For Cat Tracks Editor-in-Chief Brad Allis and I, we've managed to fill these recent shows with the help of some very good callers. Since it's a free flow format in many regards, often times we'll let the callers dictate the course. There are things we plan to discuss, but if a caller has a specific interest, we'll head in that direction. Last week, for example, we got a call about Wildcat football. The ensuing conversation generated a few more phone calls, and before we knew it, the future of the UA on the gridiron had occupied the program's first hour.
Part of the second hour involved our thoughts on the impending NCAA rules adjustments in regards to graduation rates, and how it could conceivably affect Division I athletic programs. As it stands, it appears the NCAA has a basic outline and goal in mind, but a lot of logistical issues to address.
This topic arises from time to time in relation to the UA men's basketball team. Arizona has registered some less-than-impressive graduation percentages over the years, but I've never had a problem with the numbers because the program seems to have a pretty impressive ratio in regards to alum making livings in their desired endeavors. Arizona basketball players basically fall under three categories.
1. NBA players—Those are performers pulling down no less than six figures per year. A few have long-term deals in the eight-figure bracket.
2. European League players—Not only does the UA have one of college basketball's better NBA representations, but former Wildcats have found spots on numerous rosters overseas. Very often, these lead to six-figure salaries.
3. Players who got their degree—Of the Wildcats who couldn't extend their basketball career, most have accumulated a bachelor's from the UA and moved onto respectable, upstanding jobs in the work force.
Ultimately seems like a good triumvirate to me. Arizona is a unique case in that so many of its basketball athletes move onto professional sports careers. Other universities, of course, aren't afforded that luxury, so it can make it hard on the NCAA to consider that scenario when solidifying its graduation requirements. But in this regard, the UA is serving the purpose of the university in getting its students prepared for success in their career of choice. For Arizona, the men's basketball major looks pretty good.
My complaint has never been the graduation rate, but instead, the seeming unwillingness of some players to attend class. This is where the young athletes take advantage of the good situation. Every part of every requirement has something we'd rather not do. It's the "job" portion of job. In the case of UA men's basketball players, the job is going to class, and while in class, not disrupting the proceedings. It's naïve to believe that majors aren't set up to benefit student-athletes who aren't particularly excited about the academic portion of their stays. As a result, many majors can be honed to assist the athlete to move through, and as long as the athlete holds up his end of the bargain, then everything should be ok. It's when the athlete takes advantage of that situation, usually by not showing up, when problems arise. As far as the UA is concerned in terms of the men's basketball program, that's the area I'd like to see improvement…
…Sometimes the nature of sportstalk, or talk in general, is to veer off the topic at hand. Somehow on last week's show, we got into a discussion about fast food hamburgers. Perhaps it had something to do with his wife Stacey, I don't exactly recall. Remember above when I mentioned that callers often dictate the flow. Well, on this issue that was the case as well. Somebody punched the digits necessary to get into the program, and proceeded to expound on the wonders of the Ultimate Cheeseburger at Jack in the Box. Being the fabulous host I am, I instantly corrected the mistaken gent. There was a time, indeed, when the Ultimate Cheeseburger was a great thing, but a couple years ago, the man in the big, white circular head and the Pinocchio nose decided to make a change, and thus opt for ketchup and mustard on the UC as opposed to the mayo hybrid which so used to beautifully complement the delicious darling of delectability.
In no uncertain terms, mustard is the condiment of Satan, and while I'm as appreciative a fan of Big Red as anybody (unless he's represented in a different color scheme in Durham, North Carolina), anything coated with that hideous off-yellow spread just has to go. The Ultimate Cheeseburger took a big dive on that fateful day.
Sure, the caller noted you could ask to change the sauce, and then said that for 40 cents more you could request the Ultimate Cheeseburger on sourdough bread, but then that would be work. I'm not a big fan of work. For me, it's the "job" part of job. It's not like I'm trying to graduate, or anything….
…For those of you within earshot, listen for an interview with Steve Kerr tonight at 6:20. Jim Donovan, host of the Big Show and lover of Ultimate Cheeseburgers, will sit in a substitute capacity for Brad Allis.