Intercollegiate football on the campus of Arizona's first university had its beginning a century ago when, guided by volunteer coach Stuart Forbes, the nickname-less UA eleven played a modest three-game schedule, winning one, losing one, and tying one. Enduring UA tradition was born early, though. After that inaugural season, football student manager Quintus Anderson was ordered to purchase new uniforms for the team and, finding a good deal on some red and blue jerseys, he bought them. The fact that the official school colors at the time were sage green and silver mattered little, because the UA student body liked the new jerseys so much that almost immediately they voted red and blue to be the University's new school colors.
After its initial season, the UA football team toiled away in desert obscurity for the next 13 years, under nine different coaches, compiling a record of 39-9-3. The year 1914, however, brought a watershed season for UA football. James Fred McKale was hired away from Tucson High School ("If we can't beat him, hire him!") to be UA's first athletics director and coach of everything. In his first season as head football coach, McKale's underdog team performed so well against west-coast power Occidental College that Los Angeles Times reporter Bill Henry was moved to write, ".....the Arizona men showed the fight of Wildcats." The ecstatic UA student body immediately adopted "Wildcats" as the school nickname. At the end of the season Pomona College, which had beaten Occidental for the West Coast title, came to Tucson to play the newly-named Wildcats for the Southwestern Football Championship as well. Led by five-sport student-athlete Asa Porter, Arizona won 7-6. It was the University's first athletic title. A year later, in an unsurpassed display of school spirit and zeal for athletics, the UA student body completed a huge, whitewashed stone "A" on Sentinel Peak west of town. Football had arrived on the UA campus.
There have been other countless memorable people, events, and moments during the first century of UA football. Here are just a few of them.
Drop-kicker/receiver Harold "Nosey" McClellan leads the nation in scoring with
124 points. Wildcats finish the regular season 7-1, are invited to UA's first bowl
game, the East-West Christmas Classic in San Diego, to play powerhouse Centre
College of Kentucky.
October 18, 1926
UA quarterback and student body president John "Button" Salmon dies from injuries sustained in a car wreck. His final words, spoken to coach APop@ McKale,
are: "Tell them.....tell the team to Bear Down." Soon thereafter, the UA student body adopts ABear Down@ as the school's athletic motto.
Arizona Stadium opens. In the official stadium dedication game, Arizona beats
Cal Tech 35-0.
Bill "The Eel" Hargis becomes the first Wildcat to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
Coach Gerald "Tex" Oliver's "Blue Brigade" plays an expanded, more nationwide
schedule, compiles a record of 31-11-4, and produces UA's first All-Americans:
halfback Ted Bland (1935), fullback Walt Nielson (1937), and center Tom Green-
field (1938). The team's 1938 record of 8-2 was a school best to date.
UA leads the nation in passing offense, and end Hank "Birdlegs" Stanton leads the
nation in pass receiving and is named All-America.
Quarterback Fred W. Enke leads the nation in total offense.
In its first televised game, broadcast statewide, UA beats Arizona State 35-0.
In his first game as starting halfback, sophomore Art Luppino rushes for 228 yards on only six carries and scores 32 points. He goes on to lead the nation in rushing, scoring, all-purpose running, and kickoff returns.
Art Luppino becomes the first player in NCAA history to lead the nation in rushing
twice. He also ties for the national title in all-purpose running and is third in scoring.
Dave "The Roadrunner" Hibbert leads the nation in pass receiving.
Coached by Jim LaRue and led by quarterback Eddie Wilson and "Touchdown
Twins" Bobby Lee "The General" Thompson and "Jackrabbit" Joe Hernandez,
Arizona compiles a record of 8-1-1, UA's best to date, and breaks into the
National Top 20 for the first time.
Coach Jim Young's Wildcats compile back-to-back 9-2 seasons, UA's first nine-win campaigns. Receiver Theopolis "T" Bell is named All-America and fullback
Jim Upchurch becomes the second Wildcat to rush for 1,000 yards for two consecutive seasons.
Arizona enters the Pacific-10 Conference.
Tom Tunnicliffe shatters UA career records for passing and total offense.
Linebacker Ricky Hunley becomes UA's first consensus All-American, an honor he receives two consecutive years.
Place-kicker Max Zendejas breaks Art Luppino's career scoring record.
Coached by Larry Smith and led by 1,000yd. rusher David Adams, Arizona finishes 9-3, defeating North Carolina in the Aloha Bowl.
Defensive back Chuck Cecil receives consensus All-America, Academic All-
America, and NCAA Top Six honors.
All-American Darryll Lewis wins the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's best defensive back.
Ontiwaun Carter breaks Art Luppino's career rushing record.
Arizona's "Desert Swarm"defense is born. UA leads the nation in scoring defense and nose guard Rob Waldrop is a consensus All-American.
"Desert Swarm" leads the nation in rushing defense and achieves its first 10-victory season, defeating Miami 29-0 in the Fiesta Bowl. Rob Waldrop is named UPI Lineman of the Year, FWAA Outstanding Defensive Player, Outland Trophy winner, and unanimous All-American.
Steve McLaughlin wins the Lou Groza Award as the nation's best place-kicker.
Defensive lineman Tedy Bruschi is named Unanimous All-America.
Center Wayne Wyatt earns National Football Foundation/Hall of Fame Scholar-
Athlete honors and is UA's 13th football Academic All-American
Former linebacker Ricky Hunley becomes UA's first College Football Hall of
Arizona wins 12 games, beats Nebraska 23-20 in the Holiday Bowl and finishes ranked number four in the country, its highest ranking ever. Consensus All-America Chris McAllister wins the Tatupu Award as the nation's best special teams player.
Former coach Jim Young becomes UA's first coach inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.