Arizona Wildcats 2018 countdown to kickoff: 22 days

We have reached 22 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 will include 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 will rank 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 during the course of that athlete’s time at Arizona.

The ranking up to now:

No. 25: Darryll Lewis’ 1990 season

No. 24: Chris McAlister’s career

No. 23: Mike Stoops’ coaching tenure

No. 22

Rob Waldrop’s career

A two-time consensus All-American during his junior and senior seasons, Rob Waldrop was the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in 1993, received the Outland Trophy honoring the country’s top interior lineman, was voted the Top Defensive Player of the Year by the Football Writers of America (now called the Bronko Nagurski award), and was one of four finalists for the Lombardi Trophy honoring the outstanding lineman of the year.

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In 1992, he was voted by opposing linemen as the Pac-10’s defensive winner of the Morris Award. He earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors in 1992 and 1993. During his senior season, Waldrop recorded 53 total tackles, 14 for losses, including eight sacks. He was one of the leaders of the “Desert Swarm” defense, helping the Wildcats lead the nation and set a Pac-10 record with 33 rushing yards allowed per game in 1993. Arizona led the nation in total defense that year. He finished his Arizona career with 164 tackles, an impressive total for an interior lineman.

Waldrop was selected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

A look back at best No. 22

— The best Wildcat to wear No. 22 was tailback Art Luppino, who is to Arizona what the Four Horsemen were to Notre Dame. The “Cactus Comet” led the nation in scoring, rushing, kickoff returns and all-purpose yards in 1954. He again led the country in rushing in 1955. A knee injury cost him a professional career. His No. 22 is retired by Arizona.

Art Luppino, “The Cactus Comet,” is one of the most legendary players in Arizona history (Arizona Athletics photo)

Below is video of Luppino playing with Arizona against Idaho in 1954:


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.

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