Arizona Wildcats stay on road to respectability with enhanced facilities



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The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 28 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.

Arizona's $74 million Lowell-Stevens Facility is one of six major facilities enhancements in the Pac-12 since 2011 (Javier Morales, WILDABOUTAZCATS.net)

Arizona’s $74 million Lowell-Stevens Facility is one of six major facilities enhancements in the Pac-12 since 2011 (Javier Morales, WILDABOUTAZCATS.net)

Arizona may have joined the Pac-12 facility race with the construction of its impressive Lowell-Stevens Facility, but in reality, the Wildcats did not fall farther behind USC and Oregon, conference powerhouses that also have attractive new digs.

The UA’s north end zone project makes the Wildcats a legitimate program in a conference that is progressive when it comes to facility enhancements. Arizona becomes one of six programs since 2011 that either built or enhanced their football operations structure. A seventh program, Washington State, will unveil its $61 million Football Operations Building next May.

Washington State currently is without a home, a recruiting identity on campus, which is the same situation Arizona experienced before the Lowell-Stevens Facility was constructed. ASU’s football program is in a similar position, sharing the Carson Student-Athlete Center with other men’s and women’s teams. The Sun Devils announced last April that major renovation plans costing $300 million are underway that may take up to 10 years to complete.

In the not-too-distant future, Colorado plans to build a $170 million facility to match all the bells and whistles of its conference counterparts and others nationally. UCLA will also likely join the facility race soon because athletic director Dan Guerrero is feeling the heat from media and boosters for other conference programs, including rival USC, leaving the Bruins in the dust.


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Graphic researched and created by WILDABOUTAZCATS.net

The appropriate way to describe Arizona’s inclusion into the facility race is that Rich Rodriguez’s program remains in the rear-view mirror of USC and Oregon’s operations. If Arizona did not make its pivotal enhancements, the Wildcats would be the ones left in the dust. Instead, Rodriguez can gain some speed with improved recruiting results (some of which Arizona has already experienced) and approach the Ducks and Trojans on the road to the Rose Bowl.

Oregon’s Hatfield-Dowlin Facility, a $68 million construction effort, borders on the ridiculous with the amenities it provides its coaches, players and recruits. NFL scouts and the media are also afforded working rooms and lounge areas. The Ducks’ facilities are on the cutting edge, also including a barber shop for their players, which is no surprise after they made numerous uniform combinations chic to the rest of the college football world.

The adjoining practice field to the Lowell-Stevens facility has the FieldTurf Revolution with Cool Play that was installed at Arizona Stadium (Javier Morales/WILDABOUTAZCATS.net)

The adjoining practice field to the Lowell-Stevens facility has the FieldTurf Revolution with Cool Play that was installed at Arizona Stadium (Javier Morales/WILDABOUTAZCATS.net)

USC unveiled the $70 million John McKay Center last year, which allows the Trojans to be the unthinkable — more attractive to recruits. Didn’t the Trojans get most of the Five-Star talent anyway before having video monitors in every locker or separate position film rooms with high-definition, high-tech video equipment?

Utah’s $32 million facility to be unveiled this year keeps the Utes on the Pac-12 highway alongside Arizona, Cal and Washington.

Washington, which has underachieved under Steve Sarkisian, has no excuses with the renovations to its facilities that will be unveiled this season at Husky Stadium. The Huskies return to Husky Stadium, after playing last at CenturyLink Field last year, with amenities such as a state-of-the-art weight training facility, team meeting rooms and lounge areas for recruits.

California started this recent wave of facilities enhancements with renovations of Memorial Stadium in 2011.

Oregon State and Stanford each have facilities that were constructed in the 1990s and have undergone minor renovations to add amenities. Oregon State has a stand-alone football facility, while Stanford shares an on-campus facility with other men’s and women’s teams.

The Cardinal underwent stadium renovations in 2005 which has coincided with improved results since.

With the Lowell-Stevens Facility as his fuel, Rodriguez is behind the wheel approaching Stanford and Oregon State, two foes that have enjoyed the upper-hand against Arizona since 1999. He’s got his hand on the horn ready to make a sound for others to clear the way.

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The best Arizona player to wear No. 28, according to TucsonCitizen.com’s Anthony Gimino, is placekicker Steve McLaughlin (1991-94). He won the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation’s top kicker, as a senior.

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Last year, this site and TucsonCitizen.com ran a Top 50 Games in the history of Arizona football series. 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, which landed as No. 38 on the list. Note, after clicking on the link, you will notice last year’s ranking. The list on this page is the current ranking.

No. 28: UA dominates No. 3 SMU, highest ranked non-conference foe to lose to Cats

No. 29: Arizona stuns second-ranked Oregon in most significant victory in Mike Stoops era

No. 30: Arizona’s win on last-second FG over ASU ends Krank Kush’s dominance in the series

No. 31: Arizona reaches its zenith under Mike Stoops with victory over Brigham Young in Las Vegas Bowl

No. 32: Arizona owed Cal a couple, knock Bears out of BCS title, Rose Bowl run

No. 33: Arizona’s 10-9 loss at Oregon in 1994, derailing its Rose Bowl hopes, still hurts

No. 34: ASU ripe for picking in banana uniforms for “The Streak” to reach eight

No. 35: Arizona tries risky fake PAT to beat California but loses in epic 4 overtime game

No. 36: Veal to Hill “Hail Mary” pass highlights “The Streak” reaching seven games against ASU

No. 37: USC outlasts Arizona 48-41 in one of most wild games played in Tucson

No. 38: Arizona Wildcats’ comeback against Nevada No. 38 in Top 50 games list

No. 39: Arizona shows signs of life under Mike Stoops with rout over No. 7 UCLA

No. 40: Art Luppino “The Cactus Comet” rockets toward 38 yards per carry and five touchdowns

No. 41: Fumblerooski enables Arizona to sweep USC, UCLA in L.A. for first time

No. 42: Sun Devil nemesis Dan White quarterbacks Arizona into Fiesta Bowl with win over ASU

No. 43: Struggling UA gets improbable win against ’83 Pac-10 champ UCLA

No. 44: Closing chapter of “The Streak” includes Arizona’s dramatic fourth-quarter heroics

No. 45: Arizona overcomes rival Texas Tech with unfathomable late-game rally

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

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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.


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