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It seems to happen to every notable football coach who retires at the crest of his career. John Madden went through it. So did Dick Vermeil.

If there is the mere hint of a major job opening, his name is mentioned prominently. After Ara Parseghian quit at Notre Dame, he was connected to every vacancy short of the Supreme Court.

Now it is happening to Bill Walsh, who led San Francisco to three Super Bowls. The difference is, Walsh is not discouraging the talk.

Owner Hugh Culverhouse supposedly will offer him command of the Tampa Bay Bucs. His name also is prominent in the speculation over Cleveland's future. With John Robinson under fire, a major job with the Rams is a possibility. A year ago, Victor Kiam offered to make him president, as well as coach, if he so desired, of the Patriots. That option may resurface.

Not only is Walsh not discouraging any of this wooing, he says flatly that he will talk to anyone who wants to offer him a job.

Walsh likes this stuff. It's not only the attention, which feeds his considerable ego, it's the leverage it gives him.

This is the last year of Walsh's two-year television contract with NBC. He receives about $750,000 a year for analyzing 20 football games. No heavy lifting. No worry about winning or losing.

The expectation is that NBC will ask him back, but it hasn't done so yet. Walsh squabbled with NBC executive producer Terry O'Neil over Walsh's proposed camp for pro quarterbacks. O'Neil said no, that it's a conflict of interest.

If Walsh has leverage, he could end up with an even fatter contract, plus the right to conduct his camp.

As for Walsh ending up in Tampa, Cleveland or New England, or working for the frugal Dragon Lady, Georgia Frontiere, with the Rams, it would be against Walsh's grain. Ever since he began his coaching career as an assistant on Marv Levy's University of California staff in 1960, Walsh has spent all but eight years in the Bay Area, where he just built a new home. He went to college at nearby San Jose State. It doesn't figure that he will relocate.

The one football job in which his friends say he would be interested would be in Sacramento, if that city got an expansion franchise in the NFL.

Plan B has appeal

Plan B free agency, which was supposed to satisfy the federal court and prevent outright free agency, turned out to be one of the principal reasons why the solicitor general asked the U.S. Supreme Court this week to hear the appeal of the NFL Players Association to establish baseball-style free agency.

Plan B may be gone forever, but for now there are at least two dozen 1990 Plan B acquisitions who made significant contributions to their new teams.

From top to bottom, the top 10 Plan B Players:
Player Pos New team Old team
Max Montoya G Raiders Bengals
Cliff Odom LB Miami Colts
Dave Waymer CB 49ers Saints
Jay Novacek TE Dallas Cards
Terry Kinard S Oilers Giants
Jay Donaldson S Chiefs Oilers
Tony Paige FB Miami Lions
Don Smith RB Bills Bucs
John Carney PK Chargers Bucs
Ronnie Harmon RB Chargers Bills
Montoya may be the best of all. Look for him in the Pro Bowl. He went 10 weeks before he was penalized for holding, virtually a lifetime for an offensive lineman.

One strange happening among the Plan B guys is that Kinard took Donaldson's place in Houston's secondary. The Oilers exposed Donaldson on their Plan B list and Kansas City signed him. He, too, became a starter.

Both teams are happy with their acquisitions, feeling that each team was improved by their new man.

Rembert no Rembrandt

This has not been the happiest year for the Cincinnati Bengals and one of the dismal parts was their trade with the Jets for the rights to rookie wide receiver Reggie Rembert.

Rembert at one time last season was the highest-rated draft prospect among college wide receivers. But the more the scouts saw the undisciplined manner in which he worked with quarterback Major Harris in the West Virginia passing attack, the cooler they became.

They didn't like his act at the post-season workouts at Indianapolis, either, and he ended up going in the second round. When the Jets used their 1991 first-round pick to select Rob Moore, the Syracuse star, in the supplemental draft, Rembert became expendable after he held out.

He hasn't done a thing for the Bengals this season except irritate coach Sam Wyche with his poor work habits.

Rembert put his future in jeopardy recently when when he was arrested for alcohol intoxication after his car went off a road and into a sewer pipe. He wasn't charged with drunk driving because the arresting officer did not see him behind the wheel.

The Jets did all right in that deal, acquiring linebacker Joe Kelly and kid offensive tackle Scott Jones. Kelly started all season; Jones just came off injured reserve and is being worked into the lineup with an eye toward 1991.

'Fish' beef up

If you weren't convinced that pro football has become a game for giants, consider the size of Miami's seven offensive linemen on its last Super Bowl team in 1984 as opposed to the size of the current seven.

In '84, the heaviest lineman was 275-pound starting guard Roy Foster, and the average weight of the seven was 261 pounds.

This year, the lightest Dolphin lineman weighs 275. The average weight of the current seven is 289 pounds, 28 heavier than the '84 bunch. This group is an inch taller, too, at 6-4.

'Schottzy' the liberal

Remember when Marty Schottenheimer was considered an ultra-conservative as Cleveland's head coach?

A large part of that reputation was Schottenheimer's realistic approach to playing within the limits of the Browns' personnel.

Now consider what Schottenheimer did Sunday in Kansas City's victory over the Broncos: Twice he gambled on fourth down and each time the Chiefs rewarded him with a touchdown.

On the first, a fourth and one with Denver ahead, 13-10, he eschewed (as Howard Cosell used to say) the field goal attempt from the 4-yard line and his team got into the end zone.

On the second, a fourth and one from Denver's 27 while leading by four points, he called a pass from Steve DeBerg to Rob Thomas. It produced a touchdown.

"I didn't want John Elway to beat me once more," explained Schottzy, who never had beaten Denver before. "If I had gone for the field goal the last time and led by seven points, it might have ended in a tie and gone into overtime.

"I didn't want that. I felt that we should just go after them."

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