We have reached only 14 days until the Arizona Wildcats kick off their 2018 campaign 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 includes 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.
The season marks some substantial anniversaries. It is the 40th anniversary since the Wildcats left the WAC to join 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.
To catch up on the countdown — which included in-depth analysis and reader polls on The Great Debate of which team was better — 1993 or 1998 — click on this: Arizona Wildcats 2018 countdown to kickoff.
Top 25 developments in Pac-10/12 era
Over the last part of the countdown we are ranking the top 25 developments of Arizona’s Pac-10/12 existence that started in 1978 when it arrived with ASU from the WAC. The ranking will include player highlights, team accomplishments, coaching moves and other off-field developments. If a player is involved, the ranking includes happenings only during the course of that athlete’s time at Arizona.
The ranking up to now:
Kevin Sumlin hire
Sumlin is the first African-American football coach in Arizona history, and that is significant, but also important is that the Wildcats hired a coach who coached in the most dominant conference in the nation — the SEC — with Texas A&M. Sumlin is also a three-time national Coach of the Year finalist. He compiled a 51-26 record including three bowl victories with the Aggies. He also served as the head coach at the University of Houston for four seasons, amassing a 35-17 record. In his 10 seasons as a head coach, Sumlin has amassed an 86-43 record and his teams have played in bowl games in nine of those seasons. He also produced plenty of NFL draft picks in his six years at College Station, Texas.
The best to wear No. 14 …
The best to wear No. 14 in Arizona history? Has to be Arizona sophomore quarterback Khalil Tate now, after last season when set the FBS quarterback record with 327 yards rushing against Colorado, breaking the previous record of 321 held by Jordan Lynch. Tate, a Heisman Trophy candidate, finished with 1,411 rushing yards on only 153 carries (9.2 yards per carry). He also completed 62 percent of his passes (111 of 179) for 1,591 yards with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
The previous best No. 14: You have to go back to the end of World War II. That’s when running back Eddie Wolgast (who lettered with Arizona in 1945 and 1947-50): At all of about 150 pounds, he rushed for 2,022 yards, including 133 in the 1949 Salad Bowl. He got extra year of eligibility because of World War II.
Wearing No. 14 now …
Another standout other than Tate wears the number — sophomore stud linebacker Kylan Wilborn. Wilborn was chosen a Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America and USA Today. He started all 13 games at the “stud” position. He led all Power 5 freshmen and was second among all FBS freshmen with 7.5 sacks. He tied for fifth nationally and led Pac-12 with four forced fumbles. He totaled 33 tackles, 28 of which were solo, with 9.5 for loss, a fumble recovery and a pass break up.
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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.