Greg Hansen: Loss to UCLA looked ugly, but beating by Michigan St. in '49 was the worst

2012-11-10T00:00:00Z 2012-11-10T11:52:10Z Greg Hansen: Loss to UCLA looked ugly, but beating by Michigan St. in '49 was the worstGreg Hansen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 10, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Dear Mr. Football: Is it possible that Arizona really, truly once lost a game worse than last week's 66-10 fiasco at UCLA?

A: In November 1949, Michigan State flew to Tucson in mid-week, bunked at the former Desert Willow Ranch on East Tanque Verde Road and was apparently so carefree it allowed photographers to take pictures of the team riding donkeys and wearing cowboy gear.

The Spartans won 75-0 and the most appalling statistic was that MSU athletic director Ralph Young ate eight sandwiches in a Thursday night party hosted by their unwitting hosts, Arizona.

On game day, the Star's Abe Chanin wrote: "Arizona is politely being called a 50-point underdog tonight." MSU established an opponent's record of 680 total yards against the Wildcats, intercepted six passes and left town with everything but the Desert Willow Ranch's fine linens.

Dear Mr. Football: Does Colorado have the worst college defense of the 21st century?

A: Here's how close it is at the top (or is it bottom) of this century's defensive yields):

North Texas, 2008, 47.6 points per game.

Colorado, 2012, 46.2 points per game.

Temple, 2005, 45.3 points per game.

As bad as the Buffaloes have been, they're bad against good teams. North Texas lost 77-20 to Rice, which sandwiched that blowout over North Texas with losses of 52-10 and 63-28.

Dear Mr. Football: What's Arizona's best Homecoming tradition?

A: It was probably the Letterman's Breakfast, which Pop McKale initiated in 1953. Hundreds of former football players would return to swap stories and consume the legendary "Moose Milk," which, shall we say, had a midmorning kick a bit stronger than coffee.

But today, after 59 years, there will be no Moose Milk. The UA shut down the reunion and plans to bring it back in a newer, 21st century wrapping, built around the spring football game.

That won't deter ex-Wildcat Art "Buzz" Halverson, a retired Air Force colonel, who plans to park his motor home near McKale Center, erect a large, red "Old Wildcat Club" banner and reminisce about 59 years of homecoming Moose Milk.

Dear Mr. Football: Did Colorado really hire Dick Tomey as a consultant this year?

A: It did and it is to coach Jon Embree's credit that he recognized and applied Tomey's skills of team-bonding and his hang-in-there approach to a season gone bad. Tomey could make a living as a football guru for all things esprit de corps.

Tomey is connected to CU through Buffaloes quarterbacks coach Rip Scherer, who was the UA's offensive coordinator in 1989 and 1990. If you think Colorado is having QB problems this year - who is having a worse year at quarterback? - it's nothing new to Scherer.

In 1989 and 1990, the Wildcats rotated option QBs Ronald Veal and George Malauulu, neither blessed with passing skills. A smart guy, the son of a Pennsylvania high school coaching legend, Scherer in 1989 convinced Tomey that the UA offense needed a dramatic change, at midseason, no less.

So during a bye week, UA offensive coaches flew to Boulder, Colo., of all places, studied CU's I-Bone offense and installed it a week later for a home game against UCLA.

Scherer and Tomey came off as geniuses. Arizona blew out UCLA 42-7, which was so confused it couldn't stop Arizona I-back David Eldridge, who rushed for 205 yards.

Scherer also gets credit for the Fumblerooskie, which UA used in 1990 to beat No. 11 Illinois and No. 15 USC, so I wouldn't' say the Buffaloes are being out-coached this year. It's just that their former head coach, Dan Hawkins, was out-recruited thoroughly from 2006-10.

Dear Mr. Football: Could a good quarterback solve CU's problems the way Matt Scott has put UA into position to play in a bowl game?

A: In the fall of 2007, Loveland High School, which is about 25 miles from CU's campus, was quarterbacked by Collin Klein, now the likely Heisman trophy favorite at Kansas State.

Colorado (and Hawkins) didn't recruit Klein, whose only scholarship offers were from KSU and Colorado State. The man who did recruit Klein is Dana Dimel, once part of Mike Stoops' doomed Arizona staff. Dimel came off as a clunker at Arizona but is now a genius in Manhattan, Kan.

Dear Mr. Football: Will Rich Rodriguez surreptitiously let the air out of the game balls that Colorado is to use today?

A: Now that the NCAA police are tuned into the practice of deflating footballs, RichRod is more likely to slow down his offense, lest the pace of play (Arizona averages 85 snaps per game) is too much for starting QB B. J. Denker. A year ago on this weekend, Denker was quarterbacking Cerritos College to a 35-27 victory over Allan Hancock College. Denker snapped 63 plays that game and the Falcons averaged 69 during an 8-4 season.

It's not that Denker isn't a qualified athlete: He also played for the Cerritos basketball team, and he wasn't on a football team with a bunch of beginners. His teammates from the '11 season included those who accepted football scholarships to Kansas State, SMU, Hawaii, Georgia, Colorado State and Nevada. At Cerritos, Denker passed for 31 touchdowns and rushed for 431 yards, but his completion percentage was just .554 and he was intercepted 11 times. Translation: look for him to handoff to Ka'Deem Carey at least 25 times.

Dear Mr. Football: Is Colorado staying at the Desert Willow Ranch, too?

A: The Buffaloes are staying somewhat close to the airport, at Starr Pass, which means they aren't likely to be recognized often, or become the butt of those did-you-really-lose to-Sacramento State? jokes.

But remember, Colorado was 1-8 on this weekend last year, whereupon it gained 500 yards and hung 48 points on the Cats.

Embree doesn't have a fond memory of Tucson. He was a UCLA assistant coach in 2005 when the 8-0 Bruins arrived at Arizona Stadium ranked No. 7 - and lost 52-14.

The Wildcats drew 55,775 to that game to see a 2-6 team. Isn't that puzzling? Arizona hasn't drawn more than 50,148 this year, although it had sold in excess of 50,000 tickets by Thursday afternoon.

Three key questions: First, will the Zona Zoo sleep in today? Will those bone-chilling 60-degree temperatures force everyone inside by the fire? Will there be enough Moose Milk to go around?

Colorado will key on Ka'Deem and keep it close. Arizona 31, Colorado 23.

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

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