MONDAY, MARCH 10Lute is back! The beloved University of Arizona men's basketball coach announces that he'll return from his enigmatic leave of absence at the end of the season, which appears to rapidly approaching. Olson, who has bungled the public-relations end of the entire episode, doesn't make a personal appearance, but instead says in a press release: "I know there has been a lot of speculation about my situation. I'm glad we can clear the air, but the most important thing right now is the team."
We're not sure that we have cleared the air, especially after Olson also 'fesses up to a "medical condition that was not life-threatening, but serious enough to require time away from my coaching responsibilities." This appears to be at odds with his statement back in November that his leave of absence was not related to a "health scare, but rather a personal matter that needs my undivided attention." Whatevs--we were under the impression that Lute was just all messed up in the head as a result of his collapsing marriage to Christine Olson.
Also stumbling down on the comeback trail: Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson throws 33 pitches and gives up three runs in less than two innings in his first spring outing, against the Colorado Rockies at Hi Corbett Field. The 44-year-old Johnson, whose back is all shot to hell, gives up a three-run shot in the top of the second inning before leaving the game.
Over on the animal-hoarding beat: Pima County authorities discover a puppy-peddling couple in Avra Valley that has more than 750 small dogs, mostly Chihuahuas, as well as 36 exotic birds. The Humane Society of Southern Arizona agrees to shelter the dogs, which are increasing in number, as some give birth during the trip to the kennel. Some of the dogs are sadly in need of medical attention and will face having their legs amputated.
TUESDAY, MARCH 11Oro Valley voters once again throw the bums out and overwhelmingly pick two newcomers in their town council race. Salette Latas and Bill Garner capture enough votes to win seats in the town's primary. Two of the remaining candidates, incumbents Barry Gillaspie and Terry Parish, will square off for the third available seat in the town's general election in May.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 12Meet the new boss: The Tucson Unified School District governing board picks Elizabeth Celania-Fagen as the new TUSD superintendent. Celania-Fagen will leave her job as an associate superintendent of the Des Moines Independent School District in Iowa and take the district's reins after Roger Pfeuffer retires at the end of June.
The board chooses Celania-Fagen on a 3-2 vote, with members Joel Ireland, Adelita Grijalva and Alex Rodriguez on the prevailing side. Bruce Burke and Judy Burns supported former IBM exec Rick Myers for the post.
On the sports beat: The Arizona Wildcats men's basketball team improves its chances of a berth in the NCAA tourney by winning their first game in the Pac-10 tourney. The Cats clobber Oregon State, 87-56.
THURSDAY, MARCH 13We've got a new record! AAA Arizona releases the weekly gas-price index, revealing that the state's average cost of gas is at an all-time high: $3.191 a gallon! Here in Pima County, the average price of a gallon of unleaded is $3.121, which is up 5.3 cents from the previous week.
Later in the day, the Arizona Wildcats face off against the Stanford Cardinal--and play one hell of a first half, which wraps with the teams tied 35-35. The second half: Not so good. Final score: Stanford 75, Arizona 64.
FRIDAY, MARCH 14The Range receives another "eBay New Unpaid Item Message from dg1n" in our e-mail box, even though we're not buying or selling on eBay. Our effort to find out what this means meets with trouble as soon as we as we try to view the "dispute thread" and discover we have to sign in to get more information, even though we don't think we ever registered in the first place. Readers, is this a scam? Share your insights. And in the meantime, if it appears that firstname.lastname@example.org is making a bid on your vintage Star Wars lunch box, it ain't us.
SATURDAY, MARCH 15The excitement continues at Tucson Weekly TV, our new YouTube Channel! Our second special report features an exclusive interview with Captain Earthman, a "stranded intergalactic beer-vending nutcase" who shares his opinion on the possibility that the Colorado Rockies may leave Tucson's Hi Corbett Field. See it yourself at the TW blog or Tucson Weekly TV.
SUNDAY, MARCH 16The Humane Society announces that all the dogs seized earlier in the week that were available for adoption have found homes. But Jenny Rose, spokeswoman for the Humane Society, says there are plenty more dogs and cats available at the shelter. Plus, a few of those puppies that were born to the seized Chihuahuas may be up for adoption soon. And they're still trying to figure out what to do with those exotic birds, which have taken over a conference room.
Rose calls the outpouring of support from the community "overwhelming" and mentions that the Humane Society expects the total cost of the rescue to run about $400,000. To make a donation or find out more information about adopting a new pet, call 327-6088.
Finally, break out the brackets: The UA men's basketball team lands a No. 10 seed in the NCAA tournament and are scheduled to tip off against No. 7 seed West Virginia at approximately 6:40 p.m. this Thursday, March 20, at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.