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Until Arizona football wins it must cope with being a punchline

Arizona-Wildcats-football-2021-walkon-tryouts-jokes-losing-streak-ridicule Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images

When you lose 16 straight games, getting mocked and laughed at is part of the deal.

It’s not fun and it can be incredibly frustrating but hey, if you don’t like it feel free to win a damn game.

For Arizona fans, the last two calendar years have not exactly been enjoyable. The Cats’ last victory came on October 5, 2019, meaning that by the time you read this a full two years could have passed since you’ve witnessed a win.

That’s absurd, even by Arizona standards, and has required a lot to go wrong in order to happen. Bad bounces, tough injuries, poor coaching — it’s all been there, sometimes all in the same game.

No matter how Arizona got here, the point is the program is here and it’s possible the losing streak will not end anytime soon. Will it reach 17? How about 18? Please don’t get to 20.

Until such time as the Wildcats emerge victorious once again, the jokes will continue.

But that does not mean anyone should have to suffer cheap shots, like what we saw in hours and days following an announcement that walk-on tryouts would be held on October 12.

The Twitter account belonging to the corpse of what used to be Sports Illustrated had some fun, as did CBS Sports College Football in a Facebook post. The latter failed to get Arizona’s record right while both took the angle of Arizona looking for some help, presumably for this season.

Professional troll with a platform Jon Wilner even went so far to include a comment about this “story” in a recent notebook, writing:

So desperate is the need for players that the Wildcats are holding tryouts for walk-ons.

That’s right. The program’s Twitter feed published a notice of the tryouts, with a link to registration information. (The NCAA has certain requirements for walk-ons.)

We cannot remember the last time a Pac-12 program held tryouts, especially during the season.

Then again, the Wildcats haven’t won a game in two years and are making Kansas look almost competent by comparison.


What Wilner likely knew then and certainly knows now is that it is not uncommon for teams to hold walk-on tryouts during the season. Former Cat Jared Tevis pointed out that his team did this in 2014, when Arizona was actually good and won the Pac-12 South and, just up the I-10, Arizona State held its own version of the tryout on September 6th.

That just so happened to be after a Week 1 victory over Southern Utah and before a Week 2 matchup with UNLV meaning by any definition, it would qualify as “during the season.”

Of course, when alerted to this error, Wilner doubled down and claimed the difference was ASU scheduled their tryouts back in July, which conveniently leaves out the knowledge of when Arizona scheduled their tryout (odds are it didn’t happen last week) as well as the part where he, you know, didn’t actually write that.

Wilner’s attempt to relocate the goalposts did not go unnoticed, though he was unmoved by the multiple corrections to his take because, quite frankly, he doesn’t care about being wrong.

His goal was to make fun of Arizona, and by golly that’s what he did. The actual facts and context were irrelevant because he knew Arizona fans would be upset, everyone else would get a chuckle, and the college football world would keep spinning.

The life of a punching bag is not much fun. But until the Wildcats start punching back (with wins, ideally, not their fists) the abuse will continue.

Arizona does not receive respect on a national level because, recently, the program has neither earned nor deserved it. Jedd Fisch did a good job about bringing positivity and optimism, but the 0-4 start — aided by a home loss to FCS NAU — all but erased whatever gains were made since December 2020.

We all knew winning the offseason would go only as far as Week 1, and that Arizona has not won anything since is why a storyline such as the one about the walk-on tryouts could even exist.

Yet, for as frustrating as it is, the program is a single win away from ending the big joke, and a handful of victories from getting the narrative to change. Accomplish that and continue to build, and it may very well be the Wildcats who have the last laugh.