Arizona-Oregon becoming strong rivalry
Willie Tuitama

Posted Nov 9, 2008

Mike Stoops has done very well against Oregon and much of that may have to do with side motivation.

Ask Arizona head coach Mike Stoops which team he dislikes the most and his answer might surprise you. Sure, the correct answer is probably Arizona State, but the Oregon Ducks are probably not far behind.

Much of that disdain revolves around recruiting and Stoops has made no secret of how much he dislikes Oregon coach Mike Bellotti's recruiting tactics.

In 2007, linebacker Terrance Pritchett was completely solid to the UA. He made no mentions of any other schools and simply said that he would take his only official visit to Arizona in order to confirm what he already knew.

Weeks later, Pritchett was going to Oregon and there were questions abound. At the time, Pritchett told Allen Wallace of, "I didn't ever really feel like I was 100% committed to Arizona (where he committed in June). I visited Arizona the week before I went to Oregon and I didn't really feel it. I told the Arizona coaches on Monday or Tuesday I was going to Oregon instead."

Pritchett never gave a solid reason for the switch, except to say that he liked Oregon better. Now he is suspended from the Ducks, but that seems to be an entirely different story.

Speaking of stories, the one of Will Tukuafu may be the worst. Tukuafu committed to Arizona by choosing the Wildcat hat over numerous other schools, none of which was Oregon.

Literally days later, Tukuafu was going to Oregon. He too talked to Allen Wallace and stated, "I know that there are a lot of Arizona fans mad at me. But, I have to do what feels right. I called Coach Mike Stoops from Arizona the next day (December 5) after I met with Coach Bellotti.

"I told him that I had changed my mind -- that it wasn't right to commit to a team where I wasn't going to give 100%. He was stunned and shocked. He didn't see this coming. I feel really bad, but it just didn't feel right to commit to the Wildcats. That's all it comes down to--a feeling."

Tukuafu said that he assumed his family wanted him close, which was surprising considering it was very involved in his recruitment. Once again, the UA was shocked by a switch to Oregon.

Stoops was vocal about Bellotti's recruiting at a kick off dinner, which seemed justified considering that Oregon going after Arizona's players is no secret.

These two cases are just the tip of the iceberg and the rivalry is now bigger than it has been in quite a while. You can not only thank recruiting tactics, but you can thank the fact that the UA plays Oregon well.

Whether it is last year's upset or Chris Henry dominating the Ducks two years ago, Stoops always had his troops ready to go come the Oregon game and it will be interesting to see if the same holds true for this Saturday.

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