I polled Arizona fans on Facebook about a month ago about what they are looking forward to the most in the 2019 season, one that has a lot of questions but some promise.
Kevin Sumlin is only in his second season and his program is still in the restructuring phase with 54 of the 106 players listed on the fall camp roster either true freshmen, redshirt freshmen, sophomores or junior college transfers who joined the program since Sumlin’s arrival before last season.
Last year’s 5-7 record and inability to land a bowl bid after a disheartening collapse in the fourth quarter against archrival Arizona State has Arizona’s fans wanting more. A lot more.
Here’s one of the 25 most commented themes of what Arizona fans want most:
“Games that start before 8 p.m. Central time!” — Austin Runner
The starting times of Arizona’s Pac-12 games have yet to be announced (many of them are determined two weeks in advance depending on the networks). The starting times for the non-conferences games are all past 8 p.m. Central (6 p.m. Tucson time).
Arizona kicks off the season at Hawaii on Aug. 24 at 7:30 p.m. Tucson time (CBS Sports Network televising).
The Wildcats then host NAU on Sept. 7 at 7:45 p.m. (Pac-12 Network) and Texas Tech on Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m. (ESPN).
Count on some 8 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. kickoffs. It’s bound to happen because … well, the Pac-12 is all about TV revenue and not about the fans at the games. Is it any more obvious?
“Aaron Donald. As soon as I got the move officially to the inside, I looked up the smallest defensive tackle in the NFL. He’s 6-1, 285, so I’m going to watch his moves. You know what he does, 20-sack seasons, so I had a lot [of film] to watch. He’s very aggressive, but his explosiveness out of his hips, he can kind of play with offensive linemen – he can come out of his stance slow and they’ll sit and wait on him and then in one second he’s gone, he’s just so fast and explosive.”Arizona defensive tackle J.B. Brown (6-foot-3, 255 pounds) on who he wants to emulate (courtesy Arizona Athletics)
By the numbers
Sumlin a bargain? His $2 million annual salary ranks tied with Arizona State’s Herm Edwards for 61st out of 130 Division I FCS head coaches, according to USA Today’s annual salary database, released last October. Sumlin and Edwards are tied for ninth among Pac-12 coaches, ahead of only Oregon State’s Jonathan Smith ($1.9 million annually) and Cal’s Justin Wilcox ($1.5 million annually).
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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.