BEFORE LAST SATURDAY'S Utah-BYU football game, Cougar athletic director Rondo Fehlberg unveiled the new "Quarterback Factory" painting to the Cougar Club. The painting, which included renditions of Virgil Carter, Gifford Nielsen, Marc Wilson, Jim McMahon, Steve Young, Robbie Bosco and Ty Detmer, will be reproduced to raise money to improve athletic facilities.
In town to celebrate the occasion were Wilson, Nielsen and McMahon, who has finally made his peace with the place he claimed looked best in a rear-view mirror. In fact, he was in a relatively playful mood, slipping on his trademark sunglasses after taking the rostrum.However mellowed, McMahon still doesn't hold back from stating his opinion. Noting the painting had him depicted on the far right side, he cracked, "Why'd you stick me over here in the corner?"
MCRIVALRIES: McMahon seemed only a little impressed with the intensity of the Utah-BYU series. He called it "a lot of fun" but added it is "not as intense as the Bears-Packers rivalry."
His opinion may have something to do with the shots he took from the Packers that helped speed him toward retirement. Noting the Utah-BYU rivalry is strong, he said, "it never got that dirty, but it had it's moments."
HIGHWAYMEN: A BYU alumnus has been in Provo lately, hoping to drum up interest in a WAC football contest involving BYU but played in Calgary, Canada.
If playing across the border sounds farfetched, consider this: The Cougars have hit the road before. They played against UNLV at Yokahama, Japan, in 1978 and met Colorado State at Melbourne, Australia, in 1987 (both wins). Considering the number of LDS returned missionaries on the team, it's safe to say they may not win such a game, but they won't be bothered by leaving the country.
IRON MEN: A.C. Green broke the all-time NBA mark for consecutive-games played last week, making his 907th appearance. But he still trails the all-time pro basketball leader, former Jazz guard Ron Boone, who played in 1,041 straight. The NBA doesn't recognize Boone's mark because some of the games were played in the ABA.
Green played after root-canal surgery, with a plastic mask and with assorted other dings and bruises. Boone had his challenges, as well. He nearly missed a playoff game after suffering a shoulder separation. A visit to an acupuncture expert solved that problem. "I don't want to think it helped," he says, "but it did."
By game time, Boone had enough rotation on his arm to swing the ball up to shoot, but couldn't go across his body, which restricted his passing range. (Hmmmm. Likely story, Booner.) The other near-miss was when he broke his nose in an exhibition game and started the season with a mask.
Asked whether anyone in the rising generation might approach the record, Boone remains philosophical. "There's always going to be that one special player," he said. "But when?"
EVEN STEVEN: If ever there were a textbook case of mediocrity, it was this football season in Utah. Utah, Weber State, Utah State and BYU all ended the season with 6-5 records. That marks the first time all four schools have finished with identical records.
Surprisingly, Utah and BYU have never had identical records. In 1994 it was close, with the Utes finishing 10-2 and BYU 10-3. And in 1993, Utah and BYU finished 7-6 and 6-6, respectively. For the most part, though, at least one school had a fine year while others floundered. Weber State's history is short; it didn't start playing football until 1962.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Acerbic Washington basketball fan Robin Ficker - the attorney who stays up nights dreaming up ways to heckle opponents - won't have the same advantages anymore. With the new arena for the Wizards, those seats behind the visitors' bench are designated for the handicapped.
Too bad. No more Ficker standing behind the visting team bench, disrupting timeouts.
Still, anyone who has been to a Bullets (now Wizards) game has to admit the guy could be funny. Jazz players tried to ignore him but sometimes could barely hold back their smiles. When Karl Malone's trucking firm was alive, Ficker showed up with potatoes in hand, yelling at him to make a delivery to Idaho.
Charles Barkley, never one to back down, told Ficker he had an opinion on the death penalty: "They should use it on you."
QUOTEFILE: McMahon on the Cougar Club room: "This room, I've never been in. It reminds me of a classroom, I guess."