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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Homecoming: 100 years of Arizona Homecoming

Courtesy+of+UA+Special+CollectionsArizona+defeats+Pomona+7-6+during+the+UAs+first+Homecoming+game+on+Thanksgiving+Day%2C+Nov.+26%2C+1914.+The+Wildcats+celebrate+100+years+of+Homecoming+this+weekend.

Courtesy of UA Special Collections
Arizona defeats Pomona 7-6 during the UA’s first Homecoming game on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, 1914. The Wildcats celebrate 100 years of Homecoming this weekend.

While Arizona football players and coaches say they approach every game the same way, they do admit there is more buzz around the 100th anniversary of Homecoming this weekend.

Arizona held its first Homecoming on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, 1914, and beat Pomona College 7-6 in front 1,500 fans.

“It’s a great tradition at every school, but here it’s special because you see so much of the alumni come back. In particular, a lot of the former players come back,” said Brian Jeffries, Arizona Athletics director of broadcasting and voice of the Wildcats. “I think that’s what impresses me the most is that you don’t see that everywhere.”

Jeffries, who has covered UA sports since 1980 and now does play-by-play for football, men’s basketball and baseball, said the letterman’s breakfasts with former UA players are memorable.

“They love the program and want to come back and pay homage to current guys,” Jeffries said.

Arizona football head coach Rich Rodriguez said the players and most coaches don’t treat Homecoming like a different game, but it is more significant for a head coach.

“There’s a lot of people that come back, a lot of [alumni] that come back, a lot of former players that come back to the Homecoming game — that’s the game they pick to come back,” Rodriguez said. “So, it’s important for us to give a great effort and I’m hoping there will be a great crowd.”

Arizona is 56-35-5 all-time in Homecoming games, including a 56-31 victory over Colorado on Nov. 10, 2012. Former Wildcat Ka’Deem Carey ran for 366 yards against the Buffaloes in the game, a Pac-12 Conference record. Rodriguez is 1-1 at UA Homecomings, losing last year to UCLA 31-26.

The first Homecoming game in Arizona Stadium was its dedication game on Oct. 12, 1929, when the Wildcats beat Cal Tech 35-0. A crowd of 6,000 watched, including former Gov. J.C. Phillips; Phillips had given the dedication address.

“It’s not just the games, but everything that goes around it,” Jeffries said. “I think that’s one thing that makes it special, and the school’s done a tremendous job over the years in staging all of the different Homecoming activities, and because of that tradition and history, it just continues to grow and grow.”

Rodriguez said it is important to impress the former UA players coming back for the game.

“I like for the former players to come back and see the new facility and be able to say, ‘Yeah, I played at Arizona, and look how hard these guys are playing,’” Rodriguez said. “I think that is important. I think that is important all the time, but there [are] probably more former players back for Homecoming than any other game. So, hopefully, our guys will take pride in showing them how hard they will play.”

Jeffries said his favorite Homecoming memory was from 1992 when Arizona beat No. 1 Washington 16-3 before a Homecoming game record crowd of 58,510.

“It was just an electric atmosphere; you don’t always get that,” Jeffries said. “You don’t know, Homecoming, to the players, it’s another game so to speak, but that one just happened to be set up perfectly.”

Jeffries ranked that as probably the best atmosphere ever for a UA game. He said the fans were loud an hour before the game.

Linebacker Scooby Wright agreed there is more buzz around Homecoming with it being the 100th anniversary.

“Yeah, I think it’s going to be a great game, because we haven’t been home for a month and it will be cool to be back,” Wright said. “Homecoming, big crowd, coming back in Arizona Stadium. It’s going to be a good one.”

Arizona was the fifth school to host a Homecoming. At the time, Arizona’s enrollment was 308, which is at over 40,000 now,and there were 47 faculty members, where there are over 1,500 today.

“I love home games to begin with,” Jeffries said, “but it’s probably the most special week of the year.”

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Follow James Kelley on Twitter.

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