Basically the article said folks in the far west have much better things to do than concern themselves with college football. Where football is a way of life in the south, it is merely something to do when nothing else is appealing in the west.
Being a football purist from the south, I couldn't believe this to be true. I understood the interest level might be on a bit of smaller scale than in the south, but how can anyone not be interested in football.
Well… if you can't believe it, just go to Tucson.
If there is any place in America more devoid of football enthusiasm, it's Tucson, Arizona.
After flying into Phoenix, I made the two-hour drive from the capital city down into the desert. After driving through an endless sea of cactus, tumbleweeds and road runners, Tucson was a welcomed sight. Situated between two ranges of mountains, the campus owned quite a majestic view as several jagged mountains provided the backdrop for the 78-year-old Wildcat Stadium.
The view was beautiful, the stadium had that old time flavor look to it, but one things was missing – people. As I drove around looking for campus, I never realized I was on campus.
Accustomed to 150,000 people crowding the streets of campus on a gameday Saturday, this was as drastically the opposite as one could imagine. Making two circles around Wildcat Stadium, I drove right up to the front gate where I witnessed something shocking to the eye. Students and fans were actually strolling up to the box office buying tickets for that night's game.
I wasn't sure if I was at the right place. It was 3:30 p.m. on the afternoon of a nationally televised game and the parking lots surrounding the stadium were empty, I mean completely empty - no tailgaters, no food, beverages or music. A couple of guys were playing soccer on one lawn and just south of the stadium a couple of co-eds were taking part in a beach volleyball game.
Being several hours early for the game, I went up to the press box to get a bite to eat and watch some college football on one of the several televisions. When I arrived in the press box, several members of the Arizona media and sports information department were already there watching TV. But no football, a couple of guys had one of the sets on women's tennis and the rest were consumed in a San Francisco Giants game.
It was like being in the Twilight Zone….. what was the matter with these people?
As I sat staring across Wildcat Stadium 5:00 came and went and the clock was nearing 6 p.m. and hardly a sign of life. About 6:15 some stragglers started appearing in the streets and by game time the 55,002-seat stadium was probably at half capacity..
The announced crowd of 46,110 seemed like a joke as it looked as if 15 to 20,000 seats were unoccupied.
And the Arizona football team was as miserable as the fans.
LSU jumped out to a 17-0 first quarter lead and was very much in control with a 38-0 halftime advantage. The 59-13 results was the third worst loss in the history of Wildcat Stadium.
Probably the most exciting moment of the game was when a drunken Arizona student wandered onto the field during a commercial break between the first and second quarter and stole the ball from the line of scrimmage. The loudest cheer of the day came when the intoxicated patron was drilled by a security guard and carted off to the pokey.
A program in the midst of a mutiny against the head coach, things will get much worse at Arizona before they get better. Inevitably, the powers that be will have to get rid of John Mackovic as the Wildcat's head coach. It is obvious he cannot motivate the players to play for him and ounce of confidence built by the team's 42-7 win over UTEP was shredded by Saturday's blowout loss.
After witnessing the carnage of LSU's win over the Cats, it is hard to believe that Arizona was 12-1 just five years ago (1998) and once featured one of college football's most feared defenses dubbed "The Desert Swarm."
At any rate, Tucson was a nice place to visit, but I was ready to get back to the south…. especially southern football, where the fans are rowdy, the food is spicy and stadiums are huge. That is what college football is all about.