Knoxville, incumbent Phillip Fulmer will not return for a fifth term.

Fulmer’s Vols turned in another listless offensive performance Saturday night in a 27-6 loss to South Carolina. The overall ineptitude caused a wave of demonstrations in the streets of Knoxville.

Despite all the good will produced early in his mayoralty, including a national championship in 1998, Fulmer appears to have fallen victim to a “what have you done for us lately?” mentality.

Fulmer’s machine reached peak strength from ‘95-‘98, posting a 45-5 record. That contrasts starkly with the 27-20 mark posted over the past four seasons.

In our exclusive exit poll, most voters indicated their dissatisfaction with the befuddled look on Fulmer’s face as he stood on the sideline, headphones grasped firmly in hand, staring blankly out into the field of play.

Next we move to Gainesville, Fla., where Urban Meyer has been reelected to a second term. Meyer’s victory came in a landslide of epic proportions not seen since in Gainesville since the regime of long-time boss Steve Spurrier.

Meyer’s campaign gained steam over the past few weeks, making the Ole Miss upset a distant memory. His momentum peaked with the 49-10 pummeling over Georgia on Saturday. Meyer added a touch of panache by calling for two times out in the final minute, solidifying his position with the voters.

During his first term, Meyer produced a national championship and a 10-1 record against Florida’s biggest rivals (4-0 vs. Tennessee, 3-0 vs. FSU and 3-1 vs. Georgia). His team’s utter embarrassment of Ohio State in the championship game two years ago greatly endeared him to voters.

The outstanding play of his current team has raised the prospect that Meyer will retain his office for several more terms.

In the race for mayor of Auburn, Ala., the bid of incumbent Tommy Tuberville for a third full term appears too close to call.

Some keen observers questioned Tuberville’s management style after he fired his offensive coordinator, Tony Franklin, the day after giving Franklin a ringing vote of confidence. Sadly for Tuberville, every time he changes the person in that post, things get markedly worse.

Back-to-back losses to Vanderbilt and Arkansas were bad enough. His team quitting in the second half against West Virginia was galling. Still, nothing in the past month remotely prepared voters for Saturday’s poor effort against Ole Miss.

We project that Tuberville will enter a runoff through the Georgia and Alabama games to determine whether he remains in office. Keep in mind that the last four Auburn coaches to post losing records once they became established were all out of office within a year. And that includes the legendary Shug Jordan.

Two-term favorite son “Toledo Tom” Amstutz is out as mayor of Toledo, Ohio. The affable Amstutz, who ran on a platform of “grilled brats for everyone,” failed to overcome the naked truth: his record steadily declined during his eight years in office.

His initial season was his best: 10-2, with a victory in the Motor City Bowl. In his first five years, Amstutz led his Rockets to four bowls, posting a 45-18 record. That euphoria gave way to successive 5-7 campaigns and this year’s 2-6 debacle. He did defeat Michigan at the Big House, but who hasn’t?

Exit poll respondents indicated displeasure with the Rockets statistics this year. They rank 90th in scoring offense, and 99th in scoring defense. This clearly demonstrates that the amiable Amstutz personality couldn’t overcome poor performance.

Despite a campaign run typically close to the vest, Jim Tressel has won another term as mayor of Columbus, Ohio.

Even though Tressel’s teams manage to lose their biggest games in colossal fashion, he almost always manages to beat that school up north. His Bucks hold a 6-1 record over Michigan, with another win likely on Nov. 22.
He’s not flashy, but neither was Woody Hayes, who held office in Columbus for 28 years. Columbus voters clearly don’t care whether the team oozes excitement, as long as it wins.

Beleaguered mayor Greg Robinson of Syracuse, N.Y., will not return for a second term. Robinson took over a program that tied for the Big East title in 2004 and ran it straight into the ground.

Robinson ran on his record, which wasn’t wise. It stands at 9-34 (3-22 in conference play). That’s the worst record of any coach in Syracuse history who coached more than one season, and the Big Orange first teed it up in 1889.

Finally, voters in State College, Pa., have returned legendary mayor Joe Paterno to office for a record twelfth term. The 82-year-old Joe Pa retained his magic with the voters despite having to campaign in a golf cart.

“I still feel good,” declared Paterno at a recent press conference. “Besides, what else am I gonna do at my age?”