Who's going to be the football coach at the University of Arizona next year?
If I were a betting man, I'd put all $14 that I cleared this week on it not being John Mackovic. But then, I've been wrong before. For example, I thought O.J. Simpson killed his wife. (No, wait! He did.)
When that whole mess of his hit a couple weeks ago, I initially sided with the coach. Football coaches have to be tough SOBs. And this isn't some middle-aged guy looking back through rose-colored Nostalgia-Vision lenses at the good old days of being verbally and physically abused by my high school and college football coaches. Show me a New Age football coach and I'll show you a guy who will be selling insurance within the next three years.
Just as winning smoothes over a whole lot of ugliness on a team, losing causes pus-filled boils to burst forth on the Body Program. Teammates who are merely eccentric when winning become insufferable jerks during a losing streak. Coaches who cajole and inspire players on to victory are shrill screamers when the losing starts.
I almost always side with the coach in these situations. But then, the next day, Greg Hansen had that column on the front page of the Daily Star, the one in which he wrote about the Mackovic tirade against defensive standout Clay Hardt in the corridor after the brutal last-minute loss at Washington. That column, all by itself, made me do a one-eighty on the issue.
First of all, I love the Clay Hardts of the world. Too small, too short, too slow to play big-time football. A hundred and eighty pounds, maybe, of which 178 is heart and the other two is hair. Have you seen his intensity? The kid looks like he killed his own parents.
For Mackovic to question his heart and to threaten to kick him off the team for what was, in essence, a missed tackle on an All-Pac-10 player was ridiculous. Hansen sold me. I was going to come out against the coach in my column. I even tried to find a clever anagram for "Mackovic," but all I could come up with is "I'm A Cock," with a "v" left over.
HEY! Get your minds out of the gutter! I mean like a rooster; you know, the head chicken in charge. What's wrong with you people? Anyway, that didn't match what I was trying to say, so I dropped the entire column idea altogether. As Johnny Cochran would say, "If the anagram doesn't work, you sound like a jerk."
But then, the Cats smacked up Cal and I did another 180. That's a full circle for all you home-schoolers, two pi radians for the smart kids in public schools. All of a sudden, Arizona goes on the road and dominates a team that had spanked ASU in Tempe just the previous week. Now I'm thinking that the players are at fault. If they can play this well against a good Cal team, why haven't they played like that all season? They could have easily beaten Stanford, Washington and perhaps even Washington State (which could end up in the "National Championship" game), in which case they'd be heading to a bowl game.
Even so, I believe Mackovic's departure is a done deal, whether they lose to ASU on Friday or not. I think they're just negotiating a buyout. This has been a dismal two years and Lord knows how long it's going to take the program to recover.
So who is going to win the UA-ASU game?
This one we're for sure going to know by Friday night. I think that Arizona will win mostly because they usually do. That glorious streak started 20 years ago with a 28-18 Cat win that knocked ASU out of the Rose Bowl.
It should be a good, high-scoring game, but a lot of the fun could be in the stands. I've alerted Fox Sports Network to be on the lookout for my friend Todd, an inveterate ASU booster who plans on taking boxes of Kleenex to the game and then showering the crybaby Cat players and fans with tissues. This should be fun.
What's going to happen with former UA point guard Damon Stoudamire?
For those of you who missed it, Stoudamire got busted for marijuana possession when the car in which he and fellow master underachiever and all-around dreg of society Rasheed Wallace were riding. Stoudamire had skated out from under a slam-dunk drug charge earlier in the year when a friendly judge threw the case out on a technicality. (Police had responded to an alarm at Stoudamire's house and when no one answered the doorbell, they went in to see if everything was OK and found a pile of pot on the dining room table.)
Stoudamire built up a lot of good will during his time here in Tucson as a scrappy guard. But his whiny contract demands, his annual choke routine in the playoffs and now drug use have him sinking like a stone. He's the equivalent of that old Steve Martin book, How I Turned a Million Dollars in Real Estate Into $100 Cash.
He's in danger of losing all that NBA money with which he buys the good sh*t. In fact, he might be headed for the CBA, the Convicted Bong-users Association.