I went out to Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday and Sunday to get a firsthand look at Arizona's two professional teams.
The big difference is that the Phoenix Cardinals make more money than the Sun Devils. They also seem to enjoy themselves more, too.
Both Arizona State and the Cardinals lost. But there's a difference. In defeat, the Cardinals looked good. The Sun Devils looked terrible.
The records of both teams are now the same--two victories against five defeats.
But the Cardinals, who came close to filling the stadium for the first time Sunday against the Chicago Bears, are finally catching on. They played a terrific second half and sent the big crowd away happy.
On the other hand, the Sun Devils have alienated their fans. The high rollers have deserted them for the comfortable confines of the Cards' luxury suites.
The ordinary fans seemed almost embarrassed to have this hapless bunch representing them. In assessing the Sun Devils, don't make the mistake of believing the official crowd figures. Season ticketholders are staying home. There are big blank spots in the stands, and the rest of the fans keep leaping to their feet and heading for the exits at every opportunity.
Larry Marmie has created a football machine that nobody wants to see.
Against Southern California, it was clear about two minutes into the game that the Sun Devils would lose.
I happened to be listening to a television monitor and heard Brent Musberger shilling for ABC. Musberger tried to put the best face on ASU's situation.
"Well," Musberger said at one point, "the basketball program is coming to life here at ASU, anyway."
Football coaching is a tough business. Marmie should realize he deserves to be canned.
The cry for his ouster rises every week. It will take more than the monotonous whining of KTAR's mealy motormouth, Jude LaCava, to sell fans on the idea that Marmie should serve out his contract.
Here is a real danger. Marmie's contract has another year to run. People with business heads might think it smart to keep him around and get their full value.
Oh, what a disastrous mistake that would be.
Why doesn't Charles Harris, the athletic director, face the awful truth? If Marmie is held over for next season, it could cost as many as 15,000 ticketholders.
The situation is almost desperate.
Nobody should wait until next year. The time to send Marmie packing is right now. Hand over the job to an assistant and get the message to every big-time coach in the country that the prize spot at ASU is opening up.
Just see how they come scrambling after it.
There's just too much competition for the sports dollar to allow an operation heading nowhere to continue. No fan is going to pay premium prices to watch an ASU football team that has finally achieved mediocrity.
Marmie belongs in coaching, of course. But he should be at Northern Arizona or some other small program, like Columbia or Akron, where he can do no damage.
Those who paid for tickets in the upper decks for the USC game wasted their money. If the sun hadn't been shining, giving most a chance to catch needed rays, they all would have departed early in the second half.
The situation at ASU couldn't be worse. Here is a team that has lost five straight games and apparently can do nothing correctly. They aren't just on the way down. They have hit bottom. None too gently. It was a crash landing.
The first thing everyone wants to know from Marmie these days is if he feels the pressure.
"I'm not going to talk about it," Marmie says, "and I'd appreciate if nobody would ask me about it."
You have my permission to consider Marmie as a man who is in the process of packing his bags.
Marmie is decent, honest and dedicated to helping young men develop. He's every bit the type of man you'd want as head coach if your son were playing football.
But ASU doesn't need a coach like Marmie. They need one like Barry Switzer, who is both disreputable and a winner.
Sunday's near-sellout crowd for the Cardinals drove the final nail into Marmie's coffin.
The fans' affections are finally switching to the professional team.
With new players of the calibre of Timm Rosenbach at quarterback and running back Johnny Johnson, the Cards are out of the doldrums.
All the Cards' front office needs to do is keep Bill Bidwill out of sight.
In defeat, the Cardinals looked good. The Sun Devils looked terrible.
No fan is going to pay premium prices to watch an ASU football team that has finally achieved mediocrity.