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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Tucson has become a football town

Alex McIntyre

Arizona football head coach Rich Rodriguez sizes up his players during the Beanie Bowl scrimmage Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Arizona football has its “licence to thrill” this season after coming off the most successful year within the past decade, despite not winning a bowl game.

Even with the success earned by the Wildcats, there’s still a mystique missing with the program.

Fair or not, when the college football world thinks of Arizona, the conversation will turn to basketball nine times out of 10.

Arizona football head coach Rich Rodriguez is progressing into his fourth season at the helm of the program, but this time he’s not under the pressure he was at his last coaching stint.

Many forget that Rodriguez once called Ann Arbor, Mich., home. Coaching in “The Big House” that seats just fewer than 110,000 people with the rich history of Michigan football must be frightening.

At Michigan, like any blue-blood program, the mentality of winning will always be national title or bust. Boosters, fans and alumni constantly breathing down your neck to get a win is uncomfortable, even for an animatic Rodriguez on the sideline.

That was his last job.

Luckily for Rodriguez, this isn’t Michigan. He’s at a program that has never won an outright conference title or been in contention for a national championship.

For any coach, that would be a turn-off when looking for a job, but this is a chance that even Rodriguez should be licking his chops over.

As fans of sports, we tend to follow wherever the victories are taking place. That’s why there are more Golden State Warriors fans, Kansas City Royals fans and Seattle Seahawks fans.

Heck, even some of the Miami Heat fans converted to cheering for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Does it have anything to do with LeBron James playing in five consecutive finals?

Wins are everything for fans, and now that Rodriguez has had winning seasons every year in Tucson, he can finally put the icing on the cake.

Winning on a consistent basis will bring more fans to Arizona Stadium; therefore the culture of the Old Pueblo will completely change. That’s being-a-sports-fan 101.

Last season was a perfect example. Once Arizona shocked the world by defeating then-No. 2 Oregon in Autzen Stadium and moved to 5-0 for the first time in the Rodriguez era, the following game against USC filled Arizona Stadium to the brim.

Of course, that game would turn out to be detrimental when Casey Skowron became public enemy No. 1 after missing a game-winning field goal, but finally there was electricity in the Tucson football world.

Arizona football will always take a back seat to Arizona basketball, and as long as basketball head coach Sean Miller is employed in Tucson, then football will have a different identity.

It may not be the identity of schools like Alabama, Oregon or even the almighty Michigan program that cut Rodriguez loose in 2011, but at least the identity is there.

With the fresh facilities broken in, the recruiting prospects improving and Rodriguez following up a Pac-12 South title, Arizona football has the opportunity to improve the fan base.

Stacking up fans and revenue will also lead to Rich Rod stacking up his money with a fresh contract that could keep him at Arizona for many years to come.

Follow Justin Spears on Twitter.

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