It’s Christmas, and most of my holiday budget has been spent on seven grandchildren.
But there are a few more gifts I’d like to give.
• To all those fans who don’t understand the importance of the Territorial Cup football game, I’d give the gift of recognizing that the annual ASU vs. U of A football battle is not just another game. It’s a rivalry that dates back to 1937 when Arizona officials canceled the football series in protest after ASU recruiter Tom Lillico allegedly “stole” prime recruits Wayne “Ripper” Pits, Walt “Cowboy” Ruth and Tex Hopper off the Tucson campus. If after receiving my gift, there are fans who still think ASU vs. U of A is just another game, I suggest a long talk with Frank Kush and Danny White.
• To the athletes at Payson High School, I’d give a travel bus similar to the famous “Longhorn Bus” we enjoyed in the 1980s and early 1990s. It had upper level seating, reclining chairs, more leg room, a bathroom and a little more power for those long, uphill pulls. Those standard yellow buses the district now uses for travel make trips to faraway Chinle and Page tough to endure.
• To all the coaches in the Payson School District, I’d give unwavering support from the parents of the kids they’ve been entrusted with. We’ve all witnessed enough coaches abandon the profession because of parental pressure and second-guessing.
• To ASU football coach Todd Graham and his defensive players I would give the techniques and strategy to stop U.S. Naval Academy coach Ken Niumatalolo’s run-heavy flexbone offense that the Sun Devils will face in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Dec. 29 in San Francisco. The flexbone is one of the most difficult offenses to defend and those teams who operate it often do it well enough to defeat more talented opponents.
• To editor Pete Aleshire, who has two degrees from Stanford University, I give a real mascot to forward to his alma mater. Since the school, as prestigious as it is, has never come up with a genuine mascot, “The Tree” has become the unofficial school symbol. Not only is it controversial and bizarre, it regularly appears at the top of many Internet “Worst Mascot” lists.
• To new PHS athletic director Don Heizer I’d give more hours in a day. A recent e-mail I received from him about the upcoming Holiday Hoops tournament bracketing was written after 10 p.m. And I know he’s an early riser who eats his lunches on the go in his office. With such a hectic schedule, he obviously needs more than 24 hours in a day.
• To North Moore High School, N.C. Assistant Principal Mike Loutzenheiser I give an apology for penning an Extra Points column that was complimentary of the University of Arizona football team’s come-from-behind win in the New Mexico Bowl and the Wildcat basketball team’s upset of Florida. After the column appeared, I received an e-mail from Mike — an Arizona State alum — that read, “After 30 years of making fun of the UA, my Sun Devil mentor complimented the wussycats in writing. I about had a heart attack at the age of 43.”
Sorry Mike, I won’t make the same mistake again.
• To Grand Canyon University wrestling coaches R.C. LaHaye and Larry Wilbanks, I send a “Thank You” for the very nice GCU wrestling shirt they sent. However, the note accompanying the shirt that read, “It looks much better than that maroon and gold ‘garbage’ you usually wear,” was a holiday blow.
• And finally, to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and state legislators, my gift would be the common sense to properly and completely fund public education to ensure the welfare of the state’s most precious resource — our children.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.