Hansen's Sunday Notebook: Carey's career in NFL could be brief

May 04, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Greg Hansen offers his take on sports news of the past week.

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  • On a Fox Sports radio program with J.T. The Brick last week, Ka’Deem Carey said, “Running backs have the shortest careers.”

    At least Carey knows what he’s getting into.

    Arizona running backs drafted in the first two rounds have all-too-briefly appeared in the NFL.

    • No. 31 overall Trung Canidate, 1,095 yards in four years.
    • No. 38 overall Chuck Levy, 217 yards in three years.
    • No. 50 overall Chris Henry, 122 yards in four years.

    The story Carey might wish to study is that of Marana High School grad Paul Robinson, who gained just 306 yards in his lone Arizona season, 1967, but rushed for 1,023 yards as a Cincinnati Bengals rookie, 1968.

    Robinson, who is retired and living in Safford, is a wonderful human being. In 2007, he was presented with the “Pride of Safford” award by city officials, much of it based on citizenship and character.

    After becoming the American Football League Rookie of the Year in ’68, Robinson’s football career declined in a hurry. He never gained more than 622 yards again. He had a series of injuries and was out of football by the time he was 29.

    He opened a nightclub in Thatcher, worked in the mines at Morenci, became a substitute school teacher, an assistant coach at Eastern Arizona College, and finally established himself as a probation officer in Graham County.

    In a 1984 interview with The Associated Press, reflecting on the fleeting nature of the pro football, Robinson said: “I bought clothes, silk shirts, silk socks, leather jackets. Then I bought a new car and put on the best tires. And of course I had the gold chains and diamond rings. But the suits and the alligator shoes don’t do you much good without money in your pocket. It went really fast.”

    Robinson carried 737 times in pro ball before his body betrayed him and broke down. Carey had 743 rushing attempts at Arizona.

    No one said it would be easy.

  • Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne and a few UA coaches begin their annual Arizona Road Tour this week, a goodwill mission that makes stops in Phoenix, Tubac, Flagstaff and Prescott.

    ASU kicks off its Sun Devil Caravan a week later, stopping in Yuma; Flagstaff; Newport Beach, California; and two Phoenix-area gatherings.

    The notable difference is that ASU doesn’t bother with the Southern Arizona market. The Sun Devil demographic in Tucson has always been rather quiet.

    But it made me laugh last week when Tempe-based Four Peaks Brewing Co., made an 11th-hour cancellation, forcing Arizona to scramble to find a tour replacement, which it did in nearby Scottsdale.

    Nobody at Four Peaks is going to say, for the record, that it isn’t good business sense to host a Wildcat sports party, even if that party would include about 350 people. But it must’ve been tempting.

    Ultimately, it would be like Gentle Ben’s staging a Sun Devil Caravan rally. The PR damage would be extreme. The last thing a Tempe brewery needs is to be branded as a “UA bar.”

  • In a Tucson sense, the Game of the Week in college baseball was Thursday’s Region I NJCAA opener, Cochise College at Central Arizona College.

    Cochise’s starting pitcher was sophomore lefty Steve Naemark, a Mountain View High School grad, who was last year’s Region I MVP as the Apaches roared all the way to the NJCAA finals.

    CAC started Catalina High grad Nicco Blank (10-0) who a day earlier was named the ACCAC Player of the Year for a spectacular season in which he had a 1.28 ERA. After pitching Catalina to the 2011 state championship, Blank went 16-1 at CAC, with two no-hitters.

    But in Thursday’s showdown, Naemark prevailed, pitching a complete game, striking out 10, beating Blank and the Vaqueros 3-1. It wasn’t that Blank didn’t have his good stuff. He pitched a three-hitter and allowed just one earned run. Cochise went on to sweep the series and advance to this week’s region finals.

    Blank has signed to pitch at Texas-Arlington next year. Naemark is awaiting the June major-league draft.

  • I’ve had difficulty picturing Arizona 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski in the NBA but couldn’t articulate it until I saw a Raptors-Nets playoff game last week. Early in the game, Toronto’s 6-foot-11, 231-pound center, Jonas Valanciunas set a screen 20 feet from the basket for guard Kyle Lowry. Valanciunas then sprinted to the hoop and caught a pass from Lowry, in traffic, and moved swiftly to the bucket without dribbling, laying it in with his off (left) hand. That’s a play Zeus will have to learn to make before he’s fully ready to enter the NBA draft. 

  • UA basketball coach Sean Miller spent last week scouting/evaluating players from the 2015 and 2016 high school classes at the EYBL tournament in Sacramento, California. One twitter image showed Miller sitting next to John Calipari. It was the only weekend between now and early July when college coaches can attend AAU tournaments. Miller this weekend is attending a Nike clinic near New Orleans. Also on the speaking list: Josh PastnerBilly DonovanJamie Dixon and Jim Boeheim

  • Luke Walton is increasing his presence since retiring from the NBA. He was one of the three former NBA players to attend a press conference at the L.A. mayor’s office about Clippers owner Donald Sterling last week, sharing the stage with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and A.C. Green. At 34, Walton is an analyst for Time Warner Cable SportsNet, mostly doing Lakers postgame shows. He also coached for the D-League’s L.A. D-Fenders.

    Interesting statistic: Walton shot .426 percent in his Arizona days. He shot .429 percent in his NBA career. As Aaron Gordon is likely to learn, changing one’s shooting mechanics, and percentages, isn’t often done with much success. Andre Iguodala shot .450 in his lone season as an Arizona starter. His NBA career shooting percentage is .461.

  • Pac-12 Networks baseball analyst Eric Byrnes, a former Diamondbacks outfielder, said last week he would make a “five-figure donation” if Arizona moved in its outfield fences and put bleachers in the outfield at Hi Corbett Field. Byrnes said it is not fun watching so many well-hit balls become routine outs. Indeed, the Wildcats have the most distant fences in Pac-12 baseball, measuring 405 feet to left-center and 366 down the left-field line. Arizona has just seven home runs in 44 games. Utah, which plays at Smith’s Ballpark, the home field of the Pacific Coast League Salt Lake Bees, has just three home runs all year. It’s 420 to center and 385 to the gaps in Salt Lake. UA coach Andy Lopez made Hi Corbett Field’s dimensions work for him while winning the 2012 national championship, building his team around gap-hitters. But I agree with Byrnes. College baseball is slow. It lacks offense and excitement. Hi Corbett Field is a wonderful baseball facility, but it’s too big. 

  • One thing UA baseball coach Andy Lopez lacks, conspicuously among Pac-12 opponents, is a full-time operations director. Assistant coach Shaun Cole is essentially Arizona’s travel coordinator as well as pitching coach and all-loose-ends chief, which includes data base management, budget issues and recruiting. Every other Pac-12 team has a baseball operations director, even the woeful Utes. Oregon State, ranked No. 2, has two of them, Ron Northcutt and assistant Patrick McLaughlin

  • U.S. Open local qualifying will be held Monday at the new Sewailo Golf Club. Among the 85 entrants is 2000 Tucson Open champion Jim Carter, who is now 52. Local golf standouts including Chris DompierEric RustandJake Rogers and UA regulars Alex McMahon and Kolton Lapa are in the field. Four of the 85 will advance to sectional qualifying later this month. 

  • The honeymoon for OB Sports, which now operates the five Tucson City Golf courses, ended last week. The management group raised prices on yearly passes to $2,199 (Monday through Friday) and $2,995 (including weekends). That’s not going to make any of the course’s most frequent golfers happy. 

  • No one has successfully recruited more elite-level pitchers the last five years than Arizona softball coach Mike CandreaKenzie FowlerShelby BabcockMichelle Floyd and Nancy Bowling all were prep All-Americans. Estela Piñon was essentially the junior-college Pitcher of the Year. Yet the Wildcats are in fourth place in the Pac-12 precisely because their pitchers can’t throw strikes regularly. Arizona pitchers walked 229 batters through Friday’s walk-infested game at Washington. The school-record worst, over an entire season, is 234. This is the first time Arizona has ever averaged more than 3.8 walks per game. Through Friday, Arizona averaged 4.7. Hope for the future? Incoming freshman pitcher Trish Parks of Chino Hills (Calif.) High School, also an elite-level recruit, averaged 2.1 walks per game through Friday. 

  • Those nonconforming yellow seats in the third deck at McKale Center have now been demolished and removed by construction workers as part of the ongoing interior makeover of the basketball arena. Why did Arizona ever install yellow seats? Former Arizona AD Dave Strack once told me it was simple: near the conclusion of McKale Center construction, the school ran out of money. The yellow seats were much cheaper. (And the building of an aquatic center was put off for a full year.) Those yellow seats remained for 42 years. Red seats will replace them. 

  • Entering Saturday’s dual track meet with ASU and NAU, the Territorial Cup series had been clinched by ASU, 10½ to 7½. If there’s any troubling news for Arizona, it’s that its men’s teams only won 1½ points this year: a half for a basketball split and one point for men’s swimming. The Sun Devils swept everything else.

  • While cleaning out a file cabinet last week, I came across the UA’s handwritten financial proposal given to Kansas State basketball coach Jack Hartman in March 1982.

    Hartman initially agreed to replace Fred Snowden as Arizona’s basketball coach. A press conference was planned and a plane prepared to bring Hartman from Manhattan, Kansas, to Tucson.

    Here’s what Arizona offered Hartman 32 years ago:

    A $60,000 base salary; $20,000 for a TV show; $5,000 for radio appearances; $40,000 for a series of camps; $10,000 for legal and accounting services; $3,000 for a country club membership; $14,000 for two automobiles; a $5,000 clothing allowance; a $500,000 life insurance policy; $25,000 for teaching a PE class; and, the last entry, $50,000 from the UA president’s fund.

    It came to $232,000 per year.

    Hartman changed his mind and backed out; Arizona hired Grand Canyon College coach Ben Lindsey, who went 4-24 and was fired.

    In the three decades that have passed, Arizona pays its basketball coach 10 times what Hartman was offered.

    Hartman stayed at KSU for four more seasons, going 56-59, and was nudged into retirement at 61. Two years after Hartman retired, Lute Olson led the UA to the Final Four.

    True story.

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