Original article (12/31/13, 1:41 a.m.) revised
There’s just no excuse for ASU’s loss in the 2013 Holiday Bowl
Great teams are not easily broken. They prove their mettle and resolve when they happen to fall. ASU’s 2013 Holiday Bowl game looked like it was lost before it was played.
From the start, ASU looked as if the scheduled 60 minutes of football was an afterthought to their season. The Sun Devil coaches and team had one clear job in San Diego: to dominate an over-matched opponent, proudly earn their 11th win of a special season and hoist their second bowl trophy in as many years back to Tempe. It would be a final celebration to close out an unforgettable year.
Instead, they lost.
Why? They were unprepared. Period.
Watching Todd Graham’s team take the field in their bowl game, something was noticeably wrong, and it was hard to watch. The Sun Devils had left their focus, purpose and passion back at the hotel, or maybe back in Sun Devil Stadium where their dreams of the Rose Bowl were dashed by Stanford in the conference title game.
In the weeks leading up to the 2013 Holiday Bowl, some fans were worried about ASU’s mental preparation for their final showing of 2013. They could appreciate the emotional toll that was the team’s championship game defeat three weeks earlier. After all, DieHard Sun Devil fans paid the toll as well. But they found solace in the fact that Todd Graham is ASU’s coach.
One of Graham’s greatest gifts is his ability to instill discipline and accountability into every one around him, including himself. Until this final game of his second year, ASU Football’s “CEO” has not wavered from the mission at hand. What’s more, after their two regular season losses, Graham’s Sun Devils showed resilience and punished their next opponents.
If character and discipline are the new cornerstones of ASU Football, there’s just no excuse for this loss. Slightly budging from those commitments is how the Devils could lose by two touchdowns to a team they were overwhelmingly expected to beat by as many as 20 points.
What makes the Holiday Bowl loss disheartening to fans is that the new Sun Devils that have evoked their passion and pride succumbed to the challenge. The worst thing is that the coaches and team let themselves down. They deserved to earn their 11th victory to close out an incredible year in Sun Devil history.
Fans can either resign to this let-down and do their best to forget it, or they can appreciate it as a reminder of the old Sun Devils. The Holiday Bowl performance just won’t cut it if Arizona State’s Football program is to become “great.”