Friday’s face-off:

Once the Oregon Ducks painted the images of fir trees on the playing surface at Matthew Knight Arena, it was predictable that their envious neighbors, the Washington Huskies, would be the next to bite. The Oregon-wannabes have now re-done their basketball court with the outline of the Seattle skyline.

Whatever happened to good taste?

Could it be that Arizona is next? Will the saguaro-and-sunset logo reappear when the Wildcats complete their McKale Center renovation in the fall?

“No,” UA athletic director Greg Byrne said Thursday.


  • Can you identify the following six men:
  • John Loyer
  • ,
  • Brett Brown
  • ,
  • Mike Budenholzer
  • ,
  • Steve Clifford
  • ,
  • David Joerger
  • and
  • Michael Malone
  • .

They are all NBA head coaches. You can look it up.

Yet driving to the office a few days ago, I heard ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd say that “by far the greatest coaching in basketball is being done in the NBA.”

I changed to a gospel music channel and saw the light.

Half of the NBA head coaches are anonymous. With the exception of San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, America’s active basketball coaching legends are college guys: Jim Boeheim, Tom Izzo, Rick Pitino, Roy Williams, John Calipari, Billy Donovan and Bill Self.

The coach of America’s 2008 and 2012 men’s Olympic basketball team, a team of NBA players, was Mike Krzyzewski of Duke.

  • I went to the Kentucky Derby a few years ago and came away with one impression: It is the drinking festival of all sports, great and small. You say there was also a horse race?

I’ve been to the Super Bowl, Rose Bowl, the Olympic Games, the World Series, the Masters and to the NBA Finals. Yes, they sold beer in massive quantities, but the Kentucky Derby was like an all-day keg party at Animal House. I sloshed through so much spilled booze that my shoes could’ve been cited for DWI.

But I maintain that the 90 seconds standing in the paddock, next to UA grad Bob Baffert’s entourage during the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home” was as inspiring as any 90 seconds in sports.

  • California Chrome
  • is Saturday’s Kentucky Derby favorite. His trainer,
  • Art Sherman
  • , has Southern Arizona connections that go way, way, way back.

In 1955, Sherman, then 18, was a stable boy for Swaps, which would win the Kentucky Derby. Swaps was owned by Safford’s Rex Ellsworth and trained by Safford’s Mesh Tenney.

Tenney, who died in 1993, is buried in Safford. At 77, Sherman improbably is the best story going in horse racing.

Here’s how times have changed:

When Swaps won the ’55 Derby, a Tucson reporter phoned the Ellsworth ranch in Safford to get a reaction. Leslie Ellsworth, Rex’s brother, answered the phone.

“We couldn’t watch on TV because we don’t get TV at the ranch,” Leslie Ellsworth said. “We had to listen to the radio.”

What did they do to celebrate?

“We went out and fed the cows,” he said.

  • UCLA quarterback
  • Brett Hundley
  • was reviewing film from the 2013 Arizona-UCLA game on the Pac-12 Networks’ “Under Center” program with
  • Rick Neuheisel
  • this week.

They talked about a 66-yard touchdown pass to Shaq Evans that beat Arizona cornerback Jonathan McKnight.

“Why did that play work?” Neuheisel asked.

“That specific cornerback (McKnight) looks at the quarterback all the time,” said Hundley, who got McKnight to bite on a pump-fake.

That revelation may help McKnight more than anything UA cornerbacks coach David Lockwood can teach McKnight next season.

  • My favorite “follow” on Twitter is former Oregon and Kentucky football coach
  • Rich Brooks
  • . He is much like pro golfer
  • Miguel Angel Jimenez
  • , who is now referred to as “The Most Interesting Golfer in the World,” borrowed from the Dos Equis beer commercial.

Brooks, 72, who made a fortune in his coaching days, is now living a commercial.

He has 25,500 followers and virtually every day shares his fun.

Went golfing. Went fishing. Had dinner with a famous person. Saw the Ducks play. Saw UK play. Shot a 79. Caught eight fish. Had dinner with a celebrity. Bought a winter home in Palm Springs. Bought summer home in the Oregon mountains.

Given what he had to work with at Oregon (before Nike money took command) and Kentucky, I thought Brooks was one of the top 10 or 20 college coaches of the last 25 years.

But he has made his mark on Twitter, of all things, posting photographs of fishing holes and famous friends.

When I grow up, I want to be Rich Brooks.

Sports columnist for the Arizona Daily Star.