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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Stuck in the mud

Gordon Bates/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

Football vs. ASU.
Gordon Bates/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Football vs. ASU.

Arizona football is stuck.

Thursday’s heartbreaking loss to ASU was the exclamation point to a season that exposed the Wildcats as a team swaying between mediocrity and elite status.

Head coach Mike Stoops struggled for an answer when he was asked whether or not 2010 would be seen as a successful season for his team.

He answered with a cliché, saying, “”Success is defined in a lot of different ways.””

Stoops knew that Arizona missed yet another opportunity to make that jump and get on the college football map.

When the nation thought Arizona was ready to finally take that leap after a 7-1 start, the Wildcats fell off the map into oblivion.

But as former Arizona Cardinals head coach Denny Green once emphatically said, “”They are who we thought they were.””

Arizona is going to its third consecutive bowl game, but its epic fallout in the last four games of the season further proved why people don’t mention the Wildcats in the national scheme of things.

They aren’t quite ready.

It’s easy to play the what-if game:

What if Arizona beat Oregon State earlier in the season?

What if the Wildcats showed up against Stanford and USC?

What if Arizona held onto its first-half lead against Oregon for 60 minutes?

What if Alex Zendejas could kick an extra point?

It even dates all the way back to last season.

What if Arizona didn’t allow Oregon to come back from down two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to knock the Wildcats out of Rose Bowl contention?

But the real question is: What if Arizona was good enough to not let those so-called “”unfortunate events”” happen?

This is what the Wildcats are — a good team that can’t quite make it to greatness.

It was easy to fall into the trap that the 2010 Wildcats were a great team. They jumped out to their best start since 1999 (4-0) and beat then-No. 9 Iowa along the way.

But when you really think about it, should Arizona realistically have been expected to beat one of the best Stanford teams in recent memory? Is losing to a talented USC team that beat up on the Wildcats for so long, really that big of a disappointment?

Should Arizona have been expected to hang with the best Oregon team ever?

The ASU loss on Friday and the Oregon State debacle earlier in the season were definitely the sore spots of the season.

But in total, the Wildcats still are what they’ve always been. Arizona isn’t a football school, and 7-5 isn’t the end of the world considering the Wildcats’ past standards. The loss to ASU sent Arizona a step back heading into 2011, but Arizona simply isn’t ready to live up to the Rose Bowl hype that surrounded training camp.

The Wildcats don’t have the mentality of a great team. The talent is there and it shines bright in spurts.

But 2010 will once again be remembered as another one of those seasons that got away. So many big games and so many seasons have evaporated that it’s fair to say that Arizona isn’t ready for primetime.

 

— Mike Schmitz is a marketing junior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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