Monday, July 30, 2007

No C.A.T.S. Left Behind

John Moredich of the Tucson Citizen published a piece today about how the University of Arizona now has 70 tutors to help out the football program, while last year they only had 30. Stoops is looking to increase the team GPA of 2.37 from last season through the Commitment to an Athlete's Total Success (C.A.T.S.), cute. I'm all for students getting help outside the classroom, but how is there going to be legitimate oversight for this operation? I'm not sure what our situation is at Arizona State regarding tutors for athletes and how many there are of them, but 70 tutors for one team? Scott Olin Schmidt of AOL NCAA Fanhouse also has a take on the story. If you readers know anything about ASU's current tutoring program and how it compares to this new system U of A is putting in place, please leave a comment.

Looking over the ASU football jerseys for sale.

Looking over the Sun Devils team store, it looks like they're only offering the same jerseys they offered last season, #12 (Carpenter) in maroon , #24 (Herring) in maroon and white, and #3 (Burgess) maroon jerseys in adult, youth and toddler sizes. The team store on the Pac-10 website sells a #26 (Torain) maroon youth jersey. I would probably buy a #26 maroon adult size jersey if they had it, so I guess I'll still be wearing my white #86 that I bought two seasons ago, which is now worn by freshman wide reciever T.J. Simpson. Here's to Simpson being a freshman All-American.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Jason Simmons and Ahman Green fulfill promise

Finally some good publicity for the NFL. You might have heard this story already, but I'll post it here again because its worth repeating. Running back Ahman Green, formerly #30 for the Green Bay Packers, came to the Houston Texans and wanted to still wear his same number, which was owned by safety Jason Simmons, a former Sun Devil. When star players come to new teams, they will usually buy the number they want from the player who owns it, either a cash donation, or sometimes will pay for the other player to take his family on vacation, since the player buying the number from the other player usually makes significantly more money. Ahman Green came to Jason Simmons and asked him what he wanted for the number. Simmons didn't want anything for himself, but did want Ahman Green to open his checkbook. Nick Scurfield of has the full details on the story.

Sun Devils in the NFL: Miller Time in Oakland, T-Rich tries to make the Texans roster

Zach Miller signed on the dotted line Friday night with the Oakland Raiders. He had his first two-a-day practice on Saturday, and was featured on the latest Behind the Shield, the Raiders online news show. Zach's part of the episode starts at about 8:30, so fast forward to that point. If he's healthy, Zach has the chance to make a huge impact during his rookie season wearing the number 45. Terms of his contract were not disclosed.

Terry Richardson got his first training camp practice in on Friday with the Houston Texans. Richardson is trying to make the Texans squad, but is competing with veterans like Bethel Johnson and Keenan McCardell for a roster spot. Terry was signed as an undrafted free agent back in early May, and fared well at the team's OTA's. Despite all the quality veteran receivers on the roster, Richardson has the ability make the team as a returner on special teams. Fellow Sun Devils Jason Simmons and Drew Hodgdon are also on the Texans roster.

Keep checking Pitchfork Nation for updates on Sun Devils in NFL training camps.

photos courtesy of and

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Editiorial: Keep Dreaming, NCAA Playoff Advocates

by Justin Karp, Host of Sun Devil Power Hour on The Fan AM 1060.

In simple terms, it will never happen. There are three main reasons we’ll never see it: logistics, revenue and tradition.


In 2006, the NCAA mandated for every BCS school to play 12 games during their regular season. On top of that, qualifying teams play in their bowl game (up to 13) and teams who travel to Hawaii are allowed to play another (up to 14). As a result now, regular seasons for all teams stretch into early December.

A playoff system, whether it have 4, 8, 12 or 16 teams, would extend the season through December and into January, putting an extra travel and work strain on each school’s student athletes. And despite what you may think, most of these students (pick your least favorite school year as an example of the opposite) actually have classes. At most schools, including Arizona State, mid-December is a time for final exams.

Putting an extra strain on these students would severely interfere with their ability to fulfill their academic responsibilities. Even NCAA basketball teams take a week off from games in December for finals.

Another logistical nightmare involves the amount of teams actually qualifying for the playoffs. Four would be the quickest, but it leaves out the most teams. 16 would allow mid-major conferences to join the bracket, but the playoff would take at least a month and be a logistical nightmare to schedule. Small conferences would revolt if an 8-team playoff was introduced, because their schools would without a doubt be left out in favor of non-conference champion BCS schools (acting under the assumption that each of the 6 BCS Conference champions qualify, leaving 2 at-large berths).

Simply put, a playoff would be more trouble than its worth.


This one is easier to explain. Money talks.

School presidents don’t want to lose the revenue their teams make from bowl games. Cities that host bowls don’t want to lose revenue from travel taxes, restaurants, hotel rooms and other things visitors spend their money on. The list goes on and on.

Teams who qualify for BCS games make, at minimum, $14 million just for showing up as a bowl payout. Add to that the amount of tickets sold by each school to these games, and the number goes up from there. Even minor bowls pay out upwards of $1 million to their losing teams, and smaller schools with lower budgets are in no position to give up that potential payout.


What’s the end of the college football season without the Rose Bowl? Or the Sugar Bowl? Or any other bowl that longtime fans are so used to seeing?

Old school fans of football have already been alienated enough since 1998 and the introduction of the BCS. The sight of Miami (ACC) playing Nebraska (Big 12) in the Rose Bowl was enough to make longtime football fans wretch.

College football bases a lot of its appeal in its traditions; marching bands, tailgate parties, rivalries and, most especially, trips to bowl games.

That, more than anything, is something conferences will never part with.

A playoff system will never happen. Thanks, Pac-10.

So much for that whole BCS playoff system idea. Matt Hayes of reports that Tom Hansen, the comissioner of the Pac-10 says the the Pac-10 will leave the BCS if a playoff system is put in place in favor of the traditional bowl games. Hansen and the Pac-10 join the Big Ten as open critics of a playoff system, wanting to keep the tradition of the Rose Bowl, which would be lost in a playoff system. Every Pac-10 team plays each other once, so whoever comes out of the conference with the best record deserves to be in the Rose Bowl with a shot at the national title. So the next time ESPN insists on playing a week long segment on "What would happen if a playoff system were in place," you're wasting your time watching, because its much further away than we thought.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Football Position Preview Part II: Running Backs

by Justin Karp, Host of Sun Devil Power Hour on The Fan AM 1060.

Without any shadow of a doubt, the strongest unit for the Sun Devils coming into the 2007 season is the backfield.

Over the past five seasons, the running back position had been systematically devalued as former head coach Dirk Koetter heavily leaned on the passing game. As a result, before last season, ASU lacked a marquee, standout running back for several seasons.

All of that changed in 2006 with the emergence of Ryan Torain, a JuCo transfer from Butler Community College in Kansas. Thanks to several outstanding performances throughout the season and struggles within the Sun Devils passing game, Torain became ASU’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2001 and had the most rushing yards in a single season for ASU since 1975.

In this edition of my 2007 season preview, I’ll spotlight the four most notable ASU running backs.

You’ve already read all of the accomplishments Ryan Torain achieved in 2006, and the same is expected of the 6’1” senior in 2007. The praise for Ryan is far ranging; he’s a 2nd-team all Pac-10 selection, a Sporting News 2nd-team all-Pac-10 selection, Phil Steele’s 1st-team Pac-10 running back and has been rated as the 2nd best senior RB by ESPN football analyst Mel Kiper.

ASU coaches and fans expect more of the same out of Torain this season. He’s a powerful, north/south runner with explosive speed. However, he’s got the skills to be shifty in and out of the backfield, as evidenced by his twisting-and-turning, season-long 64 yard run in the Hawaii Bowl. With an improved passing game, it will be difficult for Torain to equal his 1,229 rushing yards from last season.

Even with an inexperienced line in front of him, Torain can hit the smallest of holes and turn them into big gains. It’s interesting to note that in his 191-yard outburst against California, he was running behind several 2nd-string offensive linemen, including Paul Fanaika and Richard Tuitu’u.

Behind Torain is an almost equally talented back, Keegan Herring. Herring exploded onto the scene in 2005, a 5’10” junior who, in his debut against Temple, rushed for 134 yards, a record for any Sun Devil RB debut in school history. He only started two games that season but still broke Loren Wade’s 2003 record for most rushing yards by a freshman in a single season.

Despite losing what looked like was his starting job to Torain, Herring still rushed for 584 yards as a part of what many observers regarded as one of the best RB tandems in the league last season. He’ll see action in 2007 as a speedy complement to Torain’s bruising, power style.

Shaun DeWitty has struggled to find his place in the ASU offense over the last two seasons. He was a highly touted and fast member of the 2005 freshman class but didn’t see significant playing time that season, and least year he was eclipsed by the successes of Torain and Herring.

However, DeWitty has been called the best pass blocker of the entire running back corps, definitely aided by his 6’2”, 217-pound frame. Look for DeWitty, who rushed for just 101 yards last season in limited action, to see action in the backfield to make room for quarterback Rudy Carpenter to make plays in four-wide passing sets.

Fans and coaches alike are excited about what sophomore Dmitri Nance has to offer as well. He surprised many in last year’s season opener against Northern Arizona when in the fourth quarter, he ran for 61 yards and scored a touchdown. Nance’s role on this team will most likely be in short-yardage and goal line situations, as he’s quick on his feet and rarely taken down in the backfield.

October 1st, 2005. Our tailgate party goes national.

Watching this happen live was probably the best moment of my college career. I'll be covering tailgate parties throughout the season, and I hope they can live up to this one. Maybe Aunt Chippy can make a repeat appearance this year for Thanksgiving.

News from around the Pac-10

- Quarterback Dennis Dixon returned to practice yesterday from a stint in minor league baseball with the GCL Braves, where he posted a less than impressive .188 batting average. His coach was very unhappy about his decision to focus on baseball this summer, and other coaches around the league inferred that "he should have stayed home."

- Washington State will play a football game against Notre Dame on Halloween, 2009, at the Alamodome in San Antonio. It is the first of an annual trend of Notre Dame games played in neutral sites to attract fans to games who aren't able to make the trip to South Bend. I have a feeling this game will be all Notre Dame fans, Wazzou must be receiving a hefty pay day for this.

Here's a pretty good article from Chris Dufrense of the LA Times about Pac-10 Media Day. His article focuses on the war of words between the SEC and the Pac-10, including some quotes from Dennis Erickson.

- If you want to get a complete update on the Eric Scott burglary story, I would highly suggest checking out what they have compiled over at The Wizard of Odds. If UCLA has an 11 win season, this story will go away. If they have a mediocre record, we'll be looking at this story as the beginning of the end of Karl Dorrell's coaching career at UCLA. Bruins Nation is all over this story as well.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

News and Notes for Thursday, July 26th

Martha Mendoza of the Associated Press wrote a very informative piece about possible punishments being handed out to generals of the United States Army regarding the cover-up after the death of Pat Tillman. The article is a must read, and gives some hope that the Tillman family is finally going to get some of the answers they're looking for.

The Pac-10 preseason poll was released today, as voted on by 39 members of the media. USC recieved was a unanimous selection, receiving all 39 first place votes, while Arizona state has been picked to finish 4th, behind USC, Cal and UCLA. Arizona is picked to finish 7th.

Jeff Metcalfe of the Arizona Republic reported of another in-state commitment to the football program, offensive tackle Patrick Jamison of Hamilton High School

Pac-10 Media Day Quotes

Head Coach Dennis Erickson - "I was looking at the press guide before I came in, reading my biography and it started to look like an obituary. As I was thinking about who I wanted to bring to media day I realized the strength of our football team is our offensive front and I decided to bring Mike Pollak. We have five offensive lineman out of six that have already graduated, it's unbelievable. When you talk about a football team and you talk about the strengths, the biggest part of it is the offensive front and I feel pretty good about it. Mike is a heck of a football player. Our running game is strong too. For us to be successful we must be able to run the football and obviously that starts up front. We have some wide outs that have potential, but they are unproven. Defensively it is more of a question mark. You can not win without being good on defense. We have some good athletes, but we need to get better, play on the edge and have a strong mindset. Our weakness there is depth. Our corners have to step up. I'm very excited to be at ASU. The thing that has changed a little bit since I was at Oregon State is that everybody is even. Everyone can beat everyone. It'll be fun. I know two fight songs and I'm about to learn a third here."

Center Mike Pollak - On the shotgun formation: "It hasn't taken me that long to get used to the shotgun, but Rudy [Carpenter] loves it. He did it in high school so if that helps him I'm all for it."

On having eight home games:"As a senior I am looking forward to being at home. You get that advantage of not having to travel, playing in front of your home crowd and playing in the heat which we are used too."

ARIZONA Head Coach Mike Stoops
General Remarks:
"We are very excited for this day and for our football team. When you look at the entirety of last season, to win six games shows constant growth in our program. To win some of the games we won, after what our kids went through and then to win our last three road games was good for us. But we didn't finish the way we had liked too. The loss against Arizona State cost us a lot, including a bowl game. Hopefully that will have an impact. Our expectations are much different going into this season. The way we persevered last season, winning against top teams, I think that gives us some legitimate confidence and our work habits really match those expectations. Our attitude matches our expectations. We are healthy, we have great experience coming back, it is by far and away our most experienced and talented football team."

On the new spread offense: "We are going to implement the whole system. Our biggest challenge will be in utilizing the personnel we have on our team. Whether we go four wides, three wides, we'll have to see. I think the system gives us a unique protection of our quarterback. If we keep Willie [Tuitama] healthy our chance of winning goes up dramatically. All of those things are important to our success."

Quotes from coaches and star players of every Pac-10 team can be found at The Pac-10's official website.

Football Position Preview Part I: Quarterback and Receiving Corps

by Justin Karp, Host of Sun Devil Power Hour on The Fan AM 1060.

Arguably, the 2006 season for Arizona State was over before it began.

You could plausibly say that on the night former head coach Dirk Koetter told the assembled media at the Kajikawa Practice Field that he was reversing course. He was going with junior Rudy Carpenter over senior Sam Keller as the starting quarterback, exactly 48 hours after declaring Keller the starter.

All of a sudden, ASU had gone from having the top quarterback tandem in the nation to having their offense descend into disarray. The offense never fully clicked last year thanks to miscommunication, questionable play calling and a slough of injuries and off-field issues. By the end of the season at the Hawaii Bowl, the Sun Devils top two receiving targets were true freshmen.

This season’s offense will be a little different than what Sun Devil fans are used to, including more two tight end sets, quick passing and the shotgun.

In this edition of the 2007 Preview, we’ll take a look at the quarterback and receiving corps.


With no quarterback controversy in sight, the incumbent starter is red-shirt junior Rudy Carpenter. Carpenter, who took over and kept the starting job after Sam Keller was injured in a 2005 home loss to Oregon, was the nation’s most efficient passer that season. He completed 68% of his passes and held an outstanding 8.5/1 touchdown-to-interception ratio (17 touchdowns to 2 interceptions).

However, Rudy took a step back in 2006, throwing 14 interceptions, four of those coming in a season-changing loss at California. He also had a disastrous and confidence shattering performance against Oregon the next week, throwing for just 33 yards. Rudy didn’t seem to be his gun-slinging self over the final weeks of the season, going up and down in effectiveness on a week-by-week basis. He seemed to be missing receivers both wide and high when things weren’t going his way; a sign of frustration. It didn’t help, either, that his offensive line was decimated, leaving him to run for his life at points.

Despite his struggles last season, 2007 can and should be a big year out for Carpenter. Rudy will be encouraged to scramble and move out of the pocket more, a perk that ASU hasn’t really had since Jake Plummer led the 1996 team to the Rose Bowl. He’s also got his top target, Rudy Burgess, back on offense this season. The young receivers around him have a year under their belts and he worked very well with them during Spring ball.

In terms of depth, there are three QB’s under Carpenter that merit mentioning. Last year, Danny Sullivan was expected to redshirt and learn the college game behind the Keller/Carpenter tandem. With Keller’s demotion and subsequent transfer to Nebraska, Sullivan was thrust into the backup role as a true freshman. Sullivan didn’t get any meaningful playing time, only throwing the ball 15 times.

Head coach Dennis Erickson also signed two notable prep quarterbacks to his first recruiting class in Tempe. 6’4 freshman Samson Szakacsy is described as having one of the strongest and most accurate arms in California and was ranked as the #24 prep quarterback in the nation by SuperPrep. Mobile and quick on his feet, Szakacsy is considered to be a better fit in Erickson’s offense than his other major QB recruit, Chasen Stangel. Stangel, a Cal-Hi Sports All-State first team selection, has better pocket presence and field vision than Szakaczy. Expect at least one of them to be redshrited.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

It’s widely said that a quarterback is only as good as the guys who are catching his passes. Last year, Rudy Carpenter didn’t have much help in that department. ASU’s leading receiver in 2006 only had 484 yards, and he will provide no help to the Sun Devils this season, seeing as that he’s now helping the Oakland Raiders cause.

On paper, ASU’s losses in this group look strong, but in reality, both Terry Richardson and Jamaal Lewis made little to no contribution to the team on the field last year, both running into injury and, in Lewis’ case, legal problems. Zach Miller’s departure is a major blow, but there is more than enough young talent left in Tempe that can develop into a fast and dangerous staff.

At points last year, all of ASU’s top three returning wide receivers were out with significant injuries. Mike Jones, Nate Kimbrough and Rudy Burgess all missed time, leaving players such as Chris McGaha and Brandon Smith to pick up the slack. Even Kyle Williams, a highly touted and quick receiver/kick returner, had his redshirt taken off before a game at Oregon State because there was simply no one left to play the position.

This year, Rudy Burgess is back on offense full time after a stint at cornerback. The team needs Burgess to come through in a big way this year, especially after having time to concentrate on being a top wideout. Don’t forget that Burgess spent the majority of 2005 as the team’s featured running back and, as mentioned earlier, he was injured and used on defense last season. This year, he’s going to be a receiver all year and will be Carpenter’s main target.

Returning from last season will be Mike Jones, a solid pass-catcher, Chris McGaha, who’s big and agile but suffered from a case of the dropsies all year, and Nate Kimbrough, who missed the majority of the second half of last season due to a non-contact ACL tear in the Oregon State game but showed flashes of brilliance during the non-conference season. Look for Kyle Williams to see some spot duty at WR but more time as a kick returner and Brandon Smith in five-wide and spread sets.

The Devils are left without a marquee tight end after Zach Miller’s departure, but his brother Brent is still around and figures to step into the 1st string tight end role. He’s a better pass blocker than his little brother but not as good of a route runner or pass catcher. However, he did prove midway through last season that he can catch in the clutch, as proved by his performance against Washington. If Miller cannot pick up the slack, look for Florida junior transfer Dane Guthrie to step in.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

ASU Football Position by Position Previews: COMING SOON!

Check back to on a regular basis the football team heads into camp for position previews. Justin Karp, host of 1060 AM's Sun Devil Power Hour and reporter for ASU Cronkite Newswatch will be providing his insight into what to watch this season. Pitchfork Nation is going to help you stay current on everything all that is relevant pertaining to ASU football, all year long. Keep coming back for more details.

Report: Matt Hall likely to leave ASU Baseball Program

According to Jeff Metcalfe of the East Valley Tribune, infielder Matt Hall is set to leave ASU and is looking at transferring to either Auburn or Alabama. Matt Hall hit started 45 games last season for the Devils while posting a .313 batting average. He struggled late in the season and was benched after regional play in favor of C.J. Retherford. The loss of the Junior from Scottsdale (Horizon High) isn't good for the program, and it'll be interesting to see who takes over the third base position and if this puts a strain on recruiting in the valley.

On the flip side, former Kentucky outfielder Jason Kipnis has completed his academic eligibility requirements and is transferring to Arizona State. Kipnis is currently knocking the cover off of the ball for the Covington Lumberjacks of the Virginia Alley Summer League.

News from around the Pac-10

Rich Perelman, LA Times - Police officers in Norwalk, California, responding to a 911 call, found three men burglarizing a home, one of which was UCLA wide receivers coach Eric Scott. Scott was just hired on last March to coach the receiving core. He formerly was an assistant coach at Crenshaw High School, where he coached incoming freshmen Brian Price and Raymond Carter. Scott was released on $50,000 bail.

UPDATE: Eric Scott has been put on Administrative Leave by the University.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Poinsetta Bowl added to the mix

The Pac-10 has added the Poinsettia Bowl to the Rose, Holiday, Sun, Las Vegas, Emerald, and Hawaii bowls. This game will be played by the Pac-10's 7th place representative and a team from the Mountain West Conference. The funny part is, Mike Stoops STILL won't be able to get to this game. For more on this story, please read Ryan Finley's article over at azstarnet.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Camp T, August 8th - 15th

The scrimmage is Saturday, August 11th. I have no idea if its open to the public, but if it is, I'll see you there.

Sun Devils in the Bigs: Barry stuck at 753, Pedroia 3 for 5.

Barry Bonds went 1-3 with a single and a walk against Atlanta tonight. In his third at bat of the night, John Smoltz challenged him inside three times, the first taken for a strike, the second swung on an missed, and the third being sent into foul territory down the right field line. Barry had a two-homerun game last week in Chicago, and now sits 2 homeruns short of tying Hank Aaron's record of 755.

Dustin Pedroia had a good night on the road in Cleveland, going 3 for 5 with an RBI and a run scored, but his routine performance was overshadowed by the return of Jon Lester from cancer. The 23 year old struck out 6 in 6 innings, while only giving up 2 runs in a dominating and emotional performance. Here's to him winning comeback player of the year.

Willie Bloomquist pinch-ran for Kenji Johjima, being called out at second on a fielder's choice. Bloomquist is hitting .290 in 56 games played for the Mariners.

Travis Buck had the night off while his A's demolished the Angels, but is hitting .271 with 6 homeruns an 23 RBI's in just over 200 at-bats.

Andre Ethier went 2 for 4 in a 10-2 victory for the Dodgers over the Astros. He is currently hitting .297 with 8 homeruns and 42 RBI's.

Photo: AP

Pac-10 Baseball now has 10 teams, Oregon returns to competition in 2009

Oregon reinstates their baseball program, giving us an actual Pac-10. To make room for the baseball team in the budget, they are discontinuing the wrestling program, but adding a cheer squad. For all the information, go here.

This has to be the best time possible for Oregon to reinstate the program. Rival Oregon State just reeled off back to back College World Series championships while recruiting primarily out of the Northwest.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Persichina and Retherford Shining Together at Next Level

It looks like the Sun Devil Class of 2007 is experiencing great success in the minor leagues so far this season. They gave us such a thrill over the last few years I'm I will bring you regular updates on what our boys are doing at the next level. For this week:

Joe Persichina and C.J. Retherford, both undrafted seniors from the Sun Devil program are achieving success together in the Chicago White Sox program. Both are playing at the Rookie Level for the Great Falls White Sox of the Pioneer League. They were even featured in a story by Scott Mansch of the Great Falls Tribune, which can be found by clicking here.

Joe is hitting .328 with 8 doubles, seeing action in 17 of 32 games, while C.J. is hitting .330 with 4 homeruns and an OPS of 1.008.

Stats courtesy of

If this doesn't get you pumped...

Then I don't know what to tell you


Welcome to Pitchfork Nation! I'm starting this blog as an attempt to centralize all information regarding Arizona State athletics, especially football, basketball and baseball. I'm going to be an alumni soon and I feel creating Pitchfork Nation would be a good way to keep informed on the Sun Devils while helping establish open dialogue between all fans, whether alumni, undergraduate, casual fan, or a prospective student. Keep checking for updates in the coming weeks. Go Sun Devils!