Before an assessment of the New York Giants' coach, Ray Perkins, and a suggestion about where George Allen ought to resurface in the National Football League, comes a quiz.
Imagine yourself in control of an NFL team and searching for a head coach. You come to the resume of a man with seven spirited, although undistinguished, NFL seasons as a player and four years experience as an assistant coach.
This man was an assistant the year Virginia went 1-9. The next year, he was an assistant on a Kentucky team that went 4-6. The next three years, he was defensive coach for Detroit Lion teams that got progressively better but won no championships.
Do you dismiss this candidate?
Carroll Rosenbloom did not. In 1963, he hired the man with that background to coach his Colts. And Don Shula is the winningest active coach in the NFL, arguably the best of all time.
Next question. You examine a man admired by nearly every player he coached during seven years as an NFL assistant. He worked under Paul Brown, Vince Lombardi and George Allen and was seen by others knowledgeable about the NFL as the next great head coach.
Do you dive over fellow owners to hire this man?
In 1973, the Philadelphia Eagles did exactly that to sign Mike McCormack. Three years and a 16-25-1 record later, McCormack was fired.
So hiring a man with no prior experience as a head coach is a considerable gamble, and predicting success or failure before he even draws his first X and O is folly. Few outside the NFL knew Allen or Lombardi before they leaped, cometlike, to success with the Rams and Packers.
NFL owners, like horsemen, often consider bloodlines vital in choosing a head coach. And Brown is the NFL's Bold Ruler, the coach under whom Weeb Ewbank and Shula, Chuck Noll, Bud Grant, Blanton Collier and a stable of other bright and driven men received early training.
Lombardi and Tom Landry came from the Giants. But nearly all of Lombardi's assistants and former players have done poorly as head coaches. It is too early to evaluate most of Allen's crop.
Ray Perkins is out of Bear Bryan, whose record as molder of future successful head coaches is nearly as impressive as Brown's. He is, bless him, inclined to stress offense as much as defense, having last season designed a San Diego Charger attack that scored 122 points in the final three games.
"He's the sort of guy you never think of as a head coach," said the Colts' assistant general manager, Ernie Accorsi, "but then when he's named head coach you sit back, think about him and say: 'It all makes sense'."
As a player with the Colts, Perkins clearly was preparing himself to coach. Why else would a wide receiver stop the offensive line coach and inquire how a blitz in the previous game had been foiled?
George Young was the Colt offensive line coach to whom Perkins asked that question. Young is now the Giants' general manager -- and that and similar examples of Perkins' hunger for technical information surely swayed the decision to choose him as coach.
Young's reputation in personnel is glittering and best expressed by Joe Paterno: "He won't be flashy. All he'll do is the job."
Perkins fills the requisite workaholic quality so much admired in NFL coaches. He lived 25 miles from the Charger offices but always was at his desk by 6:30 a.m.
Shortly after becoming the Chargers' offensive coordinator last February, after three seasons as an assistant with New England, Perkins met with quarterback Dan Fouts and said at one point: "Now, this is how we're going to beat Tom Jackson."
Already, eight months before they would play the Denver Broncos, Perkins had reduced an important game to an important player.
The Giants' procrastination in hiring their leaders has hampered Perkins, because tomorrow is the deadline for asking permission of NFL teams to talk with their assistant coaches.
Knowing how important his aides will be to his future, Perkins has been interviewing men from other NFL teams at a furious pace. He was fortunate when offensive line coach Jerry Wampfler remained from John McVay's staff.
If the Redskins are not trembling at the Giants' new coach and general manager, they are concerned. The Giants have won three of their last four games against Washington and might well be just a decent quarterback away from being a playoff contender. They also have a full deck of draft choices.
And what of Allen? When last seen, he was groveling for the Giant job. Had he not inspired such hatred in Wellington Mara, he might have gotten it -- and done a fine job. Allen is almost certain to remain off the sidelines another season, because the only job left is with the Patriots.
Even if the Pats did not seem about to hire from within, Allen would not be right for them -- for the reasons that caused him to be fired from the Rams. There are too many good players who would not want to win Allen's way.
With the turnover so great within the NFL the last two years, Allen might well be shut out for years, unless the league does the proper thing and gives Los Angeles an expansion franchise to replace the Rams.
There are persistent whispers that Al Davis will move the Raiders to L.A. -- and if that happens the NFL must provide similar restitution to Oakland.
Either way, there ought to be expansion shortly. And who would make a bad team good more quickly than Allen?