The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 68 days away. From now until then, this Web site will count down the days with facts about the Wildcats, their players, coaching staff and opponents. This is not a ranking, only a list of 100 facts and observances related to the 2013 Arizona football team and coach Rich Rodriguez.
For an incredible span of 32 years from when Arizona joined the Pac-10 in 1978, Tedy Bruschi was the only defensive end from Arizona to be chosen a first-team all-conference player.
Brooks Reed, a Tucsonan who watched Bruschi and the Desert Swarm defense play when he was in elementary school, became the second UA defensive end to achieve the honor in 2010.
Bruschi’s three consecutive All-Pac-10 selections from 1993-95 was at the height of the Desert Swarm. The defense was at its finest in 1993 when opponents rushed 368 times for only 331 yards (30.1 yards per game). The Wildcats recovered 20 fumbles. They shut out Miami in the Fiesta Bowl 29-0. The Hurricanes crossed midfield only four times.
Bruschi had 19 sacks in 1993. After standout defensive-end bookends Reed and Ricky Elmore departed Arizona in 2010, the Wildcats recorded only 10 sacks in 2011 and 16 last season.
The Desert Swarm defense included nose guard/defensive tackle Rob Waldrop, safety Tony Bouie, cornerbacks Brandon Sanders and Keshon Johnson, linebackers Sean Harris, Richard Maddox and Brant Boyer, and defensive tackles Ty Parten and Jim Hoffman.
Unsung Jimmie Hopkins was Arizona’s other defensive end during the Desert Swarm years. His teammates would tell you he was as valuable as Bruschi as an inspirational player.
That’s high praise considering Bruschi and nose guard Dana Wells (1985-88) are the most decorated defensive players in the Pac-10/12 era to attend Arizona. Bruschi, a consensus All-American in 1995, shares the NCAA record of 52 sacks with Alabama’s Derrick Thomas.
Few Wildcats have led the NCAA in career marks. Those who come to mind include Leah Braatz (1994-98) and Laura Espinoza (1992-95) atop the NCAA softball home run list with 85 before UCLA’s Stacey Nuveman had 90 from 1997-2002. Sean Elliott became the Pac-10’s career scoring leader — since passed by UCLA’s Don MacLean — but he is not among the NCAA’s top 25 career scoring leaders.
Bruschi joined Waldrop, safety Chuck Cecil and linebacker Ricky Hunley as College Football Hall of Fame inductees in last month.
Although Bruschi was the only Arizona defensive end chosen a first-team conference player from 1978 to 2009, the Wildcats had solid performers in that span such as Joe Tafoya, Copeland Bryan, Louis Holmes, Mike Szlauko, Idris Haroon, Marcus Smith and Jason Parker.
Tafoya, who played from 1997-2000, is the best of this group. He recorded a team-high 10 sacks in 1999 and six in 2000. He is fourth on the UA career sack list with 24.5 sacks. Bruschi and Elmore (25.5 sacks) are the top two with defensive tackle David Wood (1981-84) third with 25.
Elmore was a second-team all-conference selection in 2010 when Reed was chosen first team. Reed, a Sabino High School graduate, is the first Tucsonan listed on this site’s All-Time All-Pac-10/12 Defensive Team.
A four-year letterman who started 34 games for the Wildcats, Reed finished with a career-best 47 tackles in 2010, including 6.5 sacks among 10 tackles for loss, plus two pass breakups and a forced fumble. He had 114 career tackles at Arizona and 17 career sacks.
With this being Day No. 68 on the countdown to the 2013 season, the best to wear that number for the Wildcats is Bruschi.
WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports, TucsonCitizen.com and Sports Illustrated-sponsored site ZonaZealots.com.