Arizona Football

Top 25 Arizona Wildcats Developments in 40th Anniversary of Joining Pac-10/12

During our countdown-to-kickoff for the 2018 season, which begins tonight with the Arizona Wildcats hosting BYU, we ranked the top 25 developments of the program’s Pac-10/12 existence that started in 1978 when it arrived with ASU from the WAC.

The ranking included player highlights, team accomplishments, coaching moves and other off-field developments. If a player was involved, the ranking included happenings during their time at Arizona. Therefore, the NFL exploits of Nick Foles and Rob Gronkowski were not included. If it was open to post-Arizona careers, then certainly, Foles and Gronkowski would be ranked.

The ranking leading up to No. 1 (with links to summaries of each):

No. 25: Darryll Lewis’ 1990 season

No. 24: Chris McAlister’s career

No. 23: Mike Stoops’ tenure

No. 22: Rob Waldrop’s career

No. 21: Scooby Wright III’s 2014 season

No. 20: Rich Rodriguez’s tenure

No. 19: Win over No. 1 Washington in 1992

No. 18: John Mackovic coaching fiasco

No. 17: Arizona Stadium upgrades

No. 16: Win at Notre Dame in 1982

No. 15: The Khalil Tate phenomenon

No. 14: Kevin Sumlin’s hire

No. 13: Ka’Deem Carey’s rushing exploits

No. 12: Tedy Bruschi’s career

No. 11: Win at No. 1 USC in 1981

No. 10: Chuck Cecil’s career

No. 9: Ricky Hunley’s career

No. 8: Larry Smith’s tenure

No. 7: 2014 Pac-12 South championship

No. 6: Probation from 1983 to 1985

No. 5: Dick Tomey’s tenure

No. 4: 12-1 season in 1998

No. 3: Desert Swarm Defense

No. 2: “The Streak” vs. ASU

No. 1

No Rose Bowl Appearance

Forty years later after joining the Pac-10 and still no outright championship for Arizona. No roses.

The Wildcats came closest during the Dick Tomey era in 1993, 1994 and 1998 but could not win that one pivotal game to finally stake a claim for Pasadena.

In 1993, Arizona was ranked No. 13 and was 4-1 in the Pac-10 when the Wildcats lost at Cal 24-20 after blowing a 20-0 lead. The Wildcats tied UCLA and USC with a 6-2 league record that season and the Bruins earned the right to play in the Rose Bowl because they beat Arizona and USC.

In 1994, Arizona went to Oregon ranked No. 10 with a 4-0 conference record and fell to the Ducks 10-9. Arizona finished 6-2 in the league, one game back of Oregon, which advanced to the Rose Bowl with a 7-1 record.

Arizona Daily Star clipping of Arizona’s dubious loss to Oregon in 1994 that kept the Wildcats from the Rose Bowl.

In 1998, Arizona was 2-0 in the Pac-10 and ranked No. 10 nationally, but No. 3 UCLA was too much late in the game, pulling away to a 52-28 win at Arizona Stadium. It was the Wildcats’ lone loss of the season. The Bruins kept on winning as well and earned the right to represent the conference in the Rose Bowl.

Aside from recent additions Colorado and Utah (in 2011), Arizona is the only member from the Pac-10 days which has not played in the Rose Bowl.

Arizona also tied for second in the league in 2009 with a 6-3 record, two games back of Oregon (8-1). The Wildcats lost in double-overtime 44-41 against Oregon at Arizona Stadium that season and their two other losses were by eight points or less at Cal (24-16) and at Washington (36-33).

Arizona Daily Star clipping of Arizona’s 24-20 upset loss to Cal in 1993 that kept the Wildcats out of their first Rose Bowl.

Arizona won the Pac-12 South with a 10-win regular season in 2014, but the Wildcats were routed by Oregon 51-13 in the league title game.

You must go back to 1941 for the Wildcats’ last outright conference title when they were part of the Border Conference, some 77 years now. They tied for the WAC title in 1973 with ASU, both with 6-1 records, but lost the head-to-head tie-breaker with the Sun Devils 55-19.

Frustration and Arizona football are synonymous.

Rose Bowl appearances

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FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! 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, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, 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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