The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is tomorrow. This Web site has counted down the days with facts about the Wildcats, their players, coaching staff and opponents. It was not a ranking, only a list of 100 facts and observances related to the 2013 Arizona football team and coach Rich Rodriguez.
The 100 Days ‘Til Kickoff series started a long time ago, on May 21, to be exact.
Along the way, this site has offered analysis, updates and projections for the 2013 season, which kicks off tomorrow night against NAU at the revamped Arizona Stadium.
We have looked back — selecting Arizona’s All-Time All-Pac-10/12 Offense and Defense teams — and looked forward with graphics of UA running back Ka’Deem Carey chasing history. He has Arizona’s career rushing touchdown and rushing yardage records in sight.
We started a new feature with an old background — cartoon previews of Arizona’s game with its upcoming opponent. The Tucson Citizen ran cartoons of high school football games and UA games every Friday during the football season back in the 1970s. The first installment (above), drawn by professional artist Mike Hanaoka, depicts Wilbur the Wildcat pouncing on Louie the Lumberjack of NAU.
This site ranked the top five games against each Pac-12 opponent during countdown to kickoff, a total of 60 games.
During the last 100 days, Arizona lost a dear friend, longtime broadcaster and rugby coach Dave Sitton. This site stopped its operations for a day to honor the Tucson legend who was very active in charity work and city community affairs.
The UA has also gained newcomers to the family, thanks to the new Lowell-Stevens Football Facility, including a “Red Carpet” event for recruits on the last weekend of July.
With only one day remaining until kickoff, we look at No. 1-ranked subjects in the Arizona football program:
No. 1 player: Ricky Hunley, linebacker from 1980-83. The UA’s career tackles leader who helped elevate the UA’s image nationally as the UA’s first consensus All-American after the Wildcats joined the Pac-10 in 1978. Hunley gets a slight edge over fellow Hall of Famers Rob Waldrop and Tedy Bruschi as the top player to wear the Arizona uniformn
No. 1 coach: Dick Tomey gets the edge over Larry Smith because of his 14 years of service and his career victory total of 95, which tops all UA coaches. Tomey finished 95-64-4 (.627 winning percentage) in his UA career. Smith deserves consideration because he built the UA program through the depths of an NCAA probation in 1983 and 1984. The Wildcats never sank during that time because of him.
No. 1 team: Anthony Gimino of TucsonCitizen.com recently ran a poll at his blog concerning this topic. The 1993 “Desert Swarm” team that finished 10-2 and beat Miami 29-0 in the Fiesta Bowl got the most votes over the 1998 team that went 12-1. I voted for the 1993 team because of how dominant the 1993 team was defensively with a majority of those players overlooked by other programs during the recruiting process. Tomey got the most out of that team.
No. 1 game: Arizona’s victory over top-ranked USC in 1981 gets the edge of the Desert Swarm’s “upset” of No. 1 Washington in 1992. The Wildcats were still trying to establish themselves — as 24-point underdogs — in the Pac-10 when they faced the mighty Trojans and Marcus Allen at the L.A. Coliseum. USC never lost there, having won 22 straight games. The UA’s 13-10 triumph over USC tops the 1992 win over the Huskies because — in the opinion of many who follow the sport — the 16-3 win was not an upset. It capped the best five-game winning streak Arizona has experienced because of the dominance of the Desert Swarm.
No. 1 play: Chuck Cecil’s 106-yard interception return for a touchdown against ASU in 1986 is the signature play of “The Streak” which turned the tide in the modern era of the series following ASU’s dominance of Arizona in football in the 1960s and 1970s. How often does a former walk-on intercept a pass and run the entire length of the field for a touchdown? Answer: Practically once in a lifetime. Last-second kicks happen all the time — not to take anything away from Max Zendejas and his numerous, important clutch performances — but what Cecil did in 1986 with the game on the line may never happen again in our lifetime. It has not to this point.
No. 1 fan: How can you not pick Joseph Cavaleri, the “Ooh Aah Man”, who hung up his cape in March after 34 years of leading cheers at UA baseball, basketball and football games? Cavaleri can’t be replaced. Somebody may try, but it won’t be the same. One of the “Ooh Aah Man” best routines: “Sock it to them Wildcats, ooh … ahh. Sock it to them Wildcats, ooh … aah.”
The best Arizona player to wear No. 1, according to TucsonCitizen.com’s Anthony Gimino, is quarterback Bruce Hill (1973-75). Hill is Arizona’s last all-conference quarterback, earning that honor in 1975 when Arizona was in the WAC. He led the 1-2-3 offense, with Willie Hamilton (No. 2) and Jim Upchurch (No. 3) as split backs behind Hill.
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. 1: UA closes gap between USC and Pac-12 powers with historical 1981 upset of No. 1 Trojans
No. 2: UA beats No. 1 Washington as it expected with dominant Desert Swarm
No. 3: Arizona’s Desert Swarm and offense too much for Miami in historic Fiesta Bowl shutout
No. 4: ASU smells roses but through broken nose as Cecil, DeBow lead Cats
No. 5: Zendejas returns after hastily leaving UA at halftime, makes 48-yard FG to beat Notre Dame
No. 6: 1982 upset win keeps Sun Devils from Rose Bowl, starts “The Streak”
No. 7: “Leap by the Lake” most amazing individual play in UA history gives Cats win over Huskies
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
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.