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By Sonny Jones

Steve Wilks earned the opportunity to be the head coach of the Carolina Panthers, but if the organization wanted a guy whose forté was offense, then the Charlotte native wasn’t going to be the guy.

It works out that way sometimes.

Wilks went 6-6 as interim coach after taking over for Matt Rhule, who was fired five games into the season after a disastrous 2½-year reign. Wilks changed the culture, made watching the Panthers interesting again and had them in the playoff hunt until Week 17 of the 18-week schedule, albeit in an extremely weak NFC South division.

However, Wilks’ specialty is defense. He’s a top-notch defensive guy and he won’t be out of work long. Some team will benefit from his coaching very, very soon.

Carolina wanted, and needs, to ramp up its offense. So, they’ve brought in Frank Reich, who was the starting quarterback for the Panthers’ inaugural team in 1995 and who has been a head coach and offensive coordinator in the NFL.

Is Reich the answer? We’ll see, but the key for him, or any NFL head coach, is having a franchise quarterback. That’s something the Panthers don’t have nor have had since Cam Newton began slowing down because of injuries.

Reich may be the best choice for today’s high-powered NFL game, but without a top-notch quarterback, then the team isn’t going to be much better than average at best. We all know Carolina’s history of swings and misses at quarterback since Newton left. It’s time the Panthers connected.

There’s hurt feelings and confusion after Wilks wasn’t named head coach, but the Panthers interviewed more candidates with a background in offense and it’s something they wanted. Wilks couldn’t offer that.

As expected, Wilks was all class after not being named Panthers head coach, posting on social media:

The Frank Reich era begins next week in Charlotte.

The East Bladen boys basketball team is back in sole possession of first place in the Southeastern Athletic Conference with four games remaining. Red Springs defeated St. Pauls 63-45 on Friday. It’s the third time the Red Devils have beaten the Bulldogs this season. East Bladen is 7-1, St. Pauls 6-2 and Red Springs 5-2 going into the final two weeks.


• 2012 — Towson ends its NCAA record 41-game losing streak with a 66-61 victory over North Carolina Wilmington. The victory is the first career win at Towson for coach Pat Skerry and the Tigers’ first win since a win at La Salle on Dec. 29, 2010.


• TENNIS: Australian Open (taped), 9 a.m., ESPN2

• X GAMES: Day 2, 12:30 p.m., ABC and 10 p.m., ESPN

• BASKETBALL: NC State at Wake Forest, 1 p.m., ACCN

• MOTOR SPORTS: Rolex 24 At Daytona, 1:30 p.m., NBC; 2:30 p.m., USA; 10 p.m., USA

• FIGURE SKATING: US Championships, 2:30 p.m., NBC; 8 p.m., USA

• PGA: Farmers Insurance Open, 2:30 p.m., GOLF; 4:30 p.m., CBS

• BASKETBALL: Duke at Georgia Tech, 3 p.m., ACCN

• NBA: Denver at Philadelphia, 3 p.m., ABC

• HORSE RACING: Pegasus World Cup Invitational, 4:30 p.m., NBC

• NBA: New York at Brooklyn, 5:30 p.m., ABC

• BASKETBALL: NC Central at Howard, 6 p.m., ESPNU

• FOOTBALL: NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, 6 p.m., NFLN

• NHL: Boston at Florida, 6 p.m., NHLN

• SOCCER: United States vs. Colombia, 7:30 p.m., TNT

• NBA: LA Lakers at Boston, 8:30 p.m., ABC

Sonny Jones can be reached at wibbyj@gmail.com.

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