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August 25, 2008

28 touchdown passes. 327 completions. 3,683 yards.


There are some records Willie Tuitama can be proud of. He rewrote the Arizona single-season record book last year, and he’s a few healthy games away from taking over all the career marks as well. But he’s yet to lead the Wildcats to a winning season, and he’s committed the trespass to end all trespasses.

He’s never beaten Arizona State.

Tuitama gets one last chance to set things right but it begs the question: Has a UA starting quarterback ever lost to ASU four times?

In the history of the rivalry the Cats have had four losing streaks of four or more games. Three lasted exactly four years: 1949-1952, 1956-1959, and 1975-1978. The other was a – ahem – nine-game losing streak from 1965-1973. That’s a lot of losses by a lot of quarterbacks but they were spread around.

Allan Stanton and Ralph Hunsaker in the ‘50s, Marc Reed in the ‘60s, Bill Demory and Jim Krohn in the ‘70s. None was the “QB of record” in four Territorial Cup losses.

Oh-for-ASU has never been done by a four-year starter at Arizona.

I don’t mean to put extra pressure on Willie Tuitama, but there’s extra pressure on Willie Tuitama. You just don’t want to go down in history as the worst rivalry quarterback in the history of Arizona Football.

Some will say too much is made of the ASU game because one game doesn’t make an entire season. But the reality is, sometimes it does.

Everyone knows we haven't been to a bowl game in nine years. The maddening thing is in four of those years – the first two and the last two – we were a win against ASU away from the postseason. Since we're 2-7 against the Devils over the last nine years it means we’re 2-3 in games with nothing to lose, and 0-4 when we had everything to gain.

I think it's pretty safe to say what goal #1 is this year.

(Side note: We’ve never won an outright conference championship without beating ASU. True, we’ve only got the two from the mid-‘30s but still. Bonus note: We’ve never won an outright conference championship without shutting out ASU. 1974 should have been our year. What went wrong?? Oh, our 7-1 WAC team lost to BYU’s 7-0-1 WAC team. Ah, Arizona Football.)

Even though the last game often carries the weight of the entire season, you have to play the games in order. That means we start with Game 1 and the University of Idaho Vandals.

Idaho’s visit marks our first game with a member of the Western Athletic Conference since UTEP in 2003 (John Mackovic’s last win). It’s our first game with a current member of the WAC since Idaho again in 2001 (Mackovic’s second win).

Did you know that long before Idaho was in the WAC it was actually in the Pac? Idaho was a member of the Pacific Coast Conference from 1922-1958 and won two Pac basketball championships, which is exactly two more than Arizona State.

Sorry, I can’t help myself. I need to remember we don’t play Those Guys until December. This week we play Idaho.

Beat the Wiggity-WAC.


In other news…

Mono? AGAIN?! First the Arizona basketball team's starting center effectively loses the last two years of his career, and now we lose Rob Gronkowski, arguably the greatest physical offensive specimen our football team has ever seen? To MONO?

Let’s do some math. According to the FDA, two out of 1,000 people in their teens and twenties get mono. That’s 0.2%. There are 65 schools playing football in the BCS conferences. Each school gets 85 football scholarships and 13 men’s basketball scholarships. That means of the 6,370 BCS athletes in the revenue-producing sports, 13 of them should get mono. And the University of Arizona has two of them.

Mono in stereo. If you don't think Arizona Football is cursed you may want to reconsider coming over to the Dark Side.

So what does this setback mean for the 2008 Cats? According to the AAFP, “If you get mono, you should not play sports for at least four weeks.” Mono enlarges your spleen and if play a contact sport too soon it could blow up. A blown up spleen is bad.

If GRONK! does in fact miss the first four games, the good news is they are theoretically four of our easier games. The bad news is, as we discussed last week, it is absolutely critical that we get off to a good start this year. We can’t afford to give away a game because our tight end kissed the wrong person.

If you are new to Arizona Football, welcome. Do not be alarmed. This is how it works around here. What you perceive to be "an unexpected set of unfortunate circumstances,” we perceive to be "normal."

Let’s just hurry up and get the season started. Maybe we can go the rest of the year without something terrible happening.

Now that would be a record.

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