By Ryan Casey
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Ten days ago, the stands at Arizona Stadium emptied with three minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
Over the weekend, they emptied at right around the same time, and for a different reason.
Ten days ago, madness - of the pandemonium sort - filled the air surrounding the Arizona campus.
On Saturday, a different type of madness followed the Wildcats into their locker room - that of head coach Mike Stoops. Along with it came downheartedness, listlessness and sluggishness (the latter two seen during the actual game).
Ten days ago, the Wildcat football team played its most inspired game in Stoops' young tenure, yet Saturday against a 1-8 football team - on Senior Day, no less - they never quite found that drive.
Ten days ago, superfrosh Willie Tuitama was God in Tucson.
Now, 10 days and some letter-swapping later, he's in some fans' doghouses.
Ten days ago, the Arizona football team was riding high on this campus.
Now fans are thinking about tomorrow - literally - when the men's basketball team hosts Alberta to round out their exhibition slate.
So what now? Should you even bother to watch the annual Territorial Cup game on Nov. 25, when the Cats travel north to take on the Sun Devils of ASU?
Well, for starters, those Sun Devils just overlooked their own opponent Saturday, getting lit up 45-35 by the UCLA team that - oh, by the way - got smoked by the Wildcats 52-14. (That margin of victory matches the 38 points Washington scored against Arizona, its highest output of the season.)
Ten days from now, Stoops will ensure the madness returns to Tucson.
Secondly, a win on the day after Thanksgiving would knock the Sun Devils out of bowl contention, which ranks second on the Wildcat priority list only to Arizona's bowl eligibility.
The only legitimate excuse for not showing up to Sun Devil Stadium on that late November afternoon would be if you had four flat tires, thereby relegating you to ride your bike cross-state. Three flat tires wouldn't cut it - you'd still have one good one (two, if you count the spare).
Thanksgiving dinner? Please, you can stay at my parents' place (sorry, Mom).
What now? The question persists.
What now for the Wildcats' seniors, who will never again grace the turf at Arizona Stadium as players?
Sure, their last game will come in the state of Arizona, but their last memory of the Zona Zoo will be the measly 300 students who stayed until the end of Saturday's game (whom I greatly applaud; the athletic department should reward those who don't already have them with basketball tickets - those are the types of fans who actually deserve to go to men's basketball games).
What now for Stoops and coaching staff, who called a near-flawless game 10 days ago, only to do the reverse this past weekend?
They have two weeks to prepare their game plan for ASU - and one can only hope it's half as effective as the godly game plan prepared in the week leading up to the UCLA game. (Post-Bruin-slaying, the players said the week prior had been the toughest week of practice they'd ever faced as a member of the team.)
Does this loss to lowly Washington provide motivation? Oh, you betcha.
Arizona will soon again have the "us against the world" mentality, something that propelled them to victory against UCLA. ASU will need only one viewing of the UA-Washington game tape for them to take the Wildcats for granted.
Ten days ago, Arizona began to think about their matchup at Arizona State, a matchup that could've led to the two teams sharing the same 5-6 record with a Wildcat win.
On Saturday, they were still thinking about UCLA, but forgot it was Washington that came to town.
Ten days ago, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that the Wildcats could travel to Tempe and take down the hated Sun Devils, but Saturday reinstated that doubt.
Ten days from now, Stoops will lead his Wildcats onto Frank Kush Field to try and duplicate last year's 34-27 springboard into the offseason.
Ten days from now, Stoops will ensure that the madness - of the pandemonium sort, of course - returns to the air in Tucson, joined this time by joyousness, liveliness and vivaciousness.
Ryan Casey is a journalism junior and the sports director at KAMP Student Radio. His radio show can be heard Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on 1570 AM or at www.kamp.arizona.edu.