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Titans show the right way to develop QB

For anyone who can remember the exact attendance for a Sabres game at the Aud.

* Sorry, but for all the progress J.P. Losman made this season, it was tough watching Tennessee rookie Vince Young dominate Sunday without thinking about where the Buffalo Bills would be had they properly managed their quarterbacks last year.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher threw Young into the starting lineup after the third game and never looked back. Fisher's commitment and Young's ability accelerated the quarterback's maturation process. In the past 10 games, Young has transformed from a shaky rookie into a leader and emerging superstar.

Anybody could see the Bills weren't going anywhere last season, even if they made the playoffs. Mike Mularkey and Tom Donahoe should have pushed their record aside, embraced the growing pains, withstood the inevitable criticism and allowed Losman to find his way.
Instead, they jerked him around, replaced him with Kelly Holcomb and stunted his development. Losman has grown into the job this year. Certainly, with a little more seasoning a year ago, the Bills would have turned around one of the five early losses, maybe two, and would still be in the playoff hunt.

* I'm not trying to pick on the previous regime or ruin anybody's holiday season, but nobody is going to convince me the Bills are better off with Willis McGahee in the backfield than they were with Travis Henry.

Henry gained 1,438 yards rushing in 2002 and 1,356 yards in 2003 before losing his full-time job in Buffalo. He has 1,109 yards on 249 carries this season. McGahee had 1,128 yards two years ago, 1,247 yards last season and 967 yards on 248 carries this year.

Donahoe's decision to take McGahee 23rd overall in 2003 was arrogant enough considering the Bills' other needs. The real crime wasn't picking a running back but grabbing the wrong one. Kansas City selected Larry Johnson with the 27th pick overall that year.

McGahee has either underachieved or was overrated in the first place.
* Now that Bob Knight needs one victory to move past Dean Smith for most victories in NCAA history, it will be interesting to see how he's measured among the all-time coaches. My top five, in order: UCLA's John Wooden, Kentucky's Adolph Rupp, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, North Carolina's Smith and Princeton's Pete Carril.
* The Steelers became the third team in five seasons to win the Super Bowl and miss the postseason the following year. It strengthens the argument that we'll never see another team reach four straight Super Bowls.
* We'll know in two weeks, but let's hope the baseball writers do the right thing and vote Dale Murphy into the Hall of Fame after casting their ballots for Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn.
Murphy doesn't have a career .300 batting average, 3,000 hits or 400 homers, but he was the best player in the National League for a six-year stretch in the 1980s. Over that span, he averaged 35 homers, 110 runs, 105 RBIs, won five Gold Gloves and was a two-time MVP. Ryne Sandberg had a similar career and was inducted in 2005.
Buck O'Neil should have had a place in Cooperstown before he died. He was a pioneer in the Negro League and remained an ambassador long after Jackie Robinson broke the color line.
* Alexander Ovechkin shouldn't be too worried about meeting up with the Sabres tonight in HSBC Arena after he ran Danny Briere into the boards with a cheap shot from behind. It's good to know the Sabres need to only pony up their pocket change to cover the fine issued to anyone who evens the score, you know, so long as Ovechkin isn't injured.

e-mail: bgleason@buffnews.com

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