Territorial Cup Controversy #1 – Sun Devil Stadium Vandalism (1958)
With all of the hype and implications of last night’s rivalry, ASU and UofA fans could be debating at this moment questionable game-changing calls by the officials, confusing discrepancies on the field or even worse, drama and wranglings off the field. But this years installment of the Duel in the Desert avoided all debate. Instead, two teams that hate each other played a football game in which one absolutely, unequivocally dominated the other. And for the second straight year, Arizona State won the oldest trophy in college football. “No 200” was forever burned into ASU-UA history
“No 200” was forever burned into ASU-UA history
So, the most controversial moment in Territorial Cup History and one that fathered the current level of hate between both schools stands undisputed. Surprisingly, that moment didn’t happen during a game – though it did occur on the field.
Proposition 200, a 1958 Arizona referendum with widespread support in the Phoenix area, would officially change the name of then-Arizona State College to Arizona State University. But many in Tucson wanted UA to remain the state’s only university.
Just weeks before Election Day, several Wildcat students or alumni (who were never apprehended) broke into the brand-new Sun Devil Stadium and burned “No 200” in the middle of the field, just days before the first-ever football game was to be played there.
Despite the vandalism, Prop 200 passed by a 2-to-1 margin – and in Frank Kush’s first year as ASU head coach, the Devils toppled the Cats 47-0 in Tucson.
In the next day’s Arizona Republic, an ASU fan was quoted as saying, “We won this one like we won 200.” But “No 200” was forever burned into ASU-UA history, and it made the rivalry more personal than ever.
“Most of us at this stage had been playing 7-8 years of football and played in some pretty intense championship games – but that kind of thing, we’d never experienced that. It was, in my judgment, kind of a juvenile thing to do.”
-ASU fullback and linebacker Ron Erhardt (1955-58)
Shane Dale is the author “Territorial: The History of the Duel in the Desert.“
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