Wednesday marks 50 days until the start of the Arizona Wildcats football season, so here at AZ Desert Swarm, we're going to have a post each day to help you countdown to the season opener against UTSA.
For the first one, we're going to take a quick look back at the previous regime, because Mike Stoops finished his Arizona career with 50 losses.
From 2004 to halfway through the 2011 season, Stoops had a record of 41-50 at Arizona, which is actually the second-lowest winning percentage of any Arizona head coach (John Mackovic went 10-18) with at least two years at the helm. Stoops was at exactly .500 (40-40) before his final 11 games, which ultimately cost him his job.
Over those final 11 games of the Stoops era, the Wildcats only came out on top against NAU to open the 2011 season. The final 10 games against FBS schools for Stoops were all losses, including what I think is the most painful loss of his tenure.
I also feel like it shouldn't be lost on people that Stoops did lead Arizona to three-straight bowl games, and the 2008 Las Vegas Bowl was the first postseason game for the school since 1998. But two of those bowl games were brutal showings.
Most people will probably argue that the 2009 Holiday Bowl shutout against Nebraska was the most embarrassing loss under Stoops, but I would definitely go with the 2010 Alamo Bowl against Oklahoma State. Having actually attended both of those games, that game against the Cowboys in San Antonio was much more difficult to go through.
Looking back at the stats of that game, it's kind of hard to imagine that Arizona lost by 26 points. The Wildcats had eight more first downs than OSU, 58 more yards, and less penalty yards. But, four turnovers.
Before all the fans had even settled into their seats in the Alamodome, the Cowboys were out to a 14-0 lead. After getting a defensive stop, Arizona muffed the punt, which led to an OSU rushing touchdown. Then after a huge kick return by the Wildcats, a turnover on downs by Nick Foles was immediately turned into a 71-yard TD pass from Brandon Weeden to Justin Blackmon, and it was basically over right there.
There was still some hope at the end of the first quarter, but a Foles interception returned 62 yards for a touchdown at the start of the second quarter was just another punch to the gut of all Arizona fans.
At least in the Holiday Bowl, there was no false hope. The Cats only picked up 109 yards on that ridiculous Nebraska defense. And yes, it was raining basically the entire time, so that game was tough to attend (not as bad as freezing cold Las Vegas the year before though). But that Alamo Bowl, after starting the year 7-1, and then getting embarrassed like that. That's the one that hurts me the most.
What's your most painful memory from the Stoops era? Am I right that it's the Alamo Bowl? Let us know!