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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats stuck in culture of losing

Arizona’s loss to Colorado was just another brick in the wall of mediocrity of the Wildcat football program.

Before Saturday, Colorado had never won a game in Pac-12 Conference play. The Buffaloes entered the contest with Arizona as the owners of the Pac-12 Conference’s worst scoring offense and the 117th-ranked scoring defense in the country.

But that didn’t matter to Arizona. If there was any doubt about who the conference’s worst team was, the Wildcats erased it.

Arizona played like a team that didn’t care in the 48-29 loss in Boulder, Colo., on Saturday. Never mind all the talk about loving to play football and still being focused, trying to send the seniors out on a high note.

No matter how badly the Wildcats wanted that to happen, they just don’t know how to do it. That’s just another piece of evidence that the beginning of a new football era at Arizona needed to happen this season. Whether it was after the loss to Oregon State or after the Louisiana-Lafayette game doesn’t matter. Mike Stoops and the culture of losing that he’d harbored needed to go.

Arizona managed to tally a meager 60 yards rushing against the team that entered the game with the worst rush defense in the conference, giving up almost 200 yards per game.

Quarterback Nick Foles ended the game with his customary 350-plus passing yards and passed Willie Tuitama to become Arizona’s all-time leading passer, but the senior also turned the ball over four times and put the ball on the ground once more.

It was the third-straight subpar performance for Foles, whose draft stock might be plummeting faster than Arizona’s season has.

“The most important thing is winning the game,” Foles told the media in Boulder following the game.

But that’s a concept that Arizona hasn’t grasped.

Winning is a culture. It’s a mindset. It’s not something that happens overnight. It’s a three or four-year process. If it hadn’t happened in year eight for Mike Stoops, it wasn’t going to happen at all.

On the other hand, losing is also a culture that a program can build. That’s the path that Arizona’s been headed down since Nov. 21, 2009, when, with a Rose Bowl appearance on the line, Oregon beat the Wildcats 44-41 and essentially tore the heart out of Stoops’ program.

Whoever is the next head coach at Arizona is going to have his hands full. It’s one thing to inherit a program that doesn’t have the players. That’s an easy thing to change in a few years for a good coach.

But to inherit a bunch of players that don’t know how to do the little things that it takes to win — that’s enough to drive any coach insane. He’ll have to erase two years of misery from the minds of players and fans alike.

So if you’re looking for a fond memory of Arizona football, think back to the first 56 minutes of game action on that chilly November night two years ago. That was college football at its finest.

It’s going to be a while before Arizona gets anywhere near that again.

— Alex Williams is the assistant sports editor. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu

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