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September 27, 2010Arizona's football team went 5-6 in 2000, 5-6 in 2001, 4-8 in 2002, 2-10 in 2003, 3-8 in 2004, 3-8 in 2005, 6-6 in 2006 and 5-7 in 2007.
During that stretch, in games that the Wildcats were lucky enough to be competitive in during the 4th quarter, they almost always found a way to lose. The freak 4th quarter losses were a good mix with the numerous blowouts that Arizona suffered in the same era.
In 2008 and 2009, the Arizona program finally found itself successful again for the first time in a decade, posting back-to-back 8-5 seasons.
Now, in 2010, Arizona has started 4-0, which matches or betters the amount of wins the Wildcats had in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. Arizona has as many or more wins now than it did in four straight seasons.
However, after having perhaps the worst program in the Pac-10 in the 2000's, winning is no longer good enough for some UA fans. After back to back 8-5 seasons, perfection is demanded.
The offense isn't good enough, the play-calling isn't creative enough, Mike Stoops is too obnoxious on the sidelines, the penalties reflect poor coaching, etc. When Arizona wins, it's because the players made plays. When Arizona loses, the coaches screwed up.
Most UA fans have a good pulse on the fact that the Wildcats are now 4-0, ranked 14th in both major polls and probably have their best team since 1998. Others seem to have a sense of entitlement that winning is no longer good enough; the Wildcats should be dominant.
The perspective that has been completely lost is the fact that, in reality, this is a team of overachievers.
Every starter on Arizona's offense and every defensive starter except Derek Earls and Paul Vassallo committed to the Wildcats before Arizona played in its first bowl game in a decade.
These aren't players who committed to an Arizona program with a history of success. The team is made up of a combination of players who believed in Arizona when, frankly, there wasn't much to believe in and players who the UA staff believed in when many others didn't.
A mixture of overlooked players and kids confident in the UA coaching staff and their own ability has transformed the Arizona program into what was a longtime embarrassment to a Rose Bowl contender.
The most important player to Arizona's turnaround, Nick Foles, walked on to UA despite the knowledge that the Wildcats' quarterback of the future was Matt Scott.
These players didn't have any real reason to believe they would be successful at Arizona when they committed, but they believed it anyway. And the UA coaches somehow found players who believed in them when the majority of the fan base didn't.
This group of players and coaches have turned around the Arizona program, finally and legitimately, after a long decade of consistent losing, but that's no longer good enough. Because Arizona fans suddenly have a right to be picky about how they win?
If Arizona wins a defensive game, the offensive coaches and players didn't do their job. It's almost as if some fans don't watch football teams other than Arizona and realize that there is no team in the world, collegiately or professionally, that blows out every single opponent, no less quality opponent.
Somehow there's this belief that Arizona has the personnel to line up and completely dominate the opposition on both sides of the ball; ignoring the fact that teams such as California have out-recruited the Wildcats for years, both on paper and head-to-head.
This isn't to say that Arizona is perfect, because it certainly isn't. This isn't to say the players or coaches are perfect, because they aren't. And this isn't to say fans can't analyze and discuss aspects of the team that need improving, because they should.
But at the same time, it's important to take a step back and realize just how far Arizona has come. Fans should look at the group of players and coaches who proved almost everyone wrong in turning UA football around and show some more gratitude that finally, Arizona has a legitimate football program once again.
They say that you can't truly appreciate joy until you experience pain.
Apparently some fans just can't appreciate joy regardless.
* Follow Josh Gershon on Twitter.