Where is Arizona football? Tune in next year. But while season three promises to garner much attention, the tweaking process is underway now. The days of the cold, distant field general are a thing of the past. If the lead in this play comes off as intimidating and aloof, as has been his oft-described M.O., a major cast change is in order.
As it is, there will be dramatic adjustments.
Coaching changes? Bank it.
Player transfers? Count on it. New faces for new days at Arizona.
This is more than a program that suffered through its worst season in nearly a quarter century. That simple realization happens to everybody at one point. For Arizona football, the issue is image, and damage control. Those responsible for allowing the mess to culminate in the partial-player mutiny are those responsible for convincing the new guard something like that won't happen again. While the air has been cleared with the current cast of characters, a daunting job looms in the pursuit of new talent.
Arizona spent two weeks in November as the laughing stock of college football. National talk radio ripped the program to shreds. A crying coach and whiney players. This is football. A man's game. Not timeout at the daycare center.
If there was ever a gentlemanly atmosphere in Pac-10 football recruiting, those days appear to be gone. This can be a vicious battleground, and it's safe to assume that other programs in competition with Arizona, and in competition for its talent, will remind prospects of the mid-November meltdown.
At this stage, I'm not certain John Mackovic is a people person. I'm not certain he's an offensive genius (significant injuries notwithstanding, given that his team placed last in the conference in points scored), I'm not certain he's the man who can best guide the UA football program. But if there's one thing Mackovic can do, it's convince young people to play for him. The guy can recruit, and while he took all kinds of heat for repeatedly appearing on talk shows following the attempted mutiny and his tearful press conference exploits, I think he took some powerful steps toward addressing the issues at hand. And by stepping up to answer those charges, instead of burying his head in hopes they'll go away, I think it showed a public willingness to make necessary adjustments. That's the type of character parents and recruits might appreciate when Mackovic is welcomed into their homes as part of the sales process.
Some programs were mistakes from the get-go. Anyone remember the Ben Lindsay Show? Others force executives in charge to show patience in the belief the product is good, and that results will eventually bear that out. The John Mackovic Show has been given a new lease on life. Will it be the feel-good story of the year?
Non-revenue sports will always endure fickle attendance. More than the big two: men's basketball and football, which must be covered from a media standpoint regardless of success, the coverage, and therefore, the buzz afforded non-revenue sports is directly tied to results.
The Arizona volleyball team got pretty good publicity as a result of its success last year, then strong buzz due to its lofty preseason ranking, but when the young team struggled, any mention sort of fell by the wayside. Now 17-11, the UA volleyball team finds itself gearing for play in the NCAA tournament as a subregional host school. If Arizona can surprise, it will get some of that buzz over the course of the next couple weeks. If not, Dave Rubio's squad will have to dominate next year to earn the interest it received a season ago. Given the returners on the roster, I think that's a strong likelihood.
Then there's women's basketball. At 14-14 last season, folks pretty much threw in the towel on uneventful times in Joan Bonvicini's camp. But after taking highly-ranked LSU to overtime, and whacking (probably overrated but) ninth-ranked Georgia at home, Arizona is getting a long, hard look.
Cat Tracks Editor Brad Allis calls this year's Wildcat women's basketball team among the most entertaining he's seen at the college level. According to Allis, Shawntenice Polk is as advertised, a fearsome presence in the paint. Additionally, Arizona loves to run, and sends guards downcourt on the fastbreak as if they were shot from a cannon. Krista Warren is playing good ball as well. Women's basketball is about to get a lot of pub.
Speaking of pub, Tucson made another step toward big city growth Tuesday. Yup, it was the grand opening of Krispy Kreme Donuts. And accordingly, Tucson residents acted as if it was the event of a lifetime, causing traffic jams near Roger and Oracle just to get a chance to wait in line for those yummy, sugary, doughy delights to roll their way off the conveyer belt.
One dude, Casey Ruiz, even showed up at 2:30 Monday afternoon so that he could be the first in line for the grand opening. Because of his dedication, Ruiz earned a year's worth of donuts from the well-known national chain. And the John Schuster Bonehead Award in the process.
Wait, I take that back. At least Ruiz got something for his, um, dedicated efforts. The John Schuster Bonehead Award goes to the doofs who stood in line for hours behind Ruiz.
Apparently, this is a more charged event than trying to land Wildcat basketball tickets. Now I like Krispy Kreme Donuts. I think they're quite yummy. I enjoy partaking in the Krispy Kreme Donut experience. But by my estimation, I could have driven to Arizona Mills(before this week the closest Krispy Kreme location) and back a good five times and consumed Krispy Kreme delectability in the time it took the other Tucson folk to stand there.
How would those line conversations have gone?
"God I love the glaze."
"This is my 11th experience. I remember standing in line for two days when the El Cajon Krispy Kreme opened its doors. What a madhouse that was."
It's like they're deadheads or something, except the Greatful Dead didn't have a hole in the middle.
One of the local news stations showed my new favorite Tucsonan. He's the second guy in line, just behind Ruiz, so he ain't getting' any year's supply. But as the doors open, this rolly-polly wonder who looked like a venerable donut veteran is on his cell phone, keep in mind it's 5am, providing play-by-play for the whole event.
"We're in the doors," he exclaimed. "Now we're inside!" This guy was to the Krispy Kreme grand opening what Brent Musberger is to a third-and-two in the second quarter. What Dick Vitale is to Duke basketball.
And who was the poor soul he woke up at 5 am for this momentous series of proclamations? Fortunately, it wasn't me. Had that been the case, I would have rented a forklift just for the pleasure of running his ample expansion through the conveyer, while I sat behind the window and watched.
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