Chapter 70

Arizona Gets Excited

Meanwhile, people back in Arizona were getting pumped up about the game, the biggest that the Wildcats had ever had.

Corning into the Christmas Bowl, Arizona was 7-1 with the following record:

               Arizona     84    Bisbee Legion 13
               Arizona     75    Phoenix  Indians  0
               Arizona     13     Texas A&M  17
               Arizona     74    Texas El Paso  0
               Arizona     31     New Mexico State 0
               Arizona    24     New Mexico 0
               Arizona   114     New Mexico Military 0
               Arizona       7     Whittier 0 

Admittedly there had been some weak sisters on the schedule, but the key game, when analyzing the strength of the boys from Tucson, was the contest with Texas A&M.

A&M was tough. They had quite a program going on after World War I, led by Coach Dana Xenophon ( D.X. ) Bible.

( Xenophon wasn't a musical instrument, but rather an ancient Greek writer and historian.)

Arizona had taken an overnight train to College Station from Tucson on October 22, gotten off and gone right to the game, and came close to beating the Aggies. A&M was 18-2-1 since the beginning of the 1919 season and its 1921 game with Arizona. The two losses were close, 7-3 to Texas, and 6-0 to LSU. LSU was also the team that played the Aggies to a 0-0 tie.

The San Diego "Union" asked a reporter in Tucson to send a story to the paper so that its readers might see how the Centre-Arizona game was shaping up from the perspective of the Arizonians. The story was penned by "Cross Buck," obviously a pseudonym.

The article appeared on the morning of December 23, under the headline:


This town has stopped talking about irrigation projects, sunshine, poor cattle markets, and tourists who have failed to come to the West, and for the moment is deeply agitated over the prospects of its football team which meets the undefeated Centre College of Kentucky eleven on Monday in San Diego.

It is considered by everyone to be the chance of a lifetime for the University of Arizona, and if the Wildcats win- well, Nogales is only a few hours over the border, and they still sell bottled in the bond stuff there, right over the bar.

A widespread feeling may exist elsewhere that the college cowboys are in for a bad day, but this town thinks it will be a fight to the finish. With a team that has scored 422 points to but 30 for their opponents- and among those turned back was Whittier College, champions of the Southern California Conference, Arizona can't see where it should shiver in its boots over the prospect of meeting a football team that doesn't even swear. These Colonels may be a power in Kentucky, but in the West, they wouldn't even make good buck privates to listen to Tucson tell it.

And so, with that kind of talk ringing in their ears, the Wildcats left tonight on the trip that may mean a big day for the local college. Once before they invaded California and fought with such frenzy that there was nothing for the opposition to do but to call them "Wildcats," and that name has stuck ever since.

( The "opposition" was Occidental in 1914. Arizona lost to Occidental 27-0 in Tucson in 1913 and then traveled to Los Angeles in 1914 and lost 14-0, but Los Angeles "Times" columnist, Bill Henry, wrote that "the Arizona men fought like wildcats." The name caught on and was officially adopted in the fall of 1915.)

You can't scare these babies about what Centre has done among the gridiron elite since the Colonels first crashed into the football drawing room 3 years ago.

"Harvard?" echoed and old-timer who has followed the fortunes of Arizona for several years. "What do we care what they did to Harvard? They are playing us."

"McMillin? Say, what are you trying to do, scare us with a lot of names?  We have a little 140 pound quarterback with as much brains as Bo McMillin, and maybe he will show the All-American wonder how to skirt end, too. He is a fine triple- threat man. Well, you saw what he did in the Whittier game- Slonaker, I'm referring to. You may recall that 40-yard pass he made to Captain Wofford for the only touchdown of the game. Well, that was this boy at his worse. He was suffering from pinkeye that day. When he's right, nothing west of the Rockies, except perhaps Brick Muller of California, can throw a pass more accurately. "

"And we have a swell line-plunger in Hobbs. They say Armstrong, Snowday and McMillin form a wonderful secondary defense. They'll have a lot of work stopping this baby. He and a bullet are twins."

"We do not claim to have any ends as good as Red Roberts, but we have a mighty good pair of wings in Wofford and McClellan. We'll give them a fight, I'll tell you that."

This Arizona team has probably done more traveling during its regular season this year than any team in the United States. Washington and Jefferson, when it comes to Pasadena, will no doubt throw Arizona's mileage out, but in the regular season, no one has ridden the rails more.

As a matter of fact, the only defeat was to Texas A&M when the Wildcats had been on the train for 2 days, and they played the game the day they got there.

The Colonels, from their record, not only have combined piety and punch rather effectively, but they seem to be a team of remarkable defensive strength. It is this side of Charlie Moran's team that is worrying Arizona. Can the Wildcats penetrate that line? The answer to that is the answer to the chances that Arizona has for victory.

Arizona is a typical Western team. It believes the best defense is a good offense, and it plays to score all the while. It wants to get all the traffic will bear. By this method, it won the Southwestern Conference title, and then defeated the Southern California champion, Whittier, in a post-season game. But overcoming Centre by the same tactics is, as Abe used to say to Mawruss, "something else again."