As a nod to the “Desert Swarm” defense of the 1990s, Arizona announced it will wear throwback uniforms for its homecoming game against Oregon State on Nov. 2.
The Wildcats put together one of the nation’s fiercest defenses under the guidance of legendary head coach Dick Tomey, holding opponents to 47.6 rushing yards per game in 1992 and 1993. And when announcer Russ Francis likened their swarming style of play to the Persian Gulf War, the term “Desert Swarm” was born.
“It’s become kind of a standard at the University of Arizona as to how to play defense,” all-conference safety Tony Bouie said. “When we first started being called the Desert Swarm, it was just a topic. It was just there. But it grew into an identity, and we accept it. It’s easier to play for an identity.”
Arizona reached double-digit wins for the first time in program history in 1993, knocking off No. 10 Miami (FL) in the Fiesta Bowl to finish 10-2. The Wildcats then topped that in 1998, finishing 12-1 with a victory over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.
Tomey, who passed away in May after being diagnosed with lung cancer, spent 14 seasons at Arizona. During his tenure (1987-2000), the Wildcats won a school-record 95 games and had five first-round NFL Draft picks, 20 All-Americans and 43 All-Pac 10 selections.
During this period of success, Arizona wore navy blue jerseys at home that featured red and white stripes on the sleeves and a simple block number font. The helmet was white with with the Block “A” on both sides and an asymmetrical red and navy blue stripe down the center. The pants were also white with the same striping pattern down the side.
The Wildcats donned a modern version of this uniform from 2010-12, though it featured a custom number font, no stripes on the sleeves and gradient stripes on the helmet and pants.
Arizona is expected to officially unveil the throwback uniform in the week leading up to the game, so stay tuned for more photos.
Photo via @AZATHLETICS on Twitter