It's time to end the nonsensical rumors and hype in the sports world.

Things that must stop immediately:

· All the obsessing and speculation over who will be the next UA football coach. We'll know in a couple weeks; let it go. The dailies run endless stories about this guy from Boise and that guy from the NFL. Enough already.

One day, it's this hot rumor, and the next day, it's somebody else. The UA is not going to take the guy from Boise, simply because ASU's Dirk Koetter came from there, so it will look like we're copycats. They're not taking the guy from Texas Tech, because the Red Raiders have been taking some serious ass-whuppins the past few weeks, and Tech is no longer quite so glamorous. Whoever's spreading the rumor about Steve Spurrier needs to be slapped.

That leaves Mike Stoops--the assistant to his brother, Bob, at Oklahoma--and Ricky Hunley. Some people probably see Stoops as being real attractive, but you know he wouldn't stay here long even if he were successful (which isn't guaranteed). Somebody like that would simply use the UA as a stepping stone. (Or, in his case, as a Stooping stone).

That leaves Ricky Hunley, whom I believe will get the job. He has the best chance at energizing a demoralized fan base. With his UA ties, he probably would have the longest honeymoon period with the local media and fans. (He'll need at least three years to turn this mess around.) And another thing in his favor is that he's É well, you know É young. (You thought I was going to say black, didn't you?)

So, let's give Mr. Livengood some time. Stop looking over his shoulder, and be ready to greet Coach Hunley when he gets here. In the meantime, let's just all hope that Arizona State continues to stink out loud, and pray that the UA can complete the season with bookend victories over UTEP and ASU. How delicious would that be?

· The nonstop, Internet-based eye on recruiting and all other facets of collegiate athletics. Far more bizarre and annoying than the previous item is the unholy confluence of the pasty-faced computer geek and the pudgy, muscle-free college sports fanatic. Just about any obsessive fan can burst forth on the Internet, for which admission is apparently one modem and no clue.

These sportsnetgeeks have replaced the 30-year-olds living with their moms and playing Star Trek on their computer as the guys most likely to be played by Vince Vaughn and Steve Buscemi in the movies. They get online to spread rumors and snipe and whine about their favorite college teams, like anybody really gives a crap. E-rumors about conduct with an exotic dancer--or two--probably cost Mike Price his job at Alabama. (Even if Price did everything that was alleged over the Internet and then in Sports Illustrated, he still shouldn't have been fired.)

Most of the time, these fanatics deal in minutiae and B.S. On a Web site devoted to a Southern school, one guy breathlessly announced that he had seen the starting QB downing a double cheeseburger and some fries at a local fast-food place and asked, "Don't the coaches watch what these guys are eating?!"

By far, the worst is the fascination with recruiting. Last week, the Tucson newspapers, local talk shows and the Internet were all abuzz because some high school kid had chosen to go to Duke instead of the UA. Wow, that means that the UA will only have nine spectacular basketball players next year instead of 10. Board up the windows, Martha; a storm's comin.'

These people were all over the story, like it's some big deal. The guys on the local afternoon show on ESPN radio (which I admit I listen to and actually like) were gushing about how one of them had broken the story. And?!

Guys, let's take a step back and look at this: A lot of high school kids play sports. A handful of them are good enough to be offered scholarships to go play at college. The rest either go to college and don't play ball, or they go to work. A handful of those who play ball in college are good enough to be offered an opportunity to play professionally. The rest get real jobs. And so it goes.

Sports are a mess at all levels. I think that a small step in a positive direction would be to stop treating high school athletes like they're hot stuff. How are kids going to learn perspective if adults aren't willing to provide it?

For example, if I were a sports editor, I would take a Louisville Slugger to any sportswriter who asked, "Hey, the kid over at the local high school is holding a press conference to announce what school he's signing with. Should I go cover it?" Why are high school kids holding press conferences and why is anybody attending them? What would happen if the media refused to show up to such pretentious public masturbations? Maybe the kid would realize that while he's done OK for himself, it's really not that big a deal in the whole scheme of things.

· Comparing LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. I pulled a tonsil the other night screaming at the idiots on ESPN who were beating that particular dead horse. James and Anthony might be good some day in the future, and if they get to be as good as Magic and Bird were, that'll be great. In the meantime, stop hyping people for what they might do.

Oh yeah, James and Anthony, in their first (oooh!) head-to-head matchup played a combined 80 minutes and had 21 points on combined 9-for-28 shooting. Forget about being as good as Bird and Magic were back in the '80s; James and Anthony aren't even as good as Bird and Magic are now.

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