January 5 - January 11, 1995


Fumbled Finale

By Tom Danehy

FINAL NOTES ON the college football season: • Okay, so now I'm finally disappointed with the Arizona Wildcats. I stuck with them when they lost to Colorado State, a team which, after all, finished the regular season 10-1 and atop the tough WAC. I gritted my teeth when they lost to Oregon, a one-point loss that eventually kept the Cats out of the Rose Bowl. I even kept a stiff upper lip when they blew the USC game.

The Freedom Bowl was the final straw. It pushed me from miffed to bummed. And it's not just that they lost. The way this season went, a loss in a minor bowl was just about inevitable. It was the way they lost.

Watching the Freedom Bowl had to one of the most frustrating three hours I've ever spent. Arizona absolutely dominated the Utes, a team that had beaten both Colorado State and Oregon in the regular season.

Look at the stats: Utah was averaging over 450 yards of offense a game; Arizona held them to 75 yards total and only six yards on the ground. Utah scored two touchdowns, but both came on drives of five yards. And the second one was on fourth down on a shoulda-been sack that became a desperation toss and miracle catch.

When the Cats dropped not one, but two, sure TD passes early in the fourth quarter, that sinking feeling set in. Then they took the safety, which put them under the point spread, and finally the crushing loss, which (as Dick Tomey had predicted) put Utah in the Top 10 and sent Arizona reeling to No. 20.

When a season starts off with such high expectations, it's most likely they won't be met. Disappointment is almost a sure bet. And the Cats did disappoint. They looked sluggish all too often. Their offense still sputters. And their defense had a couple serious lapses, including a complete no-show at USC.

Still, I'm not giving up. I honestly don't know if Arizona will ever go to the Rose Bowl. They may not have another shot this good for years. But I'm not joining with the likes of my buddy Skippy who thinks Dick Tomey should be fired because he can't get them over the hump.

Arizona finished tied for first and then tied for second the past two years. The Cats won 18 games in two years. The second-best team in that stretch is USC and they only won 16. In fact, the Cats, USC and Washington are the only teams in the conference that had back-to-back winning seasons! That's how tough things are these days.

Disappointment is a given here, but you have to appreciate what they've done. Arizona is a nationally-known program, well-run and clean. It's always right near the top of the conference. There isn't a team in the Pac-10 I'd rather root for.

So all you Cat fans out there, quit your whining and say it once with me: Wait until next year!

• I was thrilled Nebraska beat Miami in the Orange Bowl. I'm not much of a Nebraska fan, but I hate Miami worse that I hate watching Newt Gingrich smile.

As usual, the Miami Hurricanes talked all that shit. Bring 'em on, not in our house, all that bull. Then they jumped out to an early lead and I got a sick feeling.

But those big old corn-fed Nebraska linemen kept pounding away, and by the fourth quarter it was all over. Miami was beaten and they had that same whupped look they had last year when Arizona slapped 'em around.

I truly hope this signals the beginning of the decline for Miami football. That thuggery and shit-talking is ruining a fine sport, and if the purveyors of that nonsense can be repudiated on the field (as they were so convincingly on Sunday), perhaps a new fad can come along for young people to emulate. Like maybe playing hard, exhibiting sportsmanship, something crazy like that.

• Oh, I know this is about college football, but I have to take the time to let you know I am now officially off the case of Michigan basketball.

The other night the Final Jeopardy answer was: "The Newark Academy of Cosmetology."

The correct question was: Who hasn't beaten Michigan in basketball this season?

Thus far, Michigan, which supposedly boasts two former members of the original Fab Five, plus five new Fabs, has lost to Penn of the Ivy League, Arizona, Arizona State, Duke and now Washington!

Not the Washington Bullets. They have crybaby Chris Webber and Juwan Howard, so they can't beat anybody. Washington, as in Pac-10 doormat Washington.

This is so embarrassing that I'm invoking the promise I made to my Mom to never pick on the handicapped. Michigan sucks so bad they're now officially beneath my notice. And I'm soooooo happy.

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January 5 - January 11, 1995

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