“When you don’t have a football facility and every Mountain West team has one and you don’t, that’s a problem. We were playing at a BCS level and I feel like I was fighting with a toothpick and they’ve got a bat.” – Mike Stoops, in regards to to his tenure as the head football coach at the UofA.
(The full story from CBSSports.com can be found here.)
Toothpick? Maybe more like chopstick or drumstick but either way, Mike Stoops is right. The University of Arizona has never had even average football facilities in comparison other BCS college teams. Arizona Athletic Director Greg Byrne acknowledged as much when one of his first major moves after replacing Jim Livengood was to raise the funds necessary for the current $72M project to upgrade Arizona Stadium. For Stoops, however, it’s obviously too little, too late.
During his 8-year run at the helm of Arizona’s football program, some nice improvements were made. Most recently, there was the giant video board that debuted last season, which at the time was something like the 3rd largest video board in the NCAA. But in the arena of “big business” that college football has become in the past decade or two, things like that are just lipstick on a pig.
Sure, Arizona Stadium has a beautiful backdrop from both sides like this sunset and this mountain view. It even has the occasional celebrity siting! Let’s not forget the great weather! But at the end of the day, the stadium is just a giant eyesore concrete palace with dilapidated locker rooms and an infestation of flying rodents. There are no football-specific off-site facilities like there are at most major D-1 programs. At the end of the day, high school kids don’t care about things like sunsets and weather. The really don’t even care about tradition, opportunity, academics or playing time all that much. The society they’ve been raised in has led them to believe that jersey color combinations and swanky digs are what’s important. Most schools have accepted that reality and adjusted accordingly but the UofA is already late to that party.
It’s not entirely the university’s fault, though. The problem is rooted in the city of Tucson as a whole, whose politicians and citizens still have failed to accept the fact that there are about a million people, instead continuing to operate as an old mom-and-pop outfit. Cross-town freeways? Tucson-to-Phoenix high-speed trains? Forget about it. Those who think small act small and thus get small results. It’s no wonder the Arizona Wildcats have never played in the Rose Bowl. However, I’m fully confident that Greg Byrne and Rich Rodriguez know what it takes to climb that mountain and that we’ll be at or near the top soon enough.
Sorry for the over-abundance of cliches. I guess that’s what happens when you write a blog that is about a cliche, huh? What do you think? Is Stoops right or is he just making excuses? Let us know in the comments below or on the Zona Zealots Facebook page!