They Fought Like Wildcats Centennial (1914-2014): Commencing countdown with slideshow of Arizona’s 1914 Hall of Fame football team


Clipping of actual L.A. Times article published Nov. 8, 1914

Clipping of actual L.A. Times article published Nov. 8, 1914

Excerpt from L.A. Times, Nov. 8, 1914, authored by Bill Henry:

“Arizona’s cactus-fed athletes, despite heroic efforts on the part of their two halfbacks, (Asa) Porter and (Franklin) Luis, went down to defeat before the Occidental Tigers yesterday afternoon, the tally with all precincts heard from being 14 to 0 in favor of the Tigers.
Confident of rolling up a big score, the Tigers took the field with grins on their faces, but before the game was 10 seconds old they knew they had a battle on their hands.
The Arizona men showed the fight of wild cats and displayed before the public gaze a couple of little shrimps in the backfield who defied all attempts of the Tigers to stop them.”

This site will conduct a countdown in a 100-day period, leading up to Arizona’s 2014 football season-opener with UNLV on Friday at Arizona Stadium. The 100 Days ‘Til Kickoff countdown will include information daily about the historic 1914 Arizona team that helped create the school’s nickname of “Wildcats” because of how they played that fateful day against Occidental.

The countdown toward Arizona’s 2014 season ends today with our look at the program’s 1914 team, the Hall of Fame group that earned the school its nickname a century ago. J.F. “Pop” McKale’s first year as an Arizona coach and administrator in 1914 was memorable, one that has lived in the history books and will do so from now on.

McKale’s ability to make Arizona football relevant in Tucson and regionally 100 years ago is what spurred me to conduct this 100-day countdown starting on May 21.

As a native Tucsonan and lifelong Arizona Wildcats follower, I’ve read about and heard the program lacks tradition, especially compared to others such as USC, Notre Dame, Alabama and so on. I agree that Arizona’s tradition — McKale, the 1914 team, John “Button” Salmon and the “Bear Down” motto, the “Bear Down” fight song, cardinal red and navy blue, etc. — may not be as publicized as others, but the Wildcats have a rich past.

My series on the 1914 team shows what kind of storied history Arizona has with its football program, which has also brought us Jim Young, Larry Smith, Dick Tomey, “The Cactus Comet” Art Luppino, Ricky Hunley, Tom Tunnicliffe, Chuck Cecil, the win at Notre Dame, upsets over No. 1 USC (1981) and Washington (1992), “The Streak”, “Desert Swarm”, Tedy Bruschi, Rob Waldrop, Chris McAlister, Trung Canidate, Nick Foles, Ka’Deem Carey … the list has a lot more names than this and is ongoing.

The following slide show takes one last look in this series of the individuals who comprised the Southwestern champion 1914 team, the only team honored by Arizona in its hall of fame that did not win a national title. These “men showed the fight of wild cats”, as penned by Los Angeles Times correspondent Bill Henry after the 1914 clash with Occidental. They brought home pride, respect and a new nickname from that fateful trip to Los Angeles in November 1914.


No. 2: Arizona wins one for the ages, until “Sands of the Desert Grow Cold”
No. 2: Arizona brings home bacon with win over rival New Mexico
No. 4: Occidental holds off last challenge of Arizona’s men who “showed the fight of wild cats”
No. 5: How long can Arizona’s opportunistic defense last against Occidental?
No. 5: Arizona remains confident despite Occidental’s repeated failed attempts to score
No. 7: Arizona’s “cactus-fed athletes” convincingly introduce themselves to Occidental
No. 8: Overconfident Occidental suits up for Arizona without head coach, who scouts elsewhere

(Note about the slide show: Arrows are to the far right or left borders (you have to place cursor over area to see the arrows). If you click on the information box, it takes you to a link for more information about the individual. If you hover over the information box, it makes it darker and easier to read.)

Caption here

The 1914 Arizona football team that earned the honor of being named the first “Wildcats” was composed of (front row, left to right): Verne La Tourette, George Seeley, Leo Cloud, Richard Meyer, Asa Porter. Second row: Franklin Luis, Lawrence Jackson, Ray Miller, J.F. “Pop” McKale (coach), Turner Smith, Harry Hobson (manager), Orville McPherson, Albert Crawford, Ernest Renaud. Back row: Albert Condron, Emzy Lynch, Charley Beach, Vinton Hammels, Bill Hendry, George Clawson, Harry Turvey.
( graphic/Photo from University of Arizona Library Special Collections) publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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