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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Year in Review: Sports’ Biggest Scapegoats

Colin Darland
Colin Darland / Daily Wildcat

This past year was an up-and-down one for Arizona Athletics. We’d like to focus on nothing but the good, but what’s the fun in that? Here’s a look at Arizona’s six biggest scapegoats from the past year:

Football suspensions

Head coach Rich Rodriguez had a rocky offseason. Apart from the already difficult nature of transitioning to a new program, the arrest of four of his players, including starting offensive tackle Fabbians Ebbele, didn’t make it any easier.

The players involved, according to police reports, entered the home of five students who were having a small gathering, but were asked to leave by the residents. A fight ensued, and players told the members of the party that they would “be back with our homies.” The players did return and a larger fight broke out — ultimately resulting in women being hit, according to police reports.

Of the players involved, Ebbele, cornerback Jourdan Grandon and offensive lineman Eric Bender-Ramsay were all charged with criminal trespassing and assault. Since the fight, the players charged with assault have been held out of team practice while they wait for their upcoming court dates.

– Cameron Moon

Josiah Turner

Josiah Turner was once compared to players like Tony Wroten Jr., Marquis Teague and Bradley Beal. They’re now all likely first-round picks in the NBA draft, and Turner has no college team after being suspended indefinitely and deciding to transfer.

Turner also just added another problem to his laundry list of issues two weeks ago, when UAPD announced he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Few players have failed to live up to massive player expectations as much as Turner has. He was mediocre on the floor all season last year, and even worse off it.

Turner’s departure leaves Arizona with a void at point guard heading into next season, and he quickly went from a potential one-and-done guy to one of the biggest disappointments Arizona has seen in a long time. Turner’s flop helped prove that no recruit is a sure thing. That lesson just happened to come at the expense of Arizona and the lightning quick point guard.

– Mike Schmitz

Mike Stoops

Now that Rich Rodriguez has taken over the program, former head coach Mike Stoops tends to get blamed by fans for the demise of Arizona football.

For these people, a quick reality check is in order, because obviously they have not seen what Wildcat football was like before Stoops was hired. In short, it was dismal.

Stoops’ problem was that he was just a guy who could get the Wildcats from point A to point B. He was never going to be that immortal coach who can take his team to the promised land, but he filled his role adequately.

In 2008, he brought Arizona to its first bowl game in 10 years, and followed that up with another two consecutive bowl appearances. But when the 2011 season became a 1-5 disappointment and the Wildcats hadn’t won an FBS game in almost a year, it was time for athletic director Greg Byrne to put an end to the Stoops era.

The question is, when will Gentle Ben’s take Stoops’ name off its oatmeal stout?

– Dan Kohler

Arizona’s football practice field

By-and-large, the Jimenez Practice Facility serves its purpose. While it’s not the newest or most advanced practice field in America, it gets the job done. At least it did until spring 2011. Arizona lost starting safety Adam Hall, projected starting corner Jonathan McKnight and expected contributor at running back Greg Nwoko to preseason ACL tears that happened in the facility, and linebacker Jake Fischer tore his ACL at Arizona Stadium in the UA’s annual spring game. The Wildcats’ miserable season may have gone an entirely different direction without all of those injuries, and Mike Stoops might still be roaming the sidelines at Arizona Stadium.

– Alex Williams

Sidiki Johnson

Sidiki Johnson was the first member of head coach Sean Miller’s 2011 recruiting class to sign with the Arizona basketball program. He was also the first to leave.

Johnson was suspended indefinitely from the team on Nov. 21, 2011, and eventually left the program on Dec. 4, 2011.

He certainly wasn’t much of a contributor. In his time at Arizona, Johnson made three appearances and averaged 0.3 points and 0.7 rebounds. But it was the fact that he appeared to be so committed to the Wildcats throughout his recruitment that made his suspension and eventual transfer so strange.

The forward had verbally committed to Arizona in August 2009, but a strain of character issues didn’t mesh with Miller and his staff, and his departure left the Wildcats down to a seven-man rotation. That meant few breaks for forwards Jesse Perry and Solomon Hill as the injury bug struck the team later in the season.

– Nicole Dimtsios

Lisa Oyen

One win in 19 games. What more is there to say? The women’s soccer team had the worst season, at least record-wise, out of all the athletic programs at the UA in 2011. With a final record of 1-16-2, the Wildcats set a new low in athletic mediocrity at Arizona.

Arizona’s leading goal scorer was Jazmine Ponce — with two goals. As a team, the Wildcats were outscored 44-7 on the season, outshot 315-195 and let up more than two goals six times. All of that, coupled with a combined six wins in two years, should be reason enough to make a change, specifically with the coaching staff led by head coach Lisa Oyen.

– Zack Rosenblatt

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