1997 championship street banner

Yes, removing a banner would be a big deal. Photo by Wildcat Universe

Opening day!

It’s the first chance to see the Arizona Wildcats basketball team in a game that counts! The public gets its first real introduction to the returning players and newcomers who make up this year’s team!

I wonder how many of them will play.

It has been a training camp of statements. Ever since the news broke about the FBI investigation there has been a newsflash whenever someone associated with the UA basketball program issued a statement. Head coach Sean Miller said he was “devastated to learn…of the allegations.” Athletic director Dave Heeke said Miller “runs a program of high integrity and honesty.” UA president Robert Robbins says he and the university “support Coach Miller.” Miller’s statement at Pac-12 Media Day was nothing but statements referencing his previous statement.

At 6 p.m. tonight Arizona will make its biggest statement since the FBI arrests, and no one will have to say a word.

When the team appears on the McKale Center floor, the UA will be declaring before the NCAA and the world that the players jogging out of the tunnel are the ones eligible to play college basketball in 2017-’18. And, more importantly, the uninjured players who sit out are the ones who are not.

It has started happening at other schools. Auburn announced two players will be held out while the investigation continues. Alabama will be sitting its star freshman until eligibility concerns are resolved.

Coach Miller, please do the same.

I have no inside knowledge about any Wildcats who have taken money. I would love for it to be none. I really hope it’s not many. But I absolutely do not want anyone at Arizona trying to cover something up. I do not want any ineligible players to play no matter who it is.

I would rather watch Parker Jackson-Cartwright and 12 walk-ons than have the UA knowingly use players who have been paid.

Some fans and members of the media have been saying that no one would care if this season ends up being vacated as long as Arizona makes it to the Final Four. I take offense at that. I would care a lot.

I know that Lute Olson‘s 25-year NCAA tournament streak was splintered because the 1999 and 2008 appearances were vacated. I know that Arizona softball is only three championships behind UCLA because the 1995 Bruins gave out bogus soccer scholarships and brought in a midseason Australian ringer. I know that John Calipari has had a Final Four vacated at two different schools. I know that USC is the only school to have a football national championship erased.

Believe it or not, some people aren’t interested in tainted victories. And I know I’m not alone.

To be clear, I hope every player on the team is eligible. I hope Book Richardson (allegedly) acted alone and (allegedly) only started taking bribes this year and (allegedly) only paid recruits who are no longer coming to Arizona.

But if all of the above is not true, please do the right thing starting at 6 p.m. tonight.

I am going to passionately support every player in a Wildcat uniform this season. All I ask is that the players we are given to passionately support are all eligible.

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