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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

The 2010 eulogy

Mike+Christy
Mike Christy

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Every time Oklahoma State scores, the fans join in a synchronized hand motion resembling a windshield wiper. On first glance, it appears a simple gesture, similar to what Arizona fans do at McKale Center when an opposing play fouls out.

But to the Arizona Wildcats, OSU’s first celebration was more than a touchdown — it was a farewell to any chance of Arizona winning the 2010 Valero Alamo Bowl and another season ending in disappointment.

The 36-10 loss emphasized just how far behind Arizona is from being numbered among college football’s elite.

Who Arizona is as a team is still hanging in the air, even after a 7-1 start to the season was supposed to give the Wildcats some sort of solid identity among the BCS best. Who Oklahoma State is clearly was defined — a team with a strong, dangerous deep threat in receiver Justin Blackmon and a focus on “”we”” instead of “”me””.

What Arizona was playing for was an end to a four game losing skid that left fans wondering if the same old Wildcats would ever break out of mediocrity. What OSU was playing for was its first 11-win season.

Where Oklahoma State began the game hitting hard, oozing swagger on defense and showboating during Justin Blackmon’s touchdown, the Wildcats failed to respond, and just sat back and took the OSU abuse.

When Arizona began the game with a miscue, the Cowboys took advantage of Arizona’s four turnovers, scoring consistently and putting the game away long before half time.

How the Wildcats played reflected their apathetic demeanor; how Oklahoma State played reflected a hunger that Arizona lacked both in the game and throughout the season.

There lies a clear difference in the state of mind of the team’s head coaches. Arizona Head coach Mike Stoops defined his team as needing to reevaluate in different areas including examining a philosophical basis of what it takes to win as a team. OSU head coach Mike Gundy wanted to take a few days to savor the win.

Somewhere between the pre-season Rose Bowl hype and the too good to be true 7-1 start was a Wildcat team that just happened to catch all the breaks.

After rolling over FCS opponents, Arizona faced an Iowa team that served up the game, killing itself with turnovers and special team lapses.

The Wildcats escaped Cal, Washington State and Washington with wins. Oregon State, USC and ASU losses grounded the once high expectations.

There are certain qualities that elite programs embody, and those don’t seem to stick with Arizona.

“”We have to do some things to get better as a program, and that’s universal,”” Stoops said. “”That’s not just me, it’s not just the players. This is a philosophy that it takes to win in big time athletics.””

There are certain qualities which elite programs embody. Arizona hasn’t quite grasped what it means to be numbered among the nation’s best.

That requires pride.

That requires physical presence that not only intimidates, but establishes a set standard of expectations each and every game.

That requires foundation upon which outgoing seniors establish and pass on tradition.

A sense that winning is expected, not something to luck-out in about 50 percent of games.

Another disappointing end to a promising season left the Wildcats with a bad taste in 2009 and 2010.

What kind of team will Arizona be in 2011?

Nicole Dimtsios is a journalism junior and can be reached at Sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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