Three titans of Tucson sports history died last week, a sad and reflective period in which men from different walks of life left an altogether enduring mark here.
Ollie Mayfield, a Nebraskan turned Tucsonan, an old school football coach who led Tucson High to 1970 and 1971 state championships, was 83. He died in a Tucson assisted living facility.
Dave Lynch, a baseball player from Cincinnati, coached Santa Rita High School to a 28-0 girls basketball state championship in 1984. He died, at 68, in San Diego, from Parkinson's disease.
Craig Sorensen, a two-time all-state pitcher from Yuma, became an All-America third baseman at Arizona, a College World Series star in 1955 and 1956. He died at 76, in Oro Valley, of heart problems.
Mayfield was 103-35-1 at THS and later Sabino. His undefeated state champs of 1970, which won the title game 54-16, is viewed by many as the greatest high school football team in Tucson history.
"I'm amazed by how many lives my dad impacted," said Todd Mayfield, who coached Palo Verde to the 2005 state championship with his father on the sidelines, as an assistant coach. "He did it the right way."
Lynch built the Santa Rita boys basketball program to the elite level, taking the Eagles to the 1979 state title game, using Jim Pyers and Dave Feitl - two of the leading players in Tucson history - to do so. And then, in Act II, Lynch, a Xavier grad, swept to the state title with Paula Pyers, winning all 28 games in '84.
"Dave was a tough guy who just didn't give up," said Tucsonan Don Romano, his brother-in-law. "The last five or six years were very difficult for him. A lot of people don't know that after basketball, he taught at Rincon and coached the Santa Rita softball team for years, and was a state champion handball player."
Sorensen was Arizona's career home run leader, with 28, when he left for pro baseball after the 1957 season. He hit .392 in 1955 and became the first Wildcat ever to hit double-figure home runs, 11, in a season, also in '55. He played six years in the Cubs system. He worked in the automotive industry in Tucson.
"He was a good one," said UA teammate Jim Wing, later the school's legendary pitching coach. "He's still in the record books."
Funeral services for Lynch will be held Wednesday in Chula Vista, Calif. Services for Mayfield and Sorensen are not yet scheduled.
All in the Family? No
'Like father, like son' not often the motto at UA
When 7-foot California prep basketball prospect Kameron Rooks made a pledge to play for the Cal Bears last week, he didn't necessarily shun Arizona, which had not firmly offered him a scholarship.
His father, Sean Rooks, who scored 1,497 career points and was the UA's leading scorer in 1991-92, communicated via twitter that he was pleased with his son's decision to play at Cal.
Not following your father's footsteps is more and more common as it connects to UA sports. Here are 10 leading examples:
• Willie Peete, a 1950s UA football standout and long-time assistant coach. His son, Rodney Peete, played quarterback at USC.
• UA Olympic long jump medalist, and long-time UA athletic administrator Gayle Hopkins. His son, Chris Hopkins of Salpointe, played football at ASU.
• Utah 1966 Final Four basketball starter Walt Simon. His son, Miles Simon, led Arizona to the 1997 NCAA title.
• UA 1960 all-conference running back Bobby Lee Thompson. His son, Bobby Thompson, became a starting point guard at ASU.
• UCLA national championship point guard Henry Bibby. His son, Mike Bibby, became a consensus All-America point guard at Arizona.
• Oregon 1980s cornerback Wendell Cason. His son, Antoine Cason, won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back at Arizona.
• UA 1980s starting center Frank Kalil. His sons, Matt and Ryan Kalil, both became first-team All-America linemen at USC.
• UA 1978-79 starting QB Jim Krohn of Amphi. His son, Jeff Krohn, became a starting QB at Arizona State.
• UCLA basketball Player of the Year Bill Walton. His son, Luke Walton, became an all-Pac-10 player at Arizona.
• UA basketball legend Steve Kerr. His daughter, Maddie Kerr, has accepted a volleyball scholarship to Cal.
Arizona's Lopez honored as baseball coach of year
UA baseball coach Andy Lopez was the first of more than 30 speakers at the ongoing American Baseball Coaches Association convention in Chicago. Lopez spoke Friday morning on "Building a Championship Program." That night, he was honored as the ABCA "Coach of the Year." … My No. 1 Tucson sports moment of 2012 wasn't at the College World Series, but rather in the bottom of the ninth inning in the late May UA-ASU baseball series opener at Hi Corbett Field. That's when Robert Refsnyder ran through the coach's stop sign at third base to score the only run in an epic 1-0 game. It enabled Arizona to win the Pac-12 title and gave it the impetus to win the national title. … Jesse Perry made his pro basketball debut a good one Friday in Beirut of all places. The two-year Arizona starter scored 28 points in a 39-minute stint for Hoops of Beirut, part of the EuroLeague system. … Perry will eventually play against Arizona's 2001 Final Four center Loren Woods, who is averaging 11.2 points for Al Riyadi-Beirut in the Lebanon league. … Former Pueblo High all-state basketball player Michael Perez, who is a redshirt junior sitting out at Nevada this season, was part of the McKale Center crowd in Thursday's wild victory over Colorado. … Former UA basketball player Daniel Bejarano is averaging 22 minutes and 6.6 points as a sophomore at Colorado State. He has three times scored in double figures.
Bowl loss caps so-so year for Mike Stoops' defense
In his first season, stint II, as Oklahoma's defensive coordinator, Mike Stoops' unit allowed 379 yards per game (and 633 against Texas A&M whiz Johnny Manziel in Friday's 41-13 Cotton Bowl loss). How good is 379 per game? ASU, Stanford, Oregon State, Washington and even Utah allowed fewer yards over the season. It was disappointing to see that Stoops has returned to his maniacal sideline theatrics, enabled to do so by his brother, OU head coach Bob Stoops. It's a circus, a tired circus. … Former UA defensive coordinator Greg Brown, fired at Colorado this season, is about to be hired as a secondary coach at Alabama. Talk about landing on your feet. Brown, much like Stoops, was not a leader but a follower and was miscast in Tucson. … Robert Anae's two seasons as Arizona's offensive line coach were impressive. He inherited an all-rookie group in 2011 and made it work for two seasons. Anae is an acquired taste, a sphinx-like, close-lipped disciplinarian who knows his stuff. I wouldn't hire him as my offensive coordinator, but BYU is his home turf and the Cougars know how he works. … Arizona's succession of offensive line coaches in its Pac-12 years has been remarkably strong, perhaps the best unit of coaches at one position in school history. The recent line of succession goes from Ron McBride to Pat Hill to Jim Young to Charlie Dickey to Eric Wolford to Bill Bedenbaugh and to Anae. Let's see if Rich Rodriguez can keep it going. … Sabino grad Lucas Reed, a former All-Mountain West Conference tight end at New Mexico, has signed with Priority Sports & Entertainment, under agent Kenny Zuckerman, a UA grad. Reed is working out at the Athletes' Performance Institute in Los Angeles prior to the East-West Shrine Game later this month. … I watched incoming UA freshman quarterback Anu Solomon on the NFL Network in Friday's Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl. His football IQ is unusually strong. He's not a blazing fast runner, but his instincts and throwing touch are clearly at the elite-level for his age. He's got a good chance to produce well in the Pac-12 someday.
Scott chooses East-West game over Tucson contest
Former UA coach Dick Tomey arrived in Tucson on Saturday in his role as ambassador/coach for the second Casino del Sol All-Star football game, to be played Friday night at Kino Stadium. Game organizers strongly attempted to get Arizona QB Matt Scott for the game, but he decided to play in the East-West Shrine Game instead. The roster for the Tucson game is surprisingly strong. Do you realize it costs more than $100,000, perhaps as much as $150,000, to stage this game? More than 70 NFL scouts are set to be in Tucson for workouts leading up to the game. It'll be broadcast on ESPN3, with Dave Sitton and John Fina in the booth. … A year ago, UA receiver David Douglas declined a chance to play in the Casino del Sol game. He thought his chances to get in an NFL training camp would be better served in private workout sessions. It worked, too. Douglas was on the Giants' practice squad until Tampa Bay signed him to its practice squad Nov. 22. He was activated for one game, with no stats. . … It's difficult to watch Jerryd Bayless' NBA career. He obviously left the UA too early, after one season, and is now paying that price. Since Dec. 1 as a sub with Memphis, Bayless is 21 of 70 from the field (30 percent) and is averaging 15.6 minutes per game. Sad.
My Two Cents
Pac-12 steps up to respond to UA-Colo. controversy
Since commissioner Larry Scott arrived at the Pac-12, the league has done a 180-degree change that goes far beyond its cutting-edge transformation in reach, presentation and media rights.
Until Scott arrived, a controversy to rival Thursday's UA-Colorado basketball finish would've been stonewalled. The league would've had no comment until working hours started Monday, if then. But this time, led by ex-NBA officiating czar Ed Rush, the Pac-12 was immediately accountable, distributing a statement and explanation by sunrise Friday.
As recently as 2006, when former Cal coach Lou Campanelli, a noted sourpuss, ran the basketball officiating office, about the only time he would answer a call was if he wanted to rage at you about another matter.
And remember this about basketball officiating: What goes around comes around.
Last February in Boulder, Colo., the Buffaloes beat Oregon 72-71 in a messy finish in which the refs called a phantom foul on Oregon's E.J. Singler as the clock expired, game tied. After a lengthy review of the video, the officials put 0.1 second back on the clock and gave Colorado two free throws.
Do you think CU coach Tad Boyle ranted about the replay process after that one?