We have reached 37 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 when it was 50 days to kickoff. All of the reader polls can be accessed here (you still have time to vote):
A look back at No. 37
— The best to wear No. 37 was halfback Bob Svob, who starred for the Wildcats from 1938 to 1940 and was a long-time fixture on campus after that. Svob, who passed away at 98 last August, was a coach and administrator after his playing days at Arizona. He spent 44 years at Arizona. He led the university’s intramural sports program for 16 years, served as an assistant football coach for two and was an assistant athletic director for seven. Svob was the scohool’s dean of men from 1966-72. He was then promoted to dean of students, a position he held until retiring in 1983. An Arizona Hall of Famer, Svob also assisted the development of high school sports as commissioner of the Arizona Scholastic Association from 1950-59.
Who’s wearing No. 37 now
Safety Xavier Bell, who redshirted last season after excelling at powerhouse Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, should challenge for playing time in his first college season. He helped Mater Dei to a 13-1 record as a senior and a spot in the CIF Finals. He had 40 tackles his senior year with two passes defended and one forced fumble.
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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.