Apr 24, 2013 - 03:40 pm - Packard Stands
By Nate McWhorter for DieHardDevil.com
When I was 7 years-old growing up in Phoenix, my family moved from Ahwatukee to Cave Creek. Now that move from the South-Valley suburb to the North-Valley suburb may seem like a ridiculous thing to be upset about now, but to a 7 year-old kid, I might as well have been moving to Cave Creek, Afghanistan. I had the same feeling today when ASU officially announced that beginning in 2015, Phoenix Municipal, not Packard Stadium would be the home of Sun Devil Baseball.
I understand the reasons why they have decided to make the move, but it doesn't mean I like it. Just like I understood that my Dad got a new job and we needed to move closer to his workplace, but I still didn't like it. Sun Devil Baseball, like my Dad all those years ago, has a new job...and it pays.
Maybe the main reason I don't like it is because of what Packard is to become…a parking lot with plans for a commercial development. If it were to become a new facility for athletics or academics that would propel the university even further up the ranks of North American and worldwide institutions, then I probably wouldn't have such a hard time with the move.
Packard is where I grew up. We've frozen together, we've fried together, we've laughed and we've cried together. Some of my highest moments of joy (Joey DiMichele home run in the regional vs New Mexico 2011) and some of my deepest moments of sorrow (2008 defeat in the Super Regional vs Fresno State) have happened at Packard. And there are too many others to mention. At Packard, I've had friendships forged, ended and mended. I've watched kids grow up there just as folks watched me grow up in the same bleachers. Packard is family. Talk to anyone who has spent a weekend in Section A and they'll tell you the same.
In the winter of 2013 I moved to Alabama, leaving behind my friends and family. Most notable among them was my Dad. The man who forced me to move to Cave Creek, who brought me to my first game at Packard (Florida State as far as I remember), who spent money we probably didn't have to buy tickets to a game we could have watched on TV at home, and who I had convinced to buy season tickets in 2012 so we could spend more time together, I had now left. He still texts me updates every inning of every game.
Packard is family.
Sentiment aside we move on. As I have discussed on DieHard Devil in the past, we must accept the university and athletics trying to keep up in the arms
race that is collegiate athletics. However, long ago, when ASU announced they would be leaving Packard in the near future, we started running the “what if” scenarios. Phoenix Muni was my favorite option.
I promise this has nothing to do with me being a life-long A's fan, BUT Phoenix Muni is similar in style to Packard. It has a great view like Packard. It is close to campus, it has a small feel and Reggie Jackson still played there. Phoenix Muni brings its own history along with it, Willie Mays hit the first ever home run in Muni, and the Dodgers first ever Spring Training game in Arizona was played in Muni, a year or two before they moved Dodgertown to Glendale.
The other benefit of Muni over other options is that it will be ours. We won't have to share it with a big league club. We'll have big league facilities which will attract even more big league recruits. We can say to top kids in the valley "Would you rather play in an old spring training park in Tucson, or right here where all your friends and family can come every weekend?”
Future Home to ASU Baseball
Phoenix Muni makes sense.
So this is the world we live in. Even though I knew months ago what the plans were, today feels like I'm losing a home. However looking back on it, I would not have met some of my closest and dearest friends had I not moved to Cave Creek.
Forever a Sun Devil,
The Guy with the Beard.
The Future Home to Sun Devil Baseball
Phoenix Municipal Stadium, prior home to the Oakland A's Spring ballpark
Mar 15, 2013 - 11:55 am - Be officially heard in THE SPARKY PROJECT Forum
By ASU Fan Dan Turbyfill for DieHardDevil.com and THE SPARKY PROJECT
The evolution of Sparky has led to pre March 1, 2013 Sparky. This has been my Sparky for many years and yes there were many iterations of him that I disliked through the years but he FINALLY arrived. Pre March 1st Sparky personified the iconic logo from 1946!
I was invited to the Sun Devil Baseball game this evening (Thursday). While I was engaged with the play on the field I was more impressed with the reaction I was seeing when Sparky came out and interacted with the Sun Devil faithful. For those of you not local, the impostor Sparky does not "debut" until the Spring Football game in April. I witnessed as people flocked to our beloved Sparky as if in an attempt to grasp that one last photo or interaction with their hero. I witnessed as an elderly man with a cane said "You are the GOOD Sparky" if that other Sparky comes around I will rearrange his face with this (as he was wagging his cane modified to look like a baseball bat). I saw as children ran to hug Sparky's leg and not let go. I saw a students welcomed Sparky to come hang with them on the lawn.
Underneath that amazing mascot suit is a dedicated student athlete. One that LOVES tradition, one that loves how Sparky is so iconic and he, as a Student has the privilege to dawn the Sparky threads at all the premier ASU Athletic events. He worked hard to get behind the Sparky mask. Taking private tumbling lessons, working out with mascots from the pro teams around the valley, ultimately trying out through a battery of physical tests and entered the fraternity of very few who can say they ARE Sparky. Then on March 1, 2013 his world changed. No longer will Sparky be viewed the same. Instead he fears being assaulted because of the outcry against this new Sparky. Gone is the iconic Sparky he so wanted to be and now, now he is going to be ridiculed and laughed at. It's ALREADY happening. He see's it on these posts. You know this new Sparky is meant to be more kid friendly... Not sure how thats going to happen when the overgrown chin inhibits his ability to LOOK DOWN to see the children. Gone will be the iconic Sparky head shake, the new head does not move, leaving the student behind the mask very stiff. Watch the video of the unveiling, notice the awkward stiffness (and NO that was not a student athlete behind that bug eyed mask). None of them had been given the opportunity.
* * *
To see other well-written feedback from fans on this issue, please visit THE SPARKY PROJECT Forum. Everyone in Sun Devil Nation matters, and a unified voice speaks loudest. Your thoughts, feedback & ideas will be heard. DieHardDevil. Are You? Prove it.
* * *
Feb 12, 2013 - 04:02 pm - CLICK HERE for Official MLB Trading Cards of former Sun Devils on DieHardDevil.com
On Saturday night, ASU held an upscale celebration at the Tempe Mission Palms hotel to honor Sun Devil Baseball players to have moved on to the Major Leagues. The event was prompted last May former Arizona State outfielder Kole Calhoun stepped up to the plate for the Los Angeles Angels. This was significant to the stature of the program because Calhoun became the 100th Sun Devil to play Major League Baseball. Just three months later on August 11, infielder Jake Elmore became the 101st Devil in the Show after making his debut for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Thirty-four Sun Devil Major Leaguers participated in the $100 a seat dinner which was hosted by the ASU Alumni Association, the Sun Devil Club and ASU Baseball. It included a roundtable of former and current players who discussed the pride & tradition of Sun Devil Baseball. Each talked about what it means to be a member of a program that has earned 5 National Championships and sustained its status amongst the Nation's best.
ASU has sent 101 former players to Major League Baseball.
In light of the milestone, here's a gallery of PRO BASEBALL CARDS for Sun Devils who are currently in the League and those that played as far back as 1960. DieHardDevil.com has partnered with Dave Smith of Cardboard Sun Devils to provide the most comprehensive collection of Baseball, Football & Basketball trading cards of former Sun Devils. Dave periodically offers followers the chance to win cards from the collection. Like Cardboard Sun Devils on Facebook.
* * *
ASU Baseball's season-opener is Friday night at 6:30pm MT when the Devils host Bethune Cookman University at Packard Stadium.
Talk about it in the Devilink Forums
ASU BASEBALL SEASON OPENER - 6:30 MT, Friday Night at Packard Stadium
Feb 04, 2013 - 02:30 pm -
Anthony Robles did it last, Curley Culp did it first.
* * *
If you are a Sun Devil fan, say 35 years or younger, you might just be familiar with the catchy name, Curley Culp. You’ve probably heard the news about the legendary Sun Devil (1965-67) being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend. But because his name is largely associated with Arizona State Football, you might not know about Curley Culp the wrestler.
In 1964, Culp was a big athlete hailing from Yuma, Arizona. At Yuma High, he excelled enough at both football and wrestling that he earned scholarship offers to play either sport. As he weighed his options, he was drawn to Arizona State because he was given the rare opportunity to play for Frank Kush’s Football program as well as the university’s Wrestling team.
At football, the 6’1”-270 lb Culp played primarily Defensive Lineman for Coach Kush, but at times he played on the Offensive line as well. In his final year as a Sun Devil football player, Curley Culp gained national attention when he was honored as an All-American defensive lineman. Later in 1975, he was inducted into Arizona State University’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Two years later, he was named to the WAC (Western Athletic Conference) 15-Year All-Star team. Then during the state's centennial celebration, Culp was named the Greatest Athlete in the History of Arizona.
What’s lesser known about Curley Culp is that the very same year he was named to College Football's best, he brought the Sun Devils their first NCAA National Championship as a heavyweight wrestler. It propelled ASU’s national stature in the sport, which still exists today. So for those of us in the Sun Devil "history" program, we want to get it right when telling the next generation of DieHard fans about this guy, Curley. We must remember that his Wrestling accomplishments for ASU are as much a part of his Sun Devil legacy as his acomplishments on the Football field.
Enjoy the video of Curley Culp's 1967 NCAA Wrestling Championship match.
After ASU, Culp became a pro football player: 1968-1974 Kansas City Chiefs, 1974-1980 Houston Oilers and 1980-1981 Detroit Lions. He played nose tackle for a remarkable 14 seasons, played in six Pro Bowls and later won a Super Bowl Championship with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1970.
Lastly, it should be noted that Curley Culp joins another Arizona native High School player turned Sun Devil who was later named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame- the great Randall McDaniel.
Talk about it in DEVILINK
Jan 01, 2013 - 07:30 am - By Jeff Alba for DieHardDevil.com
Carpe Diem Arizona State. Seize the day. On Saturday in San Francisco, the Sun Devil football team accomplished that goal and many others, and shined their brightest on a national stage in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl against Navy. Final score ASU 62 - Navy 28. The 62 points scored by the Sun Devils was a record for the Kraft bowl, and even better, a scoring record for any Pac-12 team in a bowl game throughout history. This electric performance by the Sun Devils will go a long way with fans heading into the off-season and boost momentum in ASU's final push in securing top recruits for the 2013 recruiting class.
Senior, Cameron Marshall, scores his final touchdown as an Arizona State Sun Devil.
The Sun Devil offensive attack went ballistic on Navy from their opening drive. What followed was an incredible nine touchdowns on their first nine possessions of the game. It was a beautiful display of efficiency and execution. The Sun Devils finished their assault with 648 yards of total offense, including 272 yards passing and 376 yards on the ground. After the game Coach Todd Graham said, "Our guys came to play today and dominated, so I'm really proud of them." Graham also added, "We felt confident going in that we would be able to score a lot of points." Navy head coach, Ken Niumatalolo called the ASU offense "a machine." On Saturday, quarterback Taylor Kelly and offensive coordinator Mike Norvell had that machine firing on all cylinders.
In addition to the scoring record that was set, Sun Devil tight end Chris Coyle surpassed Zach Miller's single season reception record with 57 catches on the year. Coyle had 6 receptions in 2011. What a difference a year and new offensive scheme can make. Coyle will be poised for another big year in 2013, and the tight end position at ASU has once again become a very attractive position to potential recruits.
#1 Marion Grice
In a day that had many interesting story lines, the most inspirational performance came from Sun Devil junior running back Marion Grice. Grice made his return to the team to play the game he loves in honor of his brother who was killed last week in Houston. Grice ran the ball with wings on his shoulders and finished the day with 159 yards and two touchdowns. On both scores, he kissed the ball and pointed to the sky in reference to his brother. With his performance Grice earned the Offensive Player of the Game award. Well deserved.
On the defensive side of the ball, the big question and concern was how the ASU defense was going to handle Navy's triple option. It became evident early on that it wasn't going to be a problem. The speed, talent and preparation of the Sun Devil defense was able to contain any possible threat. As expected, Will Sutton led the charge and was named Defensive Player of the Game. After the game, Sutton was asked about his future and possible jump to the NFL next year. Although his official decision will be made in mid January, Sutton added, "It's more of a brotherhood here in college than it is in the NFL."
VIDEO: Inside the Locker Room - Postgame Celebration
Todd Graham secures his first Bowl victory as the Sun Devil's Head Coach
At the conclusion of year one in the Todd Graham era, Sun Devil football finishes the season at 8-5 with three consecutive wins to end the season. In his post-game press conference Graham said, "We've got a great foundation in place and we've got to keep our core together. We've got a great group of guys coming back next year and I'm excited about the future." So are we coach, so are we.
Say something about it.
Home to DieHard Sun Devils
Dec 28, 2012 - 10:14 pm - By James Romo for DieHardDevil.com
The final installment of the 2012 Sun Devil Football season takes place on Saturday at 2:00 PM Arizona State Sun Devil time in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco, California against a disciplined and formidable Navy Midshipmen team. The Sun Devils capped off a 7-5 regular season on Thanksgiving weekend with a big win over their in-state rival, and are looking to emerge victorious on Saturday to carry the momentum of an eight-win season into the spring. The Devils showed up in the bay area earlier this week and have made some positive noise by volunteering at a homeless shelter, and have kept a relatively low-key in preparation for the Midshipmen. The Navy squad brings a very different look on offense than what the ASU defense has had to face all season. We will take a look at Navy, and break down what to look for this weekend after a 36 day reprieve from the regular season finale.
Intangibles “X” Factor
I would normally start a game preview article with the schematic break-downs of the respective offenses and defenses. For this game, I think it's important to note that intangibles will come into play just as much, if not more, than when playing a rivalry game. In a rivalry game, things like injuries, team psyche, turnovers, and big plays that swing momentum (see 11/23 in Tucson) tend to be huge variables in the outcome. But when playing a team like Navy, discipline, weather, field conditions, and just how much rust needs to be knocked off, are just as much a variable. This game will be played at AT&T Park in San Francisco in December, which is a far cry from the fair weather and short grass that ASU has the luxury of competing in the friendly confines of Sun Devil Stadium. The playing conditions for game time call for a 60% chance of rain and a high of 52 degrees on a thick turf (including some new sod added for the game) that will negate much of the speed that ASU typically employs as one of its biggest weapons. The conditions look like they call for a good old fashioned game of smash-mouth football, and may hinder some of the finesse offense that has been a Sun Devil staple in their offensive success this season. On the flip side, Navy will never beat themselves with inopportune penalties or break-downs in assignments. This game should be clean in every sense of the word other than the relative cleanliness of each team's uniform at the final whistle.
ASU Offense vs Navy Defense
ASU, maybe for the first time all season, will have a height and weight advantage across the line. The Sun Devils offensive line will absolutely HAVE to establish the run game against an over-matched Navy D-line, and may have the elements on their side. As stated above, weather and field conditions favor the ASU offensive line, running game, and short passing attack. We should see that play directly into the hard-running style of Cameron Marshall, while still allowing TE Chris Coyle and RB's DJ Foster and Marion Grice to be productive on short routes out of the backfield. Depending on game time conditions in the bay area, it may be time for the ASU receiving core to break out of a season-long slump. If the Middies are forced to go man-to-man on the outside, there still may be some big plays to be had.
Navy employs a 3-4 defense, but unlike ASU, they have more of a "bend, but don't break" philosophy versus the attack-minded ASU 3-4 that will bring blitzes from all over the field. I tend to think that game day intangibles will still allow the Devils to keep the playbook open for the short and intermediate routes to be open, especially if Navy is forced to stack the line of scrimmage with 8 defenders in an attempt to stop the running game. Much like the final conference game of the season in Tucson, ASU (successful or not) will pound the ball inside, even if it means that QB Taylor Kelly appears to be making bad reads, in order to wear down the Navy defense.
There really are no secrets or huge adjustments that ASU has to make on offense other than adapting to the weather and game conditions for that particular day. The west coast Pac-12 teams traditionally have the luxury of warm weather and immaculate fields in late December, but this weekend may be more suitable for Big-10 teams or east coast teams more accustomed to wallowing in mud. The Sun Devil offense mixed in a few wrinkles of their own in Tucson with Kelly running our own “pitchfork” version of the option. Conditions may call for at least one or two of those big plays late in the game (if ASU is able to soften up the interior of the Midshipmen defense) based on the success that we saw in November.
ASU Defense vs Navy Offense
Navy is one of the only teams in D-1 Football that still runs the flexbone triple option offense. The theory behind it is that there are height and weight restrictions when playing for one of the service academies. They don't have 320 pound guards who are blowing people off the line of scrimmage. However, that doesn't mean that they are under-manned. It means that they are playing to their strength - quickness, misdirection, and misconception. Navy’s triple option attack lines up in a modified version of the Wishbone, called the Flexbone with QB Keenan Reynolds (5-9, 170). Running backs line up close to the line instead of behind the fullback, as they would in a true wishbone attack. The quarterback either gives to the fullback on a dive play inside if the defensive end "stays home", or keeps it around the corner if the defensive end "crashes down" to defend against the inside run. This is commonly referred to as "Ride and Decide" with the QB either handing off, or faking to the fullback depending on how he reads the defense as the play develops.
ASU's Will Sutton has consistently beat his blocker and wreaked havoc in the backfield at the mesh point against similar offenses, not allowing opposing QB's the luxury of time to decide. An extremely talented and intellectual, but small, Reynolds might not want to deal with Sutton (if healthy) in his face all afternoon. If the QB keeps the ball, he then has the option to carry it himself, or pitch to his running back who is tailing him on the edge of the defense. Thus, the definition of the triple option: 1) Give to the Fullback 2) QB keep on an outside run 3) Pitch to the running back who is tailing him, is what ASU Defensive Coordinator Paul Randolph's ASU defense will have to defend.
Photo credit: Doug Haller
Sounds simple enough, right? Same formation, same play, not a ton of diversity, right? But what this means for the ASU defense is that they had better be stout in the middle to stuff the fullback, and be assignment sound on the outside to stop the QB for a keeper and/or take away the running back's availability to receive the pitch or they're in for chasing people down the field. Personnel-wise, I predict that ASU may spend more time in a 4-3 defensive front, even if one of the front 4 is in a standing (rush position), but 4 on the line, nonetheless. This gives them the width that they need to defend the pitch, while still having bodies in the middle to stop the run. This also means that the DT (Jackson Hood) and DE (Will Sutton) function as true DT's to stuff the dive to the fullback. If the QB keeps the ball, the LB on that side (Brandon Magee or Chris Young) and DE (Junior Onyeali/Davon Coleman or Carl Bradford) get to the outside of the offensive tackle and either make a play on the QB, force him back inside to the waiting safeties (Alden Darby or Keelan Johnson) in second level support, or force a pitch to the running back.
If the Navy QB pitches the ball to his running back, the outside LB (Magee or Young) contain the RB (pitch-man), making sure that they are never beaten to the outside. As soon as they see the pitch, they attack the RB. The cornerbacks (Deveron Carr or Osahon Irabor) serve as additional outside containment. ASU has typically run a "field side" (wide side) or "boundary side" (short side) personnel assignment scheme depending on which hash mark the ball is placed to further their relative strengths against the pass. Depending on Navy's propensity to pass the ball, it is uncertain if they will keep to that philosophy. My assumption is that they will in order to maintain consistency, and to continue their 11th ranked national pass efficiency defense in the event that Navy attempts to employ a more prominent passing game. The weather forecast tells me that Navy will continue to ride the strength of their 276 yard average rushing/game attack and exploit the weather conditions by the bay.
Statistics were intentionally left out of this pregame review. Playing in different conferences, with differing schemes, and in a bowl game setting, statistics are the absolute last thing that will determine the outcome of this game. There are no common opponents and at least a month between regular season showdowns with our respective rivals. When you play a team from one of our United States service academies, heart, soul, determination, and pride will always tell more of the story than any set of numbers. Enjoy this one DieHardDevils. Grice is back, ASU is breaking out a new uniform combo and this could be the last game for Will Sutton as a Sun Devil. After the bowl game ends tomorrow, it's going to feel like a lifetime until we reconvene for another one.
Join the conversation in Devilink...the Social Network for DieHardDevil.com.
Oct 05, 2012 - 08:12 pm - Andrew Walter was one of the greatest Sun Devil quarterbacks in ASU history. During his time at ASU from 2001-2004, he finished his Sun Devil career as the all-time career leader in passing yards, completions, attempts, touchdowns, interception percentage and total offense. Walter also surpassed NFL legend John Elway as the Pac-10's all time touchdown leader. After ASU, he spent five seasons in the NFL playing for the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots.
DHD: How did you end up at ASU? You played high school football in Colorado but you are originally from Phoenix right?
AW: I was born here, spent 10 years here, then my family moved up to Colorado. Coming back home to ASU was the way I looked at it. Both my parents are graduates of Arizona State and so it was in my blood from the beginning.
DHD: What are some of the things that are special about Arizona State University?
AW: There are so many to list. The entire community, the City of Tempe, the feeling that you get when you walk around campus. I grew up here and always associated it with home. Also, the tradition. When I was in high school, ASU wasn’t too far removed from the 1996 Rose Bowl team, watching Jake and that whole crew, then being recruited by that coaching staff. When I played in the NFL, I came across guys all the time who after spending some time in Phoenix training, they would always say, “If I would have just taken a trip to Arizona State, I would have committed there in a second.” These are talented guys from all over the country.
DHD: What is your favorite memory of your Sun Devil career?
AW: Probably the week leading into the game against San Diego State. I had just gotten the nod to be the starter and on the very first practice on a Tuesday, there was a lightning storm on the field and all the lights went out. We moved over to the stadium, weird circumstances, still crazy weather, and then I hurt my knee. It was like, after I finally get my opportunity I get hurt. It was almost like I saw the train leave the station and I’m standing there and watching it. Even though I didn’t start that game, we were down 22 points and I was able to come in and win the game for the largest comeback in ASU history. That was one of my favorite memories. Some of the others include Camp Tontozona and some crazy initiation things that went down my freshman year.
DHD: Your first play from scrimmage in that San Diego State game was a 72 yard touchdown pass to Shawn McDonald. Tell me about what happened when you first came in the huddle down 22-0.
AW: Shawn, in terms of every receiver I ever played with (even in the pros), we had sort of an unspoken connection where I’d give him a look and he just knew. You have that in doses with other receivers, but with him it was by far and away the most. There’s always a bit of a lift when the back-up quarterback comes into the huddle of any team, so guys are hoping it is going to be a spark that gets us going. So, the coach calls the play to go deep, and I’m thinking that my knee is not feeling great, but I knew I had a strong arm and Shawn’s a fast guy. So I’m calling the play in the huddle, and I give him a look, because that’s just what we did. We did that constantly that season, and even if he wasn’t the primary receiver, if I thought we had a chance to connect, I’d give him that look in the huddle and he’d go get open. He’s a heck of a player.
DHD: How do the fans affect you and the team and what kind of difference do they make?
AW: The fans make a HUGE difference. If things aren’t going great and we are struggling, and the fans are positive, as a player it means a lot. In truth, when you are at home in front of your fans, it matters a lot. When you hear the student section get up for a big defensive stand when we really need it, it just energizes everybody.
DHD: If you personally had one message to the ASU fans, what would it be?
AW: For me personally, it would be THANK YOU. I don’t feel at home anywhere else other than at a Sun Devil football game and I have some great memories. Going forward, we are in an incredible growth stage and you have a place in Tempe where the university is moving and shaking, now you have a football coach in Todd Graham who is out and amongst the fans and in the community speaking 2-3 times a day building the camaraderie and fellowship among Sun Devil fans. That is unique and I have never seen that to this degree in my experience with Sun Devil football. Embrace it and enjoy it, because there are a lot of really cool things happening.
DHD: If the fans were allowed inside the huddle during a game, what is something they would find interesting or would like to know about?
AW: For me, I always tried to be a calming influence in the huddle because the offense is sort of “controlled rage.” It’s an aggressive game, but on offense you have to play very much in control. When I was in the huddle, there was very little yelling and screaming. I tried to impress on the guys that calming influence.
DHD: Who was your favorite quarterback growing up?
AW: Joe Montana. One of his great traits was to be calm, tell jokes in the huddle and get guys to relax and go play.
DHD: Was that why you wore #16 as a Sun Devil?
AW: Initially it was inspired by Montana, but when I was a freshman in high school in 1996 I really started to pay more attention to what was happening at ASU and Jake was wearing #16. So it was a cool thing for me that both of my favorite quarterbacks were wearing that number. So initially Joe, but eventually there was a lot of Jake inspired reason to wear it.
DHD: Tell me the first word that comes to your mind after you hear the following names...
DHD: Jake Plummer
DHD: Frank Kush
DHD: Arizona State University
DHD: Dirk Koetter
DHD: Pat Tillman
DHD: Did you have a favorite Sun Devil football tradition?
AW: The tradition that I loved was a song we would sing at the very end of Camp Tontozona. If you’re up at camp for 14 days, when the very last meeting on the last day ends, then everybody in the cafeteria is thrilled because you are going back down the hill to civilization. You’re out of training camp, so we would sing a song and count down the 14 days in Tontozona, 13, 12, 11 and so forth, and then at the very end when you say “no more days,” and sing that verse, everybody is going nuts standing on tables, cheering, yelling and throwing stuff in the air. All the players loved that experience.
DHD: Looking back seven years later, do you cherish your records, honors and awards at ASU more now?
AW: When I think back, I see the records and I know they’re there and I appreciate it, but I also feel unsatisfied that we didn’t get to a Rose Bowl and that was my only goal. So the records are what they are, and maybe that adds to the nostalgic and bittersweet feeling of going to a game now because I can’t impact the aspect of going to a Rose Bowl. Since we didn’t accomplish that goal, it is less about records and more about wanting to elevate the program back to that status.
DHD: Andrew Walter, why are you a DieHardDevil?
AW: It’s in my BLOOD. My blood, sweat, tears, ligaments and bones are all down there on that field along with hundreds of other Sun Devil players. We know what it’s like to be in 110 degrees working out in full pads during the summer and building camaraderie. Fighting tooth and nail with the guy next to you who could be from some other part of the country and it doesn’t matter, because at that point, you’re all Sun Devils wearing the maroon and gold. So for me, it’s the LEGACY, the TRADITION, and the fact that it feels like HOME.
Andrew Walter's SUN DEVIL Career Statistics
Andrew Walter- Lesser Known Facts
Sep 23, 2011 - 01:21 am - By Juan Roque for DieHardDevil.com
How did we do it? What was the secret? How did it feel? These are but a few of the questions that media, family, friends and fans ask us players when discussing one of the biggest upsets in college football history; ASU beating 26-game undefeated, defending two-time National Champion Nebraska 19-0 on September 21, 1996 in Sun Devil Stadium. Without question this game sent shockwaves throughout college football, and in it’s own way, the sports world. Nebraska was far and away the most dominant college football team in the nation in years. No one could logically give the SUN DEVILS a fighting chance in this match-up. Even legendary Sun Devil quarterback, Danny White during the pre-game television broadcast, accepted this as “reality”.
In looking back at that game, we had the Cornhuskers in our sights for several months. Head Coach Bruce Snyder and his staff began formulating the game plan against the Huskers during Spring Football earlier in the year. Not many know this, and it went against everything that Bruce Snyder taught in his “One at a Time” mentality, but he had long planned 1996’s Nebraska Game as a retribution for the 77-28 beating where Nebraska ran up the score on us in Lincoln the year prior. He and his staff looked at every possible variable to explain that tough loss. Their initial study served as a foundation and eventual strategy to walk away with the Win in the 1996 game in Tempe. Film was studied again & again by Arizona State’s Offensive and Defensive staffs. Snyder & Co. consulted with other coaches who had had some success in contending with the mighty Nebraska Option Attack. Another note: every spring practice as well as every practice at Camp Tontozona in the summer included a defensive “Nebraska” drill focussed on the strengths & weaknesses of the Cornhusker offense.
We opened the season with a hard-fought 45-42 Win over Washington. Our Game #2 was a 52 point score-fest against a decent North Texas team who scored 7. Then we had nothing in the way of our game vs. Nebraska. That week leading up to the match-up, it looked like business as usual to outsiders. But we had an edge, a gritty sense of pride and urgency. We prepared hard and ran harder. We studied Nebraska closely, and we learned all there was to learn and then some. On offense we studied Jared Tomich and Grant Wistrom, both All-Americans. On defense we studied Nebraska’s huge offensive line, quarterback Scott Frost and running back Ahman Green, who was an integral component to both of Nebraska’s National Championship Teams. We saw the white helmets with the annoyingly basic “N” on the side, and we saw last year’s 77-28 scoreboard. We had an attitude that week. We punished our scout teams until we were hungry to kick someone else’s ass. When Thursday came around, we were sick and tired of everyone’s, including the local media’s talk of the Nebraska machine. Building up to the game, it was announced that the Huskers were favored by 21 points, which we felt was a direct slap in the face. But our minds were right. We were not only going to win this game, we were going to punch Nebraska in the mouth and beat them up both physically and emotionally. My teammates & I never believed that they were better than us. We did not feel like we were underdogs. We were confident in ourselves and each other. We were brothers, and we were going to defend our house in front of our fans.
The day of the game began like others, but there was an eerie silence in the banquet room as we ate breakfast. We knew what we had to do, and we could see it. Watching some ESPN that morning, the disrespect continued as the “experts” predicted a huge Nebraska win. The clock moved slowly, and we became almost irritated that we had to wait any longer. At our pregame meeting, everyone including the coaches, guys had an air of confidence, anger, urgency and duty. Every one felt the weight of responsibility we willingly put on our own backs, and we were stronger for it. Finally, we boarded the buses for Sun Devil Stadium. Everyone new that Nebraska was going to have a very difficult day. Pulling up to our house, our energy intensified as we saw growing groups of fans in bright red. We would make them pay. Before the game, Coach Snyder addressed us and was very direct in saying that we were going to Win this game. He had a sobering conviction in us, and he credited each player for having done everything that was expected of them to prepare for that night.
I remember coming out of what would later become the "Pat Tillman Memorial Tunnel" with teammates like Jake Plummer, Keith Poole, Terry Battle, Derrick Rodgers and of course, Pat. We took our newly named Frank Kush Field, and the tension was thick. 74,089 people turned out that night, and the energy in SUN DEVIL STADIUM infected us including the buzz of the Nebraska faithful. After all pregame formalities, special teams took the field for kick-off. We were ready to play, and we were ready to win.
It matters not who comes into your house. It matters not what they are. It matters not what they wear. It matters not what their "streak" is or how many times they’ve been crowned champions. Forget the embarrassment of last year. We forgot all those things.
On that Saturday night, after three punishing hours on the field named after the winning-est Sun Devil Coach of all time, the invincibility of a team had come to an end at the hands of our team. We carried the day and shut out a program that scored 77 points on us the year before. The Scoreboard Final read ASU 19 - Nebraska 0. It was insane what happened next as our students and fans stormed the field. To see them flooding from the stands and climbing the goal posts was one of the most beautiful things I had seen. Fans ran up to us in screaming elation, “We did it! We did it!”. People hugged us, smacked our shoulder pads and hugged us again. I will never forget seeing the fans climb the goal posts while security quickly gave up and disappeared in the crowd. I can picture those goal posts falling before they were marched down to Mill Avenue. It would be the first of two times that the posts came down that year, the second coming after defeating CAL when we clinched the Pac-10 Championship and our first Rose Bowl birth since our Victory over Michigan in 1987.
For that one night we celebrated, we rejoiced and we laughed. We had done it. We were satisfied, but the strongest teams draw an abrupt line and move on to get the edge in the next contest. So that’s what we did. We had a championship to win that season, and this Win could be further enjoyed in the post-season. In one night, we had secured our place in College Football history and in Sun Devil history. Arizona State was a program where greatness again continued to shape our story.
Come back to today, to the now, to our current opportunities for greatness. For Sun Devil Nation, this is a huge week because it’s our first PAC-12 contest in our quest for a Championship, and it’s a game against a team that has handed us twelve consecutive Losses. 12. It is unacceptable to let somebody dominate you again & again, despite their own greatness. No one determines a team’s destiny more than it’s own players, coaches & fans. It’s a decision. It’s a will. It’s a belief. And you live with your effort, your heart, your preparation, your determination, your knowing that Every contest is a championship.
Despite 15 years having passed, the power of that Win reminds us of what we are capable of any night. The uniforms and names change, but the soul doesn't. Every single game and how it is played, regardless of the challenger, has the potential for greatness and can matter for years to come.
Remind yourself of what it means to be a Sun Devil. A DieHardDevil. Are You? Prove it.
Dec 13, 2002 - 11:37 pm - Source, BCSfootball.com
By Alex Laracy
In 1997, the fourth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes went into the Rose Bowl against Arizona State looking to snap a four-game losing streak in "The Granddaddy of Them All." Ironically, OSU head coach John Cooper led Arizona State to a win over Michigan in the 1987 Rose Bowl. Cooper took over at Ohio State the next year and has not appeared in a Rose Bowl since.
"The talent level on the field that night was unreal," claims then junior Buckeye linebacker Jerry Rudzinski. "In my mind, it was the best pool of players I've seen in this decade in college football. Guys like Jake Plummer, Shawn Springs, Orlando Pace, the names go on and on ?"
The Buckeyes were not the only team who was confident going into the big game.
"Both teams were there to win," Rudzinski adds. "Neither team was gun-shy. We knew it would be a battle."
The teams were deadlocked 7-7 at halftime after a 25-yard pass from Jake Plummer to Ricky Boyer early in the second quarter. The Sun Devils jumped out to a 10-7 lead on the first possession of the second half on a 37-yard field goal by Robert Nycz.
Then, reserve quarterback Joe Germaine was called off the bench to provide a boost to the stagnant Buckeyes offense. Germaine, born and raised in Arizona, grew up as a Sun Devils' fan but turned down a scholarship offer because the ASU coaching staff wanted him to play defensive back.
Demetrious Stanley's 72-yard TD reception was the longest in OSU bowl history.
Cooper's insertion of Germaine proved to be a shrewd move, because the sophomore quickly hooked up with senior flanker Demetrious Stanley for one of the biggest plays of the game.
"It was a simple post route," says Stanley. "Germaine threw it right on the money. I caught it, saw the defender fall out of the corner of my eye, and all I saw was green grass ahead of me."
Rudzinski adds, "That was a huge momentum builder. When Demetrious scored, we started to feel like we were the superior team and we were going to win this game."
The 72-yard score set a record for the longest Ohio State TD pass in a bowl game.
But the Sun Devils were by no means ready to give up. With the Buckeyes up 14-10, the stage was set for a dramatic finish and no Hollywood scriptwriter could have penned a more exciting ending.
Jake Plummer had already established himself in his career as a clutch performer with a knack for pulling out unlikely victories.
"We knew (Plummer) was a winner," claims Rudzinski. "He had come from behind so many times that season already, we didn't want to be just another victim."
Things did not look good for the Buckeyes when on a third-and-11, Jake "the Snake" somehow slithered his way into the end zone to give ASU a 17-14 lead with 1:40 to play.
"I just remember Plummer going to the sidelines and taking off his helmet, looking like he had just won another one for Arizona State," adds Rudzinski.
With 1:19 remaining, starting from their own 35-yard line, Ohio State needed a touchdown. The Buckeyes remained calm, however, for they had confidence in their offense led by the young, brash Germaine.
"Every day during the course of the season, we practiced our two-minute drill against one of the top defenses in the country, with two of the top defensive backs (Springs and Damon Moore) in the country" says Stanley. "At that time, I didn't think anybody on that team could stop me, so I was confident that we were going to win the game."
Germaine responded well to the pressure by connecting with Stanley on three third down plays on the drive, before finally hitting David Boston from five yards out with 20 seconds left with the game winner. The Buckeyes were Rose Bowl champions, and Germaine would be named the game's Most Outstanding Player. The win propelled the fourth-ranked Buckeyes to an 11-1 record and the No. 2 spot in the final polls.
"Both teams played great," says Rudzinski. "It's unfortunate one team had to lose, but it was a really important victory for Ohio State. We hadn't won a bowl game in a long time."