They're Not Saying "Bruuuce"
Arizona State University football fans have seen plenty of disasters at Sun Devil Stadium during Bruce Snyder's tenure as head coach.
But nothing comes close to Saturday's debacle against 28-point underdog New Mexico State. Not even last year's 42-38 opening loss to Washington, a game lost on a fourth-and-a-furlong play with a minute to go, a game that turned a promising season into a 5-6 campaign.
Or the year before, when the Sun Devils' chance for a share of the Pacific 10 championship was stripped by Arizona in a 28-16 upset. That loss relegated ASU to the second-rate Sun Bowl rather than an appearance in a major bowl. Losing to the hated Wildcats has become habit under Snyder -- the Devils are 2-5.
Other than the 1996 run to the Roses -- an aberration attributable to the presence of future NFL standouts Jake Plummer and Derrick Rodgers -- Snyder's Sun Devils have been far short of spectacular.
Ignore, for a moment, the 11-1 1996 season -- an exceptional team propelled by exceptional athletes -- and Snyder's coaching stats going into this season are average: 36-33. In his seven full seasons, Snyder's teams have posted three 6-5 records, two losing seasons (3-8 and 5-6) and a 9-3 curtain call to the 1996 dream team.
Sure, Snyder nearly snagged a national championship in 1996, but he didn't. And the 20-17 loss to Ohio State in the final minute of the Rose Bowl has come to typify the character of his teams -- lax defense and mental dullness. The brush with the national title, however, earned Snyder an A-Mountain full of goodwill among the Sun Devil faithful. Snyder, who makes $540,750 a year, is lucky he's got lots of chits to cash in.
Any more performances like Saturday's -- wherein a hayseed farm school from the boonies of New Mexico comes to Sun Devil Stadium and obliterates a Top 25 team -- and Snyder should be sent packing.
The Aggies, who had never beaten a ranked team in 14 tries, manhandled, mauled, crushed -- heck, there are not enough verbs to describe the whipping they laid on ASU.
The Aggies coaching staff made Snyder's crew look like a bunch of Pop Warner volunteers.
"We're real anxious to get this last game behind us," Snyder said Monday.
Little wonder. He doesn't want folks to start wondering why ASU extended his contract to 2004.
"It's my job to get them ready to play, and that did not happen."
Why not? He's got a platoon of assistant coaches, 90-plus scholarships, a magnificent stadium, strong fan support, a huge budget -- and two weeks to prepare for this game.
Snyder's game plan was bizarre. Dumping quarterback Justin Leonard, who played well in the win against Texas Tech, Snyder stuck with injury-plagued Ryan Kealy, who played as though he were a victim in The Blair Witch Project.
Meanwhile, Snyder ran tailback J.R. Redmond ragged. The Heisman candidate carried the ball 24 times, for a grand total of 52 yards -- a lofty 2.16 yards-per-carry average.
Rather than making adjustments at halftime when the score was only 7-0, Snyder stayed the course. Bad move.
The 35-7 massacre repelled throngs midway through the third quarter. The Aggies rolled up 568 yards of total offense while holding the Devils to a pitiful 234 yards.
A handful of New Mexico State fans hooted it up in the northwest corner of the stadium, as their boys displayed guts, power, skill and, most important, desire.
Yes, the Aggies pulled a fast one on Sun Devil athletic director Kevin White. The money-hungry White expected the Aggies to show up, get their hineys kicked like they did two years ago, collect a $325,000 whipping-boy check, and shuffle on back to Las Cruces. That's what patsies are supposed to do.
Instead, New Mexico State dominated the game, precipitating a stadium evacuation that would have made FEMA proud. The exodus left White's barrage of inane and annoying PA advertisements echoing across empty seats.
How 'bout them Aggies?
It must have been a wild bus ride home. Yes, the team did travel here by bus.
Both local dailies covered the same story -- with accounts wildly at odds. Guess which one got it wrong.
The Tribune's front-page Saturday story following Friday's release of an internal investigative report told of numerous cases of on-duty sex between offending Mesa police officers.
The Arizona Republic's own Page One article on the same day, however, said the officers had not had sex while on duty.
Apparently, the Tribune reporter who wrote the story actually read the internal police report, which contained detailed accounts of couplings here, there and everywhere around Mesa and the police station. It also told of Bobbie Martinez, a cop "groupie" who allegedly led some of the officers astray while they were on duty. The story included a photo of Martinez, who was also interviewed by a Tribune reporter in front of her apartment complex. (She denied everything.)
The Republic's version of the same story, which ran under the headline "Officers cleared of sex on job," said the groupie's roommate was an informant, but said her name had been blanked out in the report. The groupie herself was not identified, much less interviewed or photographed. The article, by veteran "reporter" Chuck Hawley, repeated several times that no on-duty sex occurred and concluded with one more reminder that while some of the officers involved had admitted kissing on duty, "the investigation did not find a case of any sexual activity on duty."
Sunday, the Republic ran a correction. What the newspaper had meant to say was not that the five officers and one technician did not have sex on duty, but that one officer who was targeted for investigation did not have sex on duty.
The other five people did have sex on duty. A lot of sex.
Another story in the Sunday paper, this one presumably based on a more careful reading of the 70-page report, detailed all sorts of on-duty trysts between the libidinous law enforcers.
If time flies when you're having fun, Dewey Webb has been having a blast. How else does one explain his 20th anniversary as a New Times writer?
It's true. The inimitable Webb, Arizona's conduit to an alternative universe, has logged 20 long and incredibly colorful years. Along the way, he's made many friends, won many awards, pulverized many myths, created and toppled icons, educated many innocents and enthralled and delighted legions. He is a walking, talking database on the famous, the near-famous, and the never-to-be-famous.
His office is spattered with the detritus of a lifetime immersed in pop culture. It's something of a shrine. Goggle-eyed visitors shuffle past Webb's cubicle to observe him in his unnatural habitat.
Friends and colleagues gathered last week at his favorite martini port, Chez Nous, to mark the august occasion. There were toasts, speeches, a wacky drag queen. Webb profile subject Liz Renay, a onetime starlet, Mob moll and consort to JFK and RFK, flew in on her own dime to celebrate. New Times executive editor Michael Lacey credited Webb with "changing the face of Arizona journalism" with his raucous and fearless expeditions into the darkest heart of our cultural wasteland.
Who among us will forget "Thar She Froze," Webb's profile of a carnival showman who spent 30 years touring with a 20-ton frozen whale? His piece on the local funeral parlor that offered a drive-through viewing area? For a piece titled "I Was a Teenage Zapruder," Webb served as designated driver for a bunch of junior-high students as they re-created Zapruder footage of the JFK assassination on video for a school project.
In "20,000 Geezers Under the Sea," he uncovered a hoax involving luxury euthanasia cruises for the terminally ill, complete with gourmet food, wine and sex partners.
He perpetrated his own hoaxes, co-writing an April Fool's spoof about a call for 20,000 extras for a Bruce Springsteen/Vanna White flick that would involve blowing up Superstition Mountain and "burning" the Petrified Forest.
He's a wordsmith in the truest sense, once winning a car on Wheel of Fortune and literally knocking Pat Sajak off his feet in the process.
And, in the Flash's estimation, Webb is the greatest headline writer ever born of woman. Just a few memorable examples:
"The Cling and I" -- a review of the film James and the Giant Peach.
"Waiter, My Czech" -- European restaurant review.
"A Scar Is Born" -- human branding.
"A Rivet Runs Through It" -- body piercing.
"Boy Meets Hurl" -- a review of Wayne's World.
"Double-Wide World of Sports" -- obese triathlete.
"Drugstore Caballero" -- Mexican pharmaceuticals.
Let the next 20 years begin.
Feed the Flash: voice, 602-229-8486; fax, 602-3408806; online, firstname.lastname@example.org
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