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A Plan for Shanny

After a brief Gator flirtation, the Broncos' coach must get back to business.

5. Meanwhile, keep shopping for a new gig.While Bowlen and Shanahan continue to play out their own version of Pat and Mike -- the fine old screwball comedy in which small-potatoes promoter Spencer Tracy sells spunky jock Katharine Hepburn as the Queen of Sports -- one crisis or another could bring their relationship to grief. First, of course, is the possibility that Shanahan's Broncos will keep on losing: Even if Griese suddenly grows blond hair and morphs into Elway II, there's no guarantee that McCaffrey and Terrell Davis will return to full strength, and the league's new-wave coaches, like St. Louis's Mike Martz and the Oakland Raiders' John Gruden, have not only caught up, they're starting to make Shanahan look like a dinosaur. Just as worrisome is that Bowlen's very grip on the Bronco reins is now in question. As chronicled by Westword writer Alan Prendergast ("Personal Foul," January 3), Bowlen faces a legal challenge from former Broncos owner Edgar Kaiser for control of the team, because Bowlen may have violated a right-of-first-refusal clause in the sales contract the two Canadians signed in 1984. The legal wrangling over Kaiser's suit could take years, but Shanahan has to see the darkness of that cloud, too. For now, he pledges better things are ahead: "Not only did I not want to let Pat Bowlen down," he said at the press conference where he announced that he was sticking around, "but everybody in this town."

Still, you have to wonder why, in the name of Bucko, Shanahan didn't bail out last week for the shorter hours, reduced pressure and certain public adulation of life at the University of Florida -- where the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Ohio U., Kentucky and Vanderbilt are penciled into the 2002 schedule and where the sun always shines on genius.

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