No. 8 on Arizona Wildcats Badass list: Ty Parten and Hicham El-Mashtoubby Javier Morales on Oct. 18, 2011, under Sports
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No. 8: TY PARTEN, defensive tackle (1989-1992)
The Godfather of Arizona’s famed Desert Swarm defense arguably is Ty Parten. As a senior captain in 1992, he lit a flame under the Wildcats (reeling from a 1-1-1 start) as they prepared to play on the Orange Bowl turf against top-ranked Miami.
One of his teammates, offensive lineman Eric Johnson, recounted recently at UASports.net (user handle ratacatcat) the story about what Parten did before that game.
“He gave the pregame players-only scream down,” Johnson wrote. “When we left that room, we knew it was gonna be a war.”
Arizona coach Dick Tomey sent the entire UA team to midfield for the coin toss and Miami answered by sending all of its players. Words were exchanged. The Wildcats, with Parten at the forefront, did not back down an inch.
Imagine the surprise of the big, bad Hurricanes — who eventually played in the national championship game that season and finished 11-1 — look across and see a struggling Wildcat team get in their face.
That Desert Swarm kind of attitude all started with Parten’s Knute Rockne-esque pregame speech in the locker room. The Wildcats nearly won, losing 8-7 after Steve McLaughlin‘s 51-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide right as time expired.
The UA went on to win five straight games, including one against No. 1 Washington in Tucson, and the Desert Swarm was born.
Parten showed signs of becoming a tough-nose, win-at-all-costs type of player — a badass — a year before when Tomey held him out of contact drills because of shoulder injury.
Anthony Gimino, the beat reporter for the Wildcats at The Arizona Daily Star at the time, wrote, “the fence posts at the practice field paid the price.”
“He’s so mad at us during the week he won’t talk to us,” Tomey told the Star. “So he goes over there and hits the fence.”
Although he was a third-round draft-choice by Cincinnati in 1993, Parten unbelievably did not achieve first- or second-team All-Pac-10 status his junior or senior year.
No. 8 HICHAM EL-MASHTOUB, center (1991-94)
Maybe the word “badass” does not adequately describe El-Mashtoub — wild might be more appropriate — but he falls into this category because he did not take crap from anybody.
El-Mashtoub, a 295-pound senior center born in Beirut, Lebanon, and raised in Montreal, was viewed as reckless, engaging in a few fights during his Wildcat career. He was also a multilingual engineering major, so perhaps El-Mashtoub’s motives were calculated to get under the skin of the other guy.
`If you’re not careful, he’ll put one right past you,” former Arizona offensive lineman Warner Smith told Gimino in an Arizona Daily Star article in 1994. “He’ll make people do what he wants them to do without them knowing it.”
When Sports Illustrated ranked Arizona No. 1 in its 1994 preseason edition, it described El-Mashtoub as a player with “surpassing football skills and a perilously short fuse.”
The magazine described that he took a crucial fourth-quarter personal foul when he came off the bench and decked a tackler on the sideline after UA freshman Gary Taylor had returned a kickoff to the 31 in the Cats’ 24-20 loss at California in 1993, a defeat that cost Arizona a spot in the Rose Bowl.
El-Mashtoub was held out of the Hancock Bowl at the end of the 1993 season for fighting with a teammate in the locker room after a practice.
“When he’s in control, I don’t think there’s a better center in college football,” former quarterback Steve Smith told SI. “But I’ve wasted an awful lot of valuable rest time between plays getting Hicham out of fights.”
Former offensive tackle Joe Smigiel perhaps said it best in the SI article: “He means well, and he’s very bright, but he really does have a screw loose.”
In that 8-7 win by Miami in 1992, El-Mashtoub ended the season for Hurricanes preseason All-American defensive end Rusty Medearis in what Miami fans thought was a low illegal block. Medearis, who did not play again until two years after that game, required 13 hours of surgery on his left knee and doctors initially thought his career was over.
After the game, Hurricane players referred to El-Mashtoub as “the terrorist” and accused him of leveling a cheap shot.
Medearis made amends with El-Mashtoub a year later when Miami and Arizona met in the Fiesta Bowl, saying he harbored no bad feelings and that it was a legitimate play.
El-Mashtoub was suspended for a game in 1994 after getting into a fight with an Oregon State player on the last play of the game. He claimed the Beaver defender was going low after UA quarterback Dan White despite the fact White took a knee to end the game.
“I’ve been in a lot of incidents and fights,” El-Mashtoub told Gimino in the Star article. “I really don’t regret it, but I wish I had done things differently. You shouldn’t regret what you do because you did it, and you did it for a reason.
“It’s all about learning.”
The learning process was ongoing for him in the NFL.
As a rookie with the Houston Oilers in 1995, El-Mashtoub got into a meeting-room altercation with teammate Stan Thomas. The Oilers were forced to put Thomas on the non-football injury list because he needed stitches to his head.
When the Browns cut him in 1999, El-Mashtoub filed a lawsuit claiming that Cleveland released him because of his Middle East descent. Nothing came of that. One thing’s for sure: El-Mashtoub always put up a fight.
THE BADASS LIST