Not long after Arizona's loss to its bitter rivals as late Friday turned into early Saturday, head Rich Rodriguez was forced to hear the cheers of Arizona State fans coming through the walls of the Arizona Stadium interview room.
A group of rowdy Sun Devils supporters even found the room, and the pained look on Rodriguez's face and pause he took during his postgame comments told the story: The Wildcats' 41-34 loss was unacceptable.
When asked afterward if he could step back and "think positive" after what is still a winning season at 7-5 and a bowl game to come, Rodriguez said, "That's a good point."
"Right now, it's the disappointment of this game," he continued. "In time - a couple days, couple weeks - we'll look at it still with disappointment that we left a few games out there. Our guys competed hard, they battled hard."
Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
Arizona quarterback Matt Scott (10) was under pressure all night.
The questions then turned to his quarterback, Matt Scott, whose three interceptions and late fumble with less than 9 minutes to play - and the Wildcats leading 27-20 - were all cashed in for points. That's when the band of Sun Devils fans targeted the room and the cheers grew louder.
Asked what he told Scott afterward, Rodriguez zinged, "That he's got a lot of class."
But all the words were not going to wash away the result. As the players left the field and took a somber trot back to their own locker room, a sea of yellow clad ASU supporters serenaded them with cheers of "O-ver-ra-ted!"
That same pained look on Rodriguez was present on all of the faces of the Wildcats.
Scott, who was not made available to media afterward, was in no mood for any consoling. As a family member ran up to talk with him inside the gate that separates the field and the stands, Scott shook his head and kept on walking by.
The agony for receiver Dan Buckner may not have been matched by any other member of the team. Aware that it was his final home game, the senior was caught by ESPN cameras with tears streaming down his face just before halftime. An ankle injury forced Buckner out of the game and he was later told that his night was done.
The passing game was never the same, as Scott fired 20 incompletions on a series of poor throws, drops and miscommunication with his targets.
Running back Ka'Deem Carey, in his own physical pain leading up to and during the game, ran for a game-high 172 yards to set a new, single-season school record and increase his nation-leading total to 1,757 yards. But an injured collarbone limited him to just six carries after halftime.
If Buckner's absence was significant, then Carey's sparse availability was crushing.
With a three-headed attack marching down the field and into ASU territory, Scott's game-changing fumble came on a run and inexplicable leap into a Sun Devil's arms.
A quick turn of events resulted in a 24-point fourth-quarter rally by ASU, and the Wildcats quickly switched bowl dreams from Las Vegas to perhaps New Mexico.
We all will not officially know until Dec. 2, and it may take the entire week's wait for the Wildcats to completely digest the setback - 24-hour rule be damned.
(Editor's Note: Tracy McDannald is the GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor. To get all your news on the Arizona Wildcats, visit www.goazcats.com.)