Stray Thoughts During The Latest Battle Of The Century.
By Tom Danehy
THINGS YOU'LL NEVER know about and/or experience at an
Arizona-Arizona State football game unless you abandon all hope
of having a real career and become a sportswriter instead:
- The Press Box at Arizona Stadium sits atop the westside
addition. It can only be reached by taking the lone elevator,
which holds 16 people comfortably or 24 people immorally. I know
a guy who, while riding that elevator, once had a life-altering
experience with a large-lensed camera.
When you get off the elevator and brush off the handprints, you're
met by a most ungodly sight: A free buffet table for the media.
Oh, the horror!
Out the door is an open-air patio, hundreds of feet above the
ground, affording one a magnificent view of downtown Tucson and
the mountains beyond. The view is usually blocked by the media
people eating their free food, casting backward glances at the
food table to see how fast they have to eat so they can go back
You know why photographers wear those vests with all the pockets
in them? I'll give you a hint: It's not to carry film.
- Senator John McCain was at the game. Every time I see
him, he reminds me more and more of Richard Nixon. Except Nixon
seemed more trustworthy.
- Governor Jane Dee Hull stopped out on the patio. She's
changed her hair color again. Last month it was Martian Rust,
but now, in keeping with the Solar System theme, it's more like
Jovian Giant Storm. By the end of next year, she'll have worked
her way out to the Uranian moons named for Shakespearean characters.
She walked by and said hi. I started by telling her I didn't
vote for her, and then asked the lame-oid question of all time:
"Who are you rooting for today?"
Just once I'd like to hear a politician answer that with, "I
want Arizona to kick the living crap out of ASU." Or vice
versa. I don't really care. Instead, she gave me that nonsense
of being proud of both teams, blah, blah, blah.
Who's the Secretary of State again?
- It was an unusually warm late-November day with a near-record
high temp. But inside the press box, it was a constant 48 degrees.
I lug around several layers of adipose tissue for just such an
occasion, plus I had on my omnipresent sweatshirt. But within
minutes of sitting down in there, I was freezing. At first I thought
it might be some sort of insidious scheme to control the content
of the sportswriters' stories, but then I realized it probably
had something to do with preserving the Governor's hair.
- The voice of Director of Media Relations Tom Duddleston
is a friendly companion in the press box, like Daniel Stern's
voice-overs on The Wonder Years. He started things off
by reminding everyone that, according to the rules of decorum
governing the media, there would be absolutely no cheering or
rooting in the press box. This rule is broken more often than
New Year's resolutions at Sierra Tucson.
- The Wildcats won the coin toss and received the ball.
The first couple plays were badly misfiring trick plays. I have
no idea why UA Coach Dick Tomey would try such nonsense. When
you have the better team, as the Cats clearly did this year, you
should simply shove the ball down the other guys' throats.
- The leading tackler for ASU is a guy named Junior Ioane.
You can bet that when you see a football player named "Junior,"
he's the first one in his family to go to college.
- An ASU player wasted precious energy trying to flap his
arms, palms-up, in an effort to get the crowd to rise. Dude, you've
got maybe 137 ASU fans in the stadium, and most of them are huddled
together in the north end-zone bleachers.
For many of those people, it's as close as they'll ever come
to a library.
- Duddleston mentioned that some of the "working media"
(put that one at the head of the Oxymoron Line) are complaining
about the "constant chatter" in the room. Duddleston
later apologized when he learned that the chattering was teeth.
- Between the first and second quarters, some contest winner
got to attempt a 25-yard field goal. The guy's kick hit the left
upright and bounced away. Minutes later, Dick Tomey offered the
guy a scholarship.
- ASU freshman tight end Todd Heap made several big catches
for the Sun Devils. Last year at this time he was helping Mesa
Mountain View pull off a last-minute comeback to nip the Amphi
Panthers in the Class 5A state football championships.
This will probably be the last time you hear the name, however.
After the season, he's going on a Mormon mission. This means that
when he comes back in two years, he'll be 40 pounds lighter and
he'll be able to speak Spanish real well. But his football career
is probably done.
Face it: You can count all the great Mormon NFL players on one
Lots of big-time Mormon athletes come back from their missions
with a changed outlook on life. Remember that guy Shawn Bradley,
the 7-foot-6, 112-pound basketball center? Heck, he could have
been great if he had foregone his mission and gone to play in
Wait! Some guy looking over my shoulder just told me that Bradley's
been in the NBA for six seasons. He must have been playing sideways
all this time.
- It's now official! Arizona's heart-stopping 50-42 victory
over ASU lasted longer than Dennis Rodman's marriage. And have
you seen that plastic-but-not-fantastic Electra woman? She's God's
response to all those people who thought Dennis Rodman was the
creepiest person on Earth.
- Just in case my buddy Todd Judge missed it, the UA raised
its record against ASU to 13-3-1 over the last 17 years. So, as
always, UA rules and ASUcks.