The most significant injustice involving Arizona and national football honors is not Ka’Deem Carey’s name left off the Doak Walker Award list this year. Carey, the nation’s leading running back with 146.4 yards a game, certainly deserved to be among the three finalists. The biggest head-scratcher: Art Luppino not making the top 10 finalist list for the Heisman Trophy in either 1954 or 1955, when he became the first running back to lead the NCAA in rushing in consecutive years. Wisconsin fullback Alan Ameche took home the Heisman in 1954 and Ohio State running back Howard Cassady won it in 1955. The fact that Luppino did not win is not the issue — the Wildcats were 7-3 in 1954 and 5-4-1 in 1955 — it is more about the “Cactus Comet” not finishing in the top 10 of all the ballots those years. If Carey does not make the top 10 this year, it will have a similar feel.
Luppino’s numbers in 1954 were especially significant. He not only led the nation in rushing with 1,359 yards on 179 carries, he also led the country with 2,193 all-purpose yards, 166 points and kickoff returns (632 yards in 20 returns). Ameche rushed for 641 yards on 146 carries, which was actually his worst production in four years with Wisconsin. Luppino scored more points in 1954 than Ameche scored in his four-year career with the Badgers (150). This is why Ameche won and Luppino did not even make the top 10 finalist list in 1954: Wisconsin, of the prestigious Big Ten, finished 7-2 and ranked No. 9 in the AP poll and Luppino played in the Border Conference. It is the equivalent of Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch getting the cold shoulder this season in the Heisman race. Lynch has more rushing yards (1,771) than Carey (1,757). … Some might argue that Luppino’s lack of notoriety despite his deserving production was the result of an East-coast media bias. Not so. The top 10 Heisman vote-getters in 1954 included Cal quarterback Paul Larson (at No. 4), UCLA offensive tackle Jack Ellena (No. 7) and Oregon quarterback George Shaw (No. 8). Arizona was an obscure program in the Border Conference. The Wildcats are now a regular on national television, in a power conference with a popular coach in Rich Rodriguez. If Carey has an identical year or better next season — and the Wildcats are an upper-division Pac-12 team — he will be in New York City this time next year as a finalist for the Heisman. …
If Carey gains 243 yards on the ground against Nevada in next week’s New Mexico Bowl, he will reach 2,000 yards. He would become only the 15th NCAA running back to accomplish that feat, joining the likes of Barry Sanders, Marcus Allen and Ladainian Tomlinson. Troy Davis of Iowa State did it twice in 1995 and 1996. Sanders holds the record with 2,628 yards for Oklahoma State in 1988 (an unbelievable average of 7.6 yards per rush). A running back has rushed for more than 200 yards against Nevada’s defense this season. Fresno State’s Robbie Rouse gained 261 yards but needed 36 carries to do so in the Bulldogs’ 52-36 win at Nevada on Nov. 10. … Former Arizona athletic director Jim Livengood made the best hire of his career, landing Sean Miller to coach the Wildcat basketball program before his contract was not renewed and he landed at UNLV. Good thing for Livengood that he lured Miller to Tucson or his legacy could be that of an athletic director who grossly failed at hiring the right coach in either football or men’s basketball. His football moves: Forcing Dick Tomey (the program’s top winning coach) to resign after 14 years at the conclusion of the 2000 season, hiring and firing John Mackovic (who is responsible for crippling the Arizona program last decade), and hiring Mike Stoops (who brought Arizona back to respectability but hit a plateau after eight years). Greg Byrne, who replaced Livengood, fired Stoops midway through last season and hired Rodriguez, who became the first coach to post a winning season in his first season since the UA joined what was then the Pac-10 in 1978. … Shortly after Livengood was hired as UNLV athletic director in 2009, he hired Montana coach Bobby Hauck instead of hiring UA offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes. Hauck, who has not won more than three games in his three seasons with the Rebels, is on the hot seat next season. Dykes was eventually hired by Louisiana Tech and he built a reputation of a credible head coach. He landed the Cal head coaching position on Wednesday. Livengood told the Las Vegas Sun that he would not hire Dykes because he did not have head coaching experience. “Sonny is going to be a great head coach,” Livengood told the Sun. “I think at this point, (prior head coaching experience) has to be (a prerequisite). I think in terms of where we are right now, I think that’s probably better served by someone who’s been in that seat, from a hiring standpoint, recruiting and so on. It’s probably not the right place right now to try to learn about the job.” …
NCAA 2,000-YARD RUSHERS
|Barry Sanders||Oklahoma State||1988||2628||7.65|
|Kevin Smith||Central Florida||2007||2567||5.70|
|Marcus Allen||Southern California||1981||2342||5.81|
|Troy Davis||Iowa State||1996||2185||5.44|
|Ladainian Tomlinson||Texas Christian||2000||2158||5.85|
|Larry Johnson||Penn State||2002||2087||7.70|
|Byron Hanspard||Texas Tech||1996||2084||6.15|
|Troy Davis||Iowa State||1995||2010||5.83|
|Potential in 2012:|
Hauck admitted to the Las Vegas Sun that UNLV must be “bowl eligible next year … I think that’s fair”. The Rebels start that quest in their season-opener against Arizona on Sept. 7 at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. Arizona Stadium will have a Nevada feel to it in 2014. UNLV will make a return trip to Tucson in the 2014 season. The Wildcats will also play Nevada that season after facing the Wolfpack next Saturday in Albuquerque. The programs start a home-and-home arrangement at Arizona Stadium in 2014. … The USA Today ran a feature today on Arizona senior forward Solomon Hill, who admitted he knew nothing about Miller when the coach was hired by Livengood in 2009. “Recruits that didn’t know much about Xavier (where Miller previously coached), you kind of get scared about that,” Hill told Eric Prisbell of USA Today. “When I heard Sean Miller, I didn’t know much about him. Figure out who he was. You get a coach, you may not get guys to buy into him because they have never really heard of him. And you get guys who leave. And you just think, what is to come of the future? Will we be a team that disappears and won’t put out any talent? Or will we put a decent team together? It was great to see Coach put together a great freshman class.” Miller attracted Hill, Derrick Williams, Lamont “MoMo” Jones, Kevin Parrom and Kyryl Natyazhko. … In the interview, Hill also admitted that Arizona lacked leadership — including from him as one of the older players — last year when the Wildcats finished 23-12 and lost to Bucknell at home in the first round of the NIT. “We were more together my sophomore year because we had the returning core,” Hill told Prisbell. “We were able to really look out for each other. You think about my junior year, new freshmen, younger guys. Our leadership was not there last year. The vocal leadership was not there. And it kind of got wild. We could not keep control of the freshmen, and they just did what they wanted to do. Coach is making sure it does not happen this year. No one wants to have a year like that again.” …
Oklahoma has had to deal with Stoops brothers bickering on the sideline, much like Mike Stoops did with Mark Stoops when they coached at Arizona. Stoops had a history of arguing vehemently with assistants during the course of a game and that was one reason why he was dismissed. During Oklahoma’s recent game at West Virginia, coach Bob Stoops and his little brother were visibly arguing with each other. Instead of Mike Stoops dishing out the heat, his older brother put him in his place. “When you are getting ripped like that, you deserve it,” Mike Stoops told The Oklahoman. “You know what I mean? It comes with the territory … I’m glad I got a butt left still.” … Minnesota forward Chase Budinger, out the next three to four months with a knee injury, will return to Tucson next week. He may actually take classes at the UA in the winter session. Having Budinger or an NBA player like him around McKale, even as an observer, will be a bonus for Miller and the program, especially if a recruit happens to visit the campus. … One of Budinger’s teammates at Arizona — forward Jamelle Horne — started his professional career in Mexico on Friday night for Soles de Mexicali. Horne had 20 points in his debut. He made all four of his three-point attempts and had three steals in his 18 minutes off the bench.
Site publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner