Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Maybe Wildcats can help salvage cruddy 2009

As years go, 2009 is a real stinker.

The stock market has lost half its value from its 2007 record high. One in 10 Americans are unemployed. Banks, stock brokerages and car manufacturers have teetered on collapse only to be bailed out by a broke government that’s spending money like drunken sailors on shore leave.

In Arizona, the economy is among the worst in the nation and the Legislature has lost its mind. We’re nine months into the year, three into the fiscal year, and we still have no state budget.

Locally, the stench of 2009 includes the over-promised and under-delivered Rio Nuevo finally grinding to a halt and the schlemiel City Council firing City Manager Mike Hein for reasons no one really understands.

Layoffs are legion, shops and fave restaurants close weekly and the monsoon was a bust.

And to add to the year’s piling funk, people we love (or, a lot of you anyway) keep dying: Ted Kennedy, Michael Jackson, Walter Cronkite, even the “Kung Fu” king, David Carradine, for crying out loud.

But as the dog days of 2009 draw to a close and glorious fall looms, there are signs the year could get better. The stock market has rebounded a bit and the housing market is slowly coming back.

The new city manager, Mike Letcher, seems to know what he’s doing, the freeway’s finished and the Fourth Avenue underpass is finally open.

But perhaps the best chance for salvaging 2009 lies with a few young men at the University of Arizona.

How ’bout them Wildcats?

For the first time in more than a decade the UA football team has a chance to be among the best in the Pac-10. If early season predictions hold true, the UA has a chance to enter November already bowl eligible with a 6-1, or dare we say it, a 7-0 record.

We haven’t been able to say that around here since back when Tedy Bruschi and Rob Waldrop were swarming the desert scaring the bejesus out of opposing quarterbacks with the best defense in NCAA history (at the time).

And long about November, for the first time in three years the UA men’s basketball team will take the floor at McKale Center without everyone scratching their heads and wondering, “What the heck is wrong with Lute?”

New coach Sean Miller has salvaged the recruiting season and will see what he can do with a host of talented freshman and a couple of cagey veterans.

Instead of the team being ranked three spots below Whatsamatta U, as it appeared back in March, this team has a chance to win 20 games and earn its 26th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.

We’re not so na├»ve as to suggest that a bunch of young men playing with a ball can make things better for someone who’s lost their job or their house, or both.

But we sure could use the distraction. We need something to cheer.

Maybe it’s too much to ask. Perhaps it’s too much pressure to ask of these young men to bear down and win a few for Tucson.

So if the season doesn’t turn out like you hoped, that’s OK fellas, we understand, just try your best.

But if you can manage it, there is still just one small thing you could do that might go a long way in helping take some of the sting and stink off of 2009.

If you could, please, please . . .

. . . beat ASU.

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