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A slice of bacon: Ahh, the memories

Shane Bacon
staff writer
By Shane Bacon
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, November 9, 2005
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If you are the true Wildcats fan you tell yourself you are, "recovering" wasn't even the word to describe your early-morning Sunday routine after the Arizona football team busted up UCLA on Saturday.

It got me thinking as I was running alongside 5,000 of my closest classmates recently. Where does that game rank among my college memories: reporting, cheering or just reading?

Here's the list in descending order:

5) Arizona football defeats Washington in 2003

If you're an avid reader, you know that covering Arizona football for the Arizona Daily Wildcat in 2003 was similar to that scene in "Deep Impact" where Téa Leoni and Maximilian Schell are standing on the beach with a huge wave heading for them, and all they can do is grasp each other in their arms and close their eyes (granted, Charles Renning, my fellow beat writer at the time, wasn't nearly as cuddly). All you could do was close your eyes and hope for the best.

That is why after the near defeat of then-No. 19 Texas Christian, the asteroid-sized hole John Mackovic left in this program that is still being filled today and the eight straight losses leading up to the Huskies made this game just another pencil tick in the loss column.

Too bad Mike Bell didn't get the memo. The Wildcats clawed, kicked and bitch-slapped their way to a victory over Washington, led by the then-sophomore Bell's 222 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

It might not have been a huge victory over a top-ranked opponent, but seeing the team in the locker room after, you would have thought they just found the cure for bird flu.

4) Chris Nallen dominates at the Ping-Arizona Intercollegiate in 2004

To say Chris Nallen could play in the Arizona National Golf Club when he was a Wildcat would be like saying Tom Brady has won a couple of playoff games in his career or Michael Jordan made one or two big shots as a Chicago Bull.

Nallen owned, possessed, controlled, ran and could play the National like nobody else around.

Nallen owns the course's single-round record - a 13-under-par 58 - and didn't disappoint when Arizona hosted the Ping-Arizona Intercollegiate in 2004.

He breezed through the field, carding rounds of 63, 64 and 68, respectively, to end at 18-under for the tournament and beat the next best golfer by five shots.

Nallen broke his own school scoring record that week and even helped his team take the title as well.

3) Arizona beating Oklahoma State in the 2005 Sweet 16

OK, close your eyes and imagine this.

You are studying abroad, now along with one of your best buddies on a three-week spring break jaunt, traveling to 12 different cities in seven different countries.

OK, now imagine being the biggest sports nut this side of Howie Schwab and nearly tearing apart your panini because you can't watch your basketball team play in March Madness.

Andrew and I were in Venice, Italy, and after a multitude of vino the night before, I woke up, ran to the receptionist's desk and asked to use the computer for just one second.

It dialed up to, and the front-page picture was sweet Salim Stoudamire with some catchy captions about how he is the best shooter who has ever lived in the entire world forever and ever (well, maybe something a little more professional).

I screamed to Andrew - he was pumped, and it made that constant pounding on the right side of my brain just a little less intense.

So, after the Cowboys ...

2) The first 36 minutes of the Illinois game in the 2005 Elite Eight

We had a day to kill before our beloved Wildcats took on those evil Illinois players in the unfair Allstate Arena on that disgusting March night.

My buddy and I traveled up through Verona, Italy, to Innsbrook, Austria, another city that doesn't believe in televising any American sporting event.

The best we could do was get up at 3 a.m., convince the hotel receptionist to let us "borrow" his computer for a couple of hours and listen to the feed via

Not looking at the ending, those first 36 minutes of the game were the most promising bits of fuzzy Internet radio I have ever received.

Andrew was digging through his backpack to find his camera, I was sporting my Arizona basketball shorts and the receptionist even offered us celebratory beers if we won (granted, the man didn't know what a rebound was, but he was definitely the nicest European we encountered on our travels).

I don't even want to think about what the atmosphere was like around campus that day, but there isn't a true Wildcat at heart who didn't have that "this is the year" glimmer in his or her eye after we got up by 15 points.

The last four minutes of the Illinois game will be included in my "top 5 times I've decided that life isn't that important" column coming soon.

1) Wildcat take down then-No. 7 UCLA in the 2005 Homecoming game

I can't help it. It was simply amazing. The game, the crowd, Homecoming weekend, the high hopes of a possible upset, Kirk Herbstreit predicting it on ESPN's "College Gameday," all of it.

I'm not a Red Sox fan, no Texas team this side of the Spurs has won anything in a long time, the John Elway era in Denver is far from recent and Andy Roddick couldn't beat Roger Federer with my eighth-grade football coach's paddle (and that thing was BIG).

This is what I have. I report, I wear neutral colors to games where I'm associated with the Wildcat, and I keep my pride wrapped up when I have to.

But sometimes, when all the stars align and someone upstairs feels just a little sorry for Mike Stoops and Tucson as a whole and sends us a boy named Willie, we get ours, too.

The win isn't going to get us in a bowl game, it might not be in Chris Berman's top-10 college moments of the year, but Saturday will forever be linked as one of my top college memories.

Who the hell cares that the goalposts didn't come down?

Shane Bacon is a journalism senior. He can be reached at

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