Discover the stories surrounding the Arizona Wildcats nickname story along with the school's mascots,
colors and many great traditions that take place on gameday and beyond.
University of Arizona Traditions
Discover the School Nickname, Mascots, Colors and More
University of Arizona
Location: Tuscon, Ariz.
Conference: PAC 12
Colors: Cardinal and Navy
Fight Songs: "Fight Wildcats Fight" and "Bear Down Arizona"
Early Beginnings

Considering the schedule of teams that Arizona competed against when they first began playing football in 1899, their
highlight film could have been dubbed "Dances With Wolves." Arizona matched up against more Indians that Kevin
Costner did in his early 1990s award winning film. Early rivals included the Tucson and Phoenix Indian Schools with the
latter staying on the schedule until 1923.

Arizona settled into more traditional scheduling when the Wildcats joined the Border Conference in 1931 before shifting to
the WAC Conference in the late 1970s. Arizona found its current conference home when the PAC 10 extended an invitation
to join its ranks ..

A battle against Centre in the 1921 East-West Christmas Classic marked Arizona's first leap into postseason play.
Through the years the Wildcats followed with trips to the 1949 Salad Bowl, the 1968 Sun Bowl, the 1979 Fiesta Bowl and
the 1985 Sun Bowl. However, it wasn't until Larry Smith's 1986 squad defeated North Carolina that Arizona claimed its first
bowl victory.
Arizona Nickname: Wildcats

When your school is in search of a nickname and suddenly the football team displays great tenacity, odds are they'll
soon be associated with a predatory animal. A 'catty' effort by Arizona during their 1914 game with Occidental proved to
be a fateful moment for the school.

Covering the contest was a student correspondent for the Los Angeles Times named Bill Henry. After being impressed
with Arizona's effort, Henry wrote: "The Arizona men showed the fight of Wildcats." Once the dispatch was read in
Tucson, the student body pounced on the nickname as a replacement for the "Varsity."

Henry, who later became an acclaimed Times columnist and war correspondent was long remembered for his impact
on the university. He was honored as the "Father of the Arizona Wildcats" during homecoming festivities 50 years later
in 1964.

There is one startling oddity about the Wildcat nickname stemming from their 1914 encounter with Occidental. Arizona
lost the game 14-0
University Mascots: Wilbur and Wilma the

No game day is complete at an Arizona game without the
dynamic feline duo of Wilbur and Wilma the cat. These two
costumed characters call Arizona stadium their favorite
scratching post and describe Wildcat wins as purr-feet.

Wilbur the Wildcat is a good guy, but he does enjoy intimidating
opponents by donning a black hat. He also finds it uplifting
when he's toted around on a board by the Arizona cheerleaders.

Sporting a more sensitive look is Wilma the Wildcat. Her never
ending smile doesn't strike much fear into Arizona rivals, but her
cuddly appearance makes her a fan favorite.
No Arizona gameday experience is complete
without the combination of UA's Wilbur and Wilma
Wildcats Colors: Nifty and Thrifty Red and Blue

Prior to Arizona first playing football in 1899, the school sported sage green and silver colors. However, thanks to a
former student manager's thrifty skills, Arizona never took the field in those colors.

Quintus J. Anderson forsake the school colors when he struck a bargain with a local merchant for solid blue game
sweaters with red trim. The winds of color change continued to blow when Anderson sought and found approval for the
new colors. Cardinal red and navy blue have been worn by Arizona athletes ever since.

Perched high above the Arizona desert cactus west of Tuscon is a landmark that reflects Arizona school pride. Sentineal
Peak (elev. 2885 ft. ) is also know as "A" Mountain for its 1600foot high by 70-foot wide rock and mortar block "A" that's
visible for a great distance.

The giant symbol was constructed by Arizona students in 1915 as a tribute to the school's 7-3 upset over Pomona earlier
that season. Today's students can still see the sparkling magic of that win, when members of the freshmen class
whitewash the "A" each fall.

As with any publicly displayed school symbol, the "A" sees it's share of abuse. When a big rival game approaches,
opposing fans find it tempting to taint the letter with a different color. However, due to the diligent efforts of Arizona
supporters, the "A" always returns to white.
Arizona Bear Down

Even though Paul Bryant's Alabama football teams became famous
for "Bearing" down on their opponents in the 1960s and 70s, Arizona
teams have followed the custom for over 70 years. The phrase "Bear
Down" symbolizes the Wildcats manner of thinking and also serves
as a battle cry for the university.

The origins of the tradition trace back to a request uttered in George
Gipp fashion by former Wildcat star John Salmon in 1926. Salmon
relayed a message to his teammates from his deathbed to
coach  "Pop" Mckale by saying, "Tell them ... tell the team to bear down."

The coach passed along the inspirational words to the team after Salmon died. Despite those fateful
words being spoken by someone who's life was cut tragically short, their legacy of bearing down still
stands tall.
Arizona's Bear Down Tradition Remains Strong
Wilbur is a fan-favorite
among the Wildcat fan base
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