3-Day Territorial Cup Countdown: Controversy #3
The champion of the WAC (the conference to which both ASU and UA belonged in 1968) was yet to be determined, but Wildcat Coach Darrell Mudra wanted his team to be treated like a champion even before the 1968 Duel in the Desert.
The Sun Bowl was set to extend an invitation to the WAC champion that year, which was a big deal, as bowl games were much sparser in 1968. But before UA’s game vs. the Sun Devils, Mudra went to the Sun Bowl committee and gave it an ultimatum: Invite the Cats to the bowl before they played ASU, or they wouldn’t go at all – even though ASU still had a chance to surpass the Wildcats for the conference lead.
The committee caved, and the furious Sun Devils took out their frustrations on the field a few days later, blowing out Arizona 30-7 in Tucson.
And as fate would have it, due to a tiebreaker, neither ASU nor UA won the WAC that year – Wyoming did. But thanks to Mudra’s ultimatum, the Wildcats went on to the Sun Bowl – where they were trounced by Auburn, 34-10.
“What a bunch of garbage that was. That was definitely in the forefront (of our minds). We knew what had happened and we knew we were a better team than them, and we thought it was B.S. that they would force the Sun Bowl committee to make that decision before the game, especially because we had better stats and everything than them.”
-ASU quarterback Ed Roseborough (1967-68)
Shane Dale is the author “Territorial: The History of the Duel in the Desert.“
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