Jan. 16, 2009
TUCSON - Arizona's 2009 football schedule reached early definition with the switch of its USC game to early December to accommodate a split-national telecast by ABC Sports.
That game in Los Angeles was moved from Oct. 10 to Dec. 5 after approval by the Pac-10 Directors of Athletics. Arizona's game at Washington was moved from Oct. 31 to the Oct. 10 date to help the Huskies avoid 12 straight weeks of games with no off dates.
In 2009 Arizona will play five of its nine Pac-10 games on the road, making a couple of scheduling quirks -- UA doesn't play at home for four consecutive weeks spanning September-October, and then features four weeks (three games) at home. UCLA, Cal, OSU and WSU join UA in the 4-at-home, 5-away league situation.
The Cats will have two in-season open dates, Oct. 3 and Oct. 31, putting the schedule in four-, three- and five-game increments.
UA, which finished 8-5 after a championship in the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl Dec. 20, opens the year at home Sept. 5 against Central Michigan, followed by a home game against Northern Arizona. The Cats then take to the road at Iowa, Oregon State and Washington before returning to Tucson for Stanford Oct. 17.
The ASU contest, flexibly penciled for years around Thanksgiving weekend, will remain on Nov. 28 in Tempe as previously planned, two days after the holiday. This past year it was played Dec. 6 for ESPN and FS Arizona broadcasts.
The USC game was moved for an ESPN/ABC contract and will be shown nationally on Championship Saturday, Dec. 5, to a minimum of 51 percent of U.S. television homes. The game time will be either 12:30 or 1:30 p.m. Los Angeles time.
"I think the choice to showcase our USC game on ABC represents an early endorsement of where coach (Mike) Stoops has taken this program," said UA athletics director Jim Livengood. "We're not yet where we want to be, but our strong finish in 2008 surely is something we can point to as an achievement.
"The 2009 home schedule, with a good Mid American Conference team, in-state friend and foe NAU, UCLA and Oregon among others, should give our fans a good slate of contests to attend," Livengood said.
Other television selections are to follow in May and June by Pac-10 TV partners ESPN/ABC, Fox Sports Net and Versus. Additionally, some games will remain in the pool for weekly in-season selection by partners, plus UA regional partner FS Arizona may elect to show some games. More rounds of preseason TV picks will occur in May and June.
The dates are set but kickoff times are another matter. Arizona football game times are to be determined, notably if affected by later TV decisions. UA nominally schedules home games in September at 7 p.m., and at 4 p.m. thereafter. All are subject to change.
Meantime, Stoops and staff are in the final stages of the recruiting process leading to the Feb. 4 date when incoming prospects can sign National Letters of Intent to play at schools of their choice. The Wildcats expect to add more than 20 new players to the class, which includes mid-year junior college signees Marcus Benjamin (CB) and Jack Julsing (OL).
Arizona plans to begin Spring Football practice sometime in late February or early March, with the Spring Game currently scheduled for Saturday, April 4.
The Cats will return seven starters on offense and seven starters on defense from the 2008 squad. Some preseason notables include All-American tight end Rob Gronkowski, tailback Nic Grigsby, defensive linemen Brooks Reed and Earl Mitchell, safety Cam Nelson, cornerback Devin Ross, offensive linemen Colin Baxter and Mike Diaz and receivers Delashaun Dean and Terrell Turner.
The question mark above all is the quarterback position, where sophomores Matt Scott and Nick Foles should wage a heated contest in spring ball. The Cats will need to pick an all-purpose player to replace departed all-league Mike Thomas, plus determine whether place kicker Alex Zendejas is ready for prime time. On defense, replacing starting linebackers Ronnie Palmer and Adrian McCovy, and cornerback Marquis Hundley are keys. Also, with junior Eben Britton opting for the NFL draft, coaches will use spring to identify more leaders up front.T alented young players exist at all those spots.
2009 Arizona Football Schedule Date Opponent Site Tentative Time Sept. 5 Central Michigan Tucson 7 p.m. MST Sept. 12 Northern Arizona Tucson 7 p.m. MST Sept. 19 at Iowa Iowa City TBA Sept. 26 at Oregon State Corvallis TBA Oct. 3 open date Oct. 10 at Washington Seattle TBA Oct. 17 Stanford^ Tucson 4 p.m. MST Oct. 24 UCLA Tucson 4 p.m. MST Oct. 31 open date Nov. 7 Washington State% Tucson 4 p.m. MST Nov. 14 at California Berkeley TBA Nov. 21 Oregon Tucson 4 p.m. MST Nov. 28 at Arizona State Tempe TBA Dec. 5 at USC (ABC) Los Angeles 12:30 or 1:30 p.m. PST ^Family Weekend; %Homecoming Note: TIMES ARE TENTATIVE