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Answer Dude, Who's Never Been Right About The Cats, Predicts The Best Of Times, The Worst Of Times.

Q. DEAR ANSWER DUDE: Why so giddy?

A. Tomorrow's September. Soon the painful memories of week after week of SportsCenter highlights, with nothing but baseball and Tiger Woods, will be fading. Heck, look at the next four days. Tomorrow night high school football kicks off, the UA plays on Saturday, the NFL starts on Sunday, and the Rams and Broncos are on Monday Night Football. I'm so happy, I could pee.

Q.You only pee when you're happy?

A. Let's move on. In the next three months, we'll have college football, the NFL, baseball playoffs, the World Series, THE OLYMPICS!, the NBA, and then college basketball, with the Cats starting things off top ranked. In December, we have bowl games, NFL playoffs, college hoop tournaments. Dude, by then, August will be a remote blip on the mental radar. Baseball will be a rumor and the only Woods I'll care about will be Loren.

Q. Dear Answer Dude: How do you think the Wildcats will do this year?

A. Are you kiddin' me? They have all five starters back. Richard Jefferson could have a great year. Loren Woods should be healed. Gilbert Arenas and Jason Gardner were the best backcourt in the country last year, as freshmen; they should be death this year. And Michael Wright is a man among ... well, younger men.

Q. I was talking about the Wildcat football team.

A. I was afraid of that. I'm still getting over last year. Do you realize they beat both L.A. schools and still lost five conference games? If they hadn't made a miracle comeback at TCU and received a sapo call at Washington State, they would have gone 4-8. They sucked in stereo. They had, like, 50 starters back from a 12-1 season and they couldn't whip cream.

Q. What about this year?

A. Oh, I'm really confident. They'll surprise people. They're always surprising in one direction or another. Nobody expects them to do poot this year, so the outlook is good.

Q. What's the key?

A. You know that computer-generated Toy Story-lookin' football player they have in the commercials for season tickets? If they can program that dude to kick field goals ...

Q. Dear Answer Dude: Will this be Ortege Jenkins' year?

A. It better be. He's a senior. Well, according to the NCAA, anyway. He's like this episode of Seinfeld I saw one time where they did everything in reverse chronological order. Jenkins set the world on fire as a freshman, had that big highlight leap into the end zone as a sophomore, then just sorta showed up last year. According to that pattern, he should be second string this season.

Lemme put it this way: He's definitely talking the talk. I don't mind ego on an athlete, as long as he shows his butt up on Saturdays (and Friday against ASU) and handles his business. A great deal of the Cats' fortune this year rests on his shoulders. If he stinks, the Cats will stink.

He needs to do something so people will remember him for something other than that one play at the end of the Washington game in '98. If he bombs out, "O.J." will stand for "Overrated Jumper."

Q. Dear Answer Dude: Anybody else to look for?

A. There's a guy from Marana(!) named Clay Hardt who reminds people of Chuck Cecil. He's got that look like he'd play without a helmet if they let him. He's the latest in the long, proud tradition of white defensive backs.

Let's see, there was Cecil, and Jason Sehorn, and ... well, there's lots of them. They've just been held down by The Man.

Q. Dear Answer Dude: How big is the Ohio State game next week?

A. It's 60 minutes, just like every other game.

Q. Who's going to win the Pac-10 Conference title?

A. Not Arizona. Not in my lifetime, not in your lifetime. They'll be playing football on Io before the Cats go to the Rose Bowl. They've choked more times than Linda Lovelace. There have been years where the Cats hammered the Pac-10 champ, but lost to a couple of creampuffs. They've lost one-point games where the winner went to the Rose Bowl. They finish second more often than a frustrated wife.

Q. What's with all the sexual references?

A. Sorry. All the political coverage of Hillary and Tipper gave me a case of the warm, trembling thighs. Those are some serious white womens.

Q. Dear Answer Dude: What do you think of that Eloy softball team with the boys on it winning that championship?

A. I'm disappointed that the Philippines forfeited. Heck, knowing the way the Asian teams do things in Little League play, their "girls" were probably in their 30s. It's an unfortunate by-product of gender equity. It can't be legislated away. Plus, I checked. Eloy's closer to the Phoenix metropolitan area than to Tucson. So we can just claim that it's the unhealthy ASU influence.

Q. Dear Answer Dude: What's your prediction for the Cats?

A. Keeping in mind that I've never been right about them, ever, I'm absolutely certain they'll go 7-4, blow a halftime lead against the eventual Pac-10 champ, and end up in a crappy, mid-level bowl game.

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