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Thoughts About Things

Our sports guy's ADD kicks in as he discusses items briefly passing through the transom of his brain

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Most weeks, a good topic comes along and it's almost second nature to turn it into a long-form piece of description, analysis and massively informed opinion.

Other times, nothing significant steps up enough to warrant an entire detailed, nuanced ... oh, whatever. I was lazy this week.

Therefore, mental notebook dump time!

T-Town soccer surge continues

The University of Arizona women's soccer team fell 2-0 at home Sunday to Texas Tech. Sound familiar?

In years past, losing has pretty much been the norm for the program. Since starting in 1994, the Wildcats have had only two winnings seasons (2004 and 2005). From 2006 to 2012 their best mark was 9-11, and things bottomed out in 2011 with a 1-16-2 record.

Sunday's loss, though, was Arizona's first of this season. Prior to that, it had gone 4-0-3 with two road wins in Florida, a road tie against a ranked Ohio State team and a pair of 1-1 ties with Kansas and Illinois in a minitournament in Tempe.

The 4-1-3 start under first-year coach Tony Amato, at least in terms of winning percentage, is the best in the 20-year history of a program with a dismal 121-222-29 overall record.

The Wildcats have one more nonconference game, Friday at home against Hawaii, before the always-tough Pac-12 schedule begins with a Sept. 29 home tilt against UCLA. The next five games are away from Mulcahy Stadium.

Arizona went 2-7-2 in the conference last year, only the second time it has won more than one league game since 2005.

The early success of the UA women, combined with how FC Tucson performed in the spring and summer after yet another well-regarded Major League Soccer preseason camp, continues Tucson on its path to becoming an unlikely soccer destination.

Turnaround victory?

I was among the sizable turnout for the first-ever Pima Community College football game in 2001, a surprising upset victory over nationally ranked Glendale Community College that turned the stadium at Santa Rita High School into a vortex for hope and future promise.

By 2004, the Pima program was ranked on a regular basis, and the team won a bowl game in Texas to cap four years' worth of blood, sweat and tears.

But then Pima's athletics-hating chancellor, Roy Flores, sentenced the football team to Siberia when he forced out coach Jeff Scurran and replaced him with a guy who owned a knockoff Cold Stone Creamery. Not surprisingly, Pima won just once over the next four years, rapidly going from a contender to less than an afterthought.

The hiring of Pat Nugent in 2009 signaled the end of Pima's downturn, although it still resulted in only eight wins through 2012.

But things might finally be looking up for the formerly prominent program if Saturday's surprising 21-14 win over perennial power Snow College is any indication. Too bad hardly anyone was at Kino Stadium to see the victory, seeing as the Aztecs had to play at the same time as the Wildcats.

Pima is 2-2. And if coveted recruit Seth Ellis has more games like Saturday's—three touchdown runs, despite only eight carries for 10 yards in the previous three games—I'll expect the Aztecs to win a couple of more games. The next chance to see them in Tucson is Sept. 28 against Glendale in a game that'll be played at Mountain View High School.

Cup holders!

If you follow the Weekly's blog, The Range, you're well aware of my excitement over the seatbacks and armrests that came with my upgraded season tickets in Arizona Stadium's north end zone. I discovered added perks when I learned about the bevy of concession options just steps from me, including a convenience store-like spot (sushi, anyone?) and Pinkberry frozen yogurt ... if you're willing to wait in line 20 minutes.

So it was all good in the 'hood. That is, until I discovered a major design flaw in my new, pricey seat: THE CUP HOLDERS AREN'T BIG ENOUGH TO ACCOMMODATE THE JUMBO BEVERAGE CUPS!

While plenty sufficient for the smaller soda cups, not to mention water bottles, energy drinks, Vitamin Waters or yogurt parfait (yes, the Red/Blue Market and I are already well acquainted), the $6 "souvenir" UA football cup had to be relegated to a spot under the seat and between the feet.

How this was not discovered and rectified before the season is a mystery to me. Maybe some intrepid investigative reporter will dig deep to expose this scandal.

Sex and recruits

Speaking of "scandals," the big five-part series Sports Illustrated released last week chronicling alleged NCAA violations and all-around chaos in the Oklahoma State football program is worth the read, even if just to laugh at all of the claims being made about how wild and crazy things have been over the years in Stillwater.

Players smoking pot? Oh my! Getting handouts from boosters? You don't say! Fixed grades? Oh, the calamity!

Then there are the allegations that OSU student "hosts" often provided sexual favors to recruits during their official and unofficial visits to campus. I have no doubt that this happened ... because it probably happens at every college in America. Yes, even here in Tucson.

I've talked this over with some colleagues in the local media (who, like me, agreed how unfair it was that such hosts weren't part of the visitation process for prospective journalism majors) who said that they've heard over the years from players and coaches that pretty much the only way you didn't have sex on a recruiting trip is if you didn't want to.

Why else did you think 17- and 18-year-old kids who've already committed to play for one school still take all of the official (read: completely paid for) recruiting trips allowed by the NCAA? They may be dumb teenagers, but they're not stupid.

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