We have reached 46 days until when the Arizona Wildcats kick off their 2018 season under new coach Kevin Sumlin. The season begins when Arizona hosts BYU on Sept. 1 at Arizona Stadium.
To get ready for the upcoming season, All Sports Tucson offers another countdown, which will include memories from former Wildcats, history notes and a look ahead to the season. Think of it as a way to keep Arizona football on the mind in the summer months leading up to fall camp in early August and then kickoff against the Cougars marking the start of the Sumlin Era.
To catch up on the countdown click on this: Arizona Wildcats 2018 countdown to kickoff.
1993 vs. 1998
The season marks some substantial anniversaries. It is the 40th anniversary since the Wildcats joined the Pac-12 (went from the Pac-8 to the Pac-10 then) and also the 20th anniversary of the 1998 team with the best record in school history, 12-1, and the 25th anniversary of the 1993 team that went 10-2 with a win over Miami in the Fiesta Bowl.
A debate among Arizona followers has developed in recent years over which team was better — the 1993 team that brought the program the famed Desert Swarm defense (one of the top units in the history of college football) or the 1998 team that finished No. 4 in the nation and came basically a half away against UCLA from going unbeaten.
My colleague Anthony Gimino wrote about this debate for the Tucson Citizen in 2013.
Both teams were coached by Dick Tomey, the winningest coach in Arizona history (95-64-4 from 1987 to 2000).
We started the debate last Friday when it was 50 days to kickoff. Here are the positions — with reader polls included — we have covered so far:
Today, the position shifts to wide receivers.
1993 wide receviers: The starting receivers for the 1993 team were Terry Vaughn and the late Troy Dickey, who passed away earlier this year after suffering a stroke. Vaughn started four seasons and led the Wildcats in receiving three of those years, including as a senior in 1993 with 36 receptions for 474 yards and two touchdowns. Dickey, a second team All-Pac-10 selection as a returner in 1991, enjoyed an illustrious 12-year career in the Canadian Football League after leaving Arizona. He finished his career in 2006 with 1,006 career receptions, a record which stood until 2010. Vaughn holds the CFL record for most 1,000-plus yards receiving seasons with 11, while also holding the record for most consecutive 1,000-plus yards receiving, also with 11. He finished his career as the CFL’s fourth-leading receiving with 13,746 yards.
Dickey was an honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection in 1993 with 27 receptions for 381 yards and six touchdowns. Two of those TD receptions were against Miami in the Fiesta Bowl, which ties an Arizona bowl record. Dickey also shares the record for most receptions in a bowl with nine against Baylor in the 1992 John Hancock Bowl.
1998 wide receivers: The starting receivers for the 1998 team included one of the most prolific players in Arizona history, Dennis Northcutt, and Jeremy McDaniel. Northcutt is one of the best receivers and returners in Wildcats history, catching 223 passes for 3,252 yards in his career from 1996 to 1999. Only two other Pac-10 players have had more receptions and receiving yards in their careers. Northcutt also caught passes in 43 straight games, a conference record. In his senior year, he set an Arizona records with 88 receptions for 1,422 yards. His punt-return average that year of 19 yards per return was second in the nation. He was recognized as a consensus first-team All-American as an “all-purpose” athlete in 1999. He was also an All-Pac-10 receiver in 1999. After selected as the first pick in the second round in the 2000 NFL draft by Cleveland, Northcutt, an Arizona Hall of Famer, went on to play 10 years in the NFL.
McDaniel was a second team All-Pac-10 selection in 1998 with 58 catches for 916 yards and nine touchdowns. His 283 yards receiving at Cal in a five-overtime game in 1996 remains a school record. His 14 receptions in the game are also a school record. He went on to play parts of four seasons in the NFL and another three seasons in the Arena Football League.
A look back at No. 46
— The best to wear No. 46 was the legendary Fred Enke Jr., who starred with the Wildcats in 1946 and 1947. He was a Tucson-raised athlete, a standout at Tucson High School, who led the NCAA in total offense in 1947 (1,406 yards passing and 535 rushing) and went on to a seven-year stint in the NFL. That still ranks as Arizona’s longest tenured quarterback in the NFL. Nick Foles will tie that mark this 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.