No, Tom, You Won't Be Going To New Zealand On Our Dime.
By Tom Danehy
HERE WE ARE just a few days after Labor Day, with the weather getting ready to change in just six short weeks and the final embers of the barbecue just now dying down. (At our place we don't actually cook meat outdoors; we just fire up the barbecue because it's part of our subdivision rules and regulations. I don't want to get called up in front of that committee and try to explain why we're not doing our part to uphold the myth of suburbia.)
Anyway, with the Wildcats having tucked away their first victory of the season last Saturday (at least I hope they did, seeing as I'm writing this before the game), it's time to start thinking about bowl games. I know there are still 10 games left, and unfortunately, they can't play UTEP again. But you have to look ahead. Last year the Cats didn't even go to a bowl game, and I'm pretty sure it's because you didn't look ahead.
Let's be clear here. The Cats aren't going to the Rose Bowl. But first of all, we have to decide whether we even want the Cats to go to a bowl game. Sure, it's a reward for having had a good season; but with one glowing exception, the Cats have generally stunk up the joint in bowl games. Arizona's record in bowl games dating back to 1921 is an ugly 3-7-1.
Heck, back in 1921, they got clobbered 38-0 by something called Centre College of Kentucky. The only thing surprising about that is how close the Kentucky people came to actually spelling "center" correctly.
Arizona didn't play in another bowl game until after a worldwide Depression and World War II, and then it was in something called the Salad Bowl.
They lost that game, then waited 19 years before playing in another bowl game, which they also lost. Ten years after that, they ran their bowl record to 0-4. It wasn't until 1985 that the Cats would have a non-loss, that being a 13-13 tie with Georgia in the Sun Bowl.
In 1986, they actually won a bowl game (30-21 over North Carolina in the Aloha), and then won the first-ever Copper Bowl, 17-10 over North Carolina State. Unfortunately, after that, the Cats ran out of teams from the state of North Carolina to play.
In the 1990s the Cats are an unpleasant 1-3. They got shut out by Syracuse (breaking a consecutive-game scoring streak of 214 games, second best in NCAA history). They lost to a bad Baylor team, but then on New Year's Day 1994 crushed Miami in one of the greatest games in Cat history.
They returned to form later that year when they lost to Utah, despite giving up only 75 yards in total offense to the Utes. That game stank so bad, the Bowl itself went out of business shortly thereafter.
I can see it now. When they release Speed 2, the guy who replaces Keanu Reeves will look at Sandra Bullock's jacket and say, "Oh, Arizona Wildcats. They're the team that killed the Freedom Bowl."
Now this year, five Pac-10 teams are guaranteed spots in bowl games. (There's an open spot in the Weed Eater Independence Bowl, which is played in Shreveport, Louisiana, on New Year's Eve. Just stop and ponder that for a while.)
The league champ goes to the Rose Bowl and the No. 2 team goes either to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas or the Holiday Bowl in San Diego. The No. 4 team goes to the Aloha Bowl in Hawaii and No. 5 goes to the Sun Bowl in El Paso.
That's always a good place to play, because the Cat fans can drive over there in five hours, unless you're riding with my friend, Jaime, who can do it in three. He's a doctor, which, besides giving him God-like powers, also entitles him to defy every existing speed limit. As Jaime explains in defense of his driving real fast, "There's always a baby being born somewhere."
There is a new bowl this year, one which should prove to be quite interesting. The No. 3 team in the Pac-10 will take on an at-large team in the Haka Bowl in Auckland, New Zealand.
The game will be played on December 26, which is actually Christmas Day here. I think they're doing that just so the International Date Line stuff will drive crazy all of those limited-intelligence sportswriters (if you'll pardon the gratuitous use of a redundancy).
The game was put together by Riki Ellison, a former Amphi High player who later starred at USC and for the San Francisco 49ers. Ellison is a native of New Zealand. I'm not sure if that means that he automatically knows Kiri Te Kenawa. I'll ask him.
A 5-3 league record would be good and could have the Cats in the Haka Bowl. And I'm sure upper management here at The Weekly would be glad to pay whatever it takes to have me there to witness the first-ever Haka Bowl. I understand it's a 16-hour plane ride.
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