Reflections on the Pac-12, the Arizona Wildcats, and other memories

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 11: Arizona Wildcats celebrate their 61-59 win over the UCLA Bruins in the championship game of the Pac-12 basketball tournament at T-Mobile Arena on March 11, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 11: Arizona Wildcats celebrate their 61-59 win over the UCLA Bruins in the championship game of the Pac-12 basketball tournament at T-Mobile Arena on March 11, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Pac-12 has existed on the Western collegiate sports landscape since I can remember. So for me, it’s sad and exciting; The Pac-12 as we know it is gone.

Yogi Roth, a Pac-12 football broadcaster and writer, discussed his feelings as these events have unfolded:

"Mack Brown once told me: ‘Yogi, college football is about the players and the fans…’ And now, I think it’s also about the media and the money. A sad truth, but a truth nonetheless. That leads the conversation to, or at the very least is, a part of both the opening drive, and as we’ve now seen, the final drive too."

Interviewing Yogi Roth was one of my favorite Pac-12 memories. What a great person Yogi is, first and foremost. In addition, he is a writer and film producer, and his expertise and interest in all Pac-12 football players is unmatched.

My first Pac-12 experience was when my father, an avid UCLA fan, took me to my first basketball game where I watched a red-headed center named Bill Walton dominate the game. Former Head Coach John Wooden was in the stands, and my dad explained to me how much he loved and admired him. I was hooked on basketball after that experience, I was only five years old.

My father decided that because he didn’t have any sons, he could share his passion of sports with his oldest daughter, so he took me to my first UCLA football game the following fall. I lost my voice after the game.

Three years later I told my father that I want to play for the Bruins when I grew up, and he broke the news to me; Women did not play football due to their physical attributes. Needless to say, I was devastated, and I never forgot that day. So I felt victorious after seeing the women’s tackle football championship a few weeks ago.

After my oldest daughter committed to the University of Arizona years after my father died, I switched from the Bruins to the Arizona Wildcats. After all, I was paying out-of-state tuition, so I thought it was justified. Being near the Olson family also made being an Arizona fan non-negotiable, the fever was contagious, and both of my daughters ended up enrolling and graduating as Wildcats.

My first football memory at Arizona was watching Nick Foles pass for 400+ yards game after game. Attending my first game at the Rose Bowl, cheering for the Wildcats was weird, but also invigorating.

My first basketball game was just after Stanley Johnson committed to the UofA, I will never forget how he put those Wildcats high tops on the table with that huge smile and said “I’m going to the University of Arizona.”

Sean Miller took his teams to the tournament year after year. But it was the Derrick Williams block on February 19th, 2011 that will forever be etched in my mind. The Wildcats were playing the Washington Huskies, and with 2.2 seconds left, Arizona was up 87-86. Washington threw the ball into Darnell Gant, with Isaiah Thomas behind him, and Gant tossed up the ball only for it to be swatted away by Williams to win the game. Williams was the second defender.

Another sweet memory was the game that Scooby Wright had against Oregon in 2014 in Oregon! Wright stripped the ball from Heisman hopeful Marcus Mariota for the win. Scooby had some other great plays in that game, but this one play sealed the deal.  Arizona was ahead 31-24 and ended up winning. The Cats were a 23-point underdog going into the game against the Ducks who were ranked No. 2.

My next memory was when Rawle Alkins committed to Arizona on ESPN. Alkins was dressed in a suit, and we had no idea how he was going to announce his choice. He unbuttoned his suit and showed the camera his Wildcats tie!

But that’s not the only Alkins memory I have, the one that I will never forget is my first interview with the incoming Wildcat. He had just played in the BallisLife All-American game and won the dunk contest. I was so impressed with his play then, and he just keeps getting better. Let’s not forget the Pac-12 tournament dunk against USC’s Elijah Stewart from a Deandre Ayton assist that blew up the internet and had LeBron James commenting on it. It changed the entire energy of the game.

Back to football. Cal vs. Arizona. The “Hill Mary.” It seemed like a miracle how quarterback Anu Solomon got that pass to Austin Hill from Cal’s 47-yard line, and Hill caught the ball in the end zone to win the game as the time ticked down to zero.

The Cats won 49-45 but were down 15 (45-30) with 5:21 to play. After recovering an onside kick and scoring, the team gained 75 yards in less than two minutes and scored again with a Solomon to Caleb Jones pass. The Cats just needed three points, but with the ball on the other side of the 50 yard-line, a hail mary was the only option. I was listening to Brian Jeffries and was in shock after the win. I was honestly light-headed from yelling at the top of my lungs.

One Year, in particular, was glorious for Arizona Football, and I personally will never forget it. Mr. October himself, Khalil Tate, and his record-breaking season. Tate did everything I had watched him do in high school and more. It all started when Rich Rodriguez put Tate in an October 2017 game vs Colorado after Brandon Dawkins came down with an injury.

Tate ran for an FBS quarterback record 327 yards and tossed four touchdowns while carrying the ball 14 times in a dramatic 45-42 triumph over the Colorado Buffaloes in Colorado. Tate also rushed for a touchdown and completed 12 of 13 throws for 153 yards.

Tate had another great game against Colorado in Tucson in a 42-34 win over the Buffs. Tate passed for 17-22 and 350 yards. He racked up 5 touchdowns. Who does that?

Let’s not forget all the Pac-12 basketball championships, each one a blast to watch and experience. Six won since 2000.

Since I started this new sports broadcasting career, one of my hugest supporters and mentors was and is Brian Jeffries, the Voice of Arizona along with Lamont Lovett. Once or twice a year I work in-between the two of them spotting tackles. I honestly think over the last 9 years or so we ever won a game I worked because they were always against USC or UCLA.

But not in 2023, in 2023 the Wildcats beat the No. 12 Bruins in the Rose Bowl. I again lost my voice, but the three of us were ecstatic and had to face the Bruins fans and media leaving the stadium, it was very very fun. After the game, I got to meet Jerry Roberts Jr. in person and he was also on a big high. It is Jedd Fisch and Jayden de Laura’s first signature win. We hope to see more in the BIG 12 Conference.

Overall, it’s been a great ride for me with the Pac-12 as they granted me credentials and I was able to go to Football and Basketball Media days to talk to coaches and athletes. Rich Rod always was very respectful of me and enjoyed my questions. Rich Rod was my first-ever college football coach interview. He couldn’t have been nicer. He once told me I was the most positive media person in Tucson. For me, that meant a whole lot, because I wanted to be different. Jedd Fisch has also shown me respect and seemed to enjoy my questions giving me great answers.

Sean Miller avoided me and most media as much as possible, but when I did get the chance to talk to him, he too gave me great answers and I think enjoyed our short interactions. As far as Tommy Lloyd, it’s been fantastic! I thank Tommy for his support and respect.

I want to thank all the Wildcats that I got to interview over the years and their continued support of my platform as I continue to support them.

On to the BIG 12! And more memories! It’s going to be fun!

Next. Khalil Tate signed by the Edmonton Elks in the CFB. dark

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