Steve Chapman

Green Bay's peerless Vince Lombardi was intense and demanding, but he didn't make an offensive spectacle of himself. If you say New England's Bill Belichick has the personality of a robot, you can expect to get heartfelt complaints from robots.

The same pattern holds in the college game. Alabama's Bear Bryant could barely be heard for his mumble. Florida State's Bobby Bowden made "dadgum" a trademark.

Compare these with Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, who during a game this past season flew into multiple rages, drawing a penalty and provoking the university president to rebuke him. Or Ohio State's Woody Hayes. His heralded career ended in disgrace in 1978 after he punched an opposing player for intercepting a Buckeye pass.

They serve as lessons in the dangers of inadequate self-control. Smith, however, labors in the shadow of Bears legend Mike Ditka, who provided not only wins but nonstop drama. He screamed at players, broke his hand punching an equipment trunk and nearly came to blows with his own defensive coordinator (the father, as it happens, of Rex Ryan).

Ditka remains a beloved figure because he suits Chicago's image of itself as a brawling, working-class town. Smith, by contrast, has the soothing air of a suburban undertaker.

But Iron Mike's blown gaskets didn't actually help. Ditka won 56 percent of his games as a head coach in the NFL. Through the 2010 regular season, Smith had won 56.3 percent.

Smith is not one to trouble himself responding to critics of his subdued, stoic personality. But given his performance lately, a suggestion for them is in order: Shhhh.


Steve Chapman

Steve Chapman is a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune.
 

 
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