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1,500 posts later: Here is what fans like to read about the Arizona Wildcats

We’re in favor of any color helmet, as long as you want to keep reading about them. Photo via @Greg_Byrne

The Tucson Citizen ended its print edition in May 2009, and then Mark Evans, the former assistant city editor, re-invented TucsonCitizen.com two months later as a community blog site.

Soon after, Evans, the big cheese of a full-time crew of two employees, wrangled some grant money to study networked/community journalism. Evans, knowing how University of Arizona athletics drives the page views, decided to create a sports network, hiring me on a part-time basis to run it and write about the Wildcats.

That ran its course through 2010, when there was an opportunity for me to join the two-person full-time staff.

And, here we are, 1,500 posts and more than two million page views later.

(That’s not counting what is probably at least an equal share of traffic created when the state’s dominant news source, The Arizona Republic, reposts my Arizona Wildcats stories on azcentral.com/sports/ua.)

So, what do y’all like to read about?

Recruiting, helmets and breaking news in internet time.

As I look at the numbers, the majority of the most popular posts have little to do with game stories, features and previews — the bedrock of traditional newspaper coverage. The mission here isn’t to try to replicate that coverage, but to supplement — to offer something interesting and different (such as Javier Morales’ current countdown of the top 50 football games in Arizona history) or to occasionally be first (such as the firing of coach Mike Stoops last October).

Many of the most-read posts aren’t the ones I would tag as my personal favorites. My posts on 2012 football recruit Davonte Neal — which dominates my most-read list — were largely regurgitations of what Richard Obert was writing in the Arizona Republic, our Gannett partner. Thanks for the easy page views.

With a nod to the power of traffic derived from good SEO and incoming links from national sports sites, such as ESPN.com’s Pac-12 blog and Uni-Watch.com, here are, for better or worse, my most-read stories in nearly three years at TucsonCitizen.com:

1. Arizona football’s new copper helmets: I like them (15,109 page views)

2. Davonte Neal won’t take visit to Arizona (14,460)

3. Arizona softball recruit Bri Matthews dies at age 16 (14,054)

4. UPDATED: Firing of Mike Stoops ‘absolutely necessary at this time’ (12,733) … this link built off our initial report of his firing.

5. Arizona Republic: Davonte Neal’s recruiting take big turn (11,625)

6. Wildcats ready to shed the blue helmets for Holiday Bowl (10,397)

7. Rich Rodriguez could be close to landing his defensive coordinator (9,273)

8. What is star recruit Davonte Neal going to do? (9,091)

9. Davonte Neal sticking with four finalists as decision day gets closer (8,530)

10. Arizona’s Greg Byrne on Pac-10 expansion, plus new Pac-10 logo (8,035)

Elsewhere in the next 10 most-read posts are still more stories on Neal, a column on point guard Josiah Turner’s indefinite suspension at the end of last season, our exclusive on linebacker Brian Wagner leaving the Wildcats last month, a report on one of Rodriguez’s first public appearances last December and a story on possible legal consequences for the streaker at Arizona Stadium last season.

My personal favorites are far different than the posts that show up in the top 20. Off the top of my head, and in no particular order, here are several:

** Mike Stoops legacy: He put in the foundation

** Nick Foles: Anatomy of a touchdown drive (a look at his key 94-yard, fourth-quarter march vs. ASU last season). Here is also the game story from last season: Arizona wins the ‘marathon,’ takes Cup from Arizona State in thriller.

** To Dick Tomey: Happy retirement and thanks for the memories (this was in 2009, when Tomey stepped down at San Jose State. He came out of retirement to coach Hawaii’s special teams last season.)

** The final Horne: Dream shot misses the mark as Wildcats’ season ends

** Arizona in the NCAAs; it’s a charmed life

** New moment in Arizona Wildcats basketball: The Hug

Kevin Parrom

Coach Sean Miller hugs forward Kevin Parrom as he leaves the game. Photo by Chris Morrison-US PRESSWIRE

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