After nine-year break, UA football back in the national rankingsby Anthony Gimino on Oct. 25, 2009, under Sports
It took nine years, but Arizona is back in the national polls.
The Wildcats made the BCS standings at No. 22 last weekend — their first appearance there since the 1998 season — and on Sunday the human polls joined in agreement.
Arizona is No. 23 in the AP poll, and No. 24 in the USA Today coaches poll.
The last time Arizona was ranked was the week of Oct. 22, 2000. Then, the Wildcats (No. 24 in the AP and No. 23 in the coaches poll) lost at home 27-24 to UCLA on Oct. 28. That was part of a second-half slide that led to the departure of coach Dick Tomey, the disastrous hiring of John Mackovic and coach Mike Stoops’ rebuilding project, which began in 2004.
Which of the 60 AP voters likes Arizona the best? ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit.
He has the Cats at No. 18. The Arizona Daily Star’s Ryan Finley, who has the state’s AP vote this year, puts UA at No. 25. The coaches poll does not release individual ballots.
Arizona is 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the Pac-10. The Wildcats are off this Saturday before finishing a three-game homestand against last-place Washington State. So, there is a great chance for UA to be 6-2 heading into a difficult final stretch — at Cal, vs. Oregon, at Arizona State, at USC.
Arizona’s only losses this season were to Iowa, which is undefeated and ranked No. 7, and on a controversial deflected interception at Washington.
“I have no problem where we’re at. We’ve played a very difficult schedule and our kids have come through in a very positive position,” Stoops said after Saturday’s win.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with where we’re at. There is still room for improvement.”
The new BCS standings will be out later today.
“It’s exciting … yeah, it’s nice to get some recognition,” Stoops said in a UA press release Sunday. “It’s a reflection of how we’ve played in our first seven games. But it also means very little. There are a lot of tough football games left.
“We have plenty of work to do and being ranked is not our ultimate goal,” he said. “We’re happy but there are higher objectives out there and we’re going to get back to focusing on the next game.”