THE BUCHANAN REPORT
The power of one, PAC 12 Debuts, Game Day atmosphere
We have Wildcat fans that would do anything to be in Tucson with us on game day. For whatever reason – work, family, distance, they can’t be. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the phrase even works for college football.
It’s a shame we don’t have more alumni of this great institution actually living in Tucson. In our section, for the last 10 years we have had a family that travels to Tucson every game day from Phoenix. I’ve actually seen their family grow up, and one of their daughters is almost out of high school now. They are the epitome of what one of our posters describes as a real fan – year in, year out, hoping, supporting, believing, and anticipating.
We also have a University of Arizona Economics professor and his wife; a grizzled, retired, ex-marine who is tough as nails, and an assortment of rabid fans that are moved to tears when they hear “Bear Down Arizona” being played and sung because it’s more than a slogan, or fight song to them.
On Saturday evening, we will all pick up where we left off last November, as if there hadn’t been any passage of time at all. We don’t know each other beyond the common pleasantries of a hello, a high five or a head shake in disbelief, yet we all know each other intimately through the crucible of Arizona football. We have a good group in our section, and even in the bad times we have supported our teams and each other. With each touchdown and defensive stop we scream at each other, slapping of high fives as if one of us made the tackle or the big catch. Certainly, for those Wildcat fans living in China, the Middle East, Chicago, Los Angeles, or wherever, we will miss your presence in Arizona Stadium Saturday night. For those of us who have the option to attend a home game this season, or all home games, it’s imperative that we do. The little community those of us have formed within our section has been developed over time in hundreds of tiny pockets of fans throughout the stadium. Although we are mostly strangers in our everyday lives, for 3-4 hours each Saturday in the fall we are a unique community within a greater community of 50,000-plus Arizona football fans. In short, like the student athletes and coaches we support, we too are our own team and our presence in that beautiful stadium at the corner of Cherry and Sixth Avenue is where we unite and Bear Down behind our Cats.
During the win over California at home several years ago, one fan from our section somehow made it down to the Zona Zoo. Don’t ask me how. It was during a critical time in the game, and our defense seemed tired. When he got down to the first row, he screamed at the top of his lungs – [/i]“defense, hey defense!”[/i] A couple of members of the defensive unit turned around. “NO – I mean ALL of you.” Then the entire group turned to face him. “You guys are WILDCATS – lift up your heads, get in there and finish off these Bears.”
Although it seems improbable, the defense was indeed inspired for the rest of the game, knowing they just couldn’t let down even one Wildcat supporter that night.
Can you imagine the effect of 52,000 individuals could have on eight home games if the entire fan base at Arizona Stadium was equally inspired? I’m no Tony Robbins, but the “power of one” is not something to take lightly.
Although the University officials doubt me on this, I believe the North End Zone enclosure will trap more sound and make it tougher for opposing teams when our fans are really making some noise. No word yet on whether or not the NEZ seats will be opened up for my birthday, November 23, against ASU. At this point, no news is good news. Anyway, my theory on sound gets its first test Saturday night.
At press time UCLA had an impressive debut under new coach Jim Mora, Washington State was overwhelmed at BYU and ASU thrashed NAU. I’m not going into the particulars of each contest because in the Buchanan Report’s opinion, neither team is a threat in their division of the PAC 12 anyway. I expected more out of Mike Leach’s Cougars tonight, and for them to not even score a touchdown in the inaugural Air Raid offense, Washington State’s first audition with Leach as the head man was surprising.
I expect a supercharged Wildcat team to hit the field on Saturday night. This is a time of new possibilities, of positive reinforcement, of rebuilding. Deep down in my heart, I know this isn’t going to be an overnight success. It just doesn’t work that way, but I do have a good feeling that this team is going to be competitive under Rich Rodriguez and his staff.
You’ve heard that the Wildcats are probably going to take my advice on Unis this week? Remember? I predicted Arizona would go basic – blue helmets, jerseys and white pants. And it was announced this week that it would indeed be the blue lids. However, it may be time to revise that and this week’s announcement could be the first of many very subtle lateral arabesques by our new coaching staff.
You see, Toledo has some pretty good looking uniforms, all provided for by Under Armour. But they have blue helmets too. Maybe it’s time to do a bit of revision. I call on the staff and team to come out in white helmets, blue jerseys, white pants. Keep the look “vanilla” like the play calling allegedly will be this week.
On the other hand, how could one actually say the playbook will be “vanilla” at all? This will be the most different offense introduced at Arizona since Dick Tomey had Ronnie Veal direct the “run and shoot” offense in 1987. Welcome back running game!
For those of you out of towners, I know you will miss the pre-game walk down Cherry Avenue toward Arizona Stadium from the tailgating areas. You’ll miss the throngs emptying from the parking lots and eventually converging on the mall, the masses congregating under tents and RV’s, the smell of barbeque, and the band marching proudly down Cherry. You’ll miss the chill that encompasses your entire body as the drummers of the band hit a simple thrump, thrump, thrumpthrumpthrump, in staccato on the metal rims of their drums, and then finally, the band raising their instruments and blaring out Bear Down Arizona for the first time this season as they make their way into the stadium.
If you can make it to the game, just do it! No, not because we are a Nike school, but because your presence will indeed make a difference. You might meet and make a life- long friend; and because you will be on the ground floor of a new era in Arizona football, later you can say you were there from the beginning. You can say that you had faith and belief, but more importantly, you have a chance to show your support.
Embrace the power of one, and do your part to support Arizona football. Bear Down!