Big changes are coming to ASU Athletics. We’ll find out exactly what they are on April 12, 2011 at 2pm [event details], but some in the Sun Devil Club will get a sneak preview on April 9 at 5pm at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort [update: the event was reportedly sold-out]. I’ll miss both of those events, but I’m curiously awaiting the official unvieling (you can watch the webcast of the April 12th event on http://foxsportsarizona.com“>Fox Sports Arizona).
The leading rumors are that Sparky will be de-emphasized and that the pitchfork will become a recognizable symbol for Arizona State University. Most notably, that means that you won’t find Sparky on the football helmet. Speaking of helmets, it sounds like we may have three of them: a gold one, a maroon one, and a black one. That’ll provide some gameday options with the five new uniforms we’re expecting to see: gold, maroon, black, white, and pro-combat. Nike is leading the redesign, though some have confirmed that Disney has also been involved (which may help cool the backlash when Bert Anthony’s Sparky design goes missing).
It also sounds like there will be some additional information provided about the athletic department’s fundraising efforts, namely the Sun Devil Club. Some of the conjecture around a new Sun Devil Stadium and the Olympic Village concept doesn’t appear to be part of the announcement next week.
So far, none of this has been confirmed—but there’s plenty of insider speak and conjecture, and it’s great to have some excitement around ASU football this time of year. ASU’s done a great job so far of creating a buzz while keeping things under wraps until the announcement. I think Sparky is one of the most original mascots out there, but I’m waiting to form an opinion until I see the new designs.
Here’s a good local news interview about the upcoming changes:
By the way, if you haven’t purchased or renewed season tickets for our first year in the PAC-12 conference, maybe you should go ahead and do that right now.
Fear the Fork — Go Devils! ——E
The ASU Athletic Department has been touting a major announcement on April 9. A few days ago they posted this revised video (note the James Brooks PAT block against Arizona and the new pitchfork logo). Fan message board speculation has been high, and there seems to be a growing consensus that the announcement will focus the future of Sun Devil Stadium, which needs major renovations in the coming decade.
In frustrating fashion, ASU has improved on that prediction, but not by much. ASU could finish as high as 5th in the conference depending on how it does against Arizona on Thursday. It won’t finish worse than 8th, but could also ring in its third consecutive losing season—something Sun Devil faithful haven’t borne in their lifetimes.
My preseason prediction was pretty close—we’ll end the season with either 5 or 6 victories and fall just short of a bowl game. It’s another disappointing record for a team that was supposed to be on the cusp of competing annually for conference championships by firing Dirk Koetter.
Instead, the team has seen unprecedented losing streaks and the first back-to-back losing seasons since WWII. While the team clearly has upgraded its talent—particularly its speed—in the last few years and shared a conference championship in 2008, it’s also suffered from its share of near-misses.
In 2009, the Sun Devils lost 4 games by a combined 13 points without its Lou Groza Award-winning kicker. Thus far in 2010, ASU has lost 4 games by a combined 9 points with a suddenly-mediocre Lou Groza Award-winning kicker. Adding to frustration of fans, ASU had a chance to pull off upsets of Wisconsin, Oregon and Stanford but came up just short, often on weird or unusual plays.
In spite of the reassurances from the athletic department, Dennis Erickson is on the hot seat of fans. Many believe that he’ll need at least an 8-win season in the new PAC-12 next year to retain his job. Given the youth of the team (how many teams have you heard of that only start one senior?), the close-but-not-quite losses, and the resulting turmoil a coaching change can have, I’m willing to give him another year. But he has no excuses for next year.
For only the second time in my 23 years as a season ticket holder, I will not be at Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday to watch the Arizona State Sun Devils take on the USC Trojans.
Even though USC will likely be huge favorites, it won’t be an easy game for me to miss.
Instead, I’ll be at the Rendezvous of Friends in Santa Fe, an annual gathering the organization I work at hosts for Friends groups from across the West. While I’ll be working during the game, it’ll be recording back home, I’ll get frequent score updates on my iPhone, and I’ll definitely be doning some maroon & gold.
It was one of the most baffling plays to win a game. Embattled quarterback Danny Sullivan, who was booed by the home crowd during the video introductions, connected with flu-stricken but wide open Chris McGaha for a 50-yard touchdown to take the lead with only :05 seconds left to play.
What a night of elation Danny Sullivan must have had. It’s not redemption, at least not in the eyes of the fans, but it sure must have felt good to celebrate with the stadium and hear the “Dan-Ny, Sulli-Van” chant from the student section.
- Chris McGaha is the only person I want making that catch. The ball hung up there for days, long enough for fans to imagine Chris tripping on the goalline or some other calamity before returning to reality – this is Chris McGaha. He makes the impossible catch look routine. Touchdown.
- Vontaze Burfict is a beast, but an uncontrolled beast. Mike Nixon needs to mentor him on being a leader on the field. Burfict’s penalties really hurt the team. His post-play rowdiness and antics get old quickly. And his cheap shot against Locker was, dare I say it, classless.
- The Devils allowed an inferior team to hang around, even when they clearly seemed to be dominating. This team lacks a killer instinct. Nonetheless, a win is a win.
- The referees continue to amaze. Several horrendous calls out there, including a defensive pass interference call that was beyond ridiculous.
- Dennis Erickson is the king of quotes after a game like this.
To say it was a frustrating, disappointing and ultimately futile night is a substantial understatement. The first half was one of the most tragic of recent memory, the officiating downright mind-boggling, and the quarterback play saddening.
Danny Sullivan has worked hard. He’s does all that he can. But it’s just not enough. Sullivan simply doesn’t have the accuracy necessary to make this offense go, and the defense can’t be expected to carry the team game in and game out. He doesn’t make costly mistakes, but he also doesn’t make the plays that you need him to. The quarterback position is clearly the weakest link on the team and unless we can play small out-of-conference schools like Louisiana-Monroe every week, Erickson’s going to have back-to-back losing seasons. He needs to give Brock Osweiller a shot – and at least get him some experience for the future.
Nonetheless Erickson manages to land a highly touted five star JC defensive end, Bruce Irvin. Irvin switched his commitment from Tennessee to ASU during the weekend – the only piece of good news to come out of the weekend.
After the Georgia game, I was cautiously optimistic that we might be able to exceed my 5-7 prediction for the season, but after the performance on Saturday, I’m just hoping we can attain that low bar.
Another lower tier opponent, another win.
There wasn’t much drama in this one. ASU’s Omar Bolden returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and there wasn’t any looking back. That’s probably a good thing, because it wasn’t much closer to halftime that the Devils had actually put the game out of reach.
It wasn’t as clear of a victory as Idaho State had been, but ASU did what it needed to in what could have been a dangerous trap game. Danny Sullivan looked much crisper, the running game – especially Dimitri Nance – was effective, and the defense continued to show that they can be something special.
Nonetheless, the stands were pretty empty and there’s still very little buzz about the Sun Devils this year. I’m still predicting a season ending record around .500, but given the two victories and a first-ever roadtrip to Georgia on the horizon, you’d expect a bit more from fans.
Hell, they should be showing up just to see true freshman phenom Vontaze Burfict step onto the field. He’s been stellar – better than advertised, actually, which is pretty amazing feat given the hype that surrounded his signing.
Dennis Erickson seems to be doing fine calling plays, with what’s seemed like a slow rollout of the playbook. Chris McGaha is back to making his circus catches. It’s hard to tell given the competition level thus far, but the offensive line hasn’t been overly offensive, an improvement over the previous two years.
That being said, the pass rush needs to improve. With such a heralded defense, and plenty of depth in the line, you’d expect ASU to have been setting sack records against the likes of ISU and UML. The pass protection still needs to improve. And while Sully has done a great job of managing the game – throwing the ball away and failing to turn the ball – he still has some growing to do. I’d especially like to see him connect on the deep ball with one of the talented receivers.
All in all, it’s about what you’d expect from an ASU team that’s likely to finish in the middle of the pack.