THE BUCHANAN REPORT
Jonathan McKnight's pick 6 against OSU sent Arizona Stadium into a frenzy.
The Buchanan Report takes on the new era of Arizona Football, Jim Furyk on the Ryder Cup team, game day atmosphere, Arizona Stadium construction, embracing the “power of one,” and a Streetcar named “Arizona”.
Arizona’s spectacular win over Oklahoma State Saturday evening, 59-38, is, in the Report’s view, the most satisfying win since the defeat of Nebraska in the 1998 Holiday Bowl. There have been other great, unexpected wins against ranked teams since, but this one is special because it comes at the beginning of a new era, at a time in which no one would blame anyone or anything if there were growing pains and more losses than wins.
It would be understandable if Oklahoma State overlooked Arizona or took them lightly after the beat downs they have put on Arizona the past two seasons. Who could blame Mike Gundy’s team if they felt this game was a gimme? The Cowboys racked up a school record for single-game penalties, all of them of the major variety – blocks in the back, personal fouls, and the like. These seemed to be the by-product of a team that was filled with frustration, not confidence. After all, Oklahoma State returned eight starters on defense, which was predicted to be one of the best in the Big 12 Conferenc (it still may be). The real difference in this edition of Arizona football compared to the past few years is that after being punched in the face with an early 14-point deficit, these Wildcats not only came back but roared back with a vengeance.
Arizona fans, for the most part, entered the season with realistic expectations. Prior to the Toledo game I spoke to the Clark family who have driven from Phoenix to watch every home game in Arizona Stadium in the last 12 years. Kevin Clark said last week, “I was cautious when I heard that Greg Byrne had hired Rich Rodriquez because I thought we were going to get Chris Petersen (Boise State), but now I think he is just what we need to turn the corner.” Kim’s expectations were simple, “I just want to see more wins, and maybe get to a decent bowl game this year.” Kevin expects a 6-6 year, but said; “I wouldn’t be surprised to see an 8-4 season.”
Larry Kossak, a retired school teacher from Green Valley, Ariz. said, “Rich Rodriquez will need a few seasons, but he’s been successful every place he has been, except Michigan, and that is only because the cupboard was pretty bare when he got there, and he didn’t get the support from the fans or the press because he wasn’t a “Michigan Man.”
After Saturday night, many fans may be adjusting their evaluation of this team.
A shout out to WSR subscriber, Kainoacat, for predicting at the early part of the week that Arizona would upset Oklahoma State. A Well Played Predicition for sure!
OUT OF TOWN WILDCAT FANS
For those of you who couldn’t make it to the game, or haven’t been on campus recently, the North End Zone (NEZ) area isn’t the only construction taking place. Straight through the middle of campus is a…(gasp)…streetcar route. But there aren’t any streetcars yet, but that’s okay because no one knows where they will go when it’s all finished, or why. Missing also are the hills, the wharf, the bay, and of course, Rice-a-Roni. And Blanche. Alaska may have its bridge to nowhere, but we have a Streetcar to somewhere.
The construction within Arizona Stadium is shaping up nicely. The south end zone renovation is completed with the old bleachers completely replaced. This is not a scientific evaluation, but it certainly seemed like the sound has been enhanced with the north end zone stadium enclosure. What was left of the crowd in the overtime period of the Toledo game came alive and actually caused a false start by Toledo, and their drive fizzled. Most that I talked to described the sound of the crowd as “intense.” Apparently, about 38,000 people realize they can make a difference, embracing “the power of one.”
Speaking of the Toledo game, some fans were magically and mystically attracted to the Exit signs in the middle of the third quarter. This phenomenon defies explanation. I mean, I’ve seen lemmings move slower and with less instinct, and with greater zeal for life. This is a cultural problem that involves a fan base with little attachment to the University of Arizona, a history of mediocre seasons, and little tradition to build on that isn’t almost 15 years old. But few left the game on Saturday night for Oklahoma State. However, relatively few showed up either, with the attendance at – let’s round it up – 46,000 – about 6,000 shy of this year’s capacity. But, wow, did they make some noise. May I be the first to say it? When the NEZ complex is completed, and over 56,000 fill Arizona Stadium, the sound alone will make it one of the toughest Pac-12 venues to play in. Even with less than capacity, my ears were ringing in the fourth quarter against OSU as both the fans and the improved acoustics played their part in creating an excellent big-game environment.
We must give props to whoever is responsible for the game opening video, which featured Button Salmon, Art Luppino, Chuck Cecil and Tedy Bruschi. Nicely done! My only crack is it did seem a tad short in length.
At last publish of the Buchanan Report, we speculated on former Arizona golfer Jim Furyk making the U.S. Ryder Cup team and, low and behold, last Monday Captain Davis Love announced Furyk as one of his at-large picks. Furyk has played in the last seven Ryder Cups, and his selection may have been the most questionable of Love’s captain’s picks. Some point to Furyk’s less than stellar 8-15-3 record in previous competitions, but that includes paired matches. In the critical Sunday single matches, Furyk is a shining 4-1-2. Further in the last President’s Cup played in Melbourne, Austrailia, he won all five of his matches, making him a solid pick by Love. Congratulations to Jim Furyk!
You may have seen that the Buchanan Report and the Friday Fizz are both fans of commercials. So let me ask – does anyone else think if the pairing of Furyk and Five Hour Energy drink is the ultimate odd couple? I mean, Furyk, rarely given to public displays of emotion, good, bad or ugly, gives a solid, steady, even tempered endorsement for the drink. I don’t mean to say that Jim Furyk is dull. So, maybe it is the drink?