|1979 Arizona Wildcats football|
|1979 record||6–5–1 (4–3 Pac-10)|
|Home stadium||Arizona Stadium|
|1979 Pacific-10 Conference football standings|
|No. 2 USC $||6||–||0||–||1||11||–||0||–||1|
|No. 11 Washington||5||–||2||–||0||9||–||3||–||0|
|Arizona State †||3||–||4||–||0||6||–||6||–||0|
Rankings from AP Poll
The 1979 Arizona Wildcats football team represented the University of Arizona in the Pacific-10 Conference (Pac-10) during the 1979 NCAA Division I-A football season. In their third and final season under head coach Tony Mason, the Wildcats compiled a 6–5–1 record (4–3 in Pac-10, third), lost to Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl, and outscored their opponents, 244 to 243. The team played its home games on campus at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Arizona.
Arizona's statistical leaders included Jim Krohn with 1,094 passing yards, Hubert Oliver with 1,021 rushing yards, and Tim Holmes with 319 receiving yards. Linebacker Sam Giangardella led the team with 112 total tackles.
Mason was dismissed as coach in April 1980 in the wake of an alleged corruption scandal involving the program.
|September 1||Colorado State*||W 33–17|
|September 8||at Washington State||W 22–7|
|September 15||California||L 7–10|
|September 22||Texas Tech*||T 14–14|
|September 29||San Jose State*||W 38–18|
|October 13||Oregon||W 24–13|
|October 20||Stanford||L 10–30|
|November 3||at No. 3 USC||L 7–34|
|November 10||at San Diego State*||L 10–42|
|November 17||Oregon State||W 42–18|
|November 24||at Arizona State||W 27–24|
|December 25||vs. No. 10 Pittsburgh||L 10–16|
|1979 Arizona Wildcats football team roster|
Arizona began the year at home against Colorado State, who was a former conference opponent for the Wildcats in their later WAC years prior to leaving after the 1977 season. The Wildcats easily defeated the Rams to start the season with a win.
The Wildcats met Texas Tech for the ninth consecutive season. In a back and forth battle, both teams settled for a tie (overtime did not yet exist at the time). It was the first tie in the series since 1936.
Arizona traveled to San Diego to face the Aztecs. It was the second consecutive game that the Wildcats played in California (they had lost at USC the week before). San Diego State had replaced Arizona as a member of the WAC before the season.
The Wildcats were no match for the Aztecs as they gave up six touchdowns in an ugly loss.
In the rivalry game against Arizona State, the Wildcats did not have to deal with former ASU coach Frank Kush, who was dismissed earlier in the season due to an incident that involved on of his players. Kush had dominated the Wildcats since he became coach in 1958, which led to the Sun Devils gaining the upper hand in the rivalry.
In the game itself, both teams were tied in the closing seconds. Wildcat kicker Brett Weber attempted a potential game-winning field goal, but missed it as time expired which would have ended the game in a tie. However, ASU was penalized for going offsides, in which it gave Weber a second chance. Weber then successfully converted the kick to give the Wildcats their first win in Tempe since 1961. Weber's kick was known to Wildcat fans as “The Kick”. The win guaranteed the Wildcats of a winning record for the first time in the Mason era.
Main article: 1979 Fiesta Bowl
See also: 1979 Pittsburgh Panthers football team
In their first bowl game since 1968, Arizona took on Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl. Late in the game with the Wildcats trailing, they attempted a late rally but ultimately came up short. The Wildcats never led at any point during the game. They would not return to the Fiesta Bowl again until 1994.
Despite the Wildcats losing in the Fiesta Bowl, the future seemed bright for the program. However, in the spring of 1980, during the offseason, Mason was let go after it was determined that he allegedly committed recruiting fraud by misusing money for paying players. After conducting a national coaching search, the Wildcats hired Tulane’s Larry Smith to lead the team.