We’ve all heard the joke when Arizona’s football team loses a game during these last 40-plus years now that the Wildcats have been part of the Pac-10 and Pac-12, thus ending yet another Rose Bowl dream:
At least basketball season is coming …
Some of the fans I polled on Facebook and Twitter for this countdown came up with the same theme of what they look forward to the most this upcoming season for the Wildcats:
“The Arizona women’s basketball season” — Sara Hammond
“Basketball season” — Danny Pareda
“Hockey season” — Joe Pyritz
Yesterday’s theme was kickoff times with a fan perhaps joking, probably not, that he looked forward to the start of games before 8 p.m. Central time (6 p.m. Tucson time).
Fans have become cynical, and rightfully so.
Arizona shared the Pac-10 title in 1993 and the WAC title in 1973 but did not achieve the tiebreaker to claim the top spot that earned a trip to the Rose Bowl and Fiesta Bowl, respectively.
The Wildcats’ last outright conference title was in 1941 in the Border Conference, but even that season when they finished 5-0, Texas Tech was 2-0. Arizona had three more conference games?
Arizona won the Pac-12 South title in 2014 but was annihilated by Oregon in the conference championship game.
Will it ever happen?
The Cubs and Red Sox finally won World Series titles, so yes, it is possible some day. Cubs and Red Sox fans used to say, “There’s always next year.” Arizona’s fans say, “Well, basketball season is almost here.”
When will that saying happen this year?
“In this culture we have, everyone contributes on special teams. So all those guys are going to help, whether you’re a starter and you’re playing 80 plays a game or you’re not playing at all, you’re going to contribute in some fashion … [Colin Schooler, Tony Fields II and other starters] get it, they know that in order to help this team they’ve got to help on special teams, it’s 1/3 of the game. They understand that in order for us to win a lot of games and try to win this conference, they’ve got to help out on special teams.”
— Jeremy Springer, Arizona special teams coordinator on how starters are not saved by staying off the field for kickoff and punt returns.
BY THE NUMBERS
Four — Only four offensive players from Arizona are in the NFL with the exhibition season starting and just quarterback Nick Foles is a sure thing to make an active roster with Jacksonville. This speaks volumes because Rich Rodriguez‘s claim to fame is his spread offense. The talent resulting from those six years under Rodriguez by and large was not worthy of the next level. Offensive tackle Gebhard de Beer (Packers) and wide receivers Trey Griffey (Steelers) and Shawn Poindexter (49ers) are fighting the odds of making the active roster as undrafted free agents after their Arizona careers.
Trey Griffey arrives to training camp wearing a jersey with his name on the back. It’s not a Steelers jersey, but it does say Griffey. pic.twitter.com/EegP97tQtO
— Steelers Now (@PghSteelersNow) July 25, 2019
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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.