Here lies our Rose Bowl dream,
Abandoned by a so-so team,
That Ruben guy they couldn't lasso,
So bowl plans now include El Paso.
-- R.I.P. 10/23/99
WHEN RAY MILLAND won the Academy Award for The Lost Weekend, he played a pathetic alcoholic who descends into a nightmarish world of delirium, self-loathing, and eventual madness. But that's nothing compared to what Wildcat football fans went through last Saturday. And they don't even get a nice statue for their mantelpiece.
No, after nearly four hours of watching a team called the Ducks march over, around, and through the Arizona F-fense (that's the only thing worse than a D-fense), Cat fans got their hopes and dreams sucked out of their souls and then stomped on. Again, but almost certainly not for the last time. If this cat defense were named for a military operation, it would be Desert Mild Weather Disturbance With Light Breezes.
As for myself, I had an epiphany shortly after the ill-fated field-goal attempt sailed wide right. What I came to realize last Saturday around 11:03 p.m. has had a life-changing effect on me, a cleansing of sorts which has left me with a clarity and inner peace heretofore unknown.
In my lifetime, man has sent a spacecraft out of the Solar System and cured polio. Found the Titanic and created new elements in the lab. I've lived through a period of near-revolution in the streets, followed in just a few years by disco. I've seen Presidents assassinated and impeached. Heck, just watching TV, I've seen men taking the first-ever steps on the moon and others transplanting organs from one body to another.
But at that moment on Saturday night, I came to a realization: I'm never going to see the University of Arizona Wildcats in the Rose Bowl.
If I live a normal life span, I should be able to see man land on Mars, a cure for cancer, and maybe even the Second Coming of Christ. But no Rose Bowl Cats.
It's just not meant to be. That's the only way you can look at it and maintain even a shred of sanity. Do you realize that if Stanford stays in first place, the Pac-10 will have sent seven different teams to the Rose Bowl in the 1990s? But not the Cats. Horrible-for-the-past-30-years Oregon State has a better chance of making it to the Rose Bowl in the near future than does Arizona.
Oh no, no. We choose not to participate. We'll win all the Big Games you want, but we won't win the important ones. We'll have seasons where we only lose one game out of 13, but that lone loss will be the one which keeps us out of Pasadena. We'll gladly tie for the Pac-10 crown as long as the
tie-breaker allows somebody else to go. We'll even beat the living crap out of the team that does get to go (and even ruin their national championship hopes at the same time) as long as we're allowed to blow a couple easy games that same season, keeping us safely in second or third place.
The really bad TV series Fantasy Island was an outgrowth of a not-bad made-for-TV movie with the same name. In the movie, a bunch of people were gathered in a tropical paradise and had an endless supply of fun, food and dancing native girls. But when the people started asking when they could go home, the proprietors kept making excuses. Bad weather, the plane is broken, scheduling difficulties. They kept coming tantalizingly close to getting off the island, but something always happened to prevent their leaving. Finally, the "guests" on the island came to the realization that they were all in hell. A velvet-line hell, but hell nonetheless.
This is where Cat fans find themselves. Their team never really sucks, but they never climb all the way to the top of the hill, either. In just the past few years, Washington State, Oregon and Washington have all been there. Even the hated Sun Devils have made the trip. But the Cats get near the summit, then check the altimeter. "We're getting pretty high; the air is thin. Better set up camp here for the next couple hundred years or so. Or at least until Tom's dead."
This was the year that the Cats were supposed to have their best team ever, and as it turns out, it's also the year that the rest of the Pac-10 is the worst ever, and Arizona still can't get it done. I get the feeling that if the Big Earthquake swallowed the entire West Coast, the Cats would find a way to lose the Pac-2 championship to 1-9 ASU.
Just join me, people. Say it loud: The Wildcats are never going to go to the Rose Bowl. The truth will set you free.
THE CATS HAVE four games left and all of a sudden, it's a nail-biter as to whether they'll go to a bowl game at all. Arizona hardly ever does well against UCLA and Washington, their next two opponents, and then looms a trip to Oregon State, which handed UCLA one of its worst losses in Bruin history last week. And then comes the ASU game, which is alway a tossup.
Under the rosiest (oops) of scenarios, we're looking at being a part of that crappy Aloha Rainbow Mahi-Mahi Traveler's Insurance Peter Piper Pizza Bowl doubleheader on Christmas Day in Hawaii. Or, gulp, maybe the John Hancock Sun Bowl in El Paso, with mariachis, bad weather and TV ratings lower than a televangelist on cable. It wasn't supposed to be this way.