So did you do anything fun this weekend?
On Saturday the Arizona Wildcats and their fans experienced two exhilarating victories, two improbable-and-leaning-toward-impossible comebacks. It was the type of sports day that people will be talking about for a long time. You don’t want to stop talking about it.
Everyone who witnessed it, in whatever shape or form, will have his or her own perspective on the story when the “I remember exactly where I was” conversations start up again years down the road.
Maybe you were in Albuquerque. Maybe you were sitting in the McKale Center seats that have been in your family for years. Maybe you made a rare trip to McKale because a ticket-holder was at the bowl or maybe you just really wanted to be at that basketball game.
Maybe you spent Saturday watching the games on TV with people you care about. Maybe you were one of the fortunate few who attended both games.
Perhaps, at either game, you left early and now you can talk about how you “learned a valuable lesson that day.”
This is the tale of Bear Down Saturday from where I sat (and stood, and ran around like a crazy person):
Friday, December 14
3:30 p.m. – Leave Tucson to drive to Phoenix.
I wanted to go to the bowl and ensure I saw the whole thing but had to be back Saturday night and I still wanted to watch the basketball game on live TV. The only way to do it was flying out of PHX.
5:30 p.m. – Arrive at Sky Harbor Airport.
Yep, I drove two hours so I could fly one hour.
7:30 p.m. – Flight leaves for Albuquerque.
8:30 p.m. – Flight lands in Albuquerque.
9:30 p.m. – Pretend to be a real writer and hang out with actual media professionals.
11:30 p.m. – Ready to take on the night!
11:50 p.m. – Old, cold and ready for bed.
Saturday, December 15
6:00 a.m. – Bowl Day! Bowl Day! Bowl Day!
7:00 a.m. – Complimentary breakfast at the hotel.
I was disappointed not to find green chiles in the orange juice.
8:30 a.m. – Wildcat Walk at team hotel.
9:30 a.m. – Tailgate in University Stadium parking lot.
It was an old-school tailgate out of the back of a truck. The theme of personal perspective started early as everyone swapped stories about how they got to the game and where they were going to watch the basketball game.
11:00 a.m. – Game time!
11:01 a.m. – Wildcats down 21-0.
That time is only slightly exaggerated. UA fans were checking to make sure they weren’t in San Antonio again.
11:50 a.m. – Underwear Cam!
I’m fairly confident the three people that happily dropped their pants for the scoreboard camera were planted by Gildan but it was an eye-catching bit of publicity for the sock people.
12:10 p.m. – Fight?
The internet exploded as ESPN cameras caught two Arizona players punching each other about the time the Wildcats scored 21 straight to the tie the game. No word on whether or not Pat Murphy was involved.
12:45 p.m. – Nevada leads 31-28 at halftime.
This felt like a win after the horrid start.
1:49 p.m. – Nevada leads 45-28 after three quarters.
This did not feel like a win. The Cats just need another 21-0 run, he said sarcastically.
2:25 p.m. – Nevada leads 48-35 with 1:48 left.
Only need a touchdown/onside kick/touchdown, he said with feigned optimism.
2:34 p.m. – Stumbling around the bleachers screaming like a little girl.
2:36 p.m. – The kick is good!
The east side of the stadium was dead silent on that PAT attempt. No UA football fan will ever take an extra point for granted again. Why can’t the last-second deficits be five instead of six? But John Bonano kicked it high and true.
2:40 p.m. – The field is rushed.
This is why it’s time to “tear down this wall.”
3:30 p.m. – Lunch at Frontier Restaurant.
Got a beef/bean/green chile burrito covered with green chile stew. I give it two pistols up.
5:00 p.m. – Arrive at Albuquerque Sunport.
We learned our flight was delayed, eliminating the cushion we had to see the start of the Arizona/Florida basketball game.
6:52 p.m. – Leave Albuquerque.
Even the pilot was a Wildcat fan.
7:56 p.m. – Arrive in Phoenix.
The last restaurant in the D section of terminal 4 was closing so we decided to leave the airport.
8:57 p.m. – Florida leads 32-29 at halftime.
After parking shuttle and direction issues we finally got to a sports bar.
9:53 p.m. – Florida leads 64-58 with 1:10 left.
Only need a three/turnover/three, he said with slightly-more-sincere optimism.
9:58 p.m. – Florida leads 64-63 with 21.5 seconds left.
Only need this 90% free throw shooter to miss the 1-and-1, he said with no doubt whatsoever.
9:59 p.m. – Miss.
10:00 p.m. – Mark Lyons banks in runner with seven seconds left to give UA lead.
10:00:07 p.m. – Ball game!
TWICE! Sang “Bear Down” with the other Cat fans in the bar. Pinched self multiple times.
I look forward to hearing everyone else’s story, over and over again.
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