When an East Valley Tribune reporter talked to Saguaro High football coach John Sanders a couple weeks before his decision to "rest" his starters for the nationally televised October game with Chaparral - yes, that was the plan all along - the gruff, in-your-face coach reacted in typical Sanders fashion to the response.

"I (couldn't) care less," Sanders said at the time. "I have thick skin. If I started coaching by listening to people, I'd get out of the game. I have no interest in what anyone thinks."

So Sanders did what he wanted. He didn't care if you, the Saguaro athletic director, parents, boosters or anyone else thought that rivalry, tradition and sportsmanship was more important than his own selfish interests.

He felt he was wronged, forced to play a game he didn't want to play. Backlash? He couldn't care less, had no interest in what anyone thought.

It works for Bill Belichick. Worked for Bill Parcells and Vince Lombardi. Win games and you can do as you please. The hell with the rest of it.

Like a high school kid prancing in the end zone or verbosely signaling a first down after a simple five-yard out pattern, Sanders was just taking what's accepted on Sunday and bringing it to Friday night.

Now Sanders is out of the game, fired Wednesday despite winning 62 of 69 games and four state championships in five years - watered-down as they are now in Arizona. Sanders said he was told the decision had nothing to do with his Chaparral faux pas - apparently that one year without a state title rubbed someone the wrong way, coach?

Sanders says he still has coaching in his blood and will be an active candidate for head coaching vacancies. Now all he has to find is a desperate school willing to hand over its program to someone who will do anything - including laying down on national TV - to prove he's right and everyone else just doesn't understand.

Maybe he finds another landing spot here. Maybe he doesn't.

Either way, I couldn't care less.

Last one out, turn out the lights

OK, here's the score over at ASU a few weeks into the Todd Graham Era:

•The quarterback (Brock Osweiler) is evacuating for the NFL after only 15 college football starts in hopes of being a third-round pick - despite cautions from many that, despite throwing for 4,000 yards in 2011, another year of seasoning would be the intelligent move. With a new coach, new coordinator and new system - and an ASU team not expected to be as good as last year's underachieving bunch - I can understand the decision.

•The leading rusher (Cameron Marshall) is reportedly considering the NFL as well. That would hurt.

•The best pass rusher (Junior Onyeali) has been suspended indefinitely and might have a hard time seeing the field moving forward under Graham's new, infinitely tighter, player conduct code.

•Linebacker Vontaze Burfict, whose stock as a pro football player has plummeted since he exploded on the scene as a freshman, is also NFL-bound - provided he can find a team willing to roll the dice on volatile, overrated talent. What a time for the Raiders to be reeling in their standards, eh, ‘Taze?

Add in the recruits that jumped ship, and it's not the best first month. And when you're talking about Coach Graham, you measure success in months.

Quick Hitters

•The Suns decision to bring in Michael Redd might be their best move of the off-season. Of course, you didn't have to go far to beat Shannon Brown and Sebastian Telfair on the acquisition list. If Redd can run and shoot straight, and Markieff Morris continues to develop, the Suns will be OK once their grumpy old men play themselves into shape.

•I feel for Tim Tebow because the media and fans have hyped the kid to such incredible heights that even a decent quarterback - which he's not - would pass out from oxygen deprivation. Now he's playing a first-round playoff game against the most experienced, playoff-savvy team in the NFL and if he loses, John Elway and the Bronco brass will be waiting outside the dressing room door with a broom.

Save that "Saturday Night Live," clip, Timmy. The grandkids will never believe.

As of Friday, so here are playoff picks for Wild Card Weekend:

•Texans 23, Bengals 17: Cincinnati is good. Good enough to win. But home field and the Texans defense is too much to overcome, even with T.J. Yates at the helm.

•Saints 37, Lions 21: There won't be a Seattle-like letdown for this one. The Saints in the Superdome are a lock. The Lions can score, but they can't stop Drew Brees.

•Falcons 24, Giants 16: A lot of people see the Giants as a dark horse in the playoffs. I see them as a team that might not even belong. Matt Ryan finally breaks through in the postseason.

•Steelers 17, Broncos 7: Pittsburgh is so beat up, but they are also used to playing with what they have. Even with half a quarterback and a backup running back, they will piece together enough to end the Tim Tebow Era in Denver.

• Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. He can be reached at jbrown5548@aol.com

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.