In a transaction that should define the parameters for Arizona's next athletic director, Washington State's Jim Sterk is expected to be hired as San Diego State's athletic director on Monday.
If a Mountain West Conference school can hire a Pac-10 athletic director, even one from Wazzu, it means that Arizona's target should be considerably higher. The other finalists at San Diego State were associate ADs at UCLA and Michigan State, and the sitting AD at Massachusetts.
That's why I think Arizona could successfully pursue and hire Iowa's Gary Barta or Mississippi State's Greg Byrne, or someone from that class. Byrne is probably the current hot ticket, dynamo-on-the-rise in the athletic director industry much like Arizona's No. 2 guy, Chris Del Conte, when he left for Rice in 2006.
UA president Robert Shelton's search isn't one of urgency. He was out of the country recently and left the shop to interim AD Rocky LaRose and senior associate AD John Perrin, both of whom are qualified to run an athletic department at any level.
Perhaps, over time, LaRose will feel comfortable in the position and ask to be extended full-time. That would be a winning scenario but an unlikely one.
In the meantime, Jim Livengood returned to Tucson last week and was honored both at McKale Center and at a midtown hotel. Both events, attended by the pro-Livengood crowd, became weepy and emotional.
Perhaps no one mentioned the potential for further NCAA basketball sanctions.
MerMUYS ON THE NBA ROAD
Former Lancer scouts for Nuggets, sees ex-Wildcats everywhere
After he played and helped coach basketball at Salpointe Catholic, Jesse Mermuys has fast-tracked his career all the way to the NBA.
Mermuys was an assistant coach at Pima College, Southern Utah University and New Mexico State before he became Lute Olson's director of basketball operations in 2007-08. From there he became the video coordinator of the NBA Denver Nuggets and, this year, is the Nuggets' advance scout.
That's heady territory for a guy not yet 30. This week Mermuys, 29, was invited to be the guest of Western Conference All-Star coach George Karl at All-Star weekend in Dallas. Mermuys had to decline so that he could attend Luke Walton's pre-30th birthday party.
"It's a crazy schedule; I think I was home for five days in January," Mermuys said. "I always see a team twice before (the Nuggets) play them. Then I file my scouting reports. The learning curve has been a quick one. It's so rewarding to know that I have input on our game plan against the Lakers and all the great NBA teams."
Traveling the NBA road isn't always lonely. Mermuys said "almost every night I see one of the Arizona guys somewhere: Bret Brielmaier at San Antonio, Damon Stoudamire at Memphis, Jerryd Bayless in Portland. It's amazing how big the Arizona family is in the NBA."
Santa Rita, Amphi likely to meet for 4A-II crown
Amphitheater and Santa Rita enter the Class 4A-II state playoffs seeded Nos. 1-2, respectively, on Tuesday. That means they would meet in the title game Feb. 27 in Prescott if both win three games. That would be a terrific rubber match to the split of their two-game regular-season series. When Santa Rita broke Amphi's 26-game winning streak 81-72 Friday night, Eagles senior Terrell Stoglin might have played the best game of his career, scoring 14 of his 38 points in a tense fourth quarter. What I liked most about Stoglin is the way he carried himself. After Amphi closed to within 74-69 in the final 90 seconds, Stoglin scored and drew a foul. Instead of posturing, trash-talking or acting like he had just won the Super Bowl, he walked calmly to the foul line without changing expressions. … Sonny Dykes apparently won't be raiding Arizona's coaching staff for key positions at Louisiana Tech, and especially for receivers coach Dave Nichol, who has been the lead recruiter on CDO's dynamic Ka'Deem Carey. Dykes hired his top offensive aides last week from Middle Tennessee State and Central Connecticut State. That's because it's tough to match the Pac-10 pay scale at a place like Louisiana Tech. Dykes' hire hasn't gone without bumps. His starting quarterback, Ross Jenkins, was arrested with a blood alcohol content of .228, almost three times the legal limit in Louisiana. … Dykes told the Shreveport Times: "I learned a lot about defensive toughness and perseverance from Mike Stoops. We had a lot of bad things happen to us at Arizona, but he kept on sawing wood and believing in what we were doing. It carried over to our kids." … Remember Oregon recruit Mike Moser, who reneged on his Arizona commitment in the Lute Olson dust-up? Moser has not scored in a Pac-10 game at UCLA this year on a bad Bruins team.
Ex-Wildcat Tyler pockets $18,500 for Gateway win
Sabino High School grad Nate Tyler played his way into the 2009 U. S. Open, the final stage of PGA Tour Qualifying School and the recent Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego. At 27, it suggests he has a reasonably good chance to someday be on tour himself. Tyler won the Gateway Tour event in Phoenix last week, earning $18,500, by shooting 20 under par over three days, with just one bogey. The UA grad now has pocketed $29,696 in the first three weeks of the Gateway Tour. … Former UA pitcher Lindsey Sisk, whose Super Regional performance against Stanford last May propelled the Wildcats into the Women's College World Series, won't make her debut at Texas A&M until March or April. While cutting up an avocado last week, Sisk sliced a tendon on the middle finger on her nonpitching hand, requiring surgery. … In the final year of his contract with EWE Baskets of Oldenburg, Germany, former UA point guard Jason Gardner is in a career struggle. He is averaging just 7.7 points per game. … Lucas Laval-Perry, who bailed from the Arizona basketball program after one semester, is averaging 5.6 points and 23 minutes per game as a sub at Michigan. In retrospect, Arizona is fortunate he transferred. It might not have otherwise recruited Kyle Fogg. … Longtime Tombstone High School football and basketball coach Herman Fischer was honored Saturday when the school dedicated the gymnasium in his honor. After 33 years at Tombstone, Fischer is an institution. Well deserved.
Colorado small college garners another Lancer
The football pipeline from Salpointe Catholic to Division II Adams State College in Alamosa, Colo., continued last week when defensive lineman Josh Sene signed with the Grizzlies. He is the seventh player placed by Salpointe coach Dennis Bene to ASC; the previous six all have been starters: Tony Gibalski, Gene Mejia, Chris Lundin, Cameron McKay, Oscar Villa and last year's starting QB, Trevor Eggleston. Salpointe junior tackle Jacob Arzouman, who has already been offered a UA scholarship by Mike Stoops, is on national radar. Coaches from Notre Dame and USC last week requested video of Arzouman, a 6-foot-4-inch offensive lineman with a 3.8 GPA. … Sabino grad J.J. Hardy has accepted a one-year, $5 million salary from the Minnesota Twins. It's a nice raise of $350,000 after the shortstop hit a career-low .229 for the Milwaukee Brewers last year. … Kenny Lofton will be inducted into the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame on Aug. 7. The ex-UA point guard, 42, has retired after a baseball career that included six All-Star Games. He lives in Marina del Rey, Calif., and is the CEO of his own post-production TV and film company. … Entering the playoffs with a 29.7 average, Pueblo basketball standout Michael Perez is third in single-season scoring in Tucson prep history. He trails Cholla's Sean Elliott, who averaged 33.4 in 1985 and Cholla's Chuck Overton, who averaged 30.1 in 1992. If Perez can maintain that average, he'll pass Rincon's Gary Allen, at 29.4, Flowing Wells' Pat McAndrew, at 28.3, and CDO's Jung brothers, Mark and Brian, who averaged 28.2 and 28.0, respectively, in the 1970s. Santa Rita's Terrell Stoglin is at 28.7 entering the playoffs.
MY TWO CENTS
Pac-10's expansion idea has key stumbling blocks
Before the Pac-10 can possibly expand, it must find a solution to three potential problems.
1. No team willingly will give up its biennial home football game with USC.
2. No school will vote for expansion unless it means greater revenue in a 12-team setup than it did in a 10-team alignment. Can a football championship game possibly generate that much money?
3. The powerful California bloc of Stanford, Cal, UCLA and USC must compromise its notions about being a confederacy of academic giants.
Of course, if someone can successfully persuade Texas to bolt to the Pac-12 (which would almost surely require a tag-along entry from Texas A&M) anything is possible. Adding two teams in this geographically nutty conference would have some inherent negatives: It would skew minor-sports schedules and add to travel expenses and missed class time. It would wreck the symmetry and balance of a tidy 10-team league.
But money talks. If the Pac-10 could grow its revenue by adding North Dakota State, the Bison would be rubbing shoulders with Cal and Stanford tomorrow.