[tps_title]That “dad-gone” non-stop 1980 season[/tps_title]
Arizona’s 11-game 1980 schedule started Sept. 20 and ended Nov. 29 without a break
Other than not having a week off, the starting date of Arizona’s 1980 season was very peculiar — Sept. 20. In this year’s schedule, Arizona will play three games by Sept. 20.
Larry Smith probably wanted to trade an earlier starting date for a week off but he avoided commenting about that, according to former Tucson Citizen sports columnist Corky Simpson, now retired in Green Valley.
“Larry Smith made a big deal out of not allowing it to be a big deal that there would be no off-weeks,” Simpson e-mailed me. “He reasoned there was nothing the Cats could do about it anyhow — nothing but complain — and that that would only hurt, not help.
“He said it would make them tougher mentally, knowing they had to get ready every ‘dad-gone’ week. Larry liked that word.”
If anything, the late start to the season was most detrimental because Colorado State pulled off a 15-13 upset at Arizona Stadium in the season opener.
The season was unique inasmuch as Arizona played three No. 2-ranked teams — UCLA, Notre Dame and USC — all in Tucson. They went 1-2 against those teams with the victory a significant upset of UCLA when the Bruins were about to be No. 1 because top-ranked Alabama lost earlier that day.
“I like to tell people UCLA was ranked No. 1.5 that night,” Simpson mentioned.
“The only other things I remember are, it was quarterback Tom Tunnicliffe’s freshman year, Hubert Oliver led the team in rushing and Arizona went to Iowa City and beat the Hawkeyes on Oct. 4 (my sister’s birthday) by the unlikely score of 5-3,” Simpson continued.
Through it all, Smith never said a word about playing every week without a break.
“Nobody said anything about it,” Simpson wrote. “They were AFRAID to. Smitty would have kicked their ‘dad-gone’ ass.”