We have reached only 12 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:
Tedy Bruschi’s career
A relative unknown as a recruit when he came to Arizona, Tedy Bruschi’s College Football Hall of Fame career included him making the Wildcats a national brand as part of the Desert Swarm Defense of the early 1990’s. A unanimous All-American in 1995, Bruschi ended his career with 52 sacks, tied for the most in NCAA history. Bruschi’s celebrated senior season included the 1995 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year honors and winning the Morris Trophy as the league’s best defensive lineman. He was a two-time finalist for the Lombardi Award and graduated with 74 tackles for loss, which ranked sixth in FBS history. Bruschi was named all-conference three times and he led the Wildcats to three bowl berths under head coach Dick Tomey.
The best to wear No. 12 …
The best to wear No. 12 in Arizona history? That honor goes to Tom “Terrific” Tunnicliffe, who became school’s career passing leader with 7.618 yards from 1980-83 (Willie Tuitama with 9,211 passing yards and Nick Foles with 10,011 have since passed him). Tunnicliffe helped engineer some of Arizona’s most historic victories — over No. 1 USC in 1980 at the L.A. Coliseum as a true freshman, No. 2 UCLA in 1981, No. 9 Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., in 1982 and wins over ASU in 1982 and 1983 that started “The Streak.”
Another memorable No. 12 — quarterback Eddie Wilson, an Arizona Hall of Famer who was a third-team All-American in 1961 when the Wildcats finished 8-1-1. Wilson was also Arizona’s most prolific passer in the NFL before Foles arrived.
Wearing No. 12 now …
Two players wear No. 12 now — sophomore defensive end J.B. Brown (who played in four games and recorded two tackles as a true freshman last year) and promising quarterback Kevin Doyle, who comes all the way from Washington, D.C., St. John’s College High School and was a one-time Michigan commit.
Doyle, a 6-3 pro-style quarterback originally from West Chester, Pa., will be forever known as Sumlin’s first signee at Arizona during the February signing period. The Wildcats had signed 16 players during the early period when Sumlin became coach on Jan. 14.
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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.