Greg Hansen: Crimson coach Amaker understands underdogs

Harvard's Laurent Rivard, right, and Wesley Saunders talk to the media Friday. Rivard hit five threes in Harvard's win over Cal in December.


Dear Mr. Football: Do UA fans historically show a lot of patience after losing to the Sun Devils?

A: Arizona's second-ever loss to ASU was on Halloween night, 1931. Fred Enke was in his first season, fifth game, replacing coach Pop McKale.

Two days later, Star columnist Chuck Kinter wrote: "Woof, woof, the wolf has parked himself on the heels of Coach Fred Enke following the defeat at Tempe Saturday. It has become certain beyond a doubt that many football fans would like to see Enke removed."

The school remained patient. It gave Enke four more games before removing him from office. One season, 3-5-1. Done. None of the equity Enke had built as UA's basketball coach (at the time he was 18-6 against ASU) could save him.

Dear Mr. Football: Is the Zona Zoo the rowdiest student section in Pac-12 football?

A: The ever-diminishing Zona Zoo, which has probably led the league in no-shows this year, can't compare to the Oregon Ducks student section, and that's probably a good thing.

At last week's Stanford-Oregon game at Autzen Stadium, 87 UO students were ejected from the game. Here are the statistics from The Register-Guard in Eugene: 49 were ousted for alcohol-related issues; 21 were tossed for attempting to use faux tickets; 10 were ousted for fighting; three were shown the door for drug possession; two were ejected for urinating in public; one was discharged for theft and another for disorderly conduct.

At some UA games this year, it was difficult to find 87 students in the Zona Zoo section after halftime.

Dear Mr. Football: Has Tucson always treated ASU with kindness?

A: In the 1914 UA-ASU game, the second between the teams since 1899, this newspaper's lead paragraph on Arizona's 34-0 victory read: "The Tempe Normal football team was outplayed, outgeneraled and defeated by the University 11 yesterday afternoon. The varsity had the Tempe boys bested at every point. The chief weakness of the teachers was their lack of knowledge and practice at the game's finer points, putting them in many tight places. They were so outclassed that they could make but occasional spurts against the stronger varsity."

Not that the Sun Devils (then the Bulldogs) weren't treated fairly. The boxscore from that 1914 game lists, as the referee, "Professor Clark."

Dear Mr. Football: What were the odds of Taylor Kelly being ASU's starting quarterback today?

A: Connect the dots: Kelly grew up in Eagle, Idaho, which is basically Boise, and wanted desperately to play for the powerful Boise State Broncos. They didn't bite, choosing Oregon prep star Grant Hedrick as the QB-in-waiting behind Kellen Moore. (Hedrick is still sitting on the bench in Boise.)

So Kelly committed to play for Nevada, which seemed like a good fit until ASU quarterback recruit Peter Thomas, who had made a pledge to play for the Sun Devils' old coaching staff, backed out and signed instead with Colorado State. (He has since transferred to North Carolina State.) Once Thomas shunted ASU, Kelly reneged on his promise to play at Nevada. And how would you like to make your living recruiting 18-year-olds?

Dear Mr. Football: Is Todd Graham the most famous athlete to attend East Central University in Ada, Okla.?

A: In the 1920s, the Waner brothers from Harrah, Okla., enrolled at ECU and you might say became nationally prominent. Paul "Big Poison" Waner and Lloyd "Little Poison" Waner are in the baseball Hall of Fame after combining for 5,611 hits. Graham isn't even the most famous person from his modest hometown, Mesquite, Texas. That would be eight-time PRCA world champion cowboy Don Gay followed by Jerry Hall, who married Mick Jagger.

Dear Mr. Football: What did seven of the coaches in today's game say 10 years ago, at Thanksgiving 2002?

A: They said "beat Pitt!"

Incredibly, seven of the men coaching here today were on West Virginia's 2002 staff: head coach Rich Rodriguez and his UA assistants Calvin Magee, Jeff Casteel, Tony Gibson and Bill Kirelawich, plus ASU head coach Todd Graham and the Sun Devils' defensive coordinator Paul Randolph. That staff engineered a 24-17 upset over No. 17 Pitt on the final day of a 9-3 regular season.

One year earlier, 2001, UA co-offensive coordinator Rod Smith was on RichRod's West Virginia staff, and, moreover, ASU linebackers coach Ron West coached with RichRod on the Clemson staff in 1999 and 2000 and at Tulane in 1997 and 1998.

More? UA special teams coordinator Spencer Leftwich coached for Graham at Tulsa, and joined UA staffers Magee, Gibson and Tony Dews on Graham's Pitt staff last year.

I'm guessing their warm-and-fuzzy feelings toward one another have long vanished.

Dear Mr. Football: Should DirecTV customers thank the football gods for putting tonight's game on ESPN?

A: It has been worse. At the most notorious finish in the history of the Territorial Cup, 1975's "The Catch" game at which ASU's John Jefferson made (or didn't make) a sprawling catch in the end zone to beat a 9-1 Arizona team 24-21, the game was not available on free TV.

It was instead shown on closed-circuit TV, for a fee, drawing 4,754 at McKale Center and 3,159 at ASU's basketball arena. Today, however, about 500,000 UA fans claim to have seen Jefferson fail to catch that pass. And do you realize that Jefferson, a future NFL standout, caught just three passes for 39 yards in that game? If Jefferson came along now, in Arizona's offense, those would be his first-quarter statistics.

Dear Mr. Football: Why would anyone stay up to watch this game?

A: The Elias Sports Bureau and assorted statistics nerds love this game because it has a chance to make history: the first Arizona team in history to gain, and yield, 6,000 yards in a season.

Arizona has gained a school-record 5,740 yards already. Sometime close to midnight, ASU is apt to gain its 632nd yard, thereby pushing the UA's opponent total to a record-shattering 6,000.

No longer is it uncommon for an Arizona game to feature 1,000 yards and 90 points. Given the go-for-it nature of these coaches, and the flaws of two rebuilding teams, tonight's game might reach 1,200 yards and 100 points. Predicting a winner can make you look pretty foolish when either team could win 55-48. But because Arizona is 6-1 at home (only Arizona teams of 1961, 1984 and 1993 won six home games) it's more likely that RichRod's crew will be the team with 55.

Let's hope RichRod vs. Graham becomes a long and compelling rivalry to far outlast Stoops vs. Erickson and Koetter vs. Mackovic.

Arizona 55, ASU 48.