Basically the article said folks in
the far west have much better things to do than concern themselves with college
football. Where football is a way of life in the south, it is merely something
to do when nothing else is appealing in the west.
Being a football purist from the
south, I couldn’t believe this to be true. I understood the interest level might
be on a bit of smaller scale than in the south, but how can anyone not be
interested in football.
Well… if you can’t believe it, just
go to Tucson.
If there is any place in America
more devoid of football enthusiasm, it’s Tucson, Arizona.
After flying into Phoenix, I made
the two-hour drive from the capital city down into the desert. After driving
through an endless sea of cactus, tumbleweeds and road runners, Tucson was a
welcomed sight. Situated between two ranges of mountains, the campus owned quite
a majestic view as several jagged mountains provided the backdrop for the
78-year-old Wildcat Stadium.
The view was beautiful, the stadium
had that old time flavor look to it, but one things was missing – people. As I
drove around looking for campus, I never realized I was on campus.
Accustomed to 150,000 people
crowding the streets of campus on a gameday Saturday, this was as drastically
the opposite as one could imagine. Making two circles around Wildcat Stadium, I
drove right up to the front gate where I witnessed something shocking to the
eye. Students and fans were actually strolling up to the box office buying
tickets for that night’s game.
I wasn’t sure if I was at the right
place. It was 3:30 p.m. on the afternoon of a nationally televised game and the
parking lots surrounding the stadium were empty, I mean completely empty - no
tailgaters, no food, beverages or music. A couple of guys were playing soccer on
one lawn and just south of the stadium a couple of co-eds were taking part in a
beach volleyball game.
Being several hours early for the
game, I went up to the press box to get a bite to eat and watch some college
football on one of the several televisions. When I arrived in the press box,
several members of the Arizona media and sports information department were
already there watching TV. But no football, a couple of guys had one of the sets
on women’s tennis and the rest were consumed in a San Francisco Giants
It was like being in the Twilight
Zone….. what was the matter with these people?
As I sat staring across Wildcat
Stadium 5:00 came and went and the clock was nearing 6 p.m. and hardly a sign of
life. About 6:15 some stragglers started appearing in the streets and by game
time the 55,002-seat stadium was probably at half capacity..
The announced crowd of 46,110
seemed like a joke as it looked as if 15 to 20,000 seats were unoccupied.
And the Arizona football team was
as miserable as the fans.
LSU jumped out to a 17-0 first
quarter lead and was very much in control with a 38-0 halftime advantage. The
59-13 results was the third worst loss in the history of Wildcat
Probably the most exciting moment
of the game was when a drunken Arizona student wandered onto the field during a
commercial break between the first and second quarter and stole the ball from
the line of scrimmage. The loudest cheer of the day came when the intoxicated
patron was drilled by a security guard and carted off to the pokey.
LSU coach Nick Saban and
quarterback Matt Mauck each made reference to the fact Arizona seemed to give up
after the first quarter – that they played with no motivation, no character and
A program in the midst of a mutiny
against the head coach, things will get much worse at Arizona before they get
better. Inevitably, the powers that be will have to get rid of John Mackovic as
the Wildcat’s head coach. It is obvious he cannot motivate the players to play
for him and ounce of confidence built by the team’s 42-7 win over UTEP was
shredded by Saturday’s blowout loss.
After witnessing the carnage of
LSU’s win over the Cats, it is hard to believe that Arizona was 12-1 just five
years ago (1998) and once featured one of college football’s most feared
defenses dubbed “The Desert Swarm.”
At any rate, Tucson was a
nice place to visit, but I was ready to get back to the south…. especially
southern football, where the fans are rowdy, the food is spicy and stadiums are
huge. That is what college football is all about.