What Arizona needs is more guys like Kenny Lofton. Credit Boston's Josh Beckett for having yet another incredible pitching performance in the playoffs, but also credit Lofton for not backing down when Beckett tried to show him up after getting the ex-Wildcat to fly out. Lofton plays sports as passionately today as he did for the Wildcats 20 years ago. I say sports because he's a two-sport stud (baseball and basketball) and could've played more at the highest levels if he wanted to. Would I be overstating things if I said Lofton could be the UA's finest athlete of all-time? My buddy Blake doesn't think so.
I've said this before and I'll say it again. Everyone likes to rail on Mike Stoops for his sideline antics but if Arizona was winning games, would anyone even be paying attention to him. I say this because those who watched Thursday night's college football game pitting Rutgers against South Florida saw two head coaches who are as intense as anyone on the sidelines. In fact, at one point, South Florida's head man was so crazed and relentless in yelling at one of his players that the student athlete ripped off his helmet and fired back at his coach. What's my point? I'm not sure, but maybe yelling on the sidelines is not Stoops' problem. After all, most of his yelling is at the referees and quite frankly I agree with him. Arizona's been robbed more times than a liquor store and last weekend's ridiculous Phantom Face Mask Call that preserved a Trojans drive and awakened that entire stadium would have sent me into a tirade as well. In fact, it did as evidenced by me introducing my hat to the ground, violently. Stoops' problem is he wants to win so bad he forgets to let his team just go out there and make plays. By all indications, Arizona prepares as well in practice as any top-flight team. They also have a lot of talent. They were whipping USC last Saturday even though they only led 13-10 in the fourth quarter. They went conservative and instead of continuing to press the Trojans they allowed USC to dictate the pace of that game in the 4th Quarter and to USC's credit they, snatched victory from defeat. So, coach Stoops, if you want to yell, I say go for it. On that same note, go for the jugular…uh, I mean, win…this weekend against Stanford.
Ever hear Jim Calhoun talk in HD with surround sound. I just did as he announced the starting lineup for UConn's football team and I gotta' say, if I ever write a screenplay for a mob movie Calhoun's doing the voice over for my narrator.
Speaking of Thursday night's game, do you remember how just a few season's ago college football on Thursdays always featured a bunch of also-rans, or was famous for airing games like Miami at East Carolina. This season, the weekday games have been incredible and last night's 30-27 upset win for the Scarlet Knights was pretty much par for the course in 2007.
Right now I'm toggling between NASCAR highlights in HD and the Louisville/Connecticut football game. What is happening to me? I've been bit by the HD bug and it's turning me into Bubba. Thankfully, I still have no intention of ever attending a right turn race ever so I can live with this virus as long as it doesn't get any worse.
Does anybody know when Game 6 of the ALCS is? If it's after Spring-Forward I'll have to remember to reset my watch so I don't miss the first pitch.
I'm still fuming over the blown opportunity to beat USC last weekend. How much you ask? Here's an actual conversation that took place between me and my nephew last night as Rutgers' students were storming the field. Don't worry, he's over 21.
Andy: I feel bad for them.
Me: (Angrily, blood pressure rising.) For who?
Andy: South Florida.
Me: (in a Nicky Santoro, profanity-laced rant) Bleep. You gotta' be bleepin' me. I couldn't give two bleeps about any team that loses these days. You want pain. Bleep. Walk in Arizona's shoes for a bleepin' week. Bleep. I mean, seriously…bleep.
You know what I loved the most about Rutgers last night. They blitzed. No, no, I mean they BLITZED and BLITZED and BLITZED until the game was over. And when I mean over, I mean they blitzed on a Fourth and 37 in the final minute. That's how you beat teams with quality quarterbacks (wink, wink Mark Stoops).
So, this was an interesting week at home. In the townhouse about 20 feet from our front door Hollywood was there filming a movie that's starring Ben Affleck, Jen Aniston and Scarlett Johansson. One would think that after suffering through a tough football loss and after having our other condo turned into the movie set from Waterworld by Bathtub Boy, I'd at least get to see or bump into Jen or Scarlet. But no, all I got all week was run-ins with guys who looked like they had names like Sal, Jimmy and Tony no-nose. My wife, on the other hand, yesterday walked smack into Scarlet who was, and I quote, "woofing down a sandwich." I mean, eating a sandwich! I don't know about you, but that just sounds hot to me.
So I've been going over Arizona's men's basketball schedule and wholly-molly are we in for a wild ride. In addition to playing a full tilt of Pac-10 games in what should be one of the toughest conferences in the nation, we also play true road games at Kansas, UNLV, Memphis and Houston. We play neutral site games against Missouri (in Kansas City) and Illinois (in Chicago). Our home schedule is a bit easier, but not by much as we host Northern Arizona, Virginia, Adams State, Cal State Fullerton, Texas A&M, Fresno State, and San Diego State. If we play well enough to make the Big Dance and really well enough to have a top-four seed, we'll be as battle-tested as anyone.
You know what's great about Arizona basketball. Name me one other school where you can live outside of the state and still be able to watch all 31 games on television. That is just an amazing fact and a true testament to Lute Olson and his teams. They play the best and despite what St. Joe's Phil Martelli says, are willing to play the best anytime, anywhere.
I find it absolutely hilarious that the Yankees think they're going to find a better baseball manager than Joe Torre. Outside of Tony LaRussa, the drop off to whoever takes over for Torre will be so far they better not slip off the end of the bench. Donnie Baseball is no Billy Martin and Joe Girardi couldn't even hack it in Florida. It's too bad Dusty Baker signed on as the Reds skipper recently. Perhaps having Baker back in Yankee Stadium would ignite the pinstripes' bats. After all, he had that affect on them back in the 1977 World Series. Anyway, all I'm saying is with five-game divisional series' and the nonsensical 2-3-2 LCS format, it's not very easy for the better team to always win. In the five-game series, all it takes is one pitcher to get hot and bam, that's two losses. In the 2-3-2, God forbid you split the first two at home and then have to go on the road with the prospect of losing three straight and being sent packing before you even get to sleep in your own bed again.
There's a rumor going around that I'm Bubba. I can assure you Arizona fans that I'm not. I don't know how I can prove this to you but know that the Texas blood that runs through good ole' Bubba's country boy heart is a blood this California Metro doesn't know. Actually, here's proof. Today I had my beard professionally groomed in a salon. Now, would Bubba' do that?
What a shocking concept? UConn's also blitzing Louisville to death as the Cardinals are attempting to march down the field for a game winning touchdown. Hmm…Even better, they actually just intercepted Brohm to preserve the victory…Double hmm…Blitzing equals winning. Who woulda' thunk it?
Speaking of bad call, there's bad calls and then there's the non-fair catch call that resulted in a UConn touchdowns. Wow! That was really bad on the officials' part.
Okay, enough of the sarcasm directed at our coaching staff. The truth is I'm very excited to see how Arizona plays out the remainder of their season. As I've been saying all year, the frustration comes from the fact that we're so close. I did not think we played well against the Trojans and the fact that we were in the game until the end is a good sign. Sure, USC was banged up but who are we kidding. USC has had like three straight top-ranked recruiting classes so to say that their cupboard is bare is ludicrous. The truth is the players on USC we played on Saturday could start on 90 percent of the teams across the country. I've got my fingers crossed that our student athletes keep their heads up high, play with some pride, and get the support and leadership they need from the coaching staff to go out there, play lose, and make plays.
Besides it's Family Weekend at the UA so this is no time to hide the women and children in the event of another disappointing loss. Actually, it's the total opposite. There's been so much made of this season's underachieving team that what's been lost in the shuffle is that outside of Blue Ribbon, no other preseason magazine predicted Arizona to finish higher than sixth place in the conference. I'm not justifying our record but the simple truth is most prognosticators across the country probably aren't surprised at all right now with the Wildcats' play. They've had an up and down year thus far and proved again against USC that they still don't know how to win. So, for those of you who'll be at Arizona Stadium on Saturday, root on your ‘Cats harder than ever, stay the entire game, and show the recruits who are in town that Tucson is a community that not only supports its athletic teams but believes that better days are not just ahead, but hopefully aren't as far away as the pessimists want others to believe.