By Kyle Kensing
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, September 3, 2004
An air of excitement lacking in past football seasons has returned to the UA in 2004, thanks to the much-anticipated debut of head coach Mike Stoops.
Zona Zoo athletic pass sales are through the roof, and UA students are abuzz with the prospect of an improved football team.
"I'm looking forward to supporting the team," communications senior Greg Resin said. "I don't expect (it) to go to a bowl game, but I expect (it'll) show a lot of improvement from last year. (It'll) be a lot better and a lot more exciting."
As of last week, the UA ticket office had sold over 9,000 Zona Zoo passes, a 2,000-sale jump from 2003.
The UA athletics department had also sold more than 20,000 non-student season tickets entering game week, and has the potential to break the records for both student and general admission season ticket sales set in 1994.
Retailing senior Skyler Woodworth said he thinks the UA is likely to be a middle-of-the-conference team and will steadily rise through the ranks in the years to come.
"I'm excited about Stoops," he said. "(UA fans) have a lot to look forward to."
Woodworth isn't alone in his sentiment.
"We'll be a lot better than (we were) the last couple years," veterinary science freshman Amanda Lavely said. "I'm excited to see them play."
A more experienced team and new coaching will make this a "good" season for UA football, pre-pharmacy freshman Stephanie Felix said.
The enthusiasm surrounding the Stoops era has generally erased the disappointment endured under former head coach John Mackovic. Some students even anticipate a full, immediate turnaround.
"We'll only lose three games this year," pre-education freshman Nathan West said. "We're going to a bowl game."
While a turnaround on the field is important to many student fans, some say that having a coach the players respect is most important.
"It will be nice watching a team whose players actually like their coach instead of hating him," said regional development senior Josh West.
Mackovic, who was fired last season after a 1-4 start, was often criticized for his inability to relate to his players, and even delivered a tearful apology to his team at a press conference in November 2002 after nearly 40 of his players complained of mistreatment to university president Peter Likins.