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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Pro/Con: Does football need to make a bowl for success?

    Pro: Bowl berth should be expected, not dreamed about

    Maybe six wins is a daunting benchmark for an Arizona football team that hasn’t had a .500 record since 1999 – when, incidentally, it finished 6-6 and sixth in the Pacific 10 Conference in Dick Tomey’s penultimate season – but UA head coach Mike Stoops has spent the last two years putting in place a winning foundation, and it’s time to start seeing dividends.

    The coaching staff has been all but rock-solid for two full years now, plenty of time for the principles of discipline and execution preached under Stoops to become rule rather than exception.

    Suffering five losses by seven points or fewer, as Arizona did last year, has to start fading into players’ collective memory.

    And by bringing in consecutive national top-20 recruiting classes, Stoops will field a team brimming with talent that’s young but nonetheless more capable of getting the job done than any Tucson has seen this century.

    So why should a seventh straight losing season be considered a success?

    The quick answer: it shouldn’t.

    Arizona plays in a conference where teams go from three wins one year to four the next, and 10 the year after that (Washington State, 1999-2000). Or how about the California example? The Golden Bears went 3-8, 1-10 and then 7-5 from 2000 to 2002.)

    Long story short, miracles can happen when you play in a pass-happy, defense-hurting division. Take the Wildcats’ 52-14 triumph last year over then-undefeated UCLA.

    If Arizona, with solid but unspectacular play from Willie Tuitama, can drop a bomb on the No. 7 team in the nation, then why can’t that happen every week – against Louisiana State on Sept. 9 and against Southern California two weeks later?

    The middle part of this year’s schedule is full of the type of games against mediocre-to-good conference opponents (Washington, Stanford, Oregon State, Washington State) that will tell a whole lot more about this team than the season’s difficult beginning and end.

    Arizona certainly won’t accept a losing record in those four contests.

    Let’s see if that attitude becomes the rule or the exception for the entire season.

    Tom Knauer
    senior writer

    Con: Look past the stats to determine season’s worth

    Thinking in superficial terms, of course going to a bowl would make for a successful season. But does this team have to go to a bowl to be successful?

    Not necessarily.

    While a 4-8 or even a 5-7 season might break the hearts of Cats fans around the nation as their team falls one or two wins below the threshold for making the team’s first bowl since the 1998 season, it wouldn’t necessarily be the end of the Wildcat football world.

    If there’s one thing I wish the common sports fan would learn, it’s the ability to look past the statistics. Evaluate the team, game, athlete – whatever it is – based on what your eyes see, not what the box scores say.

    If Arizona wins only four or five games this season, but the team hangs tough with LSU and USC, then hell yeah it’s a successful season.

    Ignore the records. Evaluate each game. Then determine success.

    No, I’m not saying the success of the season doesn’t hinge on those two games alone, but if this team fails to win six games, they will certainly go a long way in terms of quantifying a successful season.

    And yes, there is a point where improvement must be translated into wins, but that point has not yet been reached.

    Remember for a moment that Mike Stoops inherited a program in shambles and was forced to build from the ground up. He isn’t even to the point where his first recruiting class has graduated.

    Just look at Notre Dame. Ty Willingham lost his job because of impatient fans, boosters and administrators just two years after being named the national coach of the year.

    And now? Just look at what the talent he recruited is doing. (One of them, quarterback Brady Quinn, is the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this season.)

    So run Stoops out of town if he doesn’t make a bowl?

    No way.

    Ryan Casey
    assistant sports editor

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