In all the hoopla surrounding Saguaro High School football coach John Sanders' recent decision to sit his players against Chaparral, one element seems to have escaped analysis.
Why, oh why, was a rivalry game between two teams that don't play in the same division and don't fight for the same state championship title scheduled so late in the season? The only explanation I've heard to this point is "well, the schedule is computer generated."
If that's the case, the computer needs to be kicked harder than those left to represent the Sabercats were kicked around by the Firebirds.
No one in their right mind, or not sleeping in black and yellow footie pajamas, will condone what Sanders did. But the fact is he should have never been put in a position where he had to decide between playing a rivalry game with no playoff implications that close to the postseason and "resting" his "injured" starters.
It should have never been a controversy, because it should have never happened.
Let's use an example from college football. When Nebraska and Oklahoma were in the same conference, they used to play a pretty big football game - yes, as hard as it is to believe, even bigger than Chaparral-Saguaro - around Thanksgiving. It was usually with the Big 8/Big 12 Conference title on the line and had national championship implications.
Nebraska has since moved to the Big Ten - which has 12 teams, but let's not quibble - while Oklahoma remains, for now, in the Big 12, which currently has 10 teams (now I have a headache).
In any event, Nebraska doesn't play Oklahoma anymore, but if they renew the rivalry as is rumored to be in the cards, the game certainly won't be played around Thanksgiving - a week before the Big 10 and Big 12 championship games. That game will be played in September, with national television on hand and both teams coming off warm-up games against harmless opponents.
And that's when Chaparral-Saguaro should be played - early September, in 100-degree heat when everyone on both sides will play because they have to. No long-term goals in jeopardy. No state championship runs derailed. No reason for one side or the other to take the steam out of the rivalry by keeping their stars off the field.
Now I know this is way too simple to actually be adopted and I know HAL the computer has already deemed that the Firebirds and Sabercats - or at least their duly appointed seconds - will meet again at the same time next year, opening the door to repeat of this embarrassing episode.
Heck, if FOX doesn't want to cover the game nationally next year, maybe TMZ will. Have Charlie Sheen conduct the coin toss and allow the game's MVP to marry a Kardashian for nine weeks.
Is this all a joke? No more than one side keeping its players off the field or the other going for a two-point conversion with your team up by 40 points in the first half. If we're going to throw logic and good sense out the window, let's give it a good hurl.
• Cardinals 20, Rams 17. What a nightmare for Ken Whisenhunt. The only think that's worst than losing at home to the Rams this Sunday is the prospect of John Skelton coming off the bench and doing just enough to win and ignite the fan base.
A 2-6 team with a quarterback controversy? Ewww.
Of course, the Rams come into town with a glorious one-game winning streak with A.J. Feely at the controls. But no one is talking about a controversy in St. Louis. As soon as Sam Bradford is healthy, he's the man. Kevin Kolb's first seven games as a Cardinal has bought him that kind of comfort zone.
• OK, this NBA lockout stuff is getting good now.
We've got Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher denying a rift among NBAPA management. We've got some players who want to cut a deal now, and others who want to decertify the union and go for broke.
And somewhere in his lair amid the depths of Charlotte, we have Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan urging his fellow fat cats to really stick it to the players - well below a 50-50 split - now that he's squeezed every dime and McDonald's commercial out his playing career.
Forget Robert Sarver, now we've got ourselves a real villain.
A shortened, meaningless regular season will be played in half-empty arenas at some point. But this current drama is as good as the league has been since Michael, Magic and Larry wore short-shorts.