Thursday, October 30, 2008

How far have we fallen?

The past 18 months have been nothing short of brutal for Wildcat Basketball fans. The roller coaster of emotions that the program and its' fans have endured has been long and winding. I thought I would take the opportunity to document just what we have lost and endured in the last 18 months and what the future looks like.

I think the logical starting point is the reassigning of Assistant Coach Jim Rosborough to make room for Kevin O'Neil. Coach Roz was a player favorite and the move came as a shock to most people in and around the program. The reason given was that we had become a weak defensive team and KO was (and is) regarded as one of the best defensive coaches in America. All seemed to be fine until the start of last season when Coach O unexpectedly takes a leave of absence and KO is left to be the interim head coach. Several of our recruits express concern over Lute's long term plans and who will be their coach at the University of Arizona should they commit. Athletic Director Jim Livengood addresses this by naming KO as Lute's successor with no definite time table in place. KO's coaching style immediately rubs freshman Lavell Lucas Perry the wrong way and he transfers to Michigan. The class of 2008 begins to take shape as All-American PG Brandon Jennings de-commits from USC and commits to the U of A. This along with the commitments of PF Emanuel Negudu and Combo Guard Brendon Lavender give the Cats a top 25 recruiting class for the millionth time in a row. It gets better when 7'0ft tall center Jeff Withey de-commits from Louisville and commits to the Cats.

The season is nothing short of F.U.B.A.R. and the players stage a mini revolt against KO behind the scenes. Lute moves to have KO reassigned and the University scrambles to avoid a law suit over having publicly named KO the head coach in waiting. Thankfully KO takes a new job and spares us anymore heartache over his short tenure as our head coach. This of course leaves an opening on the staff and opens the discussion as to how the hierarchy of assistants should be shuffled. Before the problem could get clearer Coach Miles Simon is let go with little or no explanation. Many players and recruits are concerned about the instability but feel loyal to playing for Lute and Coach Pastner.

Pastner tells Lute that he wants to be named the #2 guy in the program when they hire new staff to fill the 2 vacant positions. Coach O balks at this request and hires Mike Dunlap and Reggie Geary (who had been previously stiffed over the Miles Simon hiring process). Lute names Dunlap the #2 and Pastner promptly accepts the #3 job at Memphis under John Calapari. Lute fills Pastners spot with former scummie assistant Russ Pennell.

Meanwhile Emanuel Negudu, who had been recruited by Pastner, no longer feels comfortable with the situation at Arizona and asks for a release from his Letter of Intent. Lute begrudgingly grants his request and Negudu signs with Tennessee and Coach Bruce Pearl. Then news comes that Jerry'd Bayless is leaving the program for the NBA, despite his original plan to play at least two years for Lute. When asked what changed he sites the internal chaos of the program. Chase Budinger waits until the last minute to withdraw his name from the draft and says that the prospect of playing one more year for Lute is what brought him back. Jamelle Horne tells anyone in ear shot that he is transferring and it takes guarantees and personal visits from Lute and the new staff to keep him in the fold. Then Nic Wise tells Coach O that he is seriously considering transferring and by some accounts had the paper work filled out and ready to submit but a last minute plea from Lute swings him back to staying. Just when it seemed the tide was turning incoming word leaks that PG Brandon Jennings, arguably the most talented player to ever commit to the Cats, is considering playing in Europe for a year rather then at Arizona. In the end he did choose to go to Europe, and ultimately failed to register a qualifying SAT/ACT score to be admitted. The new coaching staff takes 3 fairly low rated and under the radar players in Garland Judkins, Kyle Fogg and Darnell Shumpert to round out the 2008 recruiting class with Lavender and Withey. Abdul Gaddy the corner stone of our 2009 recruiting class also felt unsure about the situation around the program and de-commits. In light of Gaddy's commitment Lute offers 2009 PG Reger Dowell who previously had been committed to Alabama. Dowell immediately accepted the offer.

As the fall practices were set to begin the class of 2009 began to take shape with PG Abdul Gaddy recommitting to the Cats after meeting with the new staff and establishing a relationship with Reggie Geary. This along with the commitments of PG Reger Dowell, PF Mike Moser, SF Solomon Hill and PF Greg Smith give the Cats a top 5 recruiting class in the eyes of most experts. Shortly after committing to play at Arizona Greg Smith de-commits. He cites family issues as the reason. With the recommitment of Abdul Gaddy and the de-committing of Smith, it was decided that we needed to find an additional front court player to solidify the recruiting class. In order to make this possible Lute had to rescind Reger Dowell's scholarship offer. He did so immediately and sent Dowell off to find what would be his third school in 6 months.

Then just a few days after Media Day, ESPN announces the Lute is retiring. Of course none of the current players or recruits had been notified about this and learned the news through outside sources like any other fan. With no certainty about who will be coaching them in college Gaddy, Hill and Moser all de-commit within three days of the announcement. Mike Dunlap, who was named #2 over Josh Pastner, declined the interim head coaching job when he was offered it. Now former scummy Russ Pennell, who has never been the head coach of a program higher then AAU level, is our Interim Head Coach. The latest blow is the news that Freshman Center Jeff Withey is transferring. That leaves us with one player from the original recruiting class of 2008(Lavender) and no one from the class of 2009.

I am a loyal and dedicated fan. My faith does not and will not waiver but I want people to realize how dire the situation is. We are no where near an elite program right now, we will be lucky to finish in the middle of the Pac-10 this year and next year will be difficult at best to watch. Remember that each program gets 13 scholarship players and at the end of this season we will have lost 6 of the 13 scholarship players we have recruited in the last 4 years. Of the 7 remaining players on our roster only Alex Jacobson, a work in progress to say the least, is over 6'7 ft tall. The only players left that were rated higher then 3 stars by any of the recruiting services will be Nic Wise and Jamelle Horne.

As it stands right now we have NO ONE in our 2009 recruiting class, largely because we won't be able to name a coach until March at the earliest. It stands to reason that the 2009 class is a wash. This means that we have a starting line up in 2010 that looks like this:
PG - Lavender SG- Judkins SF - Johnson PF- Horne C- Jacobson Bench - Fogg/Shumpert

And then empty bench space……….

Obviously we will fill some of these spots with JUCO players or late signings, but let’s be honest and accept how bleak the situation is. Honestly it could get worse; Jamelle Horne could realistically transfer still as could Lavender.

Who ever we hire to be the next Head Coach has some serious rebuilding to do. The depths to which this program will have fallen at the end of this season may scare away some of the top candidates. Prepare your self Wildcat fans; it will get worse before it gets better.

More after the jump...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Arizona's Coaching Search: Part II

Perhaps some of you out there read my first post upon hearing of Lute Olson's exit from the University of Arizona. Much of that article was done tongue in cheek. Especially considering the candidates consisted of, among others, Denise Austin, Bob Dole, and Craig T. Nelson. But the U of A is facing a serious problem for the future. They need a new coach. And Russ Pennell, Reggie Geary, and Mike Dunlap are not nearly qualified enough to fill in for the Great Lute Olson, no offense to either. Perhaps Pennell's audition this year will buy him a long term contract stepping in Lute's shoes, but let's be honest, we all know that probably won't be the case for the former AAU Coach.

Mike Dunalp, who many thought would be replacing Lute on an interim basis this year, rejected the University's propsal on the basis that he didn't want to be the "interim" Head Coach. It seems that Jim Livengood will be spreading his search nationally and that others may be standing in the way of Pennell, Geary, or Dunlap taking over the Cats for the long haul. So my Top 10 candidates, for reals this time, to replace Lute Olson are below. I should note that there are a couple names on this list that probably wouldn't happen, but these would be the names that I would accept leading the Kitty Cats onto the Hardwood.

Josh Pastner
Arizona Asst Coach 2001-2008
Memphis Asst Coach 2008-Present
Jamie Dixon
UCSB Asst Coach 1991-1992
Hawaii Asst Coach 1992-1994
Northern Arizona Asst Coach 1994-1998
Hawaii Asst Coach 1998-1999
Pittsburgh Asst Coach 1999-2003
Pittsburch Head Coach 2003-Present
Larry Eustachy
Miss. St. Asst Coach 1981-1986
Idaho Asst Coach 1986-1987
Utah Asst Coach 1987-1989
Ball St. Asst Coach 1989-1990
Idaho Head Coach 1990-1993
Utah St. Head Coach 1993-1998
Iowa St. Head Coach 1998-2003
Southern Miss Head Coach 2004-Present
Southern Miss HC - Leave of Absence 2008-2009
Lorenzo Romar
UCLA Asst Coach 1998-1996
Pepperdine Head Coach 1996-1999
Saint Louis Head Coach 1999-2002
Washington Head Coach 2002-Present
Tony Bennett
Wisconsin Asst Coach 1999-2003
Washington State Asst Coach 2003-2006
Washington State Head Coach 2006-Present
Keno Davis
Iowa Asst Coach 1991-1995
Southern Indiana Asst Coach 1995-1997
Southeast Mizz Asst Coach 1997-2003
Drake Asst Coach 2003-2007
Drake Head Coach 2007-2008
Providence Head Coach 2008-Present
Mark Few
Gonzaga Asst Coach 1989-1999
Gonzaga Head Coach 1999-Present
Lon Kruger
Pitt St. Asst Coach 1976-1977
Kansas St. Asst Coach 1977-1982
UTPA Head Coach 1982-1986
Kansas St. Head Coach 1986-1990
Florida Head Coach 1990-1996
Illinois Head Coach 1996-2000
Atlanta Hawks Head Coach 2000-2003
New York Knicks Asst Coach 2003-2004
UNLV Head Coach 2004-Present
Bob McKillop
Davidson Asst Coach 1978-1979
Davidson Head Coach 1989-Present
Jay Wright
Rochester Asst Coach 1984-1986
Drexel Asst Coach 1986-1987
Villanova Asst Coach 1987-1992
UNLV Asst Coach 1992-1994
Hofstra Head Cosch 1994-2001
Villanova Head Coach 2001-Present

All of these guys are under 60 (the oldest being Bob McKillop at 58) and they all have experience at successful programs. All but Josh Pastner have Head Coaching experience, and what Pastner lacks in head coaching experience (at the collegiate level) he makes up for in recruiting ability. Often considered one of the top recruiters in the game and specifically in the West and Southwest areas.

A Coach like Few or Dixon should jump at the opportunity to coach, not only at a Big level school, but a Basketball powerhouse none the less. Either of those two, Pastner, Wright, or Bennett would be able to lock in for a long time (26 years+) as they are all 46 or under. Look at the track records of some of these guys, specifically Few and Wright turning around semi-non-existant/failing programs like Gonzaga and Villanova and becoming successful. And Thought Eustachy would fit in great in Tucson (we do love our Natty Light) My money is on....

....Mark Few as the next University of Arizona Head Basketball Coach. He has to be getting sick of beating up on the rest of the WCC and want to measure himself against the likes of Ben Howland and UCLA rather than the likes of Tom Asbury and Pepperdine. I know he has been contacted, every single offseason by teams looking for a new coach and yet he stays in Washington...or wherever in the Pacific Northwest Gonzaga is located. But Arizona is a different opportunity, especially being able to jump in (presumably) a full year after the official exit of Lute Olson and really 2 years since he coached in Tucson, making his shadow a little less grand.

More after the jump...

Goodbye Robert Luther Olson, Thank you.

The reactions, though not surprising, about Lute Olson have been very mixed. Unfortunately, one of the majority opinions is that Lute Olson handled this terribly and should have just stayed retired after last seasons leave of absence. I completely understand this thought and theory and whole-heartedly agree that his return and abrupt exit less than three weeks to tip-off is not good. That Arizona is now floundering going into the season. The fact that it happened on Homecoming weekend and the fact that it happened 48 hours after saying he was revitalized and energized.

This definitely was a terrible way to handle this. The UA alumni, fans, and faithful (namely me) deserve better than this and above all the players and UA staff deserved better than this. But don't blame Lute. Robert Luther may have handled this poorly but it was the right decision. He is not physically or mentally there anymore. I'm not suggestion he has Parkinson's or Alzheimer's (I'm sure those are not the issues he's been dealing with) I'm just suggesting that he is 74 years old, has been a Division I coach since 1973 and has been the driving force in Arizona Basketball for the last 25 years. That takes a toll on someone. It asks a lot out of people.

People have been saying that Paterno and Bowden (81 and 78) should step down for a few years now, but people are in a rage when Lute Olson needs to take a year off and proceeds to step down. Well besides the fact that they are all in the same age range coaching basketball at a high level takes a lot more out of someone than football. First of all Lute will be coaching at a high energy level for 3 times as many games NOT including the high stress NCAA Tournament. Rather than traveling 5-7 times over the course of a season and post-season, Lute will be traveling at least 14 times, again more if you include the tense post-season.

Energy levels are huge in basketball coaching, there is no press box to sit in and coach from. Lute is on the sidelines running, jumping, and screaming. So let's think about this, think of a 74 year old that you know and ask whether or not you think they would be able to travel that much, run that much, and coach at a high level in a very compacted season. So get off of Lute for retiring, hell I would say he earned it. And I know what you are saying, then why did he commit to coming back for another year if he knew he couldn't handle it. There are two reasons.

1) He loves Arizona Basketball and wants nothing but success for them. With him taking the year off last year Arizona Basketball got a preview of what Arizona Basketball A.L. would be like, and it wasn't pretty. He saw what Arizona Basketball would be like without him and he didn't like it. Players leaving for Europe, players de-commiting, scholarship offers (from KO) to players who didn't deserve to be Wildcats, and a sub 20 win season. As someone who loves Arizona Basketball more than even you or me, or Randle, Lute Olson didn't want to sit by and watch that. In April when he decided to come back, he knew that the only thing that would take this program back to where it was, was his return. He announced that he no longer wanted to deal with the one and done players, and he went out and got Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill, and Nic Wise to return. He got Soloman Hill and Abdul Gaddy to commit/re-commit. The Silver Fox was back. That's why he announced months ago that he would be coming back, he told everyone, as recently as last week, that he was ready to take the Cats back to the Promised Land. But...

2)...he didn't have the energy, physical, or mental ability to be there as a coach. He could have come back, coached from the bench, been half hearted, and been JoePa from the Press Box. Lute is too proud for that. He wanted, really wanted to come back and coach Arizona back to the Final Four. Not for his glory or the payday, but because the Cats deserve that, Arizona fans deserve that, after last season. He knew that he needed to be the person to do it. He went into practice last week a new man. Re-energized and revitalized but he realized (and honestly better now than on November 7) that he might be energized right now, he might be able to be the Silver Fox that we all know and love....for 2 maybe 3 months. But the travel, the tournaments, the planning, the practicing, the coaching, the always present off-court issues, the questions all season about how long he would be there and how he was feeling, and the questions about his bitter divorce (which I still say should have remained private and shame on all of those, especially local area "journalists" who dragged it all out into public) not to mention the toll of recruiting. He realized as early as possible that he didn't have it anymore. On Tuesday he had to deal with questions and a press conference, then on Wednesday he woke up and he didn't have the energy to go to practice or the Rotary Club Preseason meeting he had attended for over 20 years, consecutively. Wednesday night it became very clear, that he didn't have the energy.

How it was handled from there can only be partially put on him. He should have gone immediately to the Arizona Athletics Department, but he didn't. Whether it was the fact that he wanted more time, or didn't want to interrupt Homecoming weekend, or to allow to his speaking to the team first at a Thursday practice. Somehow, someone close to him caught word and it spread to the point that he had to come out with it in a less than respectful manor.

It's the blessing and the curse of having a program with such a legend at its' epicenter. Recruiting will struggle, and the team will struggle without Lute. I for one wish Lute nothing but the best, Thank you Coach O for the last Quarter Century, Thank you for turning Arizona into a power. Bear Down and Go Cats.

More after the jump...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Coaching Alternatives

I know it has been a while since I last graced you all with my presence. Been traveling a whole lot recently, in the last 2 weeks alone I've put over 1000 miles on the truck and have gotten a few thousand frequent flier miles. Of course when I get back to the office I've got loads of past work to deal with, but that stack will have to wait a while because it's time for me to get back to those who my articles while looking for something better (usually pictures of bikini clad models or athletes) but today I am writing about the, still unconfirmed, reports of Lute Olson's departure from the University of Arizona. The Hall of Famer has reportedly, though only known through sources, stepped down immediately as the Head Coach, 20 wins shy of 800.

I could spend hours going through the amazing-ness that was the Silver Fox's Hall of Fame Career, and probably will later. From the highs (Miles Simon and th 1997 Champions) to the lows (firing Kevin O'Neill and Miles Simon and the 07-08 debacle) but we've got more pressing matters at hand. Who will replace Coach O?

According to the many reports surfacing, by the second, and multiple personal sources (Randle is one, a PR official is another) within Arizona's AD office (apparently the phones are going off the hook) all accounts show that Lute's replacement could very vell be Assistant Coach Mike Dunlap. Dunlap has been on many staffs of recent including the 36ers of Australia's National Basketball League as well as the Head Coach of the Metro State Roadrunners of Division II, where he won 2 National Championships. Most recently, however, Dunlap could be seen with the USA under 18 team and on George Karl's staff in Denver. But I think we all know he is most likely a stop-gap solution in the wake of this breaking news and our Kitty Kats are going to need some serious firepower to fill in the gigantic clown shoes of Lute Olson. I firmly believe in keeping it in the family, so here are a handful of viable options with UA ties to take over for Robert Luther.

Miles Simon:
UA player 1994-1998, 1997 NCAA MOP, 2005-2008 UA Assistant Coach
Coach Simon was released by the U of A Athletics Department following last season. This was a controversial effort many thought was specifically to bring in new assistant coaches this past off-season. Some thing a major reasons was to hire Russ Pennell who's son Matt happens to be a top Arizona recruit. With all of the uncertainty surrounding the Arizona basketball program recently, planting a familar Wildcat face is the driver's seat is definately an option for the Arizona ADs. Hell you can still find Miles Simon jersey's for sale some places.

Bob Dole:

UA Student 1948-1951, US Senator 1969-1996, Viagra pitchman 1999

Lute Olson had all the trappings of a politician over the last few years while coach at Arizona so why not just skip all of that and go straight to an actual politician to run the team. Screw the new $14 million training facility, Bob Dole will take his teams to work out at Bear Down gym, using the same rusted weights and torn benches that other famous Arizona Athletes have used throughout the years. Back in the 50s before the was a McKale center. Bob Dole will bring back the tenacity of yesteryear. He will also help some of the youngsters with the use of their left hand, since he doesn't have the use of his right hand. He will also work on these youngsters ability to post up, and draw the foul:

Denise Austin

UA gymnast 1975-1977, Member of President's Council on Fitness and Sports 2002-Present

I think we all know Denise Austin, whether its from flipping through the channels on mornings when you're ditching class or playing hooky at work, you've no doubt seen her happily jumping and stretching to motivate the static housewives of America. She could help the UA team with their fitness levels and flexibility. She might not be able to work with Chase on his shooting, but wouldn't it be nice if she could help Jordan Hill to be a little more flexible and light on his feet to avoid so many fouls in the lane? They might not win a National Championship with her leading the way but they won't be as tired and breathing heavy late in the games. Plus wouldn't it be fun to replace Lute with a woman who looks exactly like his ex and future wives?

Jerry Bruckheimer

UA Student 1963-1968, Box Office Legend

True, he knows next to nothing about coaching or physical fitness in any way. I'm not doubting that but name someone else with the midas touch. Everything he touches turns to gold. Why not let the guy try to direct players on and off the court. You're telling me the guy who took a hardly known Martin Lawrence and a slightly more known Will Smith and put them in a blockbuster buddy cop movie couldn't get Jeff Withey to put on a few more pounds? I highly doubt it. Don't forget this is the guys who took a 4'9" Tom Cruise and made him a fighter pilot, then took an almost identical plot and made him a racecar driver, he took goofy Nicolas Cage and made him into a tough guy (The Rock, Gone in Sixty Seconds, the National Treasure series), run down his list he made Orlando Bloom look like a bad ass in the Pirates series, and Josh Hartnett look like a bonafide military man (Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down), and I could keep going on. But I think the main reasons Bruckheimer would fit. Glory Road and Remember the Titans.
Geraldo Rivera

UA Student and Lacrosse Goalie 1963-1966

Geraldo, probably best known for his mustache was also once known for roaming the Mall in Tucson and attending football games at Arizona Stadium. The man has brass balls and has reported from war zones plenty of times. He would bring the toughness, and facial hair, that Arizona has been lacking. Besides he doesn't need a greaseboard and markers just a patch of dirt and his fingers and he will diagram up the winning play.

Robert Sarver

UA Student 1978-1982, Founder Bank of Arizona, Majority owner Phoenix Suns

Now I'm not sure if this could be considered a conflict of interest but why not just let Sarver coach the team, sure he might not have been the coach of the Suns during their recent stretch of success but he has probably picked up a lot. Plus, he could always have those guys make the trip down to Tucson to practice against the Cats. Afterall, you don't get to be the best until you play against the best. That level of competition would be nice and I'm sure that Steve Nash could teach the guys down here a thing or two. He could bring Steve Kerr (UA Alum) onto his staff, plus I'm pretty sure he still gets discounts at the Four Points on Speedway across from Trident, after all his dad built it. The players could just stay there all the time, that's way better than the dorms, that's a pretty good recruitment tool. Plus, he could always use some connections he has to better a players chances at making the next step.

Craig T. Nelson

UA Student 1962-1966, Minnesota State Screamin Eagles Coach

I would have to go back to the records but Hayden Fox was the Head Coach of Minnesota State for nearly a decade, maybe longer, and even led his team to a win in the Pioneer Bowl over West Texas and the Pineapple Bowl over Southern Texas Wranglers. He went on to be the first Head Coach of the expansion Orlando Breakers. He has plenty of experience being a Head Coach (which none of the others posses), he is a U of A Alum, and he already has Luther and Dauber as his assistants. He also had some experience motivating and teaching a pair of figure skaters who were at one time dreaded rivals. He also has a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do and had the balls to kick Tom Cruise off of his team when he was coaching. He doesn't put up with midgets back talking to him.

All in all it will be sad to see Lute go, and despite his attempts at pulling a Favre and taking down his legacy in a short span after a Hall of Fame career. I, for one, will miss Lute roaming the sidelines. I urge the Arizona Athletics Department to follow my lead and keep it in the family.

More after the jump...

Say it ain't so....

The biggest development in the history of Wildcat sports is happening as we speak. In what can only be described as earth shattering, shaking and quaking news Arizona Basketball coach Lute Olson is expected to announce tomorrow that he will retire from coaching.

As is now being reported on and other major media outlets Lute Olson is retiring effective immediatley. Due to unspecified health issue Lute is stepping down and Associate Head Coach Mike Dunlap is being named interim Head Coach. Sources inside the athletic department have said that a national search will begin immediatley to fill the position.

More after the jump...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Coach To Cure MD: Help Raise Money for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

This Saturday is going to be a one day event called Coach to Cure MD in order to raise money for Duchenne Muscle Dystrophy. Parent Project Muscle Dystrophy is teaming up with the American Football Coach’s Association to help raise awareness and funds to help the cause. Currently there are 2,675 coaches from 204 colleges in the United States and an estimated 10,000 coaches worldwide that will be participating.

Arizona is one of the schools that will be doing their part, however, the organization is looking to raise $10,000 per school and sadly Arizona has raised only $35.00.

Donating is simple. Probably the easiest way to donate is by texting “CURE” to 90999. The text will cost you $5 which will go directly the to the campaign. You can also donate online directly, or even sponsor a tailgate this Saturday.

The total goal of the campaign is $500,000 and three days before the event only $111,605 has been raised. I encourage everyone to make a donation and be a part of a good cause. All schools are represented, and you can visit the website for your school’s information as well as more resources regarding the campaign.
More after the jump...

Arizona Injury Update: Week 8

The Wildcats quietly had three players injured during Saturday’s game against Cal, but no word yet on the severity or their playing status.

Without a doubt the biggest concern is Mike Thomas, Arizona’s top wide receiver. Thomas left the locker room following the game with a walking boot over on his right foot. Finley of reported that the team told him that he had some tissue swelling around his foot and ankle, and that it was a precaution. The injury appeared to occur before the end of the first half when Thomas was hit coming back for a pass and had to be helped off the field. He returned to play in the second half, and when asked about his probability for Saturday’s match up against USC Thomas said:

Ain't nothing going to stop me, I'm there.

Sound promising, but is still something that will still be in the back of the Cat’s minds.

Thomas’s Season Stats: 42 Rec 569 YDS 4 TD
Against Cal: 6 Rec 104 YDS 1 TD

Also leaving the locker room in a boot was defensive tackle Kaniela Tuipulotu (Ka-nee-ah-lah Too-ee-poo-lo-too in case you were wondering) who had apparently injured his left ankle in the game.

The third Cat to suffer an injury against the Bears was wide receiver Delashaun Dean, who showed signs of a shoulder injury throughout the day Saturday.

Dean’s Season Stats: 30 Rec 310 YDS 2 TD
Against Cal: 2 Rec 21 YDS

There has been no official word whether or not these injuries are going to keep them out of Saturday’s game, but here is hoping that over the week they are back to 100%.

More after the jump...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Homecoming 2008: Tailgating Changes

In an effort to keep the Homecoming crowd from trying to sprint a marathon the University has changed some of their tailgating rules for this weekend. Below is the new schedule and policy update that was released earlier today.

Quoted directly from the Arizona Athletics website.

1:00 p.m. Tailgate parking/loading on Eastbound University off of Cherry. Alcohol cannot be consumed until 2:00 p.m.

2:30 – 4:30 p.m. Cherry Ave will be closed to all traffic in preparation for the Homecoming Parade. (No tailgaters will be allowed to enter the Tailgating grounds under any circumstances during this time). There is no tailgate line during this time.

3:30 – 4:30 p.m. Homecoming Parade

4:45 – 5:30 p.m. Tailgaters with valid permits only may enter the tailgating grounds.

7:15 p.m. Kick-off

We will continue to enforce the rules about waiting for another tailgater to park next to you as well as requesting certain spots. It is a first-come first serve pass and you will be parked based on the order you arrive. Regardless of when your vehicle is parked on the tailgate grounds, alcohol consumption may not begin until 2:00 pm.

No one that I talked to had heard about this yet, and granted it was released today but thought this might help get the word out some.

Find more photos like this on Wildcat Sports Forum

Also, we want any pictures and videos from the weekend that you guys want to send our way. So drop us a line.

More after the jump...

Arizona-USC: Things To Keep In Mind

The Wildcats are coming off a big win against previously ranked No. 25 Cal, which has put them in a four-way tie for first place in the Pac-10. Oregon, Oregon State, Arizona, and USC are all currently sitting at 3-1, but from where I’m sitting, Arizona and USC are sitting on top.

Everyone knows about USC’s prowess, influence in the polls, and overall program prestige. What you aren’t hearing is that Arizona is so confident in their squad that our Wildcats know that they are playing for the Pac-10 Championship this weekend.

What should you know about this weekend’s matchup between USC and Arizona?

First of all, the Cats match up very well against the Trojans and as of late have played them tough.

Hard to believe?

2007: Arizona travels to LA to take on No. 10 USC.

Tuitama, in his first year in Dykes' system, completed 30-43 passes for 233 yards and no interceptions or touchdowns. Sanchez completed 19-31 for 130 yards, one TD, and two INTs.

Neither running game was spectacular for either squad, and both have improved immensely from last year. As is the case with most Arizona losses, it simply came down to mental errors.

It is tough to win a game against a team like the Trojans of '07 when you lose three fumbles and only rush for 22 total yards. That’s what the Cats did, and that is why they narrowly missed pulling the upset.

Total yards for Arizona were 255 and 276 for USC.

The Trojans won 20-13.

Second of all, the Trojans have to come into to Tucson on Homecoming. Arizona has a history of upsetting in big games, especially when they have sellout crowds like this weekend will be.

In case you already forgot:

2005: Arizona 52, No. 7 UCLA 14
2006: Arizona 24, No. 8 Cal 20
2007: Arizona 34, No. 2 Oregon 24

Keep it in mind as this week goes on. I don’t think that this game is as unevenly matched as most people think. USC, you are officially on upset watch.

More as the week goes on...

More after the jump...

Recruiting update

The Wildcats big win over Cal and 5-2 start seems to be paying dividends in the recruiting game. The Wildcats recieved two commitments in the last two days and have been put on notice that they will recieve another one this weekend.

First to committ was JC Cornerback Marcus Benjamin from Arizona Western College. The 6'1 200lb Benjamin runs a 4.5 40 and has 4 interceptions in the 4 games he has played so far this sesaon. Benjamin was signed to play for LSU as a prep in 2005 but failed to qualify academically. The best part of this is that we get a fast, hard hitting DB and we beat asuCKS for his services.

The Second Commitment was 6'4 275lb Glendale Cactus OL Chris Putton. Putton is regarded by many as the top OL in Arizona in the class of 2009 and was heavily recruited by a number of schools. Again in this recruiting battle we beat asuCKS for this young mans services.

Lastly it has been widely reported that Daniel Jenkins, the #12 all-purpose back and #31 player in the state of California regardless of position, has gone on record with saying that he would be committing to the Wildcats this weekend on his official visit. This would be a huge get for us as he is being heavily pursued by a number of the elite programs in college football.

The fact of the matter is that this weekends game against USC is going to be huge for recruiting and a win would catapult us to the top of many prospects lists.
More after the jump...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Impact Freshman at it again

Keola Antolin step on up and get your prize...You are the PAC-10 Offensive Player of the Week! After an amazing performance leading the way to victory over Cal which included 237 all-purpose yards in Arizona's 42-27 win against No. 25-ranked California. Antolin rushed 21 times for 149 yards (7.1) and three touchdowns, added a reception for nine yards and had four kickoff returns for 79 yards to account for the 237 all-purpose yards. This is Antolins 1st Offensive Player of the Week award, but his second overall award having earned Special Teams Player of the Week award in the second week of the season.

It should be noted that Devin Ross was one of the finalists for the Defensive Player of the Week award and Jason Bondzio was a finalist for the Special Teams Player of the Week award.


More after the jump...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Arizona vs. Cal Preview

Arizona will go up against the Cal Golden Bears this Saturday in what we had all thought was going to be a huge game as far as Pac-10 standings were concerned. It wasn’t but a week ago that we were already looking ahead to being 5-1 and facing a team that might be our only obstacle in the Pac-10 other than USC. Unfortunately, we are now sitting at 4-2 and seemingly have more on the line than we had thought.

Here is a quick paper match up of the game:
Team Scoring:
Arizona: #9 with 40.2 ppg
California: #12 with 39.4 ppg

Total Yards per Game:
Arizona: #32: 425.5
California: #33: 418.4

Team Rushing:
Arizona: #55 with 154.8 ypg
California: #35 with 180 ypg

Team Passing:
Arizona: #23 with 258.3 ypg
California: #47 with 231.6 ypg

Team Defense:
Arizona: 16.7 ppg, 261.5 ypg
California: 18 ppg, 290.6 ypg

What did we learn from the Stanford game? We are not immune to the running game. Our Cats gave up over a hundred yards each to Gerhart and Kimble last week when they had previously not given up a lot more than a hundred total rushing yards in game. The biggest reason why this has to be priority one for the Wildcats is that Cal will most likely be returning Jahvid Best to their backfield. While he has missed a couple of weeks with a dislocated shoulder you still cannot overlook his big play ability. It is still unclear how much he will play, or whether or not he will be returning kicks but it would be a huge mistake to not plan on him being at full strength.

There are a couple keys to this game. First of all I was really impressed with the play of Nate Ness last weak and think that he will have as big a game this weekend. Cal is still suffering from QB woes and at the time of writing they have not announced who will be starting. Out secondary is good enough to slow the pace of this game down, and that will definitely be an obstacle for the Bears.

On offense I have full faith in Dykes system and feel as though Tuitama gets a lot of bad press for the decisions that he makes. We are only a few plays away from being 6-0, but it has always come down to mistakes at the wire. The Cats can’t afford the same mental errors late against Cal. If Tuitama is able to spread the ball around efficiently like he had been doing the majority of the season and utilize rather than rely on Gronkowski there is no doubt in my mind that we are putting the superior offensive squad on the field.

It comes down to defense, but I think our Wildcats take this game 27-17. That will put us in a position to go into Homecoming at 5-2 against USC in a game that will decide the Pac-10.

More after the jump...

Torros Return To Tucson

For those of you living in Tucson this may be old news or maybe you just missed it like I had. Starting in 2009 the Torros will be returning to Tucson, this time as a part of the Golden Baseball League. The news became official about a month ago when they finally settled all the negotiations, and have now found a home at Hi Corbett Field. For those of you unfamiliar with the GBL it was formed in 2004 and currently has 10 teams in two divisions. The Torros have been added to the South Division along with the Long Beach Armada, Orange County Flyers, St. George Roadrunners, and Yuma Scorpions. The Torros will be playing an 80 game schedule split evenly between home and away starting in May.

The Torros date back to 1969 and for the sake of simplification played until the Sidewinders took over in 1998. Since the Sidewinders 08’ season was their last in Tucson before moving to Reno, the Torros have returned. I’ll be looking forward to watching these games, and am glad that the tradition of some level of professional baseball in Tucson will live on.
More after the jump...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

LSU's Jean-Francois Won't Be In Gainesville

College Football starts at the break of down here in the Southwest, not because you have to get up to Tailgate but because the games literally start at 9 am. So for you just waking up out here, I thought I’d throw up a couple posts and tell you what we missed since the sun rises a little later out here.

Jean-Francois, defensive linemen for LSU, talked a big game early this week regarding the Marquee match up against Florida this week.

If we get a good shot on [Tebow], we're going to try our best to take him out of the game. With his size and his heart, it's hard to get a clean shot. Every lineman wants to get a good hit on a Heisman Trophy winner.

A lot of people took this as offensive, but in reality it is actually a compliment to Tebow. Either way you look at it, it got the Gators fired up. Unfortunately, Jean-Francois will not be able to back up his claims tonight.

A statement was given by LSU from Jean-Francois saying

We never go into any football game trying to hurt a player from the other team. My comments in regard to Florida quarterback Tim Tebow were misinterpreted and were intended to reflect the style of football that we play at LSU. We have great respect for Tim as a player and a competitor. By taking him out of the game, I meant as a defense we are going to try to make him ineffective. I'm sorry that my initial comments were interpreted another way.

The linemen is apparently suffering from a groin injury and did not travel with the team., and thus was not able to give the statement in person It seems pretty funny to me that the player with the most French sounding name was sidelined with lack of testicular fortitude.
More after the jump...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Arizona Baseball Announces New Assistant Coach

Arizona’s head baseball coach, Andy Lopez, has announced that Jeff Pickler will be the new assistant coach next season. This announcement was made yesterday in press conference to name Jeff Casper’s replacement on the coaching staff.

We are losing Casper who was a four year player here at Arizona from 1998-2001. He stayed with us for three more seasons as a “volunteer assistant coach” before heading to Yavapai Junior College, and then back to the U of A for two year as a “Paid assistant coach”.

In return we are gaining Jeff Pickler. Pickler played ball at the University of Tennessee until 1998 when we was drafter by the Milwaukee Brewers. After eight years in the minors and numerous teams he ended up as an advanced scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Casper said that he is off to purse other career opportunities, and we are definitely sad to see him go. He has done a lot for our team, but we are also excited to welcome Pickler into the Wildcat family.
More after the jump...

Pac-10 Power Rankings: Week 6

1. USC: 3-1 (1-1)
The Trojans stumbled over a minor speed bump in a loss to Oregon State that not only hurt their chances for a National Championship, but Sanchez’s chance at being the next in a long line of Heisman QB’s coming out of Southern California. This weekend they posted an impressive win over Oregon who most thought would be the only team giving them a run for the conference. We know USC is good and better than their loss to Oregon State looked but we also know they have weaknesses. I’d put my money on the Trojans losing at least one more game before this season is over.

Next Game: vs. Arizona State

2. Cal: 4-1 (2-0)
It is still unknown how good Cal really is. They have one loss against a surprising Maryland team who has beaten two ranked teams but has also lost to Middle Tennessee State. Not only but the Bears were shut out this weekend by Virginia. The quarterback controversy has done nothing to help this squad, who luckily has a bye before having to travel to Tucson to take on the Cats. That will be the game that separates the conference.

Next Game: 10/18 @ Arizona

3. Arizona: 4-1 (2-0):
Arizona is tied with Cal for the conference lead thus far, and the next two games will speak volumes. There is plenty of information on the site, and a Stanford Preview coming up. More then.

Next Game: @ Stanford

4. Oregon: 4-2 (2-1)
Oregon is not doing anything to help the frustration that is the Pac-10. No team is giving us clear cut signs of where they stand or what their real strengths are. So far the ducks one convincingly against Washington (really in just one half of play), beat up on a bad Utah State team, took home the W in OT against a good Purdue squad, lost to a young but talented Boise State, beat WASU by 49, and then took a 34 point loss to USC. All of this why rotating QBs from injured to back on the field and back again. Their next stretch against UCLA, at Arizona State and at California should speak volumes. Well at least I hope it does. In reality they will probably beat UCLA in a close game, win convincingly against Arizona State, and go into overtime against Cal leaving us just as confused as when we started.

Next Game: vs. UCLA

5. Oregon State: 2-3 (1-1)
The Beavers may be better than everyone thinks. They may be 2-3 but they have had a pretty tough schedule so far. They have played three Top 10 teams in Penn State now #6, BYU now #9 (3 point loss) and # 8 USC (6 point win). If Oregon State can learn from these games and continue to fine tune against their next two opponents which luckily for them are Washington and Washington State, they could be headed to a bowl game this year.

Next Game: vs. Washington

6. Arizona State: 2-3 (1-1)
The Sundevils have only looked good in one game this season when they beating Stanford 41-17. Since that victory they have lost three straight to UNLV, Georgia, and Cal. Carpenter may be one of the best QB’s in the conference, but his supporting cast is not getting it done. I think it is safe to say that they have three more losses on their schedule.

Next Game: @ USC

7. UCLA: 2-3 (1-1)
I really don’t know what to say about the Bruins. I was never on this Band Wagon, even after a win over the highly overrated Volunteers. I think they are a year or two away from having a good team, and it is tough to say how many losses they will end up with this year.

Next Game: @ Oregon

8. Stanford: 3-3 (2-1)
Stanfords only notable win this year was against Oregon State, which the Beavers should have won if weren’t for a fumble at the last second. Other than that they beat Notre Dame, who still have not earned my respect. The Cardinal are in the same boat as UCLA.

Washington State: 1-5 (0-3)
Washington: 0-5 (0-3)
The State of Washington is ranked 10th. The Huskies lost Locker, and it appears that they will also be losing Willingham. I think this is only going to set them back even more than they are, but I do understand that changes need to be made. As for WASU, their only win came over Portland State. I think a lot of teams, especially in the Pac are looking forward to playing teams from the Evergreen State.

More after the jump...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Heisman Busters: Week 6

Well I am back for another round of giving mention to those who have yet to be recognized by the big boys of sports coverage. Remember I am using ESPN’s Heisman watch list as the basis for those who aren’t in talks of being immortalized in Bronze.

Quick Recap of Heisman Buster Alum (Those who broke on to the list following my endorsement):

QB Mark Sanchez USC
QB Max Hall BYU
RB Jahvid Best Cal
RB Javon Ringer MSU
RB Donald Brown UConn
Past Weeks: Week 1, Week 2, Week 4

Who else is out there? There will be a point where there are no high caliber players that could possibly bust up the Heisman Race left, but until then I will continue to throw names out there.

RB MiQuale Lewis: Ball State
Week 6 vs. Toledo: 31 Car 157 Yds 2 TD
Season: 143 Car 802 Yds 12 TD
Why and Why Not?: Ball State appears to be the hot new team trying to break on the scene, and they took a big step when they broke into the Top 25 as of this morning. Unfortunately they play in the MAC, and all though they are ranked I would still ask Eugene Jarvis if he thinks a MAC running back can put up good enough numbers to get some recognition.

QB: Zac Robinson: Oklahoma State
Week 6 vs. Texas A&M: 10/13 76.9% 186 Yds 3 TD 15 Car 66 Yds 2 TD
Season: 62/86 72.1 % 1035 Yds 10 TD 3 INT 47 Car 158 Yds 4 TD
Why and Why Not?: His QB Rating is 204.58 which is the third highest in the nation. Unfortunately, the rest of his numbers are not as overwhelming as some of the other quarterbacks in contention. It is not likely that he will be able to compete against the big names from the big programs, but he deserves some recognition for taking Ok State into the Top 25 none the less.

QB Daryll Clark: Penn State
Week 6 @ Purdue: 18/26 220 Yds
Season: 80/124 1116 Yds 9 TD 1 Int
Why and Why Not? I had Penn State running back Evan Royster on the last couple installments of this article, but his time splitting has really hurt him numbers wise. One of the biggest reason he made it was because of his squad. It is now becoming more apparent that Clark is one of the biggest reason why Penn State may be the best team in the Big Ten. Eventually someone will start talking about Clark.

We’ll see how the week unfolds, and hopefully I can continue to dig up players for the following weeks. Until then….

4Real Out….

More after the jump...

Arizona Answers Some Questions With Win Over Washington

This weekend our Arizona Wildcats played host to the Locker-less Washington Huskies. To be honest, I had mixed feelings going into this game because of the performances of both squads so far this season. First off I didn’t want to get too excited about our Cats, yet, but coming off a 31-10 win over UCLA didn’t humble my spirits any. This season Arizona is averaging 43.6 points per game while only allowing 13.6 a game. Statistics should always be taken at face value but after a 48-14 win over the Huskies it looks like they are pretty spot on. As far as preparing for the Huskies I had a couple of lingering questions that I knew I would have to wait for game time to have answered. The first was if Washington was as bad as they seemed or if it was their schedule that is just that ridiculous.

Washington opened with #21 Oregon followed by #15 BYU, #3 Oklahoma, Stanford, and finally our Cats. They came out of that stretch 0-5, and maybe they deserve to be at the bottom of the Pac. Now that they have lost their leading passer, rusher and really the face of their squad in Locker I don’t think that we will ever find out if they are better than they look on paper.

The second question in all our minds was how good is Arizona this year? We know now that we are one stumble (Loss to New Mexico) from being close to a Top 25 ranking and that we are in fact a really good squad. Good is relative though, and no we are not on the same caliber as a lot of Nationally Ranked programs. That being said, the way the Pac looks this year I don’t think it is unrealistic to think that we might actually have a legitimate shot at the Rose Bowl.

Quick Stats from this weekend:
QB: Tuitama: 17/21 81% 193 Yds 3 TD 0 INT
RB: Grigsby 14 Car 113 Yds 1 TD
TE: Gronkowski 5 Rec 109 Yds 3 TD

Next week will be heading west to take on Stanford followed by a home game against Cal. As fat as I am concerned we have two more weeks before we can get ahead of ourselves and start planning our Bowl Game road trip possibilities.

I’ll have a preview for the Stanford game up soon.
4Real Out…..

More after the jump...

Bring on Year 100

As with most Cubfans I am the eternal pessimist. A trait that I inherited from my father (a Cubfan), and presumably his father before him (a Cubfan), and so on through the male Domschke Family History. I wasn't expecting a whole lot this year, as with every year. Sure I get excited about the Cubs season after season and get disappointed season after season. As I so aptly described the plight of the Cubs back in July, when I wrote of the Cubfan "lump in the throat" that starts to worry us, Cubfans start worrying because they know things are going to go bad. It's a matter of how bad and where the blame might be placed. I think I can safely say that I was right, though the Cubs turned it back around from that 6-10 slump I wrote of in early July, they still weren't as dominant as they were in May and June. And the bats once again went quiet. No surprise here, I in no way predicted a Cub appearance in the Fall Classic.

As I told many friends in the weeks leading up to and the days following James Loney's Grand Slam/Dempster's eruption, or more accurately erosion, the Cubs aren't made for a 5 game set. I'm not saying that they would have won in a 7 game set, but losing Game 1 at Home in a 5 game set pretty much says that the series is over. Where as losing Game 1 at Home in a 7 game set is much less of a death sentence. These Cubs (07-08) are a streaky, streaky team. When things are going good, they are going great, and when things are going bad they get to awful really fast. They are far too emotional for a 5 game series. Both in 2007 and 2008 game 3 didn't even seem like it mattered to Cub player or many Cubfans. The series seemed over when Bill Buckner took over for Lee, Dan Uggla took over for DeRosa, Alex Gonzalez (2003 NLCS Gonzalez) took over for Theriot, and Aramis Ramirez was replaced by his error ridden Pirate Past in the Game 2 loss. That's the way it goes for the Cubs, and always has. I don't feel like posting the stats but look back at 2003's Bartman Game/The Inning. The Cubs still had a chance to win Game 7 in '03 but they were so deflated after after Bartman led to Gonzalez's botch job at short which led to the Golden Boy Prior getting shelled for 8 runs. The bats didn't show up to Arizona last year and when rookie Carlos Marmol had a rough outing in Game 1 (and the ensuing loss) the series ended, all emotion and momentum was gone. Thus the way it goes for the Cubs. But there is one redeeming thought for Cubfans, this was not the 100th season of Cub baseball without a World Series as people talked about all year long. It has been a rough century, but not a full century.

Now, yes "technically" the Cubs haven't won the World Series in 100 calendar years. But the key word there is calendar. True, in 1908 the Cubs won the World Series, and then only went back once, 1945, and lost. These are indelible truths and I won't argue that. But, what everyone is failing to recognize, there was no World Series in 1994. Now the Cubs may have been out of contention by the time of the Strike, but the decision had been made much earlier that a strike was eminent. There was no World Series in 1994 ergo there was no World Series for the Cubs to lose in 1994. In June, had there not been a looming Strike, maybe those Cubs would have made a stronger push for the post-season and been in Wild Card contention by September. Ask the Colorado Rockies about fire headed into the post-season and double digit setbacks in August meaning nothing. I, in no way am saying the Cubs would have won, I am not suggesting or giving credence to the "what if" argument in sports, especially not when looking in the rear-view mirror. All I am saying is that there was no chance for the Cubs to do it. So I guess my point is that while it has been 100 years since the Cubs last World Series Championship, the Cubs aren't 0/100, they're only 0/99. So I guess it hasn't really been 100 missed opportunities for the Cubs and their fans.

And to really stretch it, 1994's Strike shortened season could have just restarted the clock for everyone. Maybe it was like the reset button for everyone. So Good Luck to the 2009 Cubs and Tribe as they try to break their bad luck streaks before they reach 15 seasons without a World Series win.

More after the jump...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Basket Cat News and Notes; The Wedding Edition?

In keeping with the tradition of soap opera tactics and plot lines from the hallowed halls of McKale big news drops straight from Papa Lute's mouth. Apparently, as is being reported by several news sources, last night during a benefit dinner at the student union Papa Lute decided to share his recent "catch" with the crowd. I must say I wish I had as much game as Papa Lute.

The dinner was hosted by Wildcat great and current Suns GM Steve Kerr, who is town with the Suns training camp for the next few weeks. This news coupled with the reneging of a scholarship offer to recent commit Reger Dowell is keeping the nay-sayer's and smack talkers in business.

In other former Basket Cat news, we here at TheBearDown couldn't be happier for long time Cat, Kirk "Big Nasty" Walters; He has signed a deal with the NBA D-League...while this doesn't guarantee him a roster spot it does give him a chance and after a less then spectacular college career (hampered by injuries, Mono, and Kevin O'Neal)that's about all he could ask for.

Another former Basket Cat in the news is one of my all time favorites Michael Dickerson. Apparently a bit of soul searching and some yoga has lead him to rekindle his NBA dream. Once considered a sure-fire prospect, injuries and playing for the Grizzlies derailed what was beginning to be a fantastic pro career. After several surgeries, much rehab and a few years in invite to the Cav's camp. I for one am pulling for one of the coolest guys to grace McKale to make it again and I have a hunch 4Real might be pulling for him also.

That's all for now...Until next sand through an hour glass;these are the days of our wildcat lives.

More after the jump...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Arizona Wildcats News and Notes

So with traveling, conferences, moving, mold, and work weighing me down, as well as playoff baseball and no cable my college football coverage has slipped drastically over the last couple weeks. It's hard to write a decent Top 25 or Heisman column when I haven't seen any of them play in 2 weeks. Hopefully, next week I'll put together some of the award winning college football coverage you have come to expect. But just because I can't cover the national football scene, doesn't mean my Wildcats don't get any love.

I have been TV and internet less for a while now but that didn't stop me from listening to the 2nd half of the UA - UCLA game a couple weeks ago. Sure the temp apartment I'm in has no radio but my car does. So I sat in my car, in the lovely Tucson heat, sweating and listening to the game. And after a week off and 4 games down it's time to take a look at the Arizona football season thusfar and heading into the meat of the schedule.

So the Cats are 3-1 and could be 4-0. Now there's no room for should-be's in sports so I'm not holding a grudge or thinking that the Cats are being unfairly excluded from the Top 25 picture just yet. The Cats had two ways to come back after that disappointing loss to New Mexico A) Fold and call it a season or 2) come back swinging. I for one am glad they chose the latter and took down a fledgling UCLA team. So with 4 games in the book and 8 (or 9?) games left to play it's time to analyze the first trimester of the season for the Kitty Kats.

Week 1 - Arizona looked amazing against the Vandals. Unfortunately for the Cats that 70-0 thumping was less than impressive, Idaho has gone on to beat Idaho St. and lose to Western Michigan, San Diego State and one of the worst teams in Div.I football, Utah State. The plus side of this game was the amount of PT that was afforded to the future Cats, this will payoff next year when Matt Scott is tapped to lead the Cats to Back to Back Bowls for the first time since 1997 and 1998.

Week 2 - Another home game against another overmatched opponent the Cats once again looked strong against the Toledo Rockets (suggestion for UT, Toledo Torpedo's? I love alliteration and they've been under water for the last couple years). The offense looked really potent and the Defense had a great Goal Line Stand to force the Torpedos to kick a field goal and close the gap to 72-9.

Week 3 - This is where Cats fans were nervous. UA hadn't started off a season 3-0 since....well I don't know when but I know it wasn't in the recent future. Hell I remember coming back from Freshman Football Scrimmage in August of 1999 expecting Desert Vista High School Alumni Bobby Wade to pick up where he left off with No. 4 Arizona. The Cats lost 41-7 to Penn State. But back to the point, the Cats don't typically win the first 3. They haven't done it under Stoops, didn't do it under Mackovic, might have done it under Tomey at some point in time, but unlikely. UA was expected to win this game though they lost to UNM last year. The Cats came out sloppy. They gorged on the likes of Toledo and Idaho and forgot that New Mexico might not be a BCS team but they have been in a handful of Bowls of recent (even if they made up their own). I had a bad feeling and the Cats lost. The young Cats no-name D couldn't stop Ferguson and Arizona's 5 Turnovers didn't help anything.

Week 4 - The Cats fans came into week 4 expecting their team to lay down and die, again, for the umpteenth time in recent memory, or come out fighting. The problem, UCLA had motivation too, and they had the home field advantage. They however seemingly didn't have half of their training camp starters. Down to a 3rd QB the Cats came out (red pants and all) and took the field by storm and left with a win.

After 4 weeks the Cats are 3-1. That in and of itself is amazing. So we've got 8 games left to see if they can get 4 more wins and a bowl game. What's ahead?

Oct. 4 - Washington (0-4)
Anything less than a win here and despite a 3-2 record Stoops doesn't make it the the Territorial Cup. Cats Win. 4-1
Oct. 11 - at Stanford (3-2)
Tough game, on the road. Stanford is really turning it around. Last year a loss to Stanford was really disappointing. This year, it will still be disappointing but a lot easier to swallow. The Cats will have to come out fast and hard to have the game in their hands. These Cats aren't going to have a whole lot of comebacks. They need to take a lead early to have any chance. Cats Win. 5-1
Oct. 18 - Cal (3-1)
Too close to call right now, we'll have to see how they fare against Arizona State as a nice barometer. I think Jahvid Best will be too much for UA to handle, even though he may be rusty after missing 2 weeks. Cats lose. 5-2
Oct. 25 - HOMECOMING - USC (2-1)
As much as I want to say the the Cats will win this game based on the past Homecoming/Major Upset track record of Stoops which I have discussed at length. And as much as I want to say it based on the USC looking human last week in their loss to Oregon State. I just can't say the Cats will win. I think this will be the closest USC-UA game in awhile, and if the Kitty Kats are still in it in the 4th Tucson will be going nuts (check out Oregon last season). Cats lose. 5-3
Nov. 8 - at Wazzu (1-4)
After back to back losses the character of the Cats will show right now. I think the Cats are much more talented than Wazzu and the Cougars game couldn't come at a better time for Arizona. Cats win. 6-3 - Bowl Eligible
Nov. 15 - at Oregon (4-1)
Oregon looks like they might actually be the class of the Pac-10 right now and depending on development and injuries Oregon should take this one, especially with some leftover revenge feelings after UA knocked them out of Pac 10 Champ and National Champion contention and knocked out their Heisman QB. Cats lose. 6-4
Nov. 22 - Oregon St. (2-2)
Oregon State will most likely float around .500 the rest of the season with some highs and lows. They just don't have the team to make any kind of serious run, despite what you saw last week against USC. Oregon State's D won't be able to keep up with Arizona's O and barring a mental breakdown from Tui Cats walk with this one at home. Cats Win. 7-4
Dec 6 - Scummies (2-2)
Territorial Cup. Cats Win. 8-4.

Going Bowling.

More after the jump...

Dear Chicago; Breathe

Well I said ask me in October, and well here we are October 1, 2008. The Cubs are going to the playoffs, their first game against the Dodgers tonight- I won’t breathe for many weeks to come. The streets around Wrigley lit up the day the Cubs clinched their division, and in my opinon the city of Chicago is about to shoulder the past in order for the Cubs to secure their future.Go with me on this.

I believe in karma, and signs and things happening for a reason. Yesterday, I took the morning off work for a doctors appointment, I’m down on Clark street in the financial district when I hear somebody yelling on a megaphone through my cab windows. Now maybe it was because of my raging ear infection or the fact that I had tylenol pm’ed myself into a haze but I forgot there was a Cubs rally- and by the chance of where my doctor was located I ended up right in the middle of it.

Of course, I got out of the cab, I could self medicate anyday- I had to be invovled in this. I looked around and there was every type of person imagenable there- my favorite had to be the business men in their suties with their Cubs jersey’s over them standing next to the hot dog vendor in his hat, Harry Carey glasses and “W” shirt on. I laughed I forgot the Cubs fan does not stem from a mold.

The man on the microphone turned out to be Jim Hendry, through the course of his speech he talked about what made a true Cub’s fan and how this organization wouldn’t be anything without their family, ( I apparently I need to find out how to use my family stature to get into the Chicago Tribune will). Hendry also reminded us that Cub’s fans are different because a Cub’s fan never forgets where they came from and that we should all look around because this was Chicago and it was a part of each and every one of us.

What also was evident at the rally was that while we’ve heard a lot about this 100 year drought, the past and the franchise history would not be laid on our players this year. Cheers echoed through the crowd. The world likes to remind the Cubs that they are the orphan children of the MLB, where once they had a sibling in the Boston Red Sox, now they stand alone. That was then -this is now; it’s a new team with heavy hitters, smart coaches and loyal players- it just so happens to be the 100 year mark. Lou Pinella said it best; ''It's not fair to put all the expectations of all the past failures here and all the past successes here on the 2008 team'’.

So in the words of Heath Ledger via his creepy joker character “ and heeere we go”. Cubs start tonight, they host the Dodgers, in a twist of fate the White Sox also made the playoffs and they will be taking on the Tampa Bay Devil Rays tomorrow. It’s safe to say that the city of Chicago is breathing again, and because of this so are the Cubs ( and the Sox). It’s really a full circle event, the fans will hold onto the past failures and successes so they cubs shoulders can be free, and now we watch andwait, all while holding our breath…………….

On a side note: While I won’t declare the Cub’s victorious because that is a sacreligious jinx here are my picks:

Round 1:
Cubs over Dodgers

Phillies over Brewers
Angles over Red Sox

White Sox ( we gotta keep things interesting in Chicago) over Tampa Bay

Round 2:
Cubs over Phillies

Angles over White Sox

World Series
Cubs over Angles

More after the jump...