Ryan's misdeeds as Cardinals general manager and coach are too many to list here. One example will suffice: Last summer Ryan, who employed his sons Rex and Rob as assistant coaches, caused a brow or two to furrow when he signed free-agent tackle Larry Tharpe for $1 million to replace Sharpe. As a Detroit Lion in '94 a healthy Tharpe made $162,000 and did not play a down. "Larry Tharpe is a solid young player," Ryan said, and that turned out to be true. But Ryan could easily have gotten Tharpe for half the price. Or perhaps he was outnegotiated by Tharpe's agent: Rex and Rob's brother, Jim Ryan.
Buddy Ryan was fired on Dec. 26, three days after Tom Osborne and his Nebraska Cornhuskers arrived for their Fiesta Bowl showdown with Florida. At long last Phoenix had a winner in town.
Like Barkley and Ryan, Arizona is nothing if not colorful—canyons embossed in every shade of brown, orange and red. Arizona is bold blue skies and emerald-green golf courses and snowcapped peaks. It is Arizona Highways, a monthly magazine that since its founding in 1925, has relied on the state's roadside beauty for much of its content. Goldwater, it is worth noting, took the magazine's first color cover photograph, in 1946.
Long ago the editors of Arizona Highways must have realized that their beat is nature's freak show. Sixteen national parks and monuments are found in the state, the headline act being the 277-mile-long Grand Canyon. On Nov. 19 the federal government shutdown prompted the shutdown of the park, which Arizona's board of tourism had been touting as the Original Super Bowl. Governor Fife Symington, flummoxed by the closing of the world's largest opening, reacted in Goldwateresque fashion: He staged a raid.
Symington flew from Phoenix to the canyon, where he joined a posse of 76 slate employees. "Arizona is about to make its world debut,' Symington said, "and the Grand Canyon is the crown jewel of our state. There's no reason for it to be closed." National park rangers dissuaded Symington from storming the park's gates, but not before CNN's cameras had filmed him grandstanding. Impressed by Symington's zeal, if not his tactics, the Department of the Interior made a deal with him: As long as $17,625 in daily operating expenses was raised (through individual and corporate donations), the park would remain open.
"And that is why," boasted Symington, who while in college once actually saved Bill Clinton from drowning off Cape Cod, "the Grand Canyon was the only national park in the country that remained open during the government shutdown."
Within a two-hour drive of the canyon's South Rim, tourists can also visit:
•The Painted Desert, where mineral deposits have left a tableau of purples, grays and reds on the desolate landscape.
•The Petrified Forest—petrified as in oxidized to stone, not paralyzed by fear.
•Monument Valley, which has the sedimentary rock monoliths that are favorite Hollywood-and Looney Tunes—backdrops. See: Thelma & Louise, Forrest Gump, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote.