For a defense given a nickname taken from a combative operation, it’s only fair to dub Rob Waldrop the Gen. Schwarzkopf of Desert Swarm.
The Arizona Wildcats defense of the 1990s were otherworldly. Larry Mac Duff’s 52-base Desert Swarm held opponents to 9.8 points per game in 1992, and 13.4 in the 1993 season still remembered as one of the most successful in Arizona history.
Rob Waldrop stockpiled awards in both seasons, anchoring the Wildcats’ historically dominant defenses on the interior of the line. He was named a consensus All-American in 1992, but his senior campaign was when Waldrop truly earned his spot in the College Football Hall of Fame.
In 1993, he won the Outland Trophy; the Bronko Nagurski Award; Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year; and — shocker here — was named a consensus All-American once again. Not until Scooby Wright’s monstrous 2014 did an Arizona Wildcat dominate postseason honors like Rob Waldrop.
Given the stars UA had on that side of the ball in the two decades between Waldrop and Wright — Tedy Bruschi, Tony Bouie, Chris McAlister, Lance Briggs, Antoine Cason — that’s noteworthy. But then, so are the milestones Arizona reached with Waldrop in the middle in 1993.
That team held opponents to a season-long average of 30.1 rushing yards per game. For comparison, Alabama defenses in 2015 and 2011 — often called two of the greatest ever — yielded 75.7 and 72.2 rushing yards per game. As the man at the point of attack, Rob Waldrop played a crucial part in powering an Arizona defense that can fairly be argued is the greatest ever.
The Wildcats’ pièce de résistance came in the finale. Fittingly, Waldrop helped cap an historic season with an historic game.
Arizona’s 29-0 dismantling of Miami in the 1994 Fiesta Bowl — which featured four sacks, three interceptions and a fumble –remains the only shutout in the game’s history.
Said Dennis Erickson to the media afterward: “They just kicked the living tar out of us.”