The Q-Factor

(We're Having Trouble Thinking Up Headlines For This Q&A Stuff -- OK?)

By Tom Danehy

QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS everywhere, nor any answers, I think....

The defending national champion Arizona Wildcats started practice last week in preparation for their drive for a second consecutive title. Even with all five starters back, questions abound.

Danehy Unfortunately, we here at The Weekly are utilizing a brand-new technology which is supposed to make everything better and faster. So naturally I have to get my column in even earlier than before, meaning that I had to have this done before Media Day, which came before Midnight Madness, which came before the time my column used to be due.

If we get any more technological advances, I'll be having to do my baseball preview somewhere around Thanksgiving. Still, on the upside, this means I get to do a totally separate "Answers, Answers" column somewhere down the road.

Anyway, to the questions:

Q. With virtually the entire team back from last year and the competitive fires burning as brightly as ever in McKale, why are so many preseason polls not picking the Cats to repeat as national champs?

A. I saw a bumper sticker once which read, "I'm a maverick." I thought to myself, No, you're not, you stupid anal polyp. If you were a maverick, you wouldn't have to tell everybody; we'd know. Like, maybe you'd be driving down the street backwards or something.

Anyway, the people at some of these magazines feel the need to be controversial, to go out on a limb, to set themselves apart. It's easy to do, since hardly anybody's going to go back in April and check on how their picks panned out. Back in 1988 I picked the Dodgers to win the World Series (in print) and sure enough they did. I crowed a little bit, but not much because, hey, I pick them to win it every year.

As for the Cats, they have to be the favorites to win it again. Their run through the NCAAs last year, when they knocked off three No. 1 seeds, was no fluke. That they have everybody back, another year bigger, stronger and smarter, makes them the obvious choice.

Of course, the wildly unpredictable nature of the tournament, which makes it the greatest sports event of the year, keeps the Cats from being huge favorites. Plus, teams almost never repeat. So, choosing Kansas or North Carolina or Duke to win it all is as good a guess as any, which in effect, makes all of the preseason polls useless. But boy, they sure are fun to read.

Q. Where do you think Miles Simon will get more money: From his signing bonus as a lottery pick in the NBA draft, or from his lawsuit against the UA for releasing his academic record?

A. I don't know, but if one didn't have to divest himself of all vestiges of human dignity in order to become a lawyer, I wouldn't mind representing him in either one.

Q. What's the strangest fallout you've seen from that fiasco?

A. Have you got all day? There are at least three equally-bizarre answers:

1. Tucson Citizen columnist emeritus Corky Simpson wrote that The Kansas City Star wrote that story about Simon's academic travails either to get back at the NCAA (headed by former UA Athletic Director Cedric Dempsey) for leaving KC for Indianapolis and/or to get back at the UA for having knocked No. 1 Kansas out of last year's Sweet 16.

You might think that, if true, either one would plumb depths of pettiness heretofore only achieved by whoever it was who exposed Pee Wee Herman for enjoying that porno movie a little too much.

Then, Arizona Daily Star columnist Greg Hansen wrote that the KC paper had been working on the story for 18 months and therefore Simpson's assertions were ridiculous. All I know is I want to see those two guys in the ring right now, duking it out to see who's right. 'Course, Corky would probably wear a tie, but I'd pay to see it nonetheless. It could be on the undercard of the Dan Eckstrom-Mike Boyd bout, for which I'm still waiting.

I'm leaning towards believing Corky. It's much more petty and small-minded. And I know sportswriters. They're just as human as everybody else, except moreso.

Besides, who's going to buy that assertion that a newspaper works 18 months on one story? That would mean that the summer heat stories that Doug Kreutz writes for the Star were started a year ago last winter.

Here at The Weekly, the only thing that takes 18 months is for the checks to get mailed. Or maybe for Hector to clean out the fridge.

2. A friend of mine graduated from ASU and is therefore barely qualified for his job (he keeps forgetting which comes first, paper or plastic). He swears he's working on his Master's thesis. He hangs around the bathrooms at Canyon Ranch, trying to prove that rich people's poop really doesn't stink.

Anyway, he gloated over the Simon thing, claiming the fact that Miles got bad grades is just as bad as the trouble ASU quarterback Jake Plummer got in last year. Yeah, a low grade-point average is the same as being convicted of multiple counts of sexual assault. And people from Tempe wonder why their school has the reputation it does. Why, it's all those ambassadors of goodness and clear thought unleashed on the world each year at graduation.

Miles didn't do anything illegal, nor did he hurt anyone other than himself. The discussion should end there.

3. The third thing involves former Wildcat center Joseph Blair emerging as a background source on this story, but I really don't have time to go into that right now. Suffice it to say that comparing Simon's problems to Blair's situation is monumentally wrong and journalistically lazy.

(I got this wonderfully menacing phone call from Blair recently. I'll have to tell you about some time. He raised many interesting issues, on almost all of which he was wrong.)

Q. So who's going to win the NCAA championship?

A. The UA, of course. I just hope they can finish higher than fifth in the Pac-10. TW

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