Arizona Wildcats’ Top 10 Headlines of 2011: #6-10


Disclaimer: The title of this should really be “Arizona Wildcats’ Top 10 Headlines According to One Fan Who is a Diehard of Arizona Basketball and Football.” Though Lawi Lalang’s NCAA National Championship, the departure of Frank Busch, and Justine Schultz’s NCAA Woman of the Year award probably deserve to make the cut, cross country and swimming just don’t give me the goosebumps that these other moments do.

Reminder: This is my list. If you think I’m crazy for putting something at #9 instead of #8 or you think I’ve completely lost my mind by not including an epic moment, do not go Mike Stoops on me. Instead, make your own list and share it below.

Honorable Mentions
Lawi Lalang wins NCAA National Championship as a Sophomore; Justine Schultz becomes 4th Arizona swimmer to win NCAA Woman of the Year Award; Frank Busch Leaves Arizona Swimming Legacy to become USA Team Director; Jason Terry Helps Mavericks win NBA Title; Derrick Williams Drafted to Timberwolves; Women’s Basketball Off to 10-1 Start; Arizona Baseball Secures Rights to Hi Corbett Field; Arizona Hockey Parts Ways with Golembiewski

#10 Arizona State Hires Clown During Coaching Search Circus
Arizona fans had a good laugh as they watched ASU go through a merry-go-round of a coaching search, firing a coach with a 6-6 record in the Pac-12 and ending up with…well…a 6-6 coach from the Big East. Todd Graham is not what one might consider a class act–he informed his former players that he was leaving for ASU via forwarded text message.

#9 Miller Already Number One Before 2012 Has Even Begun
When five star recruit and 7’0” center Kaleb Tarczewski committed to the Arizona basketball program, Sean Miller secured the number one recruiting class in the nation for the 2012 season. Joining Tarczewski will be power forward Brandon Ashley (five star, 6’8”), power forward Grant Jerett (five star, 6’10”), and shooting guard Gabe York (four star, 6’1”). If these four standouts can do in college basketball what they can do on YouTube, Arizona fans are in for quite a show next year.

#8 Byrnes Goes Rogue for RichRod
Arizona State could have learned a few things from Greg Byrne’s Handbook on How to Hire a Coach–Rule #1: Start Early; Rule #2: Have a Backup Plan; Rule #3: Don’t Let the Media Find You.

Byrnes mastered his plan perfectly by firing Stoops early to get a jump on the trail, having multiple plans in case the first one didn’t pan out (it appears as though Byrnes might have tested the waters with Bellotti, Leach and Meyers first) and going James Bond on the press. For example, Byrnes took public flights because those are harder to track.

It was anyone’s guess who Arizona’s next head coach would be until Byrnes posted a picture of himself with the Rodriguez family on Twitter. Only time will tell, but for now it appears that RichRod was the best available—and best fit—for Tucson. Mission Accomplished.

#7 Arizona Basketball Beats Stanford Day After Tucson Tragedy
Sports often have a special way of bringing a community together, if only so that it can heal by briefly taking its mind off of a tragic event to enjoy an innocent game involving a ball and a couple of hoops. The day after one of the most horrific shootings in Tucson history, the Tucson community gathered at McKale Center to watch some basketball. The Wildcats put on a show that led to a victory over the Stanford Cardinal, giving Tucson a cheerful distraction if only for a couple of hours.

#6 Miller Pulls Late April Fools Joke in May
Except, it wasn’t funny. If there was a list for “Arizona Fans’ Most Nerve-Racking Moments of 2011,” this would get the number one spot. When news hit the stands that Sean Miller was meeting with Maryland for the vacant coaching job, fans got nervous; when an ESPN associated radio show announced that he was leaving Arizona, pure pandemonium ensued, rumors exploded and profane language dominated the city. One rumor had it that Miller’s wife hated Tucson because of the horrific allergies she had. One blog actually went so far as discrediting the Miller family’s excuse by noting that the pollen count in Maryland was higher than the pollen count in Tucson. Things got kind of weird…

Later that night, Arizona fans took the biggest sigh of relief this year when ESPN announced that Miller was back in Tucson and there to stay.