Bob Smizik: Is a position change in Taylor’s future?

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Nobody asked me, but ...

• With coach Mike Tomlin having admitted he’s talked informally with cornerback Ike Taylor about some day playing safety, and with the Steelers figuring to have a pressing need at that position next season, and with Taylor's coverage skills diminishing, could that switch be closer to a reality than some think? Of course, with the third highest cap hit on the team at $11.9 million, Taylor might just as easily be released.

• Bill O’Brien leaving for the NFL would be a devastating blow to the already devastated Penn State football program. But he has a contract that allows him to leave under certain conditions, which are certain to be met. Often, coaches leaving after such a short tenure are open to withering criticism. But O’Brien did so much for Penn State in his two seasons that it’s hard to imagine any fair-minded fan not wishing him anything but the best.

• If you’re wondering how ESPN has the money to seemingly hire every retired ex-jock to pontificate on his former sport and why it can afford to pay the staggeringly high right fees that are attached to the NBA, NFL, MLB and college football, the answer is YOU. The average monthly fee subscribers pay to watch ESPN is $5.54. At about 100 million subscribers, some of whom never watch the channel, that represents an annual revenue intake of more than $6 billion.

• Why do so many people have a problem with the almost unalterable fact that a blown call in the Kansas City-San Diego cost the Steelers the playoffs? It did!

• Say it isn’t so. Published reports have first baseman Chris McGuiness, acquired yesterday by the Pirates from Texas, as a candidate to platoon with Gaby Sanchez. More realistically, McGuiness is nothing more than a candidate to play first base at Indianapolis.

• At a news conference yesterday in Cleveland one day after the firing of first-year coach Rob Chudzinski, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner were asked this question by a local TV reporter: ''Can you assure the fans that you don’t have the three stooges running this operation."

• If the Jason Worilds/LaMarr Woodley outside linebacker dilemma that is facing the Steelers -- can they keep Worilds?/should they keep Woodley? -- works out in the worst way, another possible veteran position switch could occur. Starting inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons has the skills to play on the outside and he did so in 2011 when James Harrison was injured.

• If O’Brien leaves, Penn State must move fast to find a replacement and hope to keep its recruiting class as fully intact as possible. As was posted here Saturday, Vanderbilt’s James Franklin, a Pennsylvania native, should be a prime candidate. Franklin, 41, has worked wonders at Vanderbilt. He issued this classic non-denial denial about leaving: "I love the Vandy fans. I love the Vandy nation. I love everything we're doing."

• Coming off back-to-back 8-8 seasons, the firing of some Steelers assistant coaches might be expected. But considering the strong play and/or improvement of the offensive unit and the stature of the coaches on the defensive unit, it's unlikely there will be changes.

• The refusal of football coaches to play backup quarterbacks is inexplicable. Cases in point: What was Ben Roethlisberger doing on the field with the Steelers up, 20-0, on Cleveland with about seven minutes left in the game? Why did the near-certain 2015 Pitt starter Chad Voytik languish on the bench almost all season -- he threw two passes in three games -- when he proved to be more than adequate when forced into action in the Pizza Bowl?

• Biggest laugh of yesterday’s Tomlin news conference was the coach stating with a straight face that he disagreed with the notion that the team’s offensive unit had performed better in 2013 than the defensive unit.

• Since he was fired as offensive coordinator by the Steelers, Bruce Arians is 19-9 as a head coach. His old team is 16-16.

• That was fast! Some Pirates fans were cooing over the possibility of recently acquired Miles Mikolas being a hidden gem that pitching coach Ray Searage would turn into another ace reliever. Alas, Mikolas will shine elsewhere. He was the "valuable" chip traded yesterday for McGuiness.

• Which NFL owner will be stupid enough to hire Mike Shanahan? Maybe not this year, but next.

• Why do people keep thinking injured center Fernando Velasco, a free-agent, will sign with the Steelers? Yes, his bargaining power is reduced because of his knee injury. But why would he sign with a team where the line is set and the center is one of the best in the NFL?


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