The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is eight 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.
My uncle Mike Ortega Sr., a long-time educator and principal in Tucson and Las Vegas, had the oddest superstition — or better yet nervous reaction — pertaining to Arizona sports.
He never watched a UA basketball game or listened to it on the radio. Try to give him an update during a game and he probably would not talk to you for weeks.
When the Wildcats played, he went for a walk or watched a movie. The greatest play or victory in UA history could take place and my uncle would miss it, taking the car for a drive to nowhere in particular. He is one of the most ardent UA fans, but his stomach and nerves could not take it, so he put his faith in the Wildcats to come through.
And, of course, that’s what DVRs are made for … well, maybe not specifically for this kind of behavior, but he could not wait to watch the game … after it was over.
He has transitioned into watching the Wildcats, at least in person, because he attended the Pac-12 Tournament last year in Las Vegas.
Many UA fans deal with the stress of football and basketball games in unique ways. They develop routines to create a sense of familiarity and comfort.
Stevie Wonder is not a big fan of these quirks with the lyrics “Superstition ain’t the way” in his song “Superstition”. Babe Ruth once said that he had only one superstition: “I made sure to touch all the bases when I hit a home run.”
Many sports psychologists, however, believe, especially when it comes to athletes, superstitions or routines can bring normalcy, comfort and confidence to their preparation. In other words, what would Arizona’s football team be without the routine of the Cat Walk and Haka Dance before each home game?
For the last 12 years, Kim Clark and her family drive from Phoenix to Tucson for every football game. Since the pregame Cat Walk started in 2010, the Clarks stand in the same place. Once in the stadium, not a word is spoken.
“When we enter the stadium, my husband puts on his game face and we are not allowed to talk to him until after kickoff,” Clark commented.
Isabelle Gloria Rodriguez of Tucson has learned to never obstruct her father’s view of the game clock.
“My dad HAS to look at the (game) clock at a certain time (his childhood home’s number address) or, as he claims, the Cats have no chance,” Rodriguez wrote in a Facebook post on my wall last week. “This applies to both football and basketball. Possibly other sports as well. Yeah, he’s weird.”
Now I am thinking I must catch the game clock at “3:08”, the numbers of my address. Oh no.
Some fans get spiritual or religious about their game preparation, such as Tucsonan Celina Burruel. She does not strike a Tim Tebow pose — at least as far as we know — but she looks to the heavens for support of her beloved Wildcats.
She “always light my candle for my santos (saints in English) for games we watch at home. Yes, I pray for the CATS to win. I may be crazy.”
This is crazy: Eric Clapeck of Phoenix mentioned that he takes shots when the Wildcats are trailing. Let’s hope for his sake the UA has the lead in most games this season.
“Following the Cardiac Cats has not done my liver any good,” he wrote. “Took a week to recover from the 15th of December last year.”
That day, of course, is a special one in UA history. The Wildcats achieved dramatic comeback victories against Nevada in football and Florida in basketball on Dec. 15.
For some reason, socks always come into the discussion of superstitions and UA sports. Who can forget basketball player Jason Terry and his knee-high socks? He wore those to bed with his UA jersey the night before games. During his NBA career, Terry sleeps in the opponent’s jersey the night before.
Robert Lopez of Tucson wears a pair of UA socks inside out during games.
Scott Bricker of San Diego wears the color combinations the Wildcats display each week. If the Wildcats wear a blue top with white pants, he says he dons clothes matching that scheme. It must be difficult on him when the UA wears red tops and bottoms.
Jonathon Stone, a Tucsonan who lives in Grants Pass, Ore., makes it a habit to wear Arizona Wildcats gear from top to bottom — including socks — every single day of the year. Grants Pass is a two-hour drive south of Eugene. He attempts to make the cardinal red and navy blue offset the green and yellow of the Ducks in that area.
The best Arizona player to wear No. 8, according to TucsonCitizen.com’s Anthony Gimino, is quarterback Nick Foles (2009-11): The Michigan State transfer took the starting job four games into his sophomore season, becoming the only Arizona player to reach five digits in passing yardage (10,011). He set the school record for passing yards in a season (4,334 in 2011) before the Philadelphia Eagles selected him in the third round of the NFL Draft.
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. 8: UA loses heartbreaker to ASU wondering: “The Catch” really a catch?
No. 9: Arizona (12-1) achieves best record, highest ranking to end season with 1998 win over Nebraska
No. 10: UA wins 1926 game after McKale delivers Salmon’s “Bear Down” line
No. 11: The Desert Swarm is born in 1992 near-upset of top-ranked Miami at the Orange Bowl
No. 12: Zendejas’ 57-yard FG ties UA record, keeps ASU out of Rose Bowl again
No. 13: Arizona blows 20-point lead and shot at the Rose Bowl with 1993 collapse at California
No. 14: UA upsets No. 2 UCLA in 1980 when Bruins appeared ready to be No. 1
No. 15: L.A. Times reporter: Arizona shows “fight of wildcats” in 1914 game vs. Occidental
No. 16: UA leads UCLA late in third quarter but loses big in 12-1 season
No. 17: Unranked Arizona upsets Ohio State, Woody Hayes in Buckeyes’ 1967 opener in Columbus
No. 18: Arizona and hasty coach Mudra lose Ultimatum Bowl to ASU in 1968
No. 19: Arizona keeps “The Streak” without loss to ASU alive in ’87 with bizarre finish that ends in tie
No. 20: Arizona fit to be tied with Cal despite leading 26-3 in third quarter
No. 21: Zendejas’ last-second 45-yard FG vs. ASU generates momentum for “The Streak” to endure
No. 22: Arizona wins its first bowl behind “Heat-seeking Missile” Chuck Cecil
No. 23: Collapse vs. Utah after leading 27-0 in fourth quarter changed the face of UA football
No. 24: UA shuts out ASU, Kush during dominating run for Sun Devils coach
No. 25: Arizona’s defense and Doug Pfaff’s last-second FG enough to upset sixth-ranked Oklahoma
No. 26: UA upsets ASU from Fiesta Bowl consideration in program’s best stretch
No. 27: Trung Canidate rushes for record 288 yards and three long TDs in ’98 shootout against ASU
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 Frank 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.