Random thoughts while wondering if the Arizona Wildcats can salvage anything out of this winless season of far in the Pac-12 with two games remaining. Yes, they can …
First, Wilbur, a.k.a. Captain Arizona …
NEVER WINLESS BEFORE IN PAC-10/12 PLAY
In their 38-year history in the conference, the Arizona Wildcats (2-8 overall, 0-7 Pac-12) have never had a goose egg for wins. Their worst conference records were the 1-7 seasons under John Mackovic in 2003 and interim coach Mike Hankwitz (Mackovic’s midseason replacement after he was fired) in 2004. Arizona is a 5-point underdog against Oregon State, which is 2-8 and 1-6. The Wildcats will likely not be favored in the finale against ASU at Arizona Stadium on the day after Thanksgiving.
The last time Arizona went without a win in conference play was way back in 1957 when the Wildcats went 0-4 in the Border Conference under Ed Doherty. The only other time was in 1939 when the Wildcats went 0-3 in the Border Conference under Orian Landreth. Rodriguez does not want to be mentioned in the same sentence with Doherty and Landreth. Doherty lasted only two years and Landreth one as Arizona’s coach.
Arizona is one of six FBS teams without a conference win. The others are Tulane in the American Athletic Conference, Kansas in the Big 12, Rutgers in the Big Ten, Fresno State in the Mountain West and Texas State in the Sun Belt.
INDIVIDUAL RECORDS SOMETHING TO SHOOT FOR
Sadly because of Arizona’s lost season the fanfare has diminished. That means Nate Phillips’ school-record 43rd consecutive game with a reception largely went unnoticed last week in the loss to Colorado. Phillips surpassed legendary Arizona receivers Bobby Wade and Dennis Northcutt — both of whom were tied at 42 games — for the record.
Anu Solomon can become only the fourth quarterback in Arizona history to reach 7,000 career passing yards. He has 6,840, which trails Nick Foles (10,011), Willie Tuitama (9,211) and Tom Tunnicliffe (7,618) in the school record book. Solomon can also become only the third Arizona quarterback to reach 50 career touchdown passes (he has 49), trailing only the 67 achieved by Foles and Tuitama.
Both Phillips and Samajie Grant still have a chance to finish among the top five Arizona receivers in the program’s history. Phillips has 145 receptions while Grant has 143. The No. 5 receiver in school history is Theopolis “T” Bell with 153 catches.
ASU GAME A MUST WIN
Not only will Arizona possibly try to avoid going winless in the Pac-12 when it plays ASU next Friday, it will guard against losing another game to its arch-rivals under Rodriguez. Todd Graham and the Sun Devils are 3-1 against the Wildcats since Rodriguez’s hire in 2012.
The last time an Arizona coach went 1-4 or worse in at least a five-game stretch against ASU? Never.
The worst stretches against the Sun Devils for Arizona coaches in a four-year span or more:
Jim LaRue 1-3 (1963-66/fired after the 1966 season)
Jim Young: 1-3 (1973-76/left to Purdue after the 1976 season)
Mike Stoops: 1-3 (2004-07/coached at Arizona until midway through 2011/went 2-1 vs. ASU after 2007)
Rich Rodriguez: 1-3 (2012-15/still coaching at Arizona)
Bob Weber: 0-4 (1969-72/fired after 1972 season)
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.