Aug. 4, 2010
The Wildcats are hitting the road next week! See the dates/locations below and click on the image for more detailed information. I will be at all the stops and I look forward to seeing you there.
THE COLORS COME THROUGH
A reader (reporter Michael Schwartz) told how he wore his UA polo shirt to an NBA event in Las Vegas, and it helped draw him into conversation with several other former Wildcats, leading to an article... It's amazing how a simple thing like wearing the Arizona marks can spread the word... Here's another, below. An Alumni Association summer tour abroad took this group to Europe, where sporting the colors took the street in Austria -- UAAA Vice President Jill Hall (from left), Joe Gervasio, Marja and Terry Mann, Gwen Cate and Terry Welsh. A little bit of red and blue can go a long way! On the same note, my family and I just got back from an Alaskan vacation and we came across several people wearing the colors. I stopped and spoke to each of them and sure enjoyed the conversations.
JENNIE FINCH HANGS THEM UP
You may have noticed that Team USA softball player Jennie Finch officially announced her retirement from the game after nearly 10 years of play including two Olympics. Finch, the Honda Softball Award winner at UA in 2001 and 2002 as national player of the year, helped take softball to another level in her years as an ambassador for the sport, a role that Coach Mike Candrea feels she can continue to fill as she dedicates more of her personal time to her family. It says a lot about Arizona Softball, too, that so much attention (ESPN, notably) was paid to Finch's retirement notice and final game in the World Cup competition in Oklahoma City. Our long line of excellent players and teams is something of which we're extremely proud.
The redesign/refurbishing of Lute and Bobbi Olson Court at the McKale Center is almost done. It needs one more coat of finish and then teams can get back on it next Monday. The new Men's Basketball locker room is in "demo mode." Drawings are 100 percent complete, the contractor is on board and the materials are in the process of being ordered. Finish date is around the end of December.
At Arizona Stadium, the new lighting system is being installed as we speak. East side lights are done and the west side will be completed next week. We'll be finished with the entire project before September 1st. Just so you know, you may drive by the stadium in the middle of the day and see that the lights are on. That will be part of the installation process and we will turn them off to save energy as soon as possible. The Pac-10 is switching to HD replay equipment this season and all of the gear at Arizona Stadium has been installed. Thankfully, the conference is paying for most of the upgrade.
The Jimenez Football Practice Field is pretty much done. A wind screen is going up along the fence line next week, if not sooner, to give the team a little more privacy. The football team is currently using it for individual drills and the entire squad will use it for the first team workout on August 24. Lastly, an architect has been selected for the North End Zone project. They're being brought under contract right now. We have a short list of General Contractors and will be interviewing them for selection on August 17.
IT'S HERE, FINALLY
Yesterday was the official reporting date for incoming football players, with veterans checking in today. I have to qualify that by saying we've had everyone on board for the last month in voluntary workouts, player drills and summer school, but there has to be an official starting point and this is it. The first practice is tomorrow and the team will work out in Tucson before heading to Fort Huachuca next week. The season is right around the corner so don't forget your season tickets! Besides our statewide Road Trip, some other key dates to remember are the Aug. 21 Fan Appreciation night in Arizona Stadium and the Phoenix Kickoff party Aug. 28 (12:30 p.m., Scottsdale Plaza Resort). Another football note -- junior cornerback Trevin Wade was named to the Jim Thorpe Award watch list this week... Meantime, fall classes start Monday, Aug. 23.
HEADS UP ON FOOTBALL TV
We've known about several football games in terms of television -- the Toledo (ESPN), Iowa (ESPN), USC (ABC), Oregon (ESPN) and ASU games (ESPN). Others will be in the mix for weekly Pac-10 selections. Our media partner, IMG, is working on plans to show several other games in the Tucson market and beyond. These "locally produced games" -- those not chosen by Pac-10 TV partners -- will help us closer to the goal of all Arizona football games available on television. We'll be working to strengthen our reach through IMG just as the Pac-10 is working to set itself up for a solid contract in the next cycle with national partners. Stay tuned.
SPEAKING OF THE PAC-10
The conference's elevated national presence was underscored by its 10-coach and four-quarterback trips to New York and ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., last week, leading up to Pac-10 Media Day in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Thursday. Commissioner Larry Scott and his team helped put together a surprisingly powerful marketing push, in no small measure defined by some of the great TV pieces you might have seen on ESPN. Our own junior QB Nick Foles had a cut of the action and did a great job along with counterparts Jake Locker, Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley. (Foles was greeted in Times Square by a fan wearing Arizona colors and holding up a welcome sign...) The league, which Scott has announced will be called the Pac-12 when Colorado and Utah begin to compete, faces some other issues -- like any divisional alignment for a championship game in football. Discussion on this matter came up in meetings I attended in Pasadena right after media day. It's a tough issue, but I am confident that we will find a resolution that is good for Arizona and our league.
Director of Athletics
University of Arizona