Arizona Athletics

Arizona Wildcats great but not great enough in title quest one more time in another sport

The prestigious Arizona Wildcats men’s basketball team has not reached the Final Four since 2001, an unthinkable 16 years ago.

Arizona has won six Pac-12 titles in that span, four by Sean Miller since his arrival in 2009. Miller has coached Arizona to three Elite Eights, losing in the final seconds to UConn in 2011 and Wisconsin in 2014.

Lute Olson came close to a return to the Final Four in 2005 but Arizona lost the Elite Eight game to Illinois, a game in which the Wildcats blew a 15-point lead with four minutes left in regulation.

The Arizona softball program, eight-time NCAA champions, has not won a Women’s College World Series title since 2007. The Wildcats were the No. 2 seed in the NCAA postseason this season but came up short Sunday against 15th-seeded Baylor in a Super Regional at Hillenbrand Stadium.

Tucson News Now

Mike Candrea’s program has advanced to six Super Regionals since the last Women’s College World Series appearance in 2010 but has not returned to Oklahoma City.

The football program (nothing you don’t know) — no Rose Bowl trip since joining what was then the Pac-10 in 1978 — must go back to 1941 for the Wildcats’ last outright conference title when they were part of the Border Conference.

Arizona’s baseball program has at least won a national title not too long ago in 2012. The Wildcats last season came close again but could not close out Coastal Carolina in the last two games after winning Game One of the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.

Arizona’s players react after Baylor defeated the Wildcats for the opportunity to advance to the Women’s College World Series (ESPN screen shot)

Total games for men’s basketball without reaching the Final Four since 2001: 552.

Total games for softball without making the Women’s College World Series since 2010: 420.

Total games for football without making the Rose Bowl since joining the conference in 1978: 450.

Arizona fans know all about frustration, but they can take some solace that the teams mentioned have provided them with the opportunity to hope for something grand.

That may not be entirely the case for football, but Rich Rodriguez’s team won the Pac-12 South title only three years ago and had an outside shot of qualifying for the College Football Playoff if it beat Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game.

The Desert Swarm era and the 12-1 team in 1998 also give the program a source of pride.

Is it too much to call the shortcomings in the men’s basketball, football and softball programs a “disappointment”? Is it more appropriate to call them “unfortunate”?

Where do you draw the line between utter disappointment and awe shucks?

Are you happy Arizona gives you something to cheer about despite the final outcome? Or are you anxious for something more in men’s basketball, football and softball?

Another question to ponder: Which drought is more frustrating — not going to the Four Four in 16 years, the ever-elusive Rose Bowl trip or the now seven years without a berth in the Women’s College World Series?

What eats at you the most? You can answer that question with this poll:

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! 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, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, 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.

To Top