The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 46 days away. From now until then, this Web site will count down the days with facts about the Wildcats, their players, coaching staff and opponents. This is not a ranking, only a list of 100 facts and observances related to the 2013 Arizona football team and coach Rich Rodriguez.
As a precursor to next year (2014), when Arizona celebrates the 100th anniversary of the 1914 team that earned the Wildcats their nickname, here’s a look at anniversaries celebrated this season:
100th anniversary: I could not find much about the 1913 team other than the captain was Jay Angus McIntosh and the coach was F.A. King. That was the last year Arizona operated without J.F. “Pop” McKale, the legendary UA figure who took over as coach in 1914. McKale’s name with Arizona has remained since, with the basketball arena bearing his name.
90th: A dubious mark, the 1923 team allowed 52 points in the second half to USC in a 69-6 loss. That’s the most points allowed in a half in UA history.
80th: The first year (1933) of the highly successful G.A. “Tex” Oliver regime at Arizona. Oliver has the best winning percentage (72.3) of any UA coach in the last 100 years. His teams, led by three-time All-Border Conference quarterback Ted Bland, posted a record of 32-11-4 from 1933-37. Oliver was lured away by Oregon in 1938. McKale, the UA’s athletic director, tried to hire him back in 1939 but Oliver remained at Oregon.
75th: 1938 marked the last time an Arizona opponent was not flagged for a penalty in a game, when the Wildcats lost 26-14 to UTEP in Tucson. Oliver was a tough act for Orlan Landreth to follow as head coach that season. He finished 3-6, prompting his removal and McKale seeking to rehire Oliver. Miles Casteel was hired by McKale instead in 1939. Casteel, not a bad hire, went 45-26-3 in eight seasons as head coach.
70th: Arizona did not field a football team in 1943 because of World War II.
60th: Arizona’s first televised game was broadcast statewide on Nov. 28, 1953, with the UA winning 35-0 at Arizona State. The game was not a network telecast.
50th: The Wildcats’ first network telecast of a game happened on Oct. 19, 1963, when they lost at home to Oregon 28-12 on CBS (attracting an estimated 1.5 million viewers, according to newspaper reports). The Ducks did not punt in that game, the last time an opponent did not try a punt against the Wildcats. The year 1963 also marked Arizona’s first season in the Western Athletic Conference.
40th: The Jim Young era started in 1973 and along with it some memorable results. Young was selected WAC Coach of the Year in 1973, leading the UA to an 8-3 record. That was also the year tailback Jim Upchurch set the UA record with 1,184 rushing yards, which was not topped until 25 years later when Trung Canidate rushed for 1,220 in 1998.
30th: The 1983 team earned the Wildcats’ highest ranking in school history — No. 3 in the AP poll — after starting 4-0. The team, led by All-American linebacker Ricky Hunley, appeared on its way to a 5-0 start, leading 26-3 at Cal, but the Golden Bears rallied to tie the game at 33-33. The UA finished that season 7-3-1.
25th: Arizona had two Morris Trophy Award winners in 1988, the only time that has happened in the program’s history. The Morris Trophy is awarded to the top Pac-12 linemen on each side of the ball as voted by opposing linemen in the conference. Joe Tofflemire, a center, and nose guard Dana Wells earned the honor 25 years ago. The year 1988 also marked the first season Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez became a head coach, at Salem (W.Va.) College. Rodriguez’s team posted a 2-8 record that year. He returned to his alma mater — West Virginia — the following season as a graduate assistant.
20th: The Wildcats’ first 10-win team, highlighted by the famed Desert Swarm defense, drubbed Miami 29-0 in the Fiesta Bowl at the conclusion of the 1993 season. Arizona finished 10-2. The UA’s defense finished ranked No. 1 nationally in total defense (236.9 yards allowed per game) and rushing defense (30.1).
10th: The ouster of John Mackovic as head coach occurred in 2003, a long 10 years ago. A player revolt, which included private meetings between the players and high-ranking Arizona administrators, put the firing in motion. Mackovic lasted four games that season and was replaced by interim coach Mike Hankwitz after a 1-4 start that included lopsided losses to LSU (59-13), Oregon (48-10) and Purdue (59-7).
What will be posted about the 2013 team in 2023 as a 10-year anniversary? History awaits.
The best Arizona player to wear No. 46, according to TucsonCitizen.com’s Anthony Gimino, is quarterback Fred Enke Jr. (1946-47): Tucson-raised athlete led the NCAA in total offense in 1947 and played seven years in the NFL, the UA’s longest tenured quarterback at that level.
Last year, I ran a Top 50 Games in the history of Arizona football series at this site and TucsonCitizen.com. I will relive that list here with less than 50 days to kickoff and add one game to it: Arizona’s improbable 49-48 win over Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl last December. I will keep the ranking of that game secret in the new top 50 list until the day I publish it.
No. 46 — Dick Tomey, the Desert Fox, does a number on UCLA by changing offense in midseason
No. 47 — “The Streak” reaches three games, UA achieves best Pac-10 finish
No. 48 — Arizona’s first game at Arizona Stadium in 1929, a 35-0 win over Cal Tech
No. 49 — Underdog Arizona’s 2011 thriller over arch-rival Arizona State
No. 50 — Arizona’s first win over arch-rival Arizona State, then known as Territorial Normal
Dropped out — Arizona’s first win in program’s history: 22-5 over Tucson Indians
The Jim Thorpe Award watch list was announced Friday. The watch-list announcements will continue through July 19. This site will update after the announcements.
The current Pac-12 breakdown (by school) of players on the watch lists:
1. Stanford 15
2. USC 13
3. ASU 11
5. Oregon State 7
7. Washington 4
8. Colorado 3
9. Arizona 2
Washington State 2
11. Utah 1
2013 COLLEGE FOOTBALL WATCH LISTS
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WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports, TucsonCitizen.com and Sports Illustrated-sponsored site ZonaZealots.com.