Since he hasn't been able to get a job at one of the "Big Four" colleges in northern Utah, Southern Utah State Coach Neil Roberts wants the next best thing - to play them.
Roberts, who has been a candidate for open jobs at Weber State, BYU and Utah during the past few years, has been on a crusade to play his northern Utah neighbors since taking over at SUSC in 1987. With the exception of Weber State, those neighbors have turned him down.Roberts says he has tried to get on the schedules of local teams, but has been rebuffed. "(Utah State's) Rod Tueller told me `What do we have to gain?"'
It's not like there isn't any room on the local schedules. Utah was practically begging for games this season because of the change of coaches. They came up with Cal State-Stanilaus and Humboldt State. Utah State played BYU-Hawaii, an NAIA school and Cal State-Northridge.
"They won't play us for fear of getting beat," says Roberts of the local schools. "But we'll stay with it."
He ought to. There's no reason why SUSC couldn't take the place of some of the patsies local teams are scheduling. The local fans would probably be more interested, too.
SUSC STEAL: Wade Wyatt was away on on LDS mission when he got word that his college coach Lynn Archibald had been fired at Utah. So he wrote a letter to the new coach Rick Majerus about the possibility of returning to the Ute program when his mission ended in September.
"I guess he didn't have time to write back," said Wyatt, who was informed by athletic director Chris Hill when he returned that his scholarship wouldn't be renewed. "I really wanted to return, but . . . "
So Wyatt's father did a bit of quick shopping around and found interest from Southern Utah State.
Roberts has been pleasantly surprised at the contribution Wyatt has made despite being home only since September. As a part-time starter for the T-Birds, Wyatt has averaged 10 points a game and is second on the team in 3-point shooting.
ANOTHER WAC COACH DOWN: It's been a tough year for WAC coaches. Utah is without Rick Majerus for the rest of the year due to open heart surgery. BYU's Roger Reid should have had surgery, but is hobbling around with a cane until he can get his hips operated on after the season.
Now comes word from El Paso, that "The Bear," Don Haskins, will be out for a couple of weeks due to a severe case of laryngitis. After last week's victory over Creighton, the 29-year Miners' coach said he felt "useless" because his voice is barely audible.
Dr. James E. Spier said, "Tests have been done on Coach Haskins and it is the type of laryngitis that will require absolute rest for a minimum of two weeks."
While Haskins takes a break, assistant coach Norm Ellenberger, the former New Mexico coach, will run the team along with assistants, Rus Bradburd, Greg Lackey and G. Ray Johnson.
"I don't like this, but I feel pretty useless," Haskins said. "I will be in contact with the coaches while I am away. I have a great deal of confidence in the staff. Coach Ellenberger has a great deal of experience running the program."
TRIVIA TIME: Name the only two teams to make the NCAA Division I tournament every year during the 1980s.
WEEK OF FUTILITY: Weber State had major problems scoring last week, going 12 minutes without a point as Utah State scored 30 straight.
The Wildcats weren't the only team having problems.
_ Baptist went 18 1/2 minutes without a point against Alabama, which scored 29 straight points.
_ New Mexico was outscored by Louisville 28-2 in a 78-49 loss, in which the Lobos actually led 31-29 at halftime.
_ Texas-Arlington shot 16 percent in the second half and scored 10 points in a 36-31 loss to Southern Methodist.
The latter game prompted Texas-Arlington Coach Mark Nixon to comment: "When you call ESPN make sure to tell them it's not the halftime score."
TRIVIA ANSWER: North Carolina, whose streak runs back to 1975, and Georgetown, which has been in every tournament since 1979.
NOTES: It must be the year of the 3-pointers. Individual and team records fell last week when Ohio University's Dave Jamerson hit 14 of 17 3-pointers in a 110-81 win over Charleston and Kentucky made 19 of 47 treys against Furman. The Wildcats broke their own record for attempts and tied the mark for most made. They also set a record with eight players hitting threes . . . When starting point guard Rafael Peterson left the Boise State team last week, it left the Broncos with just eight players. So far this year, seven BSU players have missed significant practice or game time because of injury, ineligibility or personal problems. It prompted senior guard Brian King to say, "Before this, we were behind the 8-ball. Now I guess the pool table's on top of us." . . . Top college basketball game of the 1980s according to the U.S. Basketball Writers Association? Villanova's upset over Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA final.