Aug. 1, 2001
LOS ANGELES - Head coach John Mackovic discounted the Arizona football team's selection as ninth in the Pac-10, as the 2001 season opened with annual league Media Day activities on Wednesday.
UA was tabbed deep in the preseason poll of Pac-10 reporters and broadcasters, trailing top pick Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA, Washington and Stanford in the upper division, and Southern California, Arizona State and California in spots six through eight. Only Washington State received fewer votes in the poll of 33 media members.
"A reaction to being picked so low?" Mackovic told the gathering, "all I can say is `been there, done that.' We intend to go about our business of improving. The players believe we are better than some others believe and will work hard to show them they're wrong."
Mackovic joked that he "had a good year last year - I didn't lose a game, made a lot of good calls and actually was considered a football expert." The first-year Wildcat coach had been an ESPN college football analyst for the previous three seasons.
Mackovic said he is excited to be back in coaching and feels Arizona's players are up to the task of turning a corner from the Wildcats' 5-6 finish in 2000.
"Our defense did very well in spring practice and looks to be a team strength. Offensively it will take perhaps an entire year to get a real flavor" of his attacking multiple-set scheme, Mackovic said.
"There is always a transition and the first year has a 12-month cycle for everyone to understand the program. But young people transition more quickly than old people," he said.
Senior strong safety Brandon Nash attended Media Day activities and told reporters the team is eager to begin drills next week. "A lot of us spent a lot of time working together this summer. We hope to open up a few eyes and turn some heads."
Freshmen are scheduled to report to campus on Thursday, Aug. 2, while veterans report on Monday, Aug. 6. Arizona opens the 2001 campaign on Thursday, Aug. 30, at San Diego State. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PDT and can be seen on ESPN2.
Pac-10 Preseason Football Media Poll
Rank Team (first-place votes)......Points
1. Oregon (20)......310
2. Oregon State (3)......270
3. UCLA (10)...... 262
7. Arizona State......128
9. ARIZONA ......81
10. Washington State......70