Greg Hansen: UA football: 999 and counting

Game No. 1,000 next, but few before have been top 10-caliber
2010-10-04T00:00:00Z 2014-10-29T08:56:25Z Greg Hansen: UA football: 999 and countingGreg Hansen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
October 04, 2010 12:00 am  • 

The truth, the whole truth, half-truths, shades of the truth and other items admissible as sports news:

• Arizona will play its 1,000th football game Saturday, a historic occasion if only because it will be the 22nd time in school history the Wildcats enter a game ranked in the AP's top 10.

The previous 21 games involving a top 10 Arizona football team will never be forgotten. Right? The first occurred in Game No. 584 when No. 9 Arizona played at Texas Tech. The Wildcats were rolling, 5-0, and plans were being made to add 17,000 seats to Arizona Stadium, and to join the Pac-8 Conference.

I have in my possession a rare manuscript written by former UA coach Jim Young - the unpublished history of his life - and I eagerly tore through it Sunday, hoping to learn how he treated the big occasion.

On page 161 of his manuscript, Young writes: "We lost our sixth game to Texas Tech."

That's it. Eight words. Typical of Arizona's unadorned football history.

Jim LaRue coached Game No. 500 in 1966. Arizona lost to BYU. Here's an eight-word description of that memorable occasion: Arizona forced LaRue to resign four weeks later.

• Few things in college football are more overblown than making a hero of a coach who turns a losing program into a winner. If you can recruit at all, it shouldn't take a new coach, any new coach, more than three seasons to get it right.

Stanford lost to Cal-Davis as recently as 2005, went 1-11 a year later and, boom, knocked off No. 2 USC in 2007, Jim Harbaugh's first season. The recruiting pool overflows with good quarterbacks, good everything, and the job market never lacks for good assistant coaches.

More? LSU toyed with Arizona 45-3 in 2006, a humbling, almost disabling loss that put Mike Stoops' job security at risk. Given more time to recruit, Arizona is now ranked ahead of LSU in the AP poll, which isn't a cheapie. The Tigers are undefeated and have beaten two teams that were ranked in the Top 25.

• The Diamondbacks, rest their departed souls, completed the season 65-97. That's exactly the same record of its expansion season, 1998. Remember how bad that team was? Five starters struck out in excess of 100 times. It trotted out Brent Brede, Yamil Benitez, Jorge Fabregas and Hensley Meulens.

But the '98 Diamondbacks had something that the '10 Diamondbacks didn't: hope. In 1998, D-backs ownership was in a runaway, worry-about-it-later spending mode, the fan base was enchanted by the future and every little move they made was above-the-fold news.

Now the franchise is a train wreck, having settled into a worrisome niche as a small-market, fire-your-manager-every-two-years, count-your-pennies operation. And, if things can get worse, they're stuck with the worst ballpark, a joyless warehouse, in the National League.

• The D-backs showed some mercy to third baseman Mark Reynolds, allowing him to sit out Sunday's final game. His ruptured psyche matches the franchise's bleak future.

In September, the .198-hitting Reynolds might've had the single worst month in franchise history (many franchises' histories). He went 4 for 60 (.067), striking out 28 times in 71 plate appearances and drove in one run.

By allowing Reynolds to sit out six games in September, the D-backs saved him further ignominy. He struck out 211 times this season but did not take out the baseball record (his, by the way) of 223. Reynolds has struck out 200 or more times in each of the last three seasons. He is the only man in baseball history to strike out 200 times in a season.

Here's some perspective: Babe Ruth was considered an excessive strikeout machine. His top strikeout season: 93.

More bad news: The D-backs own Reynolds' contract rights through 2013.

• The more I see of the Pac-10's new logo, the more I like it. It is uber-cool, cutting edge, and a key part of the league's changing image.

But I think Oregon might've changed the league's image more than anything put on paper. The Ducks are more than just a fashionista; they are the fastest thing in football cleats. On Saturday, I turned from a tense Indiana-Michigan finish that seemed to be played in slow motion compared to the Ducks-Stanford game.

The Big Ten game almost came off as dated and old-fashioned, a huddle-up-and-wait for-the-play-clock-to-tick-to-zero before making a move.

There's no luck involved in Oregon's evolution as a national championship contender. The Ducks latest quarterback who nobody can seem to tackle, Darron Thomas, isn't some unknown guy who just happens to fit in Oregon's system.

Thomas initially made a recruiting commitment to LSU but backed off because the Tigers recruited two more QBs. He then took offers from Nebraska and Florida, who thought he might be a better receiver than a QB. Thomas subsequently took a visit to Oregon two weeks after Arizona stunned the No. 2 Ducks 34-24 in 2007 and had playing time to offer a quarterback. Jeremiah Masoli was in the same recruiting class.

How's that for hitting it out of the park?

• And one more thing: CDO tailback Ka'Deem Carey's career rushing total is now at 4,667. The listed state record, any level, is 5,878, set by Tolleson's Marcus Thomas from 2000 to 2002.

It initially seemed that Carey lost his chance to catch Thomas when he sat out two games with injuries and was limited against Santa Rita and Tucson. After gaining 274 yards against Scottsdale Saguaro last week, Carey needs 1,212 yards to be the state's all-time rusher.

What are his chances? If CDO gets to the state finals again, that means Carey could get eight more games. In his final eight games last year, Carey gained 1,654 yards.

Game on.

Contact columnist Greg Hansen at ghansen@azstarnet.com or 573-4362.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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