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EDITORIAL: Bottom-line business exacts high price for failure

Jan. 12—Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 overlooked a very important season.

For everything there is a season, and that's especially true about the football season.

As college football goes into hibernation and the National Football League prepares for playoffs leading to the Super Bowl, it's time again to power up the coaching merry-go-round.

College football fans thought that was mostly over because the traditional head-coach firings appeared to be complete.

But Alabama coach Nick Saban initiated another round of musical chairs by announcing that he's stepping down after 17 great years leading the Crimson Tide.

Who'll succeed that legend? And for how much and how long? Succeeding a legend can be no fun, as the successor to Vince Lombardi at Green Bay learned more than 50 years ago.

And what's Jim Harbaugh's future at Michigan? NFL owners will have his name on their shopping lists as they seek to fill new openings created by this week's flurry of dismissals.

An unexpected opening at Seattle, where Pete Carroll was dismissed, and a much-speculated-about firing at New England, where Bill Belichick was given the heave-ho, demonstrate once again the uncertain job security goes with being the head man.

Both coaches, especially Belichick, have been hugely successful leading their teams. It was only a few years ago that the Seahawks and the Patriots faced off in a thrilling Super Bowl.

Now the two former wunderkinds are involuntarily unemployed. Belichick is looking for a new gig and may have one already lined up.

Meanwhile, Carroll's future is unclear, and for good reason. The former college and NFL coach is well past traditional retirement age, and some owners will be wondering how much he has left in his tank.

It's obvious that almost all coaches eventually wear out their welcomes in a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business.

That's why the end of the seasons is filled with two subjects — who's going to be fired and who's going to be hired and eventually fired?

Some coaches on the bubble get a reprieve, while others save themselves by firing assistants.

The unlucky ones get a visit from The Turk, the mythical team executioner who tells them the party will go on without them.

It's a tough but well-compensated business that rarely ends well for those whose success is judged by recent records of wins and losses. Having fun on the gridiron is no laughing matter.