A Tale of Two Cities

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…" Dickens' description of the living conditions in late Eighteenth Century England and France can be applied today when describing the state of two Pac-10 foes who stand at opposite ends of the football spectrum.

USC is the cream of the crop. Arizona is creamed corn. USC is Dickens' England while Arizona plays the role of the French. And while it pains me to associate our school with anything that is French, modern day or yesteryear, if we lose another game like the one we lost last Saturday, I will gladly be the first in line to place my head inside the Guillotine. >P> Since 2001, Arizona's record is a paltry 19-43.

USC is 58-10. USC has won 49 of their last 51.

USC has won two national championships, lost another to Texas in the final minute of what could be the game of the century, and got denied a possible fourth when the BCS chose Oklahoma over them to play LSU in the title game. Led by Carson Palmer that year, the Trojans instead played Iowa in the Orange Bowl and pasted them.

USC has won 19 straight conference games at home and 28 straight at home, overall. Arizona is 0-2 at home this year against Pac-10 opponents. Arizona has only won 2 Pac-10 home games in the Stoops era.

USC has been held to less than 20 points only five times since 2001. The Trojans are 1-4 in those contests. Arizona's record when being held to less than 20 points is a woeful 2-29. For the mathematically challenged, that's 31 games in five seasons where we have failed to score more than three touchdowns, seven field goals, 11 safeties, or any combination of the three.

I don't get it. I live in Los Angeles. It wasn't too long ago where I sat with my parents in the Coliseum with 55,000 other fans, watching USC struggle against average teams. Coaches were being fired or "resigning" left and right. Boosters doubted Mike Garrett and were threatening to pull their donations.

Then USC hires Pete Carroll and the floodgates were sealed shut. They quickly, and I stress quickly, returned to the top of the hill and today are a juggernaut of a program. Now, 92,000 fans pack the place for every home game and ironically, just about everyone you ask was a graduate of Southern Cal.

Arizona, now three years removed from John Mackovic, is still struggling.

Improvements have been made. Arizona's defense is solid. It's far from great, but the unit is strong, has played well, and their efforts should have warranted more wins for our program. Sans the LSU game, Arizona has surrendered only 13 points to BYU, 20 to USC and 21 to Washington. Fans will criticize Arizona's defense for Washington's 10 minute, 21 point explosion last Saturday, but don't forget that that means the defense held the Huskies scoreless for the other 50 minutes.

If I hadn't known the final score and someone told me that Willie Tuitama threw for 309 yards and a score, and Arizona only gave up 21 points, I would've guessed that the Wildcats had won 35-21. Unfortunately, Arizona had 60 plus yards in penalties, gave up six sacks, and had more dropped passes then I did trying to find a homecoming date my freshman year in high school.

For USC, the good times are rolling and their momentum keeps building. This year, the Trojans have played well enough to win but you get the feeling that now that they've had a few games under their belts, they're just about to explode.

For Arizona, the implosion is near unless we make some changes. Albert Einstein once defined insanity as the process of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Right now, Arizona is an insane asylum.

Coach Mike Stoops is absolutely the right answer for Arizona, both now and long term. It is obvious that no one is more committed to winning than he is. Stoops must make changes, though, if Arizona is to continue to move forward. Whether that means changes to the coaching staff, changes to the starting lineup, or changes in the way we practice, something must be done.

The program has come a long way from the seventh circle of hell that Mackovic's black magic had cast Arizona into. However, it is now time to return to the days of measuring the program by wins and not just the intangibles like recruiting and attitude.

Stoops and his staff have done a fine job in resuscitating a once dead football program, but Arizona is clearly not off the operating table yet.

A win in the Rose Bowl against UCLA will go a long way in getting the Wildcats healthier. Let's hope that Dr. Stoops has the right remedy.

Bear Down!

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