Tom Kleinschmidt is a Catholic Leaguer at heart. His roots are buried deep at Gordon Tech. In 1990, he led the basketball team to one of the most significant achievements in school history. So it isn't surprising to see him return as the Rams' new coach.But it wasn't a no-brainer. Sure, it is the "dream job" that he often thought about during his spectacular college career at DePaul and his professional career in Japan. But leaving York after one season as head coach was a "tough" decision."I had some great kids at York," Kleinschmidt said. "I had great parents, too. Usually you hear war stories about parents and their involvement with the program but I had wonderful relationships. The school made it easy for me."York, like many city and suburban schools, is undergoing budget cuts. The Elmhurst school recently laid off 10 teachers. Coaching assignments were being cut. The administration couldn't guarantee Kleinschmidt a job beyond the current year. "It was a year-to-year thing," he said.Kleinschmidt had enjoyed his first season as a head coach. York finished 22-9 after a 4-7 start. The Dukes won 13 in a row and 18 of their last 19, including a victory in the Martin Luther King tournament at Galesburg. They lost to Lake Park by four in the regional final.After he retired from basketball a few years ago, Gordon Tech approached him and inquired if he was interested in coaching. But he didn't have a degree. He returned to DePaul to complete his education, served on DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright's staff for two years, then went to York.After last season, Gordon Tech coach Shay Boyle resigned to join the staff at Notre Dame in Niles. Once again, Gordon Tech called to see if Kleinschmidt was interested in the job."My situation was in a flux," he said. "I interviewed for the job. York knew about it. After six weeks, they still couldn't give me a guarantee that I'd have a job at York. So I decided to take the Gordon Tech job. I got a hefty raise to come to Gordon Tech. In fact, I'll make more money than at York. I'll teach physical education and speech and I'll go back to college to get my teaching certificate. It is a win-win situation for everyone."Kleinschmidt had more to work with at York. He leaves behind three starters from last year's squad, including 6-foot-7 forward Frank Toohey and David Cohn, one of the best point guards in the state. And last year's sophomore squad was 20-5."I left a good situation. Last year, we finished second in the conference with two sophomores and a junior. This year, we figure to contend for the conference title," he said. "In one year, we made a lot of progress. The kids bought into my system. It's tough to leave. It wasn't a good four weeks thinking about leaving. The kids were continuously on my mind. But finally, I had to do what was best for me."At Gordon Tech, he inherits five of the top seven players from a 14-15 team that lost to Rockford Lutheran in the Class 2A sectional final. But the Rams are saddled with a 31-game conference losing streak. This year's trip to the sectional final marked their first since 2000.It isn't the way it used to be. In 1980, when Tom Winiecki coached Gordon Tech to the state football championship, the school had an enrollment of 2,000 boys. Today, the enrollment is 400 boys and girls. Gone are the days when the basketball teams of coaches Dick Versace, Dan Chubrilo, Bob Ociepka, Steve Pappas and Scott Bogumill dominated the Catholic League and ranked among the best in the state."It's a different atmosphere and culture than when I played," Kleinschmidt said. "Some people still are there who were there when I was there. But this is something I wanted all along. I was hopeful that I could go back and help Gordon Tech as they helped me. But it wasn't an easy decision. It wasn't about money."At York, you can't recruit. At Gordon Tech, I have to get out and outwork people and persuade kids to come to Gordon Tech who have been going to Whitney Young, Lane Tech, Fenwick, Notre Dame, Loyola and St. Ignatius. It's all about re-establishing relationships in the community."I can capitalize on my name. It might get me in the door. But it won't close the deal. They have to buy into what I am telling them. I have to sell them on the person I am and how I can help their kids. I have to show up for football games. I remember that coach Pappas came to my baseball games. He must want me, I thought to myself. I have to be visible. I have no problem going to Welles Park or Horner Park. I used to hang out with their fathers."So Kleinschmidt will be re-establishing relationships at the neighborhood parishes that once stocked Gordon Tech with football and basketball talent, including Queen of Angels, St. Benedict, St. Gertrude, St. Hilary, St. Malachi and St. Andrew, all within a two-mile radius of the school. Parents and potential athletes will be asking some of the same questions that Kleinschmidt asked when he interviewed for the job. Yes, he asked about the future of Gordon Tech. In recent years, there have been rumors that it might close ever since Kleinschmidt graduated in 1991. But he was assured that the school won't close. Enrollment has increased by 10, 10 and 20 percent in the last three years.He blames the economic downturn and changes in the neighborhood for the decline of the basketball program at Gordon Tech. When he attended the school, the tuition was 1,250 a year. Now it is 8,500. And that is lowest prices for a Catholic school education in the Chicago area compared to tuitions of 1,400 to 1,600 at Fenwick, Loyola or St. Ignatius."There are positive signs. The neighborhoods are coming back. Catholic grade schools are turning kids away. They aren't on decline anymore," he said. "I've got to do it like I always do it--outwork people, get in the gyms, extend my hand to alumni and old-timers and old friends. I look forward to playing in the Catholic League again."One of his first stops will be at annual Catholic League Hall of Fame dinner on May 3.
Chicago Bears fans will get to enjoy a stress-free Sunday in Week 3 with the Bears playing Monday night against the Redskins. They'll have an opportunity to do a little advanced scouting of the NFC North, too, with all three division rivals in action Sunday afternoon in games that, unfortunately, may not present the biggest challenge.
The Packers (2-0) face an opponent familiar to the Bears when they welcome the Broncos to Lambeau Field. Green Bay is a heavy favorite (7.5 points) and based on what Denver revealed in Week 2, Aaron Rodgers should be more than capable of scoring enough points to give the Packers' top-tier defense enough of a cushion to beat up on Joe Flacco and the very average Broncos offense.
The Vikings (1-1) have arguably the easiest game in Week 3 against the Raiders (1-1) at home. Oakland was one of Week 1's surprise winners over the Broncos, but they came back to earth a bit in Week 2's loss to the Chiefs. Expect a rebound performance from Kirk Cousins and the rest of Minnesota's offense. The Vikings are the biggest NFC North favorites of the week; they're projected to win by nine points or more.
The Lions (1-0-1) have the most challenging game of the three as they'll travel to Philadelphia to face the 1-1 Eagles. Detroit was an upset-winner over the Chargers in Week 2 and very easily could be 2-0 had they held onto their lead in Week 1 against the Cardinals, but they simply aren't talented enough to expect much of a fight against Philadelphia, one of the NFC's Super Bowl favorites. The line is pretty close, however. The Eagles are only favored by 4.5 (at home).
The 2019 NFL season is still very young with only two weeks in its rear-view mirror, but the talking points surrounding Chicago Bears QB Mitch Trubisky are starting to get really old. He's been the subject of relentless criticism because of the offense's slow start and while some concerns regarding his development have merit, most of them are the product of impatience.
For example, the lazy suggestion that Trubisky is a bust because his 2017 NFL draft classmates Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson, both of whom he was drafted ahead of, are already league superstars is just wrong. Players evolve and develop at different speeds. Trubisky is the only one of the three on his second head coach and is only just now beginning to develop timing with his receivers, all of whom were added to the team via free agency or the draft last season. Neither Watson nor Mahomes have had nearly as much turbulence and turnover as Trubisky through three seasons. And that matters.
It also matters who a quarterback faces from week to week. Trubisky's 2019 season started against two of the NFL's better defenses in Green Bay and Denver, so his poor stat line is a combination of his below-average play meeting above-average defenses. It's tough for a young quarterback to get out of a slump when he's battling top-tier pass rushers and quality secondaries along the way.
Fortunately, he'll get his first big opportunity to put up quality stats against the Redskins Monday night; Washington is one of the NFL's worst defenses right now, including against the pass.
But Bears fans are still somewhat skeptical about Trubisky's ceiling in Week 3. A matchup like this should make a 300-yard game within his reach. Maybe even a couple of touchdowns. But according to a recent poll I ran on Twitter, Bears fans don't see it coming out that way.
How many yards will #Bears QB Mitch Trubisky throw for against Washington?— Bryan Perez (@BryanPerezNFL) September 21, 2019
The majority of fans (36%) think Trubisky will end the game with somewhere between 200-249 yards, which by today's NFL standards is very (very!) average. If you factor the 29% who think he won't even reach 200 yards, you end up with 65% of Bears fans thinking Trubisky won't reach 250 yards and, in theory, could struggle to even hit the 200-yard mark.
That's pretty surprising, considering the numbers the Redskins have given up in Weeks 1 and 2. Carson Wentz threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns in Week 1 against and Dak Prescott sliced them up for 269 yards and three touchdowns last Sunday. There's no reason to think Trubisky can't have a game similar to Prescott's, assuming Matt Nagy dials up the right plays to put him in position to succeed.