As the Arizona-USC game kicks off Saturday afternoon in Tucson, many former Arizona Wildcats will be paying their respects to their teammate, Chuck Osborne, who died last week at 38.
A funeral service will be held Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Church of the Hills at Forest Lawn at 12:30 p.m. in Hollywood Hills, Calif.
Osborne played at Arizona from 1992 to 1995, becoming an All-Pac-10 defensive tackle for the Desert Swarm defenses of the era. He died Oct. 16 at his La Jolla, Calif., home. An autopsy failed to reveal a cause of death. Further tests are being conducted.
Heath Bray, who played with Osborne in 1992 and later was on the UA coaching staff, rattled off the names of more than a dozen ex-Wildcats expected to attend the service, including Richard Dice, Dan White, Chuck Levy, Rob Waldrop, Ty Parten, George Malauulu, Warner Smith, Charlie Camp, Jimmy and Scooter Sprotte, Brandon Sanders, Pulu Poumele and Joe Smigiel.
Former UA coach Dick Tomey is expected to attend.
“Everybody on the defense knows how important he was to us,” said Camp, who played linebacker at Arizona. “He didn’t say much, but he made things go. He was just a good friend.”
Camp said Osborne had been fishing buddies.
“I’m going to miss him,” Camp said. “Just a great guy. An unbelievable person.”
Bray will be speaking at the service.
He said he will be talking about how his former father-in-law, Larry Smith, told him that Osborne was “one of the best high school football players he had ever recruited.” While the head coach at USC, Smith recruited Osborne out of Canyon High School in Canyon Country High School, only to lose him to his former school, Arizona.
“Arizona doesn’t steal a lot of guys from USC, but he knew that Chuck was one of those,” Bray said.
Osborne, whose 21 sacks rank 10th on Arizona’s career list, contributed to a special era of Arizona football — an era that created enduring friendships. While that is often the byproduct of team sports, Tomey said this group of players is exceptional.
“There has never been a group as connected to each other,” Tomey said.
“There has never been a defense like that. That’s what the stats say. But it was more than the way they worked or the way they played or the way they practiced. It was the way they cared for each other.”
Bray credited the coaches for that.
“That comes from the culture created by the coaching staff,” he said. “We were able to do things on the field that were far and above what we were supposed to. And the reason for that was the camaraderie and the brotherhood the coaches created within it.”
Osborne is survived by his parents Dennis and Kathleen Bajgrowicz and his younger sister Denise Bajgrowicz. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Canyon High Football Booster Club or the Canyon Country Boys and Girls Club.