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Rich Rodriguez is paid about $9,589 per day to make the bottom-line decisions for a football program with a budget of about $30 million.

Sometimes they don\u2019t go so well, even for a coach paid about $3.5 million a year. Sometimes those calls seem to be worth about 30 cents.

On fourth-and-goal at the Washington 2-yard line early in the second quarter Saturday, leading the No. 9 Huskies 7-0 \u2014 gathering momentum that seemed to put Washington in a stupor \u2014 RichRod made the bold call to go for it.

Freshman J.J. Taylor, who is about 5 feet 6 inches and 165 pounds, ran up the middle in a tight box against three Washington defensive linemen who are listed at 332, 321 and 318 pounds.

Elijah Qualls, who is 6-1 and 321, mashed Taylor for no gain. No score.

Oh, how the Wildcats could\u2019ve used a field goal in that situation.

But football is a game of second chances, and with 17 seconds to go in regulation, the Wildcats scored on a pass to tight end Josh Kern. That made it Washington 28, Arizona 27.

Many of those who remained from an announced crowd of 48,747 pleaded for Arizona to go for it. Isn\u2019t that RichRod\u2019s reputation? He\u2019s an innovative, punch-you-in-the-gut-before-you-punch-him coach who has made \u201cHard Edge\u201d his calling card.

But this time, J.J. Taylor was sitting on the bench near a set of crutches; he had broken his ankle after 19 early carries, swarmed by the Huskies defense time and again. This time RichRod didn\u2019t even discuss the possibility of going for a two-point conversion to boldly win the game.

UA kicker Josh Pollack sprinted onto the field even before Kern had tossed the ball back to the referees. He kicked the tying point and the crowd hushed.

RichRod would play for a tie and push all of his money into the pot.

Oh, how he could\u2019ve used that field goal in the second quarter. Oh, how he could\u2019ve used three more yards with 17 seconds remaining in regulation.

A few minutes after 11 p.m., having lost to Washington 35-28, Rich Rod said that Arizona \u201cdidn\u2019t play well in overtime.\u201d

He gave a one-word response \u2014 \u201cnope\u201d \u2014 when asked whether he considered going for two.

In an uneven game, Arizona played well enough to win, and Arizona also played poorly enough to lose. So did the Huskies.

But in the end, losing to the Huskies will be viewed as a colossally wasted opportunity. This wasn\u2019t losing to BYU in some neutral field, season-opening nonconference game in Glendale. This one sticks with you, muting the dazzling emergence of sophomore quarterback Brandon Dawkins.

Being as short on size and talent as Arizona is, especially on defense, you wonder when the Wildcats will have another chance to beat a Top 25 team. Or any team.

Dawkins outplayed Washington\u2019s ballyhooed Jake Browning, running 79 yards for one touchdown in which he came off as someone who could win the Pac-12 championship in the low hurdles, and somehow escaping the grasp of Washington lineman Vita Vea in the final three minutes of regulation, tossing a 54-yard completion to Shun Brown, putting Arizona in position to win or tie the game.

When asked by the Star\u2019s Michael Lev if he would rather have gone for a winning two-point conversion, Dawkins said he has \u201cconfidence\u201d in RichRod\u2019s decisions.

What did you expect him to say?

What Saturday\u2019s game proved more than anything is that the pre-conference weeks of college football are often misleading and an unreliable gauge of a team\u2019s ability.

The Huskies so thoroughly dominated three outmatched opponents that some analysts began penciling them into the Rose Bowl, or something higher. Browning was posted onto preliminary Heisman Trophy lists, and the Husky defense was compared to the great \u201cPurple Reign\u201d national co-champs of 1991.

None of that appears to be reality.

On Saturday, the Huskies looked much closer to last year\u2019s 7-6 squad than a world-beater. And Arizona was, at times, so effective that you could picture the Wildcats winning six or seven games and qualifying for the bowl season.

What was puzzling was that Arizona\u2019s offense alternated between exceptional and inept from quarter to quarter.

Dawkins completed his first 11 passes and then went 0-for-6 as Arizona gained just 12 yards in the third quarter.

It was like your laptop being seized by a virus that not even the guys from IT can fix. And then just as suddenly, after six consecutive possessions that didn\u2019t gain a single first down, Dawkins was electric, leading touchdown drives of 66 and 75 yards to tie it at 28.

Football is such an unpredictable game. Two years ago on the same turf, Washington coach Chris Petersen was vilified when he mismanaged the clock in the final two minutes. The Huskies fumbled and, presto, Arizona won a 27-26 game on a last-second kick.

On Saturday, Petersen basically stayed out of his own way and let RichRod determine the finish.

RichRod and Petersen both use the term \u201cOKG\u201d \u2014 Our Kinda Guys \u2014 to refer to their team and for recruiting purposes. Petersen insists he was first to use the OKG term years ago when he coached at Boise State.

Three weeks ago, Petersen filed a copyright for use of the term OKG through Chris Petersen Enterprises LLC.

Late in regulation Saturday night, RichRod would\u2019ve liked to copyright a new term for his use:

OMP. One more point.

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Dear Mr. Football: Is there any bad blood between Arizona and Washington?

A: There is too much shared blood for it to be bad blood.

Arizona\u2019s new defensive coordinator, Marcel Yates, played at Boise State for Washington defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski, and then coached under Kwiatkowski at Montana State and Boise State.

It\u2019s a long way from Bozeman, Montana, to the Pac-12; Kwiatkowski is working on a two-year, $1.2 million contract, and the UA got permission from the Board of Regents to give Yates a multi-year contract, worth $500,000 per season.

When Yates initially joined Kwiatkowski at Montana State in 2001, he got a part-time job as a cab driver to make ends meet.

Two years before Kwiatkowski joined the Montana State staff, Arizona offensive line coach Jim Michalczik spent seven seasons with the Bobcats.

Dear Mr. Football: Is Montana State a steppingstone to fame and riches?

A: Here\u2019s how the 2001 MSU coaching colleagues of Yates and Kwiatkowski sit today:

Don Bailey: Assistant coach, West Alabama.

Aaron Flowers: High school coach at San Juan Hills in SoCal.

Joe O\u2019Brien: Served 28 months in prison on a drug charge; out of coaching.

Rob Christoff: Works for a firm that shreds documents in Spokane, Washington.

John Rushing: Former defensive quality control coach, Green Bay Packers.

Johnny Nansen: Assistant head coach at USC.

Josh Rohloff: Financial analyst in Billings, Montana.

Dear Mr. Football: What is the Cupcake Campaign?

A: That was Washington\u2019s nonconference schedule of Rutgers, Idaho and Portland State. It was the softest nonconference schedule by a Pac-12 team since 2012, when Oregon played Arkansas State, Tennessee Tech and Fresno State, winning by a cumulative 162-73.

The Huskies outscored those \u2019Cakes 148-30 but it didn\u2019t fool the Husky Stadium fans. An average of 58,823 attended, or roughly 13,000 shy of capacity each week.

If you omit Utah (stadium capacity a small 45,017) the Pac-12 has sold out just one of its 15 games to date. (That was WSU\u2019s regional engagement with Eastern Washington.) Cal was unable to sell out for last week\u2019s game against Texas, with just 50,448 in Memorial Stadium (capacity 62,400). Oregon did not sell out Autzen Stadium for two puffball opponents.

Part of the problem with selling tickets in September is that school doesn\u2019t begin until late September at Oregon, OSU, Washington, UCLA and Stanford. Can you imagine what Arizona Stadium might look like if the Zona Zoo didn\u2019t begin classes until next Wednesday, as Washington does?

There would be an echo.

Dear Mr. Football: Who is most conflicted about the UA-Washington game?

A: Jeff Woodruff is a 59-year-old head coach of the Andress High School football team in El Paso. He coached Arizona quarterback Brandon Dawkins at Oaks Christian High in Los Angeles in 2012 and 2013, then relocated to El Paso where he coached emerging UA safety Tristan Cooper at Andress.

Woodruff has a lifetime connection to Washington\u2019s most prominent football legacy, coach Don James. He married James\u2019 daughter, Jill, and coached the Huskies during their glory days from 1984-93.

But when James retired and moved to Tucson, so did Woodruff and his family.

He became the head coach at Cholla High in 1996 and 1997, and then joined Dick Tomey\u2019s Arizona staff in time to be part of the 12-1 team of 1998.

Woodruff was then hired as the head coach at Eastern Michigan.

Dear Mr. Football: Who wins the uniform war between Arizona and Washington?

A: The Huskies began training camp wearing new Vicis helmets that cost $1,500 each, eschewing the industry standard Riddell and Schutt helmets that go for about $350 each.

Vicis, a Seattle start-up firm that raised about $15 million privately in hopes of creating the safest helmet in history and reducing concussion injuries, only offered the helmets to Washington and Oregon.

Unfortunately, without sufficient field-testing, Vicis recalled the helmets in a month ago and is working on making the helmet more comfortable.

As with most Pac-12 teams, Arizona has four sets of Riddell helmets: red, red chrome, white and blue. Those white helmets with the 1941 \u201cA\u201d that the Wildcats wore against Hawaii aren\u2019t collectors items. They were used at practice this week.

Dear Mr. Football: How far can a Little Muscle take Arizona?

A: In the California CIF semifinals last year, J.J. Taylor, who was called \u201cLittle Muscle\u201d by his Corona Centennial teammates, rushed 41 times for 261 yards and five TDs in a blowout victory over St. John Bosco.

Taylor, who is 5 feet 6 inches and maybe 165 pounds, wasn\u2019t the best prospect at Centennial, a national power who had players sign with Notre Dame, Air Force and Cal.

Little Muscle was overlooked by Arizona State, which had all but owned the recruiting line to Centennial, getting future NFL players Vontaze Burfict, Will Sutton and Brandon Magee from the school.

The Big Schools don\u2019t often recruit Little Muscle. But there are so many exceptions, so many so-called undersized running backs who became Big Men On Campus once in college, that size should deter no recruiter.

Amphitheater High School\u2019s Jon Volpe, a first-team All-Pac-10 running back (1,148 yards) at Stanford in 1988, played at 5-7, 195. Oregon State\u2019s Jacquizz Rodgers, an All-Pac-10 running back in 2009 and 2010, was 5-6, 200 as a Beaver. The best example of Little Muscle doing big things is Darren Sproles of Kansas State, a two-time NFL Pro Bowl player now with the Philadelphia Eagles who is listed at 5-6, 190 in his 12th NFL season.

Taylor isn\u2019t likely to break Ontiwaun Carter\u2019s Arizona career rushing attempts record (815) but if he remains relatively healthy, he could crack 600, which would put him in company with 5-6, 185 pound jets-on-wheels David Adams of Sunnyside High, who rushed exactly 600 times for 2,571 yards as he became a first-team All-Pac-10 player in 1986.

Dear Mr. Football: How many potential All-Pac-12 players does Washington have?

A: To save time and space, I\u2019ll just list the last names: Browning, Baker, Gaskin, Ross, Victor, Gaines, Vea, Jones and Van Winkle.

That\u2019s not Rip Van Winkle, it\u2019s place-kicker Cameron Van Winkle, but RIP pretty much describes Arizona\u2019s chances.

The Huskies have notable advantages in size, speed, experience and talent.

Coaching? The jury is out on Chris Petersen and his staff, because they no longer out-man 10 foes per year, as they did at Boise State.

But Petersen is trending up and RichRod is potentially facing the worst season of his head coaching career.

A few days ago I asked UA starting defensive end Justin Belknap, a redshirt freshman who is not on scholarship, what he\u2019d have said if someone told him a year ago that he\u2019d be a Pac-12 starter.

\u201cI\u2019d have said they\u2019re crazy, a mad person,\u201d he said.

Can Arizona beat the Huskies? That\u2019s crazy. That\u2019s mad.

Washington 37, Arizona 23

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Unless the printer omitted a page, there is no bio of Arizona Wildcats starting defensive end Justin Belknap in the school\u2019s 2016 media guide.

Not a word.

\u201cIt\u2019s not my department to talk about that stuff,\u201d says Belknap, a 6-foot-2-inch, 245-pound redshirt freshman from Henderson, Nevada.

Belknap chose to attend Arizona over offers from \u2026 from \u2026 nobody.

\u201cNot really,\u201d says Belknap. \u201cI guess I could\u2019ve walked on at UNLV.\u201d

Belknap has more tackles-for-loss, 2\u00bd, than he had recruiting stars next to his name as a senior at Coronado High School.

You\u2019ve heard of Two-Star Scooby Wright? Meet No-Star Justin Belknap.

\u201cJustin has a high motor, and I love high motors,\u201d says UA defensive line coach Vince Amey. \u201cHe\u2019s got a great football IQ. That\u2019s what I love about him.\u201d

Belknap lines up next to Arizona\u2019s starting nose guard, junior Parker Zellers, who was an unrecruited, no-star prospect from Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep in 2013. Both weigh roughly 245 pounds, which is probably 50 pounds per man below the desired Pac-12 weight of a defensive lineman.

Zellers was hopeful he would get a chance to play at Iowa State \u2014 his parents are from Iowa \u2014 but the Cyclones didn\u2019t bite.

\u201cThose guys, Justin and Parker, don\u2019t care how big they are or how big the guy they\u2019re playing against is,\u201d says Amey. \u201cI love them to death.\u201d

If college football was based on a Beatles song \u2014 \u201cAll You Need Is Love,\u201d for example \u2014 the Wildcats would probably be ranked as high as No. 9 Washington.

But this is reality: The Seattle Times, which covers UW football as thoroughly as any newspaper covers Pac-12 football, recently wrote that the Huskies\u2019 defensive line could be \u201cthe best in school history.\u201d

Can that be right? In 1991, Washington had the nation\u2019s most dominating defensive lineman, All-American Steve Emtman, as the Huskies won the national co-championship and led the NCAA by limiting opponents to 9.2 points per game.

Best in history?

In size and stature, Washington\u2019s starting defensive line could be mistaken for that of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Nose guard Greg Gaines is 6-2, 318.

End Vita Vea is 6-5, 332.

Tackle Elijah Qualls is 6-1, 321.

So far, the three beasts of Washington\u2019s Purple Reign 2.0 have 11 cumulative quarterback sacks. Arizona\u2019s entire defense has seven.

Belknap and Zellers are packaged on Arizona\u2019s defensive line with senior Sani Fuimaono, who is listed at 6-1, 270. Fuimaono said he lost about 40 pounds in the offseason.

It\u2019s unfortunate Zellers and Belknap couldn\u2019t find the 40 pounds Fuimaono lost.

Nevertheless, Arizona enters the Pac-12 season with the smallest starting defensive line at Arizona in at least 25 years, and maybe longer. If Amey is cowed by it, if Belknap is worried, it doesn\u2019t show.

\u201cI don\u2019t think we\u2019re limited,\u201d says Amey. \u201cI think we can do anything anybody else can do. I truly believe it, and so do Justin and Parker. They believe they are winners, and so do I. These are two tough kids. Two very smart kids.\u201d

Amey used to be a tough kid. Now he\u2019s a tough coach. No one on the UA coaching staff has overcome more to become a college coach than Vince Amey.

For openers, he\u2019s from Arizona State. He is believed to be the only ex-Sun Devil athlete to become a full-time Arizona coach in history. What are the odds? Arizona softball coach Mike Candrea graduated from ASU but was not an athlete there. Former UA head football coach Ed Doherty was earlier ASU\u2019s head coach but was never a student in Tempe.

Amey, 41, spent three years as a UA strength and conditioning coach and another year as an analyst on Rich Rodriguez\u2019s staff. When the coaching spot became vacant nine months ago, the applicants included the greatest linebacker in school history, Hall of Famer Ricky Hunley, who had not only coached at USC, Missouri and Florida, but for the NFL\u2019s Redskins, Bengals and Raiders.

RichRod hired Amey, who had never coached a down of college football.

\u201cWe\u2019ve had some pool parties at Vince\u2019s house, and he shows us his office with all the ASU stuff; rings and jerseys and Rose Bowl stuff,\u201d says Belknap. \u201cBut that was a long time (1994-97) ago.\u201d

College football coaching is a small world. When Amey played for ASU\u2019s 1996 Pac-10 championship team, his defensive line coach was Kevin Wolthausen, who had helped to coach Hunley at Arizona and was on the Wildcat staff from 1983-86.

\u201cASU was the right place at the right time for me,\u201d says Amey. \u201cI got recruited by Oregon, Colorado and BYU but not a nibble from Arizona. And now I\u2019m here. When my D-line guys come over to the house I show them my ASU stuff, and they give me a hard time, but I use it as a teaching moment. I tell them, \u2018If you work hard, you can have a room like this someday, too.\u2019\u2009\u201d

If you\u2019ve successfully made the switch from Sun Devils to Wildcats, how daunting can it be to play the No. 9 Huskies?

Twenty years ago Wednesday, Amey was part of a stifling ASU defense that shocked No. 1 Nebraska 19-0, breaking the Cornhuskers\u2019 26-game winning streak and propelling the Sun Devils to the Rose Bowl.

Now Amey and his new team face the Big Bad Huskies. Can history repeat?

Belknap, who is not yet on scholarship, has a two-word description of the Huskies.

\u201cThey\u2019re ginormous,\u201d he says.

David, meet Goliath.

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Anu Solomon is the .272-hitting second baseman, someone to move a runner from first to third, glue in the clubhouse. He bats eighth in the lineup.

The manager values his presence.

Brandon Dawkins is the top-of-the-order shortstop, a five-tool player who still strikes out too much and isn\u2019t yet a threat to win a Gold Glove.

The manager can\u2019t resist him.

This is the choice that inevitably awaits Rich Rodriguez. His quarterbacks are Mr. Night and Mr. Day, and someday soon \u2014 Saturday, perhaps \u2014 he will have to make a choice. Who starts? Who sits?

Solomon is 17-11 as Arizona\u2019s quarterback. He knows what it is to win (and lose) against Top 25 teams with fire all around.

Dawkins is 2-0. In baseball terms, he hasn\u2019t yet faced a No. 1 starter.

Only four times since Arizona joined the Pac-10 in 1978 has a Wildcat coach faced a quarterback choice like the one RichRod faces now, possibly as early as Saturday night against No. 9 Washington.

It could be a program-changing decision that not only affects Arizona\u2019s future for years, but also RichRod\u2019s coaching legacy.

The steady, veteran second baseman?

Or the kid shortstop with some punch?

Good news: Arizona\u2019s coaches are 4 for 4 in the school\u2019s most notable quarterback choices of the last 35 years.

Bad news: Who goes 5 for 5 these days?

\u2022 1981: Mark Fulcher or Tom Tunnicliffe?

Fulcher won the job as a 1980 sophomore, a drop-back QB with mobility who could throw the deep ball. He was the UA\u2019s first true NFL-type QB since Eddie Wilson in 1961. Then Fulcher broke his kneecap in a game at Cal.

By the time Fulcher returned, in 1981, Tunnicliffe thought the job was his. Offensive coordinator Steve Axman described Tunnicliffe as a \u201csteady Eddie.\u201d And why not? He engineered massive upsets over No. 1 USC and No. 2 UCLA.

But Fulcher won the job in training camp \u2014 and then lost it as Arizona opened 0-2. He was booed unmercifully when a snap from center sailed over his head in a 14-13 loss to Cal.

\u201cThe fans blamed it on me,\u201d Fulcher said.

The two battled back and forth until a late October loss to Washington State. Coach Larry Smith then declared Tunnicliffe to be his man. Fulcher quit the team, although, in a rare twist, Smith announced it as a \u201cone-week leave of absence.\u201d

Fulcher never returned. Over the next 2\u00bd years, Tunnicliffe went 15-9-2 as a starter, stunning Arizona State twice, beating No. 9 Notre Dame and helping Arizona catapult to as high as No. 3 in the AP poll.

\u2022 1984: John Conner or Alfred Jenkins.

Both were prototypical 1980s QBs, about 6-3, 195 pounds, with mobility. Conner was in his fifth year, having played in junior college and behind Tunnicliffe. Jenkins was the most highly-sought QB in school history, turning down an offer from USC because the Trojans toyed with the idea of making him a linebacker or a safety.

The rest of the UA lineup was a Rose Bowl contender.

Smith chose Conner as the Opening Night starter. Everything went wrong in a shocking loss to Fresno State. Conner threw a pass that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Attempting to make the tackle, he tore up his knee and wasn\u2019t able to play for eight weeks.

By the time Conner returned, Jenkins had the job locked up, leading Arizona to a 24-9-1 record as a starter through 1986.

\u2022 1996: Keith Smith or Brady Batten.

Replacing productive Dan White from the Desert Swarm years seemed to be the job of junior Brady Batten, who knew the system, was a smart kid with a good arm, and had the requisite size \u2014 6-2, 210.

His only competition was a former minor-league baseball shortstop, Keith Smith, who was only 5-10. Coach Dick Tomey chose Batten in the opener, a walkover against UTEP.

But a week later, losing at Iowa, Tomey took the wraps off Smith.

What a revelation. He was the fastest player on the field, sprinting elusively for a 20-yard touchdown late in the game as the Wildcats rallied (but lost) in a thrilling 21-20 game.

After that, when healthy, Smith was essentially Arizona\u2019s starting quarterback through 1999, a period in which Arizona won 30 games and rose as high as No. 4 in the AP poll. Unfortunately, Smith was injured several times, hobbled by, of all things, a long-lasting \u201cturf toe,\u201d probably from taking too many hits when he chose to run from the pocket.

\u2022 2009: Matt Scott or Nick Foles.

Offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes chose to replace standout Willie Tuitama with Scott, a sophomore. Scott was far more mobile than Foles, a Michigan State transfer who had an NFL-type arm, but, as with Scott, no extended game experience.

Scott looked terrific in opening wins over outmanned Central Michigan and NAU, but seemed overwhelmed in a loss at Iowa. Dykes inserted Foles in the fourth quarter at Iowa and then started him every game the rest of an 8-5 season.

Why did it take so long to pick Foles over Scott?

\u201cIf you had seen them in practice, you\u2019d have known it wasn\u2019t close,\u201d Dykes said.

But when the lights came on, Foles was ready.

Arizona won 13 games behind Foles the next two seasons, including victories over No. 9 Iowa and No. 20 USC, as he broke many of the school\u2019s passing records.

In the four most ballyhooed quarterback controversies of Arizona\u2019s last 35 years, the correct choices were Tunnicliffe, Jenkins, Smith and Foles.

Now it\u2019s Solomon or Dawkins.

My money? Go for the long ball. Dawkins now and through 2018.

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On Saturday\u2019s commute to Arizona Stadium, I stopped for a red light at the intersection of Campbell and Fort Lowell. A young man driving the car next to me bent over and took a slug from a can of Coors.

He saw me looking at him, laughed, and took another hit. The driver couldn\u2019t have been more than 21.

I thought back to my young and dumb years and shook my head. If only he knew. If the Coors-swilling driver would\u2019ve followed me to Arizona Stadium I could\u2019ve introduced him to 96-year-old Lauren Bruner and scared him straight.

When Bruner was 21, he was a Fire Controlman 3rd Class assigned to the USS Arizona, docked at Pearl Harbor on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941. If anyone knows how fragile life can be, Lauren Bruner does.

After graduating from Elma High School near Olympia, Washington, Bruner wanted to go to college, but he could neither afford school nor find a steady job during the Depression era. His father died when Lauren was 9.

His best option was to join the Navy.

Bruner was assigned to the USS Arizona, which docked in nearby Bremerton, Washington, and soon traveled to Vallejo, California, where he was instructed how to fight catastrophic fires on a battleship. Then it was off to Pearl Harbor.

It wasn\u2019t an island paradise at all. It was hell.

Bruner was at his battle station, about 70 feet above the deck of the USS Arizona that Sunday morning when a Japanese warplane dropped a bomb that would kill 1,177 of his shipmates. The man who hoped to go to college and be a cheerleader \u2014 \u201cwe called it a \u2018yell leader\u2019 then,\u201d he said Friday \u2014 was one of the final two men rescued from the ship.

His hands and arms were charred. He was shot twice in the leg. He spent seven months in hospitals; about 70 percent of his body was burned.

On Christmas day 1941, Bruner\u2019s hometown newspaper, the Elma Chronicle published this headline:

\u201cLocal Boy Listed Missing at Pearl Harbor.\u201d

Bruner not only survived, seven months later he accepted assignment to another battleship and fought in eight major battles in the Pacific theater.

Being 21 was much different in 1941 than it is in 2016.

On Friday, Bruner and his friend, Ed McGrath, flew from their Southern California homes to Tucson as guests of the UA athletic department. Bruner is one of three living survivors of the USS Arizona. McGrath is writing a historical novel \u2014 \u201cSecond to the Last to Leave USS Arizona\u201d \u2014 which will be published Dec. 1.

\u201cWe met with airmen at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Friday morning and Lauren was treated like royalty,\u201d said McGrath. \u201cThey took orders for 3,000 books. He tried to tell them his story, but he has trouble talking about it. Sometimes he just cries.\u201d

The purpose of Bruner\u2019s Tucson visit was to help the UA honor the legacy of the USS Arizona at the UA-Hawaii football game, which the Wildcats won 47-28. The school manufactured unique jerseys for the game. It became more special when Bruner pinned his Purple Heart just below a medallion celebrating the 1915 christening of the USS Arizona.

If you watched any of the pregame ceremonies, especially as Bruner struggled from his wheelchair to stand for the national anthem, you couldn\u2019t help but get a lump in your throat. It has been almost 75 years since the 21-year-old Fire Controlman 3rd Class survived the most horrific moment of his life.

\u201cLauren\u2019s goal is to honor the USS Arizona for time and all eternity,\u201d said McGrath. \u201cI\u2019ve known him for five years and although he only talks about December 7, 1941 infrequently, he does so with total reverence.\u201d

When the time comes, Bruner has asked to be buried within the wreckage of the USS Arizona.

His presence on the UA campus was a terrific education for those on the UA football and men\u2019s basketball teams, who were introduced to him Friday. Football coach Rich Rodriguez huddled his team around Bruner in the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility and told his team the sobering truth.

\u201cMr. Bruner was 21 years old \u2014 the age of most of you \u2014 when his ship was attacked at Pearl Harbor,\u201d Rodriguez said. \u201cYou can learn a lot from how he survived and went on to live his life.\u201d

After World War II, Bruner worked in the refrigeration business, and later was part of a Southern California carpentry union. The appreciation for his military service grows and grows.

\u201cI\u2019m not a celebrity,\u201d he told me. \u201cI\u2019m just an old sailor who has been fortunate to live a full life. Please don\u2019t treat me like I\u2019m someone special.\u201d

But the UA did, and deservedly so.

Before Bruner and McGrath left campus on Friday, they gave me a dark blue U.S. Navy cap with December 7, 1941, printed across the front, and Lauren\u2019s signature on the side. I wore it all day Saturday, taking it off only when I drove to the game.

It is a treasure, a keepsake I\u2019ll wear with special feeling. But I\u2019d give it to that beer-drinking driver today if he would stop and listen to the story of Lauren Bruner and decide that 21 is a good time to grow up.

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Dear Mr. Football: Is it OK for an Arizona fan to cheer for Hawaii?

A: Ken and Marge Wong of SaddleBrooke have been UA season ticket holders since 2009, always wearing red and blue to Arizona Stadium. But on Saturday night they\u2019ll be wearing Rainbow Warrior gear.

How could they not?

Ken\u2019s father, Mun Kin Wong was the starting quarterback on Hawaii\u2019s powerful 8-1 team of 1941 that beat Willamette College on Saturday afternoon, December 6, 1941.

A day later, after surviving the Japanese attack on his hometown, M.K. Wong joined the Hawaiian Territorial Guard, in which he served for five years during World War II. He never played football again; the following week\u2019s game against San Jose State was obviously canceled.

After operating Wong\u2019s Drapery Shoppe in Honolulu for 62 years and becoming an assistant coach at Iolani High School, Wong was the last known survivor of Hawaii\u2019s 1941 football team. He was honored by Hawaii coach June Jones in 2007. In an emotional ceremony, Jones presented Wong with the letter he earned as the Rainbow Warriors quarterback in 1941. He died in 2009.

He indeed was a Rainbow Warrior for life.

Ken Wong graduated from Purdue, earned a Master\u2019s degree at Michigan State and enjoyed a career as an executive for the Rockwell Collins corporation in Los Angeles, working on the infrastructure of airplanes, ships and for military intelligence related works.

But there\u2019s more to the story: Ken Wong graduated from Purdue\u2019s ROTC program and became a commissioned officer in the Air Force. Like father, like son.

Dear Mr. Football: How many football players has Arizona recruited from Hawaii?

A: From 1987 to 2016, by my unofficial count, 27 Wildcats played high school football in Hawaii or Samoa. But former UA coach Dick Tomey, who recruited most of them, says that\u2019s inaccurate.

He adds Polynesian recruits from California such as Joe Salave\u2019a, Brandon Manumaleuna and Edwin Mulitalo to the list, among many others.

\u201cMany had moved from the Islands to Polynesian enclaves in California,\u201d he says. \u201cThe Polynesian connection is more about family than place.\u201d

Dear Mr. Football: Why don\u2019t more Tucsonans play for Hawaii? Wouldn\u2019t that be fun?

A: Three Tucsonans have played for the Rainbow Warriors the last 40 years. Salpointe Catholic lineman Rich Ellerson was the first, 1973-77, using his days in Honolulu to become a Tomey assistant and defensive coordinator in the Desert Swarm years and head coach at Army.

Salpointe quarterback Tyler Graunke, the 2004 Southern Arizona Player of the Year, started two games for Hawaii\u2019s 12-1 Sugar Bowl team of 2007. Ring a bell? When Rob Gronkowski held his NFL pro day at Arizona Stadium in 2010, Graunke acted as his quarterback, working pass routes with Gronk for days. Graunke now lives in Phoenix.

One of Hawaii\u2019s starting cornerbacks, Jalen Rogers, is a Cienega High grad who spent two years at Mesa Community College.

Dear Mr. Football: What statistic defines Arizona\u2019s 2016 defense?

A: The Wildcats did not have a three-and-out defensive series against Grambling State. That almost never happens anywhere.

When Arizona last played Hawaii, winning 27-6 in the 1998 season opener, the Rainbow Warriors punted 12 times, including five consecutive possessions.

Yes, times have changed. Tomey\u2019s \u201998 team was a make-\u2019em-punt, push-\u2019em-back unit, and Rich Rodriguez\u2019s teams have been more of the he-who-scores-last-wins variety.

When the Wildcats beat NAU 77-13 a year ago, Arizona forced punts on four consecutive three-and-out series and had six in the game. By comparison, last week at Michigan, Hawaii opened the game with five series in which it went three-and-out four times and lost the ball on an interception on the second play of the remaining possession.

Michigan won 63-3.

Dear Mr. Football: How did Brandon Dawkins celebrate his debut victory as a starting quarterback?

A: About 20 minutes after the game, as the field cleared and Arizona\u2019s team and staff sang \u201cBear Down, Arizona\u201d in the locker room, Dawkins was posing for photographs at the 50-yard line with fans and friends wearing \u201cI FEEL LIKE DAWKS\u201d T-shirts close to the Grambling State band.

That\u2019s called enjoying the moment.

But Dawkins also got to listen to the band\u2019s version of Marvin Gaye\u2019s \u201cWhat\u2019s Going On?\u201d It was captivating.

No one was taking pictures of me, but as I listened to the song \u2014 \u201cWe\u2019ve got to find a way, to bring some loving here today\u201d \u2014 Dawkins and his friends were mouthing the words.

As a substitute for singing \u201cBear Down, Arizona,\u201d you can\u2019t do much better.

Dear Mr. Football: What kind of a legacy did Tomey leave at Hawaii?

A: Tomey was a lunchpail guy during his coaching days, step by step up the ladder, from Miami of Ohio to Northern Illinois to Davison, Kansas, UCLA, Hawaii, Arizona, the San Francisco 49ers and all the way to Texas\u2019 associate head coach in 2004 when the Longhorns finished 11-1.

Remarkably, at 73, he went back to Hawaii and became a special teams coach in 2011 when the Rainbows struggled to beat teams like Idaho 16-14.

Here\u2019s part of his legacy: Hawaii\u2019s new special teams coach is Mayur Chandhari, Tomey\u2019s son-in-law. If you think there\u2019s any nepotism involved, you would be wrong.

Much like his father-in-law, Chandhari started at the bottom, at UC Davis, and then coached, in order, at Menlo College, was an intern at Stanford and a full-time coach at Jose State and VMI. He then became a junior varsity coach at Army, earned a spot on the Cadets\u2019 varsity staff and spent the last two years as an assistant at Lenoir-Rhyne. Along the way, Chandhari earned two masters degrees and was a standout lacrosse player at UC-Davis.

Well done.

Dear Mr. Football: What is the most compelling competition for the game?

A: StubHub\u2019s battle for the cheapest ticket at Arizona Stadium is fascinating. As of mid-day Friday, tickets were advertised for $6, $6.95, $7, $8, $8.95, $8.99, $9 and $9.01, all the way to $100 for the big-money seats at the Sands Club.

A friend of mine bought a last-hour ticket at StubHub for the Grambling State-Arizona game for $3.

No, this isn\u2019t the Ohio State-Oklahoma game; tickets at OU\u2019s Memorial Stadium for Saturday\u2019s game are listed on StubHub from $74 to $5,000.

But the UA-Hawaii game is worth far more than $6 if only to get an up-close look at Arizona\u2019s unique Pearl Harbor/USS Arizona uniforms. Given the circumstances, I don\u2019t think all Arizona fans would be upset if the Rainbow Warriors won.

Arizona 41, Hawaii 17

"} ]