For a while, my friends blamed me instead of Dick Tomey, John Mackovic or Mike Stoops for the Arizona football program’s demise.
From 2001 to 2007, Arizona went 26-53 after I took over the beat job in the third game of 2001. Finally, I got to cover a bowl game when UA went 8-5 in 2008.
Here are two of my top memories:
• In 2004, the UA baseball team traveled to play Long Beach State in a super-regional with little hope against pitcher Jered Weaver and the 49ers. Weaver struck out 12 Wildcats, but UA won the opener 6-5 on a Trevor Crowe triple. UA lost the second game, but won the deciding contest in the 11th on a Nick Hundley sacrifice fly.
The good news was I got to cover a College World Series, but my family wasn’t too happy. We had to cancel a vacation.
• In 2003, the one Friday night I decided to go to a movie for a rare date with my wife, there were 11 messages waiting for me on my cell phone.
Had the world come to an end?
It turned out to be news of Mackovic banning several players from the team dinner the night before a game. Forty-eight hours later, he was history and UA started a coaching search.
Following tips and Internet rumors became a 24-hour job. One name kept popping up: Mike Stoops.
Although Stoops wouldn’t confirm his interest in the job, I was able to get the first interview with him. You could tell he would be UA’s next coach.
I’m glad I didn’t have to cover a coaching change last year. Despite what some might think, reporters don’t like to write about firings and buyouts. We’d rather write about touchdowns.