Your Choice

October 8, 2007

(at OSU 31, UA 16)

Lynch away.

Or donít.

For the Arizona Football Wildcats, success is like that monstrous moth that buzzes the Red Zone at least once a game. If it gets anywhere near your face you freak out and swat it away. One step forward, two steps back. Except this year itís been two steps back, one step forward, and three more steps back.

Oregon State only has one good player on offense and we let him pick up 65 yards and two touchdowns in just three possessions. Then our defense decided to go the entire second half with giving up a point which meant the UA offense had seven consecutive possessions where a touchdown would get them back in the game. Those seven possessions produced six total points.

But itís gone way beyond game analysis, hasnít it? What does that leave us? Bitter one-liners.

How do we keep getting older when it feels like weíre watching the same season over and over again?

Itís never a good sign when you find yourself going for it on 4th and 14 in the second quarter.

Speaking of which, why do we throw it short on 4th and 14 yet go deep on 3rd and 2? Could we equip our quarterback with GPS?

There is no truth to the rumor that this year's team slogan is being changed to "Are you ready for some(thing resembling) football?"

Would someone please tell Coach Stoops that the blue pants still have an active three-game road winning streak? Or at least mention that we have now lost four consecutive games while wearing the all-white uniforms? Itís like wearing the same wedding dress to your fourth wedding.

Anthony Johnson dropped a touchdown pass, tipped a ball that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, and fumbled a lateral that was supposed to be thrown to a wide open Mike Thomas. Iím pretty sure his -3 touchdowns are a school record.

At least we have Antoine Cason. The 60-yard interception return proves thatís not a 5 on his jersey. Itís an S, as in 5uperman.

In each of the last three years weíve had a surprising win over a highly ranked team. Stoops boasted of it last year with his ďWeíre pretty good in NovemberĒ quote. Well, the reason those November wins are so surprising is September and October have been so dreadful. Stoops has started his four seasons with records of 1-7, 1-6, 2-4, 2-4 (and counting).

Then you have the startling trend of early deficits in individual games. 21-0 against ASU, 28-3 at Cal, and now 24-3 at OSU. In our past five losses weíve been outscored 87-16 in the first quarter. If coaching is a chess match Stoops has been losing two rooks and a bishop before he captures his first pawn.

To rub it in even further, this weekís Top 25 is littered with ďbasketball schools.Ē Kentucky at 17. Illinois at 18. Kansas at 20. Even UConn is 5-0. Itís not wrong for us to want this football thing to work out. Weíre not irrational for wanting more.

But what will it take to get more? Iím not saying I think Stoops should be fired on the spot. Iím not saying Stoops should be sent packing at the end of the year. Iím just saying Iím not going to blame you if you do.

Itís OK if you are convinced Mike Stoops will not be able to build a team good enough to win the Pac-10. Itís also OK however if you think the overall trend is still in the right direction and he just needs more time. And itís OK if youíre still not sure.

We need to respect each otherís opinions and not attack each other. Weíre all Wildcat football fans here, which means we suffer enough as it is.

(Why does it feel like I have to say this every year? Oh, thatís right, because I do.)

(Why do I feel the need to give lectures on interpersonal communication in the first place? This is supposed to be a happy little sports column not some psychiatric journal.)

And now we play USC. Normally the only good thing about facing the Trojans is you have the opportunity to upset the #1 team in the country. Now thanks to something called Tavita we donít even have that chance.

So Iím going to go out on a limb and say USCís home record doesnít suddenly go from 35-0 to 0-2. That means weíre going to be sitting at 2-5 and since weíre not going to win the final five games of the year the goal of a winning season is shot. Weíre not going to improve this year.

But what if everyone else gets worse? What if the rest of the league drops back far enough that 6-6 gets you sixth place instead of seventh place? The sixth best team in the Pac-10 gets a bowl!

I know I have a problem. But if youíre like me and you have an unhealthy addiction to this stuff, root for ASU to beat Washington next week. Root for Cal, TCU and Oregon to beat OSU, Stanford and WSU. As some have suggested, tear off the top half of the Pac-10 standings and pretend we have formed a new league. Letís call it the Whacked-5. Five peers and the mini-conference champion gets a trip to the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. At least itís something, right?

(Weíll ignore for a moment the fact that the Whacked-5 representative in the Armed Forces Bowl will be playing a member of the Mountain West Conference, which isnít exactly good news for Arizona.)

So I cheer on. Again, Iím not saying this is what everyone should do. If the 2007 season is over for you, thatís perfectly fine. If you have no more hopes to get up, I understand. If a cow kicks you in the mouth nine times youíre not a quitter if you stop trying to milk it.

But for me? Get me a GPS-equipped helmet and help me find my bucket.

Helicopter Bowl or bust.

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