Its proper name is the University of Arizona, but it might just as well be called the University of Michigan at Tucson. The athletic director, the basketball coach, the tennis coach and even the president's wife have Ann Arbor backgrounds, and the influence carries over into football. Head Coach Jim Young and his top aide, Larry Smith, guided Arizona to an 8-3 record and the co-championship of the Western Athletic Conference last year. Both had served apprenticeships under Michigan's Bo Schembechler, and when Bo suffered a heart attack at the end of 1969 it was Young who took over as temporary head man for the Rose Bowl game.
What do you get when you cross a Wolverine with a Wildcat? Something fairly fierce, if 1973 was a good sample. It was Young's first season in cactus country, and he managed to take a bit of the play away from Arizona State's Frank Kush, who, as it happens, played at Michigan State. However, at season's end Rush's Sun Devils won the intrastate war 55-19. They meet again Nov. 30 at Tucson, and most experts think that this time the result will be reversed. Arizona has 17 starters returning, including the entire offensive backfield, and did an excellent job of recruiting.
Young and his assistants corralled 5% of the 100-man Scholastic Coach high school All-America team (plus some honorable mentions) from as far away as Pennsylvania and—you guessed it—Michigan. It is doubtful that any of the freshmen or JC transfers will dislodge the members of the 1-2-3 backfield. Quarterback Bruce Hill, who wears the number 1 on his uniform, was WAC rookie of the year last season, completing 104 of 216 passes for 1,529 yards and nine touchdowns. He also ran for 386 yards. He is out of Fremont High in Los Angeles, the school that produced ASU's Tony Lorick and Arizona's Rickie Harris, two backs who went on to the pros. No. 2 is Halfback Willie Hamilton, the team's second leading rusher last year. No. 3 is Fullback Jim Upchurch, a senior from Vallejo, Calif., who was the 16th best rusher in the nation last year with 1,184 yards and 10 touchdowns on 210 carries. The fourth back, Flanker Theopolis (T) Bell, has wow-ee statistics, too, but he wears 18.
Arizona's football heritage is not quite a match for Michigan's. In the 10 years before Young arrived the Wildcat records were, going backward, 4-7, 5-6, 4-6, 3-7, 8-3 (oh joy!), 3-6-1, 3-7, 3-7, 6-3-1 and 5-5. Arizona has beaten Arizona State only once in 11 seasons. The school has produced only two first-team All-Americas, Linebacker Mark Arneson in 1971 and Cornerback Jackie Wallace in '72, and neither was anywhere near a consensus choice.
Young, naturally, plans to change all that. Average attendance at Arizona Stadium, which seats 40,000, was more than 38,000 for Wildcats games last year and the alumni are clamoring for more seats. What does Young predict for this time around? "Another banner year," he says. "We've got depth, savvy, confidence. We can live up to the objective of '8-3 in '73, more in '74.' "
A Wolverine-Wildcat is an optimist at least.
19 NORTH CAROLINA ST.
In the two-year reign of that cheery rascal Lou Holtz, North Carolina State has never lost at home, never lost at night and never lost while wearing red. The Wolfpack's recent 17-6-1 record is the best in the school's history and explains why Holtz, who was named for the old-time nightclub comic, is always smiling. Never mind that he looks more like a double-knit CPA than an expert on offensive football. And do not question how a 155-pound Kent State linebacker and, later, Woody Hayes' assistant coach, ever came to advocate throwing the football. Just accept the facts for what they are. Last year the Wolfpack was unbeaten in the Atlantic Coast Conference, zapped Kansas 31-18 in the Liberty Bowl for its second straight postseason victory and spent the rest of the winter enjoying its 9-3 record and watching David Thompson conduct basketball clinics.
Because the Wolfpack had two regular quarterbacks last year, the departure of Bruce Shaw is minimized by the return of Dave Buckey. A full-time Buckey means more and better passing, with many of the tosses being aimed at twin brother Don, the team's leading receiver. "I am very high on Dave," Holtz says, "but I want to be careful about what I say because I don't want to put undue pressure on him."
The top performer in last year's Liberty Bowl was Fullback Stan Fritts, a two-time Academic All-America who already holds the school career scoring record with 214 points. Five of his touchdowns came against Wake Forest last year, one of three games in which the Wolfpack topped 50 points.