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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats’ history yet to be written

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LOS ANGELES — The history of USC football oozes from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum walls.

Six retired jerseys — Mike Garrett, OJ Simpson, Charles White, Marcus Allen, Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart — watch over the Trojans every Saturday as USC takes to the same field that 11 national championship teams played on before them.

472 NFL draft picks made a name for themselves at USC. 162 Pro Bowlers got their start at the Coliseum.

USC’s mascot, Traveler the white horse, is one of the most recognizable symbols in college football. The Trojan band is a historical staple in not only USC football, but also collegiate athletics as a whole.

Since 1923, USC has built a history in that very building that, despite the negative reputation that’s developed in recent years, will stand the test of time.

Arizona is still working to build that history.

As of now, the Wildcats don’t even have a starting point.

Athletic director Greg Byrne is working tirelessly to make Arizona a legitimate football school. Between the mammoth video board and Arizona’s soon-to-be-expanded practice facilities, the pieces are in place for exponential growth.

The Wildcats have been on national television more than ever before and positive exposure is Arizona’s for the taking.

But the most important piece of the puzzle is missing: winning.

After USC torched the defenseless Wildcats for 48 points on 582 total yards Saturday, Arizona’s losing streak to FBS schools extended to nine. It’s been almost a year since the UA won its last game against a legitimate opponent, and even that win came against sub-par UCLA.

During this epic losing streak, Arizona’s given up 43.8 points per game and 487.6 total yards per contest. During that stretch, the Wildcats have lost by an average margin of 21.4 points, with eight of the nine games coming on ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC.

The Wildcats’ three consecutive bowl games (2008-2010) seemed to be the perfect starting point to build off of, but so far this season, Arizona is regressing.

Arizona would have to defeat five out of their six remaining opponents, which includes Oregon State, UCLA, Washington, Utah, Colorado and Louisiana-Lafayette, to be bowl-eligible. While that is certainly doable, it’s a lot to ask of a team that hasn’t won a Division I game since Oct. 30, 2010.

In a matter of nine games, the Wildcats have gone from a possible Rose Bowl contender to one of the nation’s worst defenses and a program fighting a wave of irrelevance.

And 2011 was supposed to be the time for Arizona to build on its past success.

Nick Foles, who may go down as the best quarterback in Arizona history, has only seven games left in cardinal and navy, pending a bowl game.

The same goes for stud receiver Juron Criner. Defensive backs Trevin Wade and Robert Golden and linebackers Paul Vassallo and Derek Earls will also be gone.

Sure the program has chances for success in the future, because of both facilities and personnel. With his SEC background, Byrne is dedicated to doing everything possible, from a financial standpoint, to make the Arizona football team an annual contender.

As Foles said after the USC loss, Ka’Deem Carey has a chance to be one of the best running backs in Arizona history. Austin Hill looks like a young Criner. The offensive line has a bright future.

Quarterback Matt Scott has been chomping at the bit for a full season as a starter, and the senior should give Arizona a legitimate chance to win every Saturday in 2012.

Cornerback Jonathan McKnight will be back and healthy from a torn ACL. Adam Hall and Marquis Flowers will combine to be one of the most physical safety duos in the country.

But as of now, Arizona can’t buy a win. The defense is one of the worst in the country and in just nine games, Arizona has lost its basis to finally be an elite football team.

Right now, the Wildcats aren’t even a good football team, and it remains to be seen when they’ll wake up.

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

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