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Taking The Heat 

Open Letters To Some Very Important People.

TAKIN' CARE OF some correspondence:

To: Mr. Jim Livengood, UA Athletic Director and Defender of All That Is Good and Decent In College Athletics Today (Plus Some Other Stuff)

Dear His Excellency Jim:

One of the best lines in recent years comes from a movie called Rush Hour starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. The movie is of the generic Mismatched Cop Partners of Different Ethnic Origins type; pretty standard, really.

However, the first time they're in an automobile together, Chan turns on the car radio, finds a Beach Boys song, and cranks it up. Tucker, outraged, utters, "Oh, hell no! Don't you ever touch a black man's radio!"

Now, what I want you to do is go out and rent that movie. They'll probably give you a discount at Blockbuster if you wear that red blazer you have. Just tell them it's wired or something.

Fast forward to where they first get in a car together and listen to Tucker's delivery of the aforementioned line.

Then, when ABC calls and says they want to move an early-October game at Arizona Stadium to a 12:30 p.m. starting time, you can act in the best interest of all your minions and just say, "Oh, hell no!"

(You should probably leave out the stuff about the black man's radio; they won't understand it. Although...if you say it right, they might think you have some kind of multiple-personality disorder and they'd be less likely to mess with you.)

I went to that game and sat way up high on the east side of the stadium. It was absolutely brutal. You're lucky somebody didn't die. Or, even worse, pass out and then sue.

I've lived in the desert more than half my life. I embrace the heat. Heck, when I was a younger man, I used to do multiple sets of bleacher runs on the west side of the stadium in the summer noonday sun. I played tennis with Fred Snowden at lunchtime in August. I even spent hot afternoons at football practice on the old field where the rec center is now.

But I never once thought about spending a 100-degree afternoon sitting on a metal bench for four hours, frantically guzzling overpriced lemonade and recycled CAP effluent in a desperate attempt to remain conscious. Let alone paying for the privilege.

I understand that the TV tail wags the dog, but you might think that among all the Harvard grads in TV, there might be one with some common sense. Like, enough to know that in the middle of the day in the Sonoran Desert, it's hot.

Hot! Damn hot! What, fool?! Were you born on the sun?!

It was one of the most unpleasant afternoons I've ever spent, and that includes the time I had oral surgery from a guy who went to Guadalajara for six months and came back with a degree in dentistry.

Not only was it unpleasant, it was probably dangerous. With only six home games a year, people pay large amounts of money for the right to tailgate their butts off, and that includes some serious drinking, even if it means the party starts at 10 a.m.

Alcohol consumption and high temperatures make for a bad combination. (It has something to do with the relatively low evaporation point of alcohol, not to mention the inability of winos to negotiate a flight of stairs when the handrail is blister-inducing hot.)

I don't drink, but I did have the barbecued chicken at the Insight.com Bowl tent, and you know how BBQ sauce has a way of doubling back on you.

To your credit, you did come down from the air-conditioned skybox to join in the presentation of the well-deserved award for former UA coach Jim Young. You even wore that red blazer. (For all we know, that thing is probably water-cooled.) But I also noticed that you didn't come up and sit with us for the second half.

They could have very easily left the UA-USC game at night and put the Oregon-UCLA game on at 12:30. Lord knows they don't have weather in Los Angeles.

I realize this involves lots of money and signed contracts and all, but gee whiz, that was nasty! And please don't tell me that the previous week's UCLA game at ASU was played at 12:30 p.m. In Tempe the heat is a positive form of population control.

So practice your "Oh, Hell No!" and have it ready.


TO: LUTE OLSON

Dear Lute (He lets you call him Lute as long as you never make eye contact):

You are God! You are the best coach ever! You can win the national championship whenever you want! I remain ever ready and willing to jump in front of a bus full of beat reporters for you!

(Readers' note: I'm just renewing my media credentials for the upcoming season. You should see what Greg Hansen has to do.)


TO: THAT NICE Sabino Mom Who Reconstructed My Anus Via E-Mail

Dear Ma'am:

I think Sabino has a very good football team; I was very impressed with them. I agree that it's superficial to focus on the financial aspect of the two schools' communities, but they don't pay me enough to be deep and insightful.

Seriously, I agree that money doesn't make those kids good ballplayers. They still have to go out and run the sprints and lift the weights. Money does, however, make it easier for some people because it helps eliminate worries about work or transportation or even where their next meal will come from.

I'd love to see Sabino and Amphi play each other again, this time in the 5A state championship game. Of course, knowing the dumb-ass AIA, the game would probably be played in Yuma.

But even the AIA wouldn't be dumb enough to schedule it for 12:30.

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