Attention, Nobel Prize committee: Check out Tom's Arizona football/economics formula to predict the future

I've been writing for a few years now, and I still haven't won one of those Pulitzer Prize things. I'm really not sure why. I mean, The Arizona Daily Star has one, for crying out loud. Dave Barry has one, and he writes about boogers and crooked toes and stuff, so it's not like it's all hoity-toity. Still, they've avoided me for some reason.

So, I've decided to try to win one of those Nobel Prizes instead. When I was at Cornell a couple weeks ago, I went to the classroom where one of my math and science heroes, Richard Feynman, used to teach, and I got the spirit. (Yes, I have math and science heroes; doesn't everybody?)

Now, I'm probably too old to have some sort of flash of inspiration that would enable me to blaze a new trail in physics or chemistry. That medicine one would probably require me to go to medical school. That could take almost a decade (or a year and a half in Guadalajara). And, as far as I know, no basketball coach has ever won the Nobel Peace Prize.

That leaves economics, which is like math for mathematicians who aren't all that good in math. It's like the part in Bring It On, where that guy Sparky says the immortal line, "Cheerleaders are dancers who have gone retarded." So it is with economics.

I'll just combine chaos theory and the rules (?) of economics to use the upcoming University of Arizona football season to predict future social, economic and political trends. Heck, if a butterfly flapping its wings in China can have an impact on the weather in New York, surely the exploits of the Wildcats football team can have a wide-ranging impact on the world.


· Zero wins or one win: That means that the team will have done worse than last year's squad, a feat which was heretofore believed to be impossible. Nevertheless, you won't hear anybody screaming, "Bring back John Mackovic!"

No, Coach Stoops has caught on here with his infectious enthusiasm and optimism. Hard-core Cat fans, hungry for the return of a team that can go 7-4 every year, are almost giddy at the prospects of the program down the road. This could well be a brutal year for Arizona, and fans are already storing away excuses. "The monsoon didn't last long enough." "Those day games in September took a lot out of us." "The Cats have always been blue-collar, so they we were hit hard by Bush's tax cuts for the rich."

NOTE: If the Cats beat Arizona State, the season will be a success, no matter what the overall record. Thus has it always been; thus will it ever be. In fact, if the Cats go 1-10, and that one victory is over ASU, it will be all that much sweeter. So, as we continue along here, just assume that any record that includes a win over the Devils will carry with it an added joy factor of 16:9. (That ratio will probably impress the judges on the Nobel committee, when, in fact, it just has something to do with the size of a TV screen.)

Anyway, if the Cats win fewer than two games, the national economy will go in the toilet. Bush will be re-elected. The rich will get much richer; the poor will get much poorer; and, most importantly, the middle class will continue to disappear at an alarming rate.

· Two to five wins: That means that the Cats will have beaten at least one team against whom they weren't favored. People will still know exactly when basketball practice starts and will be happy that Lute Olson's team is in the preseason NIT, but the buzz on the street will be that the football team doesn't entirely suck.

Oil prices will remain ridiculously high, just so Dick Cheney will be able to profit from the situation while, at the same time, denying that the Iraq invasion had anything to do with oil.

· Six to eight wins: Bowl game, baby! Maybe in Idaho, maybe in Shreveport, but definitely somewhere. Bob Stoops is nominated for mayor ... by Bob Walkup.

The presidential election goes to the Supreme Court for the second straight time. Sandra Day O'Connor, having already announced her retirement, decides to go out on a high note, and Kerry wins.

· Nine to 10 wins: Euphoria rules the day. Arizona Stadium is packed for the USC and ASU games. Mike Stoops denies rumors that he's been offered the Notre Dame job.

John Kerry wins in a rout. Ralph Nader gets no votes, but he still doesn't take the hint. George W. Bush looks for a country to invade during his lame-duck period.

· 11 wins: Grown men cry. ASU fans shout, "Bring back John Mackovic." And the BCS picks 8-3 Miami to play 9-2 Oklahoma in its "National Championship Game."

If none of this comes to pass, I can always fall back on "That's the exception that proves the rule." After all, it's only economics; it's not like it's a science.

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