Desert Swarm: two words still synonymous with the identity of Arizona football, the benchmark for Wildcat greatness, and of course, the inspiration for this blog's moniker.
The gridiron Wildcats have always struggled to gain much national notoriety, the result of disappointment and a dubious Rose Bowl drought. But Dick Tomey and Larry Mac Duff crafted defenses so intimidating, it commanded attention. Desert Swarm is still the most recognizable entity of UA football history -- so much so, this blogger would not be surprised if those defenses are more remembered in Tucson than the military action after which it was named.
Tedy Bruschi was a centerpiece of those defenses. Bruschi became nationally famous for toughness that transcends the garden variety kind present in an NFL player. He overcame a stroke to continue his illustrious pro career, and is going strong as an athlete today. Just last month, he ran the Boston Marathon.
Bruschi mentored former Boston College star and current New York Giant Mark Herzlich, a cancer survivor.
Of course, none of that is what is supposed to be factored into a College Hall of Fame vote. But it does detail the kind of player Bruschi was at UA.
The credentials for HOF membership are all present.
Record setting statistics? Check; Bruschi tied the NCAA career sack record with 52.
Impact on the team? Check; UA was the nation's best scoring defense in 1993, the Wildcats' legendary 11-1 season that culminated in the only shutout in Fiesta Bowl history.
All-American? Triple-check; he was a 2nd team selection in 1993, and first team in both 1994 and 1995.
With Bruschi at defensive end and Rob Waldrop at nose tackle manning the line, UA had the most feared rush in college football that aforementioned '93 campaign. Opponents mustered just over 30 yards per game against the line.
Remember Stepfan Taylor or LaMichael James scorching UA for big gains this past season? Yeah, in 1993, that would have been it for the night.
Bruschi's cohort Waldrop was inducted into the 2011 class, his first season on the ballot. Perhaps gun shy about inducting two players from the same team, voters passed on Bruschi.
Desert Swarm is Arizona football nearly two decades later. It deserves its legacy properly cemented in the Hall.