In the fourth quarter Brunell fumbled to set up McLaughlin's third field goal of the day, and threw a late interception. McLaughlin, for one, enjoyed all this. After missing the kick in Miami, he says he discovered that "character building was tough." This was a nice payoff.
For Arizona, its last five games have been a payoff. Last year's 4-7 disaster—which included lopsided losses to Washington, UCLA, Miami, Arizona State and Washington State—after the Wildcats had gone 7-5 in '90, could be easily explained. Seventeen starters suffered season-ending injuries, and personnel had to be employed in odd ways. This year's backup quarterback, Heath Bray, started four games at middle linebacker in '91.
But what of this year's start, in which Arizona lost to Washington State and tied lowly Oregon State in the first three weeks? Following the game with the Beavers, Tomey said, "Our day will come." In one remarkable 18-hour stretch, he met one-on-one with each of his 67 players for a pre-Miami pep talk.
After the Orange Bowl squeaker, the Wildcats went 4 for October and regained their confidence. Says Johnson, who picked off a pass against the Huskies, "We said, 'We're not losing anymore.' You say that over and over, and then you're not losing anymore." As Ross Perot would say, "It's that simple."
Actually, Perot would have been useful to Washington last week. He could have gathered some bar graphs, bought some airtime and explained how Hobert's debt could be retired. One can imagine Perot's disgust as he brandished his pointer: "See, spending his children's money is what he's doing. And that's just sad."
The curious case of Hobert's loans will probably remain more intriguing than his team's loss. Certainly it is sad. A year that began with him quarterbacking the undefeated Huskies to victory in the Rose Bowl now finds him in jeopardy of losing his eligibility. While Hobert may not have violated any NCAA rules, the Pac-10 is planning an investigation of its own, and he remains suspended from the team until the situation is clarified.
Hobert's struggles appear to have little to do with football. Last spring he separated from Heather, who subsequently filed for divorce, and he dropped out of school. In April he obtained the first loan from Rice. In May and June he went back for more.
After getting counseling and embracing Christianity, Hobert got back together with Heather in May. Soon thereafter she became pregnant. Since then he has acted more responsibly, returning to school in the summer and trying to raise money by selling the Camaro. But now Hobert, whose team is 17-0 in games he has started, has been suspended, and his team is all but out of the national championship picture.
The humiliation Hobert has endured may be instructional. His father, Terry, told a reporter that Billy Joe said to him, "I've got my life together, and I'm not going to let this ruin things."
It's a learning experience, and a very expensive one—not unlike losing to Arizona.