In the 50 days leading up to Arizona’s season-opener against Toledo, on Sept. 1 at Arizona Stadium, TucsonCitizen.com and its affiliate WildAboutAZCats.net will rank the Top 50 games in the history of the football program. The ranking is at No. 15 as the kickoff to the Wildcats’ season — and the start of the Rich Rodriguez era — is only 15 days away.
SCORE: Occidental Tigers 14, Arizona Varsity 0
DATE: Nov. 7, 1914
SITE: Occidental College, Los Angeles
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: From a historical standpoint, Arizona’s 14-0 loss to defending California champions Occidental in 1914 is as significant as a game can get. The game was a loss, but the “Varsity” as Arizona was called at the time, put up enough of a fight to alter history. Los Angeles Times correspondent Bill Henry, who graduated from Occidental (a Los Angeles-based school) earlier that year, reported on the game and wrote the most famous sentence that has appeared in print involving the Arizona athletic department:
“The Arizona men showed the fight of wildcats”
Members of the Arizona student body read the report. By the end of that school year, the students put to a vote the idea of “Wildcats” as the new nickname for UA teams. Arizona’s nickname has been Wildcats since.
The entire sentence of Henry’s report between Arizona and the Occidental Tigers: “The Arizona men showed the fight of wildcats and displayed before the public gaze a couple of little shrimps who defied all attempts of the Tigers to stop them.”
The late Henry, who later became a renowned Times columnist and war correspondent, was honored as the “Father of the Arizona Wildcats” at the 50th Homecoming in 1964. The game in 1964 against Idaho was played 50 years to the exact date when the “Varsity” played Occidental.
J.F. “Pop” McKale was in his first year as Arizona’s coach in 1914. He was the Arizona athletic director from 1914 to 1957 during which time he served as coach of the football team (1914-1930), men’s basketball team (1914-1921) and baseball team (1915-1919 and 1922-1949). McKale Center is named after him. He passed away at 79 years old in 1967, three years after Henry and Arizona’s alumni honored him before the 1964 homecoming game.
Henry, who was an NBC-TV announcer at the time, was the main speaker at the All-Alumni luncheon at the Pioneer Hotel.
“McKale is to sports what fresh cool water is to the desert—everything around him is the better for his coming,” Henry is quoted as saying by the Tucson Daily Citizen. “I saw the game on television a week ago (a 7-0 loss at Air Force). And I’m convinced the Wildcats of 1914 passed the spirit along to the Wildcats of 1964.”
Arizona’s 1914 team, which finished 4-1, is in the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame because of the historical turn of events at Occidental College in 1914. Another historical fact about the 1914 team: Arizona’s 7-6 victory over Pomona College on Thanksgiving Day that year led to the building of the “A” on Sentinel Peak, west of Tucson (now “A” Mountain).
According to the university, Albert Condron, a member of the 1914 team and a civil engineering student, suggested to one of his professors after the victory over Pomona that a class assignment be made to survey Sentinel Peak for the location of an “A”. The site was cleared of shrubbery and cactus, trenches dug to outline the letter’s foundation.
Here is the roster (a team photo can be accessed by clicking on this UA library link):
No. 16 — UA leads UCLA late in third quarter but loses big in 12-1 season (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 17 — Unranked Arizona upsets Ohio State, Woody Hayes in Buckeyes’ 1967 opener in Columbus (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 18 — Arizona and hasty coach Mudra lose Ultimatum Bowl to ASU in 1968 (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 19 — Arizona keeps “The Streak” without loss to ASU alive in ’87 with bizarre finish that ends in tie (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 20 — Arizona fit to be tied with Cal despite leading 26-3 in third quarter (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 21 — Zendejas’ last-second 45-yard FG vs. ASU generates momentum for “The Streak” to endure (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 22 — Arizona wins its first bowl behind “Heat-seeking Missile” Chuck Cecil (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 23 — Collapse vs. Utah after leading 27-0 in fourth quarter changed the face of UA football (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 24 — UA shuts out ASU, Kush during dominating run for Sun Devils coach (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 25 — Arizona’s defense and Doug Pfaff’s last-second FG enough to upset sixth-ranked Oklahoma (WildAboutAZCats.com)
No. 26 — UA upsets ASU from Fiesta Bowl consideration in program’s best stretch (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 27 — Trung Canidate rushes for record 288 yards and three long TDs in ’98 shootout against ASU (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 28 — UA dominates No. 3 SMU, highest ranked non-conference foe to lose to Cats (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 29 — Arizona stuns second-ranked Oregon in most significant victory in Mike Stoops era (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 30 — Arizona win on last-second FG over ASU ends Kush dominance in series (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 31 — Arizona reaches its zenith under Stoops with victory over Brigham Young in Las Vegas Bowl (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 32 — Arizona owed Cal a couple, knock Bears out of BCS title, Rose Bowl run (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 33 — Arizona’s 10-9 loss at Oregon in 1994, derailing its Rose Bowl hopes, still hurts (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 34 — ASU ripe for picking in banana uniforms for “The Streak” to reach eight (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 35 — Arizona tries risky fake PAT to beat California but loses in epic 4 overtime game (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 36 — Veal to Hill “Hail Mary” pass highlights “The Streak” reaching seven games against ASU (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 37 — USC outlasts Arizona 48-41 in one of most wild games played in Tucson (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 38 — Arizona shows signs of life under Stoops with rout over No. 7 UCLA (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 39 — Art Luppino “The Cactus Comet” rockets toward 38 yards per carry and five touchdowns (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 40 — Fumblerooski enables Arizona to sweep USC, UCLA in L.A. for first time (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 41 — Sun Devil nemesis Dan White quarterbacks Arizona into Fiesta Bowl with win over ASU (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 42 — Struggling UA gets improbable win against ’83 Pac-10 champ UCLA (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 43 — Closing chapter of “The Streak” includes Arizona’s dramatic fourth-quarter heroics (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 44 — Arizona overcomes rival Texas Tech with unfathomable late-game rally (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 45 — Dick Tomey, the Desert Fox, does a number on UCLA by changing offense in midseason (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 46 — “The Streak” reaches three games, UA achieves best Pac-10 finish (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 47 — Arizona’s first game at Arizona Stadium in 1929, a 35-0 win over Cal Tech (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 48 — Underdog Arizona’s 2011 thriller over arch-rival Arizona State (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 49 — Arizona’s first win over arch-rival Arizona State, then known as Territorial Normal (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 50 — Arizona’s first win in program’s history: 22-5 over Tucson Indians (TucsonCitizen.com)