General History

They Fought Like Wildcats Centennial (1914-2014): McKale takes charge of football squad



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General history
Comparisons then and now
Wildcats nickname
Military service


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Excerpt from L.A. Times, Nov. 8, 1914, authored by Bill Henry:
“Arizona’s cactus-fed athletes, despite heroic efforts on the part of their two halfbacks, (Asa) Porter and (Franklin) Luis, went down to defeat before the Occidental Tigers yesterday afternoon, the tally with all precincts heard from being 14 to 0 in favor of the Tigers.
Confident of rolling up a big score, the Tigers took the field with grins on their faces, but before the game was 10 seconds old they knew they had a battle on their hands.
The Arizona men showed the fight of wild cats and displayed before the public gaze a couple of little shrimps in the backfield who defied all attempts of the Tigers to stop them.”

This site will conduct a countdown in a 100-day period, leading up to Arizona’s 2014 football season-opener with UNLV on Aug. 29 at Arizona Stadium. The 100 Days ‘Til Kickoff countdown will include information daily about the historic 1914 Arizona team that helped create the school’s nickname of “Wildcats” because of how they played that fateful day against Occidental.


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J.F. "Pop" McKale brought a lot of firsts to the Arizona football program

J.F. “Pop” McKale brought a lot of firsts to the Arizona football program


The 1914 “Red and Blue” was coached by James Fred “Pop” McKale, who was fresh off of an Arizona high school state championship while coaching at Tucson High in 1912.

McKale brought hope to Arizona and ultimately led this newly named band of “Wild-Cats” to what was then known as the “Champions of the Southwest”.


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Going game by game, the “They Fought Like Wildcats” series will recount every step of the way. There were plenty of “firsts” for Arizona from that year: The first championship, the first big-name transfer, the first big-name recruit, the first team to wear numbers, the first time a coach called out Tempe Normal, the first call for students to show up at games, the first time the school held spring practice and, of course, the first time the school adopted “Wildcats” as its school mascot.

Caption here

The 1914 Arizona football team that earned the honor of being named the first “Wildcats” was composed of (front row, left to right): Verne La Tourette, George Seeley, Leo Cloud, Richard Meyer, Asa Porter. Second row: Franklin Luis, Lawrence Jackson, Ray Miller, J.F. “Pop” McKale (coach), Turner Smith, Harry Hobson (manager), Orville McPherson, Albert Crawford, Ernest Renaud. Back row: Albert Condron, Emzy Lynch, Charley Beach, Vinton Hammels, Bill Hendry, George Clawson, Harry Turvey.
( graphic/Photo from University of Arizona Library Special Collections)

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The following is pulled from a news account as provided by the school newspaper Arizona Life. Some of the spelling, word usage and grammar may seem odd by today’s standards but it is presented as was written. It was a preseason story titled, “McKALE TAKES CHARGE OF FOOTBALL SQUAD”.

Long before Tom Hanks declared there was, “No crying in baseball,” McKale put forth, “There are no quitters in the University.”

The “University” was one of the many terms used to describe the varsity squad. He proved that no quitters were on his team. Here is one account in Arizona Life about the 1914 team:

“Those that have been lucky enough to know Coach McKale need not be told of his ability, and one look at his work so far this year with the squad will make the most dubious concede that at least we have a coach that is a coach.


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Arizona's captain in 1914, Turner Smith (Arizona Life)

Arizona’s captain in 1914, Turner Smith (Arizona Life)

“California can not produce any better teams than Arizona can. Some people seem possessed with the idea that just because a team is from California, Arizona has no chance, but our coach, our material are as good as California ever thought of having.”

“Of last year’s Varsity, only seven men are out this year. The seven are Captain (Turner) Smith, (George) Clawson, (Albert) Condron, (Lawrence) Jackson, (Orville) McPherson, (Franklin) Luis and (Albert) Crawford.”

“We have a large amount of new material this year and are especially fortunate in having with us (Asa) Porter who hails from Georgia, with a reputation that would make Jim Thorpe envious. Johnny Hughes (another newcomer) from Stanford where he played the English game. Hughes is fast and a hard tackler. Turner Smith, captain, is a line man from away back and can always be depended upon to hold up his end of things…George Clawson, the big man is friskier than a dozen ballet dances and just ask the New Mexico fellows what he can do when he gets low and charges.

“Al Condron will be in all probability again be in the backfield. Al is fast and a hard hitter. McPherson, last year’s half back, is some line plunger. He is at present confining his energies to the sophomore team. Luis our snappy little end can stay with anybody when it comes to being Jonny on-the-spot. He has a knack of always doing the right thing at the right time. Crawford is also at present working with the sophomores. Bumps (Crawford’s nickname) will again try for his old position at end. Jackson, another heavy lineman, is on the job and promises to make things hum when he gets in action.

“We are on the eve of a winning football season, so boost, but don’t boast. Remember, ‘There are no quitters in the University.'”

NOTES: Hughes became the first big name to transfer to Arizona when he left Stanford, where he played rugby or the “English game”. He was part of the second team (the equivalent of a junior varsity) in 1914 and never lettered for Arizona’s varsity. . . . Porter, a future Arizona Sports Hall of Famer who lettered in basketball, tennis, baseball and track and field, was Arizona’s first big-name recruit from what is now considered SEC country when he left Garrisville, Ga., to play for McKale. . . . There was a Varsity squad, Second Team, Sophomore squad and Freshmen squad. The freshmen were often called “Scrubs” or “Babies”. The playing roster fluctuated constantly. publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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