Coach for Hire

Danehy throws his jock in the ring to become a UA assistant football coach.

Dear Coach Mackovic:

It has come to my attention that things aren't going really well for you these days. (Actually, that's a bit of an understatement; the other day at Mass, the priest asked us to pray for world peace and for you to find a defensive coordinator.) I've noticed that you've been losing assistant coaches at an alarming rate. I mean, they've been ditching you like a blind date who got hooked up with Sandra Bernhard. You even had to postpone spring practice because you don't have a coaching staff to teach the guys how not to finish in last place.

Even you have to admit that it's getting ridiculous. If one guy leaves for a higher-paying job with the NFL, that's fine. But, you've got people leaving to go sell insurance and to work at (ugh) Oregon State. Now, with the new Krispy Kreme at El Con looking to hire mid-level management types, who knows how many of the remaining coaches will stick around?

Last season was an unmitigated disaster. The Cats lost all of their home Pac-10 games and barely escaped going 0-8 in conference. Your squad self-destructed at Washington, lost to one of the worst Stanford teams of all time, frittered away leads against Washington State and Oregon, and then blew a chance to salvage the season by letting Arizona State get away.

If last season were a house, you'd have to slap a new coat of paint on it before you could condemn it.

Plus, a lot of good players used up their eligibility, leaving the cupboard relatively bare for next year. But all that was just prelude to the disastrous off-season. The word is that you don't even put coaches' nameplates on the office doors in McKale any more. You just have a dry-erase board on the door with a note that reads: "Sign in, please."

People have likened your coaches-go-round to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. I don't think it's even that good. At least if you were on the Titanic, you'd have a chance of catching a glimpse of Kate Winslet in a wet dress. Your situation is more like going up into the guts of the Hindenburg to catch a smoke just before landing in New Jersey.

Recently, you suspended All-Pac-10 running back Clarence Farmer indefinitely. He doesn't want to participate in spring drills (if they ever come to pass) and claims that he wants more time to rehab his surgically repaired knee. He says he wants to redshirt, but I'm thinking he wants to transfer, like maybe to a real Division I school.

Things have gotten so bad, the other night I saw you getting a traffic ticket on a side street near St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church. At least, I'm pretty sure it was you, unless you've taken to using doubles like Saddam Hussein or Winston Churchill in that movie The Eagle Has Landed. Holy cow, you drive a big car! But you know how those police are; they probably thought they were pulling over Steve Leal.

You've been trying to put a positive spin on these things, but really, Coach, you'd need a gyroscope the size of Bulgaria to put any kind of spin at all on these developments.

Well, I'm here to help. I am hereby offering my services as an assistant coach, and I have a few other people lined up for your consideration. Most, but not all, of us have experienced coaching football, but in your position, you really can't afford to be choosy.

I understand that you're a taskmaster, but that's OK. I was raised by an Italian mother who threw silverware at those who angered or displeased her. I still have nightmares where I see the word "Oneida" flying straight for my forehead.

I'm disciplined and hard working. Plus, I'm actually willing to take the job, unlike just about everybody else in the entire United States.

I'd like to coach defensive backs. I played defensive back in high school and in junior college. When I got to the UA back in the late 1970s and went to walk-on tryouts, I told the coaches I was a DB. Then-head coach Tony Mason looked at me and said, "White people don't play DB."

I looked at him and said, "Oh yeah, what about that Jason Sehorn guy who's going to play for the Giants 20 years from now?"

(This anecdote has a certain Vonnegut-esque, Slaughterhouse Five time-tripping quality to it.)

He switched me over to wide receiver, where my slowness, shortness, and complete lack of jumping ability could be put to much better use.

Anyway, the key to coaching DBs is to always play man-to-man. None of that zone crap. Get your DB, point out the guy on the other team and say, "That's who you're guarding. Don't let him catch it."

You can't find coaching like that just anywhere.

Former UA quarterback Keith Smith says that he'd be willing to coach the QBs until it's time for him to report to training camp in Canada. You might have heard of Keith. He led the Cats to a 12-1 record and a No. 4 ranking in the national polls. But that was a whole five years ago, back when Arizona played D-1 football.

My daughter coached the Green Fields junior-varsity girls basketball team to a 12-2 record this year and she says she'll help out. I know you'd love to have a season where you only had two losses. Or 12 wins. Plus, she's an engineering major at the UA, so she's already on campus.

There's an old joke about a masochist and a sadist. The masochist says, "Hurt me, hurt me! Please!" To which the sadist replies, "No."

I've got a friend who's a lifelong ASU fan and he won't even do me the courtesy of ripping on UA football any more. He says that he doesn't pick on the handicapped. That's how bad things have gotten.

When do I start?

Sincerely, Tom

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