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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

PRO/CON: Is arizona a football or basketball school?

Hoops: program tradition hasn’t fizzled

Step away from this top-25 football team hoopla for just one minute, and you’ll understand why Arizona is and will continue to be a basketball school.

First, drop your understanding of the basketball team at Arizona from the past five years, because that’s a twisted anomaly — not because Arizona wasn’t up to Arizona standards, but because of the circumstances behind why the Wildcats weren’t elite. No college team goes through such wild periods.

Secondly, consider that the majority of the fans piling into McKale Center are, well, on the grey-haired side.

Why do they show up?

Because today, which happens to be the men’s basketball media day, Tucson’s culture still breathes Arizona basketball, the program Lute Olson built and led into elite-hood.

Say what you will about the current status of the football and hoops teams. That Block A is a brand, a basketball brand.

Your marketing professors probably told you about this branding idea. Even through Arizona basketball went through that scandal, like that whole BP oil spill thing will hardly dent the reputation of those two capitalized letters put together, all because of its brand.

Same with Arizona basketball and its veteran fans.

And it’s not only the older crowd.

Despite past scandal at Arizona, Josiah Turner, a highly-touted 2011 point guard recruit, recently committed to head coach Sean Miller — he said he enjoyed watching former players Jerryd Bayless and Gilbert Arenas.

Those players in the NBA are free marketing for the school.

While there are plenty of Arizona athletes in the NFL, the most famous UA football players in the spotlight are probably current ESPN analysts Tedy Bruschi and Antonio Pierce.

Fans have pride about those guys, but fans won’t go onto message boards to boast about the Wildcats having more professional athletes in football compared to other schools. They will about the Wildcats in the NBA.

And let’s go back to the legacy and tradition put in place by Olson.

Tarnished by an NCAA investigation? Maybe.

Fizzled out by a weird retirement? Yes.

But fans don’t cling to the bad.

They place the negatives aside; I guarantee they won’t tell Duke basketball fans that the Blue Devils have a better tradition because Arizona’s 25-year streak is technically not 25 years after the NCAA vacated a postseason appearance in 2008.

And I guarantee they won’t pretend Bayless, who only played for the Wildcats in 2008, did nothing for Arizona basketball.

Turner doesn’t think so.

— Kevin Zimmerman is a journalism senior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

Football: Up-and-coming program steals spotlight

When you Google “”Arizona freshmen recruiting class”” you would think that the top article would be concerning the state of Sean Miller and the Arizona Wildcats, a perennial “”basketball school.””

The result suggests otherwise.

Instead, the top article is about Arizona’s 2010 football recruits.

This may seem like a trite example, but it suggests a larger theme: UA is shifting to a football school.  

It’s plaguing tradition on the hardwood against recent success on the gridiron.

A 25-year NCAA streak, the nickname “”Point Guard U,”” and hall of fame coaches and players give Arizona the identity as a “”basketball school,”” but Arizona football’s recent success begs to differ.

To start, Arizona football had back-to-back bowl game appearances. This season had the Wildcats at No. 9, the highest national ranking since the 1999 preseason. The current team is balanced both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.

If there was a time for Arizona to be called a football school, this is it.

Head coach Mike Stoops is getting the media attention he wants — five Arizona games are slated for nationwide converge.

He’s starting to get the star recruits — see four-star, Millennium High School’s Marquis Flowers. And unlike Arizona basketball, football’s recruits haven’t fallen in Stoops’ lap due to other programs’ mistakes, like former-USC recruits Derrick Williams, Solomon Hill and Momo Jones.

He’s also getting the support — Arizona had an average attendance of 52,555 in 2009, a nearly 92 percent capacity average. This season, two out of the Wildcats’ four home games have been pre-game sellouts.

This is the most success that the football program has had since the early 1990s under then head coach Dick Tomey.

True, Arizona has been a basketball school. Has been are the key words. In the past five years, football has steadily been gaining steam. And people are starting to notice in the Tucson community and nationwide.

Ask yourself this: In the past two years, which program has been more recognizable on a national scale? Which program has had more a postseason presence, the most measurable amount of success? Which fan base has become more passionate, having to turn away hundreds of fans during the 2008 USC homecoming game and ASU game, and this season’s Iowa game? Which venue had to adjust opening times to appease students?

Dynasties change, and the Arizona football team has inherited the right to rule the campus.

— Nicole Dimtsios is a journalism junior. She can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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