A season that was one late game collapse against Oregon away from a trip to the Rose Bowl, included eight wins and much optimism, went out the window in a 33-0 loss to Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl last night. And somehow the blowout was fitting for the Arizona Wildcats football program.
The last game of the 2000’s had an all to familiar look to fans of the Cats, one reminiscent of the Mackovic era, and I’m not just talking about the white helmets. For the first eight seasons of the decade, Arizona couldn’t manage a winning season. In the final game of their tenth season they couldn’t manage a point.
Somehow a game in which the Wildcats had only 28 yards in the first 53 minutes failed to shock me all that much. It was like watching an episode of CSI Miami and being shocked when you see David Caruso take off his sunglasses and say something cheesy. At some point you become impervious to the tired act.
In a decade that saw the Wildcats finish with a .415 winning percentage (49-69), be outscored by 298 points (2,765 for and 3,063 against), have a player revolt and four seasons with four or fewer wins, a blowout loss seems to be an apropos way to cap it all off (I can say it, I saw a majority of the Mackovic era in person while in school).
Luckily for Mike Stoops, his staff and the players, the Holiday Bowl loss wasn’t the most embarrassing of the decade thanks to most of the 117 games preceding it (remember the 2003 48-10 loss to Oregon and the 45-0 loss to USC?).
The good thing is NCAA Bowl games are like an appendix. They’re there, people have them, but they don’t matter ever if you lose them.
Now losing your defensive coordinator and possibly your offensive coordinator in one off-season? That might make the next decade start an awful lot like this one did for Arizona.