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Thoughts from Newsmakers Week, Days 4 and 5: Keim, McDonough visit

(Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)

Newsmakers Week 2018! It’s the ninth straight year and 10th overall. Every day this week I’ll give you a quick rundown of my thoughts on the comments of each guest throughout the week. Arizonasports.com is the place to go for a complete rundown of the exact quotes from each newsmaker.

Day 4:

Kevin Guy

Full disclosure: the Rattlers’ head coach has been one of my best friends for most of this century. Even if you don’t enjoy indoor football, Guy isn’t just passing the time as a coach after his day job. Winning championships is this man’s pursuit and how he feeds his family.  He does it well.

Hopefully, any of our other franchises ever get to this problem but it was interesting to talk to Coach Guy about keeping the roster fresh to ensure hunger. Since the Rattlers are always winning championships, Guy believes complacency can creep in if you just assume last year’s team will win this year. New players means fewer guys are truly “defending champions” and, therefore, hungrier for a title.

Derrick Hall

Interesting he admitted the D-backs are in “win now” mode. Obviously, we’d all like to say every team should be. Unfortunately, after the last few years of two or three of our teams buried deep in a hole, we know that isn’t always the case.

I totally believe the team is not allowing themselves to get, even remotely, excited about the potential to sign J.D. Martinez. I also believe they, for the first time, actually think it could happen. If Martinez is truly willing to take less years, I think he stays.  If not, Arizona has no chance, and the D-backs know it.

Hall also talked about the importance of April and May. I think, the beginning of the season is always going to be more important for a team in a mid-market with a bloated payroll.  If the D-backs go in the tank early, Pollack and Greinke probably won’t be here late.

Michael Crow

Had no idea he was a Division I athlete. It was a great opportunity for ASU fans to hear directly from him that he wants a college football playoff for conference champions only and unpaid college athletes who receive a full cost-of-attendance scholarship including a stipend. He didn’t back down from the expectations that Ray Anderson has been setting for all athletic teams.

One thing that he believes in that I don’t is the cost of business to play at a high level. We both agree the cycle of hiring coaches to long-term contracts with big buyouts just to fire them is ridiculous. My opinion, though, is that it’s not going to work to go against it because you can’t get the best coaches. They will either not sign in the first place or leave as soon as they receive slight success for greener pastures. The philosophy puts ASU only in the category of the aged coach on his last job or inexperience upstart. I don’t think ASU will ever be a “destination job” with this philosophy.

Dr. Crow disagreed. He thinks controllable salaries with extremely high incentive clauses is the key. Pay people within the confines of the Pac-12 and then over-pay for graduating players and winning. I think that’s great in theory but the SEC and Big 10 aren’t going to play in the smaller arena. How will ASU really compete for national championships in football if they’re not competing for the best coaches?

I’m an ASU fan so I hope I’m wrong.

Day 5:

Steve Keim

As you could guess, Keim didn’t admit much on the quarterback front. His main point was how difficult the moving target is. One little tidbit was how he would work different plans at the same time. It seemed like he could get one plan to work and use that to force movement on another front. An example, if Keim wants Cousins as option A and trading for Foles as option B, he might talk to Cousins’ agent while negotiating the Foles trade. If he gets the trade done, he can then go to Cousins and use the potential trade as leverage, “We’ve got something else in the fire now, come down in price or we’re out.” Cousins still might be option one and now you can test if the Cards are truly, his option A.

The huge takeaway from Keim was his non-answer to the David Johnson question. We asked when was the last time Keim spoke to David Johnson’s agent about a contract extension. Instead of answering the question, Keim discussed Fitzgerald’s return. He dodged the question in a joking way but it shows the negotiations have started. There’s no way to read into where they are or how it’s going but you can read into it’s happening now.

A small but interesting takeaway was his admission of what he needs to work on as a GM. Keim thought they need to take a harder look at the heart and mind of a player that loves the game versus the tape that shows a player’s potential. The draft is a ton of projection but if a player is taking plays off, should it matter what they do when they try? Keim didn’t say the name “Nkemdiche” but there was no doubt the defensive lineman is floating towards bust status if he doesn’t embrace the game soon.

Ryan McDonough

It can’t be sugar-coated. This organization is an embarrassment right now. The only question is how long will the “right now” tag be associated with the team?

I think the trade for Payton was outstanding. I believe in a timeline with Booker, Warren, Jackson, Payton and Ayton. Bender would be a nightmare match-up off the bench. Things could look better as long as these players don’t have a character flaw. The flaw is the lack of desire to compete every second of every game. I can’t tell if they’re just young and learning or spoiled and entitled. Answer that and you can answer whether you believe in the timeline.

This is the off-season where it’s the beginning of the end for McDonough or “the beginning of the beginning.” I don’t think there’s a middle ground. It’s time for McDonough to make a major splash. Ayton in the draft, a Booker and Payton contract extension, the dumping of Chandler’s contract and a mid to major free agent shouldn’t be the goal, it should be the expectation. Is that a high expectation? Yes, but Suns fans have waited long enough.

Brian Mueller

The GCU President hit a home run today with what they mean to the West side. From a broad standpoint, the huge takeaway was the news Mueller has met with ASU President Dr. Crow about their past differences and coming together in the future. That’s great news for the valley. As GCU becomes a non-profit, research university, we benefit. At that point, Dr. Crow would, hopefully, allow athletic competition between the teams. A Majerle/Hurley rivalry would be great theatre from two of the most fiery competitors we have in the city.

Doug & Wolf

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