As Rich Rodriguez returned to Arizona Stadium for the second half of Saturday’s Toledo game, he saw something he never saw at Michigan, West Virginia and maybe Glenville State, too.
He saw empty seats; thousands of empty seats. The Red Sea had departed.
Where the Zona Zoo had been, 10,000 strong in the first half, maybe 4,000 of the red-shirt gang remained.
“Many of ‘em got lost at halftime,” the coach later said with a smile.
But they didn’t get lost at all. They got bored. They scattered to the first available party. It was, as is tradition on a Saturday night at the UA, Hangovers III.
Unless the Wildcats are playing Oregon, ASU or a team with recognizable initials, Zona Zoo arrives early, in force, and leaves early, in haste. They will not delay their social schedule for the Toledo Rockets, even if the game is heading for overtime.
And it’s not just the college kids; on Saturday, thousands of citizen football fans were gone before the fourth quarter.
At times, UA football is the equivalent of a beat-the-rush, Dodger Stadium, seventh-inning exit, when the hearty few who stay to watch a 2-1 game can see a trail taillights all the way to the Harbor Freeway.
The culture of UA football has been that a patio seat at Dirtbags, or a soft pillow, is more compelling than the second half of a game against Toledo and Oregon State, even if it’s close. Can RichRod change that?
But it’s also on college football to do something about games that never end. The Arizona-Toledo game went on and on and on. It went on for three hours and 47 minutes.
Read more about the Wildcats in Friday's Arizona Daily Star.