As Sam Sees It

The firing of Arizona State University football coach Bruce Snyder was not totally unexpected. The Sun Devils fell on hard times after a surprising good start in the 2000 campaign. A pair of over-time losses was followed by a lackluster performance in yet another loss at Stanford. The team will take a 5-5 record into the season finale at Tucson against the University of Arizona Wildcats. The real surprise is that Athletic Director Gene Smith did not wait until after the completion of the season to drop the axe.

The disturbing element from this angle is not the firing of Snyder. His career at ASU has, with the exception of the Rose Bowl season, been disappointing. In fact, the Devils were better under his predecessor if that season is not included in the equation. However, he did have two years to go on his contract. Also, and more importantly, his ouster was called for by Arizona Republic columnists shortly before becoming a reality. That is the disturbing element for me.

Arizona had witnessed the firing of Diamondbacks manager Buck Showalter and Arizona Cardinals coach Vince Tobin within the past three months. All were first pilloried and their firing advocated by Republic columnists. There is very likely going to be similar criticism of University of Arizona coach Dick Tomey, if the Phoenix papers are interested in what happens at the Tucson school.

The belief here is that a reporter should report what is happening on the field or in the locker rooms, but should seldom advocate removing a coach from his position. One thing we should realize is that even the most knowledgeable reporter usually knows far less about the game than the coaches he reports about. That is not to say that he doesn't know and understand whatever game is the subject. Most of us probably do. However, we are not held responsible for what we think should be done in the heat of battle when the game is on the line. Coaches are. Advocating the dismissal of a coach or manager should be a serious manner undertaken only after much thought and fact-finding. There is little evidence of such in most of the cases that have arisen in the past three months.

Winslow sports fans are in for treats during the next few weeks. The Ames Ford Winslow Shoot-out will begin on Thursday and feature 14 top quality boys basketball teams. Among the participants are Arizona State 3A Champion Tuba City and the Enchantment Region Champion and state runners-up Winslow Bulldogs. Globe, Show Low, Payson and Snowflake were all state tournament entries last season. Camelback brings a 5A entrant to the tournament and Coconino adds a 4A representative. Hopi was a state tournament contender in the 2A conference.

The girls take center stage on Dec. 14 when the Winslow Winter Classic tips off with 24 of the best girl's teams in the state competing. The defending Arizona State 3A Champion Tuba City Lady Warriors and runners-up Winslow Lady Bulldogs will both be here, as will semi-finalists Ganado and Monument Valley. Desert Vista, Mountain View, Gilbert Highlands and Corona del Sol will be present and represent the cream of the 5A conference. Flagstaff, Chinle and Coconino represent the 4A Conference.

It should be worth coming out if you like high school basketball.


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