Friday, October 31, 2008
Not factually, of course. Well, maybe sometimes.
Earlier this week during the Pac-10 Roundtable, I voiced my thoughts on who would be the frontrunners to take over the job at U-Dub, and I said my two top contenders were Jim Mora, Jr. and the lovable and often quotable Lane Kiffin.
Well, scratch Mora from that list.
Obviously after seeing his name on PFN, which of course is the most popular web site on these her internets, he told reporters through a mouthpiece of the Seattle Seahawks that he's not going to be the next head coach of the Washington Huskies.
Well, I still want Kiffin to get the job, so that one day, Washington athletic director Scott Woodward can detail, projector and all, why Lane's getting fired for cause.
"We need our Saturday viewing guide back!"
The last few weeks have been so chock full of good football that I felt it rendered the college football junkies TV Guide useless. If you couldn't figure out which games to watch and which to not over the last two weekends, here are the listings for the Fox Soccer Channel; that might be what you're actually looking for (GO MAN U!)
I've created a supplement for the SVG, and it comes disguised as a clever shameless plug! Check my other all-sports blog, Beyond The Scoreboard (courtesy of my friends at The Fan AM 1060), for your guide of exactly what NOT to watch...that being what I call the ESPNU Trifecta.
The Morning Slate
Northwestern Wildcats at #17 Minnesota Golden Gophers (9:00 AM, ESPN2) No, I'm not joking. Tim Brewster has got a fun Gophers team to watch...in fact...I was glued to their game against Illinois last week. They go up and down the field and when their defense is on their game, they're pretty hard hitting. Don't forget that Northwestern has been a nice story thus far as well, despite the fact that stud RB Tyrell Sutton (who we saw as a freshman at SDS in 2005) is out for the season.
During your...road game...tailgate?
#8 Florida Gators vs. #6 Georgia Bulldogs (12:30 PM, CBS)
It's the annual "we don't want to officially call it the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party but it is the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party." And it really needs no more hype than that. The winner of this game, as always played in Jacksonville, will move to 5-1 in conference and will all but wrap up a matchup with Alabama in the SEC Championship. Plus, you never know, Urban Meyer might clear HIS bench this season.
#24 Oregon Ducks at California Golden Bears (12:30 PM, ABC)
It's the only decent Pac-10 match-up of the day, and I'll always advocate catching at least some quality West Coast football every week. Flip to it during commercials of UGA/FLA.
Washington Huskies at #5 USC Trojans (3:00 PM, FCS Pacific)
Washington football: it's Lame Duck Coach-tastic! No real reason to watch this game; in fact, don't. Burn your cable box before turning to Cox 172. I just wanted to sneak in one more shot at Ty.
#1 Texas Longhorns at #7 Texas Tech Red Raiders (5:00 PM, ABC)
Before the season started, I didn't pick T-Tech to be a darkhorse in the Big XII South. I picked them to win it outright. Now we'll see if we can trust Mike Leach's defense against what will obviously be their toughest challenge. Don't forget that late last year, Oklahoma went down to Lubbock (what's a Lubbock?) with national championship dreams and they were crushed by Michael Crabtree. A solid performance from Colt McCoy, though, should be the icing on top of his Heisman resume.
Arizona State Sun Devils at Oregon State Beavers (7:15 PM, FS Arizona)
Let's go, folks. It's a 5-game losing streak, it's all dire straits from here on out, but admit it. You still love your Devils and we're all still going to watch. GO DEVILS!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
The Sun Devils haven't been ranked in a preseason national poll since then as well, when they were voted #24 in the nation before the season started.
That season, the Devils finished 19-14, didn't go to the NCAA Tournament and have only visited the Big Dance twice since then.
Those droughts are supposed to end this year, and the preseason accolades show that the nation and the rest of the conference expect just that to happen.
The USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Poll was released last night and it ranks Arizona State #15 in the nation, their highest such preseason ranking since joining the Pac-10. The Devils were ranked 18th in the AP poll in 1975-76.
As if that wasn't notable enough, the gathered Pac-10 media believe that the Sun Devils are going to be second to only UCLA in the conference in 2008-09, and some gracious soul actually gave ASU a first-place vote.
Here's the rest of the Pac-10 Poll:
2) Arizona State
3) Southern California
6) Washington State
10) Oregon State
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I never advocate for teams, players or fans to look past one opponent to another, but with the Devils 2-5 and quite possibly barrelling toward a date with 2-6, you can't help but wonder when the next win will actually come.
To ease your weary minds, Washington and Washington State, our two next opponents after Oregon State, were ranked #2 and #3 respectively in this week's ESPN.com Bottom 10.
On the other hand, an ungodly loss to one of them might land our Devils in that ranking.
At this point though, in my mind, how much will it really help?
Last night, Dennis Erickson told the gathered media that he's thinking of giving freshman phenom RB Ryan Bass more carries. It's something that a lot of fans clamored for and I secretly hoped would happen, but only for the fact that ASU wasn't redshirting him.
In my mind, if he's not going to burn his redshirt, it's of no use to keep him sitting on the sidelines. He only had carried the ball eight times going into the Oregon game, and all of those carries came in garbage time.
It goes without saying that the running game needs a jump. There are crooked numbers, but 117 is one of the most crooked of them all. That's the Sun Devils' national rank in YPG on the ground. So obviously, this will be some sort of a shot in the arm?
Or will Bass just get a pounding because this offensive line can't open up a big enough hole for Eddie Gaedel to run through? Even with sparkplug Keegan Herring back on the field, starting and seemingly as healthy as could be expected, the Sun Devils got nothing going on the ground.
Guess it will be a wait and see. It might actually be a good game to get Ryan more touches; Oregon State gives up an average of 126 rushing yards per game.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
If you're a member of the Pac-10 Roundtable, that is.
OK, so MAYBE that's not EXACTLY the throne that the leader of the Pac-10 Square Table rests his laurels on, but if there was an actual table, I assume that's what it'd look like.
Maybe with a 19" flat screen attached to one arm rest and a beer holder on the other.
Either way, welcome to your new Pac-10 Roundtable, now headed up by California Golden Blogs.
1) The Ty Willingham experiment at UW is mercifully over. What went wrong? Why couldn't he replicate the success he had at Stanford?
The real question here is, what didn't go wrong? The dynamic duo of Rick Neuheisel/Keith Gilbertson was unceremoniously deposed after Ricky N's Bracket Challenge went public and everyone realized that Gilbertson was only one part football coach and four parts NutriSystem Poster Child.
Talented players in the Seattle-area shunned the program as unstable and featuring deteriorating facilites, instead bolting for out-of-state programs that showed more progress and prowess. Willingham couldn't coach up the talent that he had and, even after landing the dynamic Jake Locker, he didn't fill out the offense with recruits that would develop alongside Locker.
The strength of the Pac-10 over Willingham's tenure at UW is partially to blame for why he couldn't replicate his success with Stanford. While on The Farm, the Pac-10 didn't have a dominant team like USC and talent across the board at all 10 institutions like it does now (save Wazzou, of course). Stanford and Willingham's 1999Pac-10 title and Rose Bowl trip came in a season when the Cardinal finished an ordinary 8-3 and only four other teams in the conference finished with more than six wins.
2) Who do you see as a possible replacement for the Huskies? Any idea how close this team is to being relevant again?
The first two coaches that immediately come to mind are Jim Mora Jr. and Lane Kiffin. I feel like the Huskies wouldn't go wrong with either of them.
In Mora, you get a young, fiery character that is on record for wanting this job. In fact, I feel like the ulterior motive for taking the Seattle assistant's job a few years ago was because he wanted to be all set up to take over at Washington once Willingham's ouster inevitably came.
Despite Kiffin's tumultous tenure with the Oakland Raiders Semi-Professional FC, he had so much defensive success at USC that I feel like he'd find eventual success at Washington. We've seen the whole college-to-pros transition fail miserably in the past...Lou Holtz, Dennis Erickson and Pete Carroll all come to mind...but all of those guys returned to college and were incredibly successful.
3) As a visiting fan following your team, what do you think is the best venue in the Pac-10 to attend a game? What is the worst? Don't consider travel distance, but everything else is fair game.
In the interest of full disclosure, I'll tell everyone that I can only judge this question on the six Pac-10 venues that I've personally visited: Arizona Stadium (UA), Sun Devil Stadium (ASU), Memorial Stadium (Cal), Stanford Stadium, the Rose Bowl (UCLA) and the Coliseum (USC).
Among all of those, I'll have to be a homer and say that the atmosphere around Tempe, the tailgate scene, the amount of unrestrained enthusiasm throughout the stadium area and around the town makes Arizona State my favorite place overall to see a football game in the Pac-10. Judging by Sun Devil Stadium's standards, though, it's near the bottom.
On those standards, the new Stanford Stadium is magnificent, and if they ever could fill it up and field a competitive team, that's going to be a loud, intimidating place to play football as a visitor.
The worst is by far are the venues in Los Angeles.
Obviously, the LA Memorial Mausoleum is falling apart, has terrible acoustics and sightlines, the bleachers are so crammed you need a shoe horn to wedge yourself in and out and every time I'm there, I feel like I'm going to suffer through a combination of carjacking and other general unpleasantness.
It's beyond impossible to find parking near the Rose Bowl. I had to wait in line for 2 1/2 hours once to board a shuttle back to my car; it's fairly hard to get to.
Mark my words though, I will visit every stadium in the Pac before I'm 30...which is 6 years away. And from everything I've heard about Autzen, that's soon going to be my favorite.
Actually, here's an idea. The four I haven't visited are Autzen, Reser, Husky and Martin. Leave me a comment with your recommended order of visiting.
4) Besides your own team's, of course, who's got the best mascot in the Pac-10? Lamest?
I'm personally a big fan of The Duck. For some reason, that goofy-ass thing makes me laugh every time.
I hate mascots as a general rule of thumb. Even when I go to games of my favorite team of all time, the San Jose Sharks, I hope that S.J. Sharkie crashes to the ice when he rappells down from the rafters.
Lamest? Easy answer is Wilma and Wilbur, the couple (siblings?) at the UA. That's too easy though for an ASU blog, so let's talk about how much I hate The Tree and Oski.
The Tree is self explanatory. Trees don't dance. They don't cheer. They just live for ridiculously extended periods of time and take in all the carbon dioxide that pollutes our air.
That said, I still think The Tree (and even possibly a gang of sugared-up five-year-olds) could kick the living crap out of Oski. The thing just oafs around the sidelines of football and basketball games and looks disinterested at the world around him.
Can't we just replace both Stanford and Cal's mascots with giant, walking pocket protectors?
5) Male cheerleaders: yea or nay?
This is the part of the roundtable where I disclose potentially embarrassing information about myself.
For 2 1/2 strange weeks during high school, I stunted.
That's right. The well-spoken, well-liked and always affable writer here on PFN was, for about 17 days, a member of the Cupertino High School cheerleading squad. They needed guys to help them train and practice different stunts for a national competition, and since I was friends with a couple girls on the team, I was coerced into helping them.
Alas, for those 2 1/2 weeks of an era in which all of us were acne-ridden, horny-as-hell teenagers, I was told repeatedly by these girls to "not be afraid to get a handful of my ass" and was forced to transport the most attractive girls at my school on my shoulders.
Don't tell me you wouldn't have done the same thing.
Either way, get those dudes off my sidelines. During 54-20 losses in which there's less-than-zero good things to look at on the gridiron, my wandering eye always takes me to the lovely ASU cheerleaders and dancers, and there's just too much dude involved. Not a fan.
Give me 100 Lauren Thompson's any day of the week.
We caught up on such topics as the Saturday night loss to Oregon, the Devils lack of opportunism, a very (VERY) early look at 2009 and our first discussion preceding ASU basketball season.
By the way, it should be known that there is some breaking news in the world of the Pac-10 Blogdome. Apparently, at some strategical point last night, our buddies at California Golden Blogs launched a bloodless coup on Addicted to Quack and are now the owners of the Pac-10 Roundtable and most likely now assume the throne at the Pac-10 Square Table.
So, this week, you'll see the changes...um...a much more lighthearted look at what's up in the Pac as we all finally realize that the conference is terrible.
Monday, October 27, 2008
It was the fact that even when ASU was down 20-0 midway through the 2nd quarter, I actually couldn't kick the thought that the Sun Devils were still in the game.
You heard me.
Remember a few weeks ago when we discussed the Sun Devils' lack of opportunism? It was just after the Georgia loss when I brought up the fact that the Bulldogs trend of taking penalties and such let ASU hang around for much longer than they should have, yet the Devils couldn't capitalize.
For a while, the Ducks were matching Arizona State mistake for mistake...and there are a multitude of examples to prove this:
-Jarius Byrd picks off a Rudy Carpenter pass inside the five, then follows it up with a Jeremiah Johnson lost fumble. Down still only 7-0, any competent offense would have punched it in and tied it. Instead, the Devils moved back three yards in two plays and then RC threw another pick.
-On the ensuing drive, the Ducks drove from their own 2 all the way down to the ASU 16, then missed a field goal. Upon getting the ball, the Sun Devils went three and out, gained only one yard and Trevor Hankins kicked such a poor ball that I was convinced it had been blocked. It took Oregon only 1:40 after that punt to score another touchdown. Even after THAT, a botched snap resulted in a botched extra point!
-Then the unforced errors started. After a good return and the most sustained drive of the game so far, the Devils decided to go for it on 4th and 1. The box score on that play will always say that RC was sacked for -8 yards for a turnover, but we all know that we saw him trip over the 48 yard line and go down. At that point, I called ballgame.
-One minute later, it was 20-0. Next drive: ASU is forced to punt, Jarius Byrd muffs it and the Devils jump on it. ANOTHER chance for the Devils to seize some momentum...any momentum...midway through the 2nd quarter. Negative-16 yards later, the Ducks had forced another punt.
It was off and rolling from there. Oregon kept giving the Sun Devils chances to get back into the football game and ASU, as we've become accustomed to, made it a habit to shoot themselves directly in the foot.
That's a lot to digest, but I've got plenty more.
This group of receivers simply cannot catch the ball anymore. I don't know what happened to Mike Jones, Chris McGaha and the rest of these guys, but they all caught a serious case of the dropsies just before the UNLV game and apparently haven't gone to see the doctor that, you know, cures dropsies. They were once again bumbling all over themselves and dropped passes on several of those drives mentioned earlier.
It was great to see Keegan Herring back on the field, obviously, but watching him play behind that offensive line just proves that even the most elusive of ASU's running backs need some sort of minimal protection to move the ball. Herring, easily the most dynamic of any RB on this roster, gained a measly 15 yards on 8 carries...1.9 YPC. Welcome back, Keegan. Sorry there aren't any holes for you.
I could keep harping, but it's honestly not even worth any of our breath anymore. It's just time to realize the grand scope of what we're seeing at Sun Devil Stadium right now.
The 2008 Sun Devils are beyond underachieving. I'm now willing to say that this is simply just a bad football team. Through this five-game losing streak, I've seen no sign of an offensive rhythm, tangible regression on the offensive line and baffling inefficiency by wide receivers. The defense, who we gave so much praise to by forcing five turnovers against Southern California, apparently can't carry momentum from week to week, because the unit that performed admirably by "facing USC" standards left SDS last night with egg all over their face.
The fun keeps going, folks. This is always the time that Oregon State starts to kick it into high gear, and now the Devils get the Beavers in Corvallis next Saturday night. The Sun Devils have now been burned by Joe McKnight and Blount/Johnson in consecutive games, and it gets no easier in containing Jacquizz Rodgers.
I'm really trying to stay positive, despite what you may read from me day in and day out. What I saw on Saturday night, however, should suck the wind out of even the most ardent of ASU supporters, of which I am one. I wouldn't write blog after blog here on PFN if I didn't care about our Sun Devils. The two things I pride myself most about here on Pitchfork Nation are my undying love of ASU athletics and the objectivity that I bring from years of journalistic training.
It's the objectivity that has to overwhelmingly be exposed this season, and what they say is true: the truth hurts.
I guess this is where we start the countdown: 19 days until Mississippi Valley State visits Wells Fargo Arena and I can start building my optimism back. Welcome back, TJ.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
This time, I'm really out of words. If you were there, you saw it.
In the morning, I'll have something insightful to say.
But for now, I'm going to go to sleep and pray that when I close my eyes, I wont see LeGarrette Blount running by me. Again.
54-20. Wow. If you'll remember, this is what I posted on September 28, the day after our Devils lost to Georgia:
In short, we all were optimistic that the Sun Devils were a mediocre team. We were wrong. Sadly, sadly wrong. Mediocre is giving the 2008 Devils too much credit.
Friday, October 24, 2008
I asked it, "How will the Sun Devils perform tomorrow against Oregon?"
Answer: Outlook not so good.
OK, so maybe there's no Magic 8 Ball. But there's my wealth of knowledge about both of these teams, and my optimism about Arizona State getting off this slide and back in the win column is pretty low this week.
I keep going back and forth across both depth charts, thinking about each team's performance in big games and the direction each team has been going over the past few weeks, and I keep coming back to my opinion that the Ducks are going to come out of Sun Devil Stadium with a win tomorrow night.
I hope Rudy Carpenter has become fast friends with Nick Reed and Will Tukuafu (pictured above just before eating Jake Locker) because they'll be in the backfield a lot this week. The Sun Devils offensive line, as I've said previously, has regressed this season due to injury and general ineffectiveness. They couldn't do anything to stop the mammoth USC pass rush and they'll do none the better against what I think is an even better defensive line than the Trojans unit.
It will certainly be nice to have Keegan Herring back in the starting lineup. Keegs will make his first start and only fourth appearance of the season, but it's yet to be seen how he'll perform at full speed against easily the best defense he'll have faced this season. Sure, he looked terrific in spot action against the inconsistent Stanford front seven, but now he and the rest of the ASU backs will have to face down a tremendous defensive unit.
Then there's the problem of stopping the Oregon spread option. It's proved to be a futile effort over the past three match-ups; games in which the Ducks have picked apart the Sun Devil defense; especially that 2006 embarrassment which led to this equally embarrassing scene at SDS.
Arizona State's front seven needs to step up big time for the Devils to have any chance at staying in this game. They've done a tremendous job over the past few weeks getting pressure and, especially against USC, forcing turnovers, and they'll need to do the same against Oregon. It's going to be a lot different than what they saw at the Coliseum, though, as LeGarrette Blount and Jeremiah Johnson are a two-headed running beast that every defense they've faced so far have been hard press to contain, hip flexor problems or not.
Bottom line - it's going to take a herculean effort for the Devils to not drop to 2-5.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Before the AZ Daily Star's midday confirmation of the story hit, we learned of the story first thanks to this exclusive "excerpt" of a conversation between Dickie V and UofA spokespeople:
Dick Vitale: Lute Olson is stepping down...baby! Go Rays!
Arizona SID Tom Duddleston: Not true! No press conference! Go away! Nothing to see here! (All while a scene resembling this is in the background)
Dick Vitale: He's sick and skinny as a rail! He was awesome, but now he's gone...baby!
Tom Duddleston: Leave us alone! There are no American troops in Baghdad!
Dick Vitale: There's going to be a new sheriff in Tucson...baby! A diaper dandy! Almost as good as Evan Longoria in the ALCS!
Tom Duddleston: I swear to god, if you don't go away, I'll put on a Phillies jersey.
Dick Vitale: Changing of the guard for Chase Budinger...the elevator man!
Tom Duddleston: Does anyone even REALIZE our football team is 5-2?
Either way, Lute is out after a career that even us at Arizona State can (grudgingly) recognize was pretty amazing.
Plenty going on around the Pac-10 in regards to football this weekend. Washington and Notre Dame face off in "Ty Willingham Bowl II," Oregon travels to ASU who is trying to save their season, surging Arizona hosts USC and Washington State is a 37.5-point dog to the bye week.
1. While Arizona's victory over California certainly caught most of us by surprise, perhaps even more surprising was the 42-27 score. With many of us thinking that Cal was the second best team in the conference, this result throws a huge twist into the Rose Bowl race. Is Arizona really that good?
*supresses vomit* Yes, Arizona is a good football team. In fact, several times on this here blog, I've said that the Wildcats would be bowl eligible in 2008. No one wanted to believe me, but here they sit at 5-2. However, they did exactly what I thought they would do: take advantage of a very soft early season schedule. Now, a late season string of tougher opponents will really test this team's mettle. Their offense, with a startling amount of depth for UA standards, is performing well but their defense still needs some tweaking.
Let's readdress this question after Saturday's game against Southern Cal.
1a. Is Cal's defense really that terrible?
Sorry to my friends at California Golden Blogs, but yes. It is.
2. USC's 69-0 beatdown over Washington State rates among the worst losses in the history of the sport. The Cougars had a total of four first downs, three turnovers, and 28 passing yards. If there are any Washington State fans left out there, what do you say to calm their existential crisis at this point?
Aleve will take care of most of the physical pain. As for mental anguish, I don't think there's even a hallucinogen strong enough to take care of that.
I wish I could even say that USC had some lean years before starting their current run as champions, but it never got close to this bad.
So, my pep talk would consist of telling Wazzou fans that at least they don't have to pay to travel for this year's Apple Cup.
3. Oregon State is at it again. Despite being the butt of jokes at the beginning of the year, the Beavers now look to be rolling and headed toward another top three finish. Are the Beavers primed for another late season run, or were victories over the Washington schools just smoke and mirrors?
First of all, you cannot judge a team's progress in the Pac-10 this year on wins over Washington and Washington State. Games against those teams are neither measuring sticks nor smoke in mirrors. They're just W's.
Mike Riley always has this team rolling right when they should be; that's why he's one of the best head coaches in the conference. They're always at the peak of their performance once the leaves change colors, and this is looking like another typical year in Corvallis.
Tough tests remain for the Beavers...Arizona on the road and Oregon at home in the Civil War present the largest challenges for Oregon State down the stretch. I don't see them, however, stumbling in their next three (Arizona State, @UCLA and Cal). I still think that they're more talented across the board than Arizona and anything can happen in a rivalry game. I'd say this team goes no worse than 3-2 to end the season and there's an outside shot at winning out.
4. Stanford's bowl dreams just took a major hit when they laid an egg at the Rose Bowl. While Stanford is 4-4 at this point, Washington State looms as their only easy game, and they still must play at Oregon, at home versus an SC team that will be looking for revenge, and the Big Game in Strawberry Canyon. Given the brutal schedule, is it too early to bugle 'TAPS' on their bowl chances?
I said last week that Stanford wouldn't be bowl eligible and would finish 5-7 this season. I'll stand by it. Their last win of the season will come next week at home against the Cougars before hitting a devestating end of season stretch which includes Oregon, USC and California. The Cardinal have made major strides in changing the attitude within and atmosphere surrounding Stanford football, but they're just not quite postseason material yet.
5. At this stage in the game, USC is Barack Obama, and the field is John McCain. Make the best case that you can for SC not winning yet another conference crown.
Ha! A political joke! Don't forget to vote in 11 days, folks. It's your duty as an American. By the way, in case you're curious, I'm voting for Ric Flair.
Well...if that awful case of Jock Itch returns...combined with an untimely visit from Kellen Winslow Jr....combined with an earthquake hitting the Los Angeles basin...then Oregon/Cal/Oregon State/Arizona is still in the hunt!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
And we all appreciate that you like free stuff.
KOLBY KEARNEY was our winner!
Kolby went a stunning 9-1 on the week, only missing the Georgia Tech/Clemson game.
Congratulations Kolby! You're getting a pair of tickets to the ASU/Oregon game. You still don't get the cheerleader. We checked with her, and she's gonna hang out with me. I wish.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Anyway, that doesn't mean we missed our appearance on The Blaze 1260 AM.
This week, we talk about this team's mental status, where they go in the 2nd half of the season, who needs to step up against Oregon and the status of Rudy Carpenter...now boot free!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
We all saw the video and communally thought, "What the hell?"
Apparently, so did the people in charge of college sports.
"There is no question that the actions of the three individuals constitute misconduct as defined in the NCAA bylaws," said Jeff Schemmel, NCAA Division I Championships/Sports Management Cabinet chair. "In addition, the public nature of the incident justifies the assessment of a public reprimand."
However, no other penalties were assesed to ASU in reaction to the staged melee between Brett Wallace and Ike Davis before the Devils lost 12-9 to the Bulldogs in the elimination game.
So basically, Mr. Schemmel grabbed the nearest rolled up newspaper and smacked the Sun Devils on the nose while repeating, "NO."
We're all on record here of thinking that what Murphy, Wallace and Davis conspired to do before the elimination game was ridiculous. I still don't think that it was a matter for the NCAA to step in and place sanctions on the program, but still, it makes the organization look silly if their only action is to reprimand the team through a public statement.
Just more proof that sometimes, the NCAA is full of jokers.
I got your free ASU/Oregon tickets...right here!
No, that wasn't a graphic reference. I meant right here, at Pitchfork Nation.
Cheerleader in Santa cap not included.
The fine folks at Fanster.com (formerly AZ Sports Hub) and PFN have teamed up and we're having a Pick'em Contest this week.
It's just as easy as this: there are 10 October 18 college football matchups listed below. Just pick the winners and post them as a comment on this blog. After you do, e-mail email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org (both e-mail addresses or your entry wont count!) with your name and e-mail address.
The winner gets two tickets to the ASU/Oregon game on October 25. You want them because you love ASU football, but mostly because the game isn't televised.
Here are the games to pick:
1) Purdue Boilermakers at Northwestern Wildcats
2) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Clemson Tigers
3) Vanderbilt Commodores at Georgia Bulldogs
4) Kansas Jayhawks at Oklahoma Sooners
5) Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan State Spartans
6) Stanford Cardinal at UCLA Bruins
7) Missouri Tigers at Texas Longhorns
8) UTEP Miners at Tulsa Golden Hurricane
9) LSU Tigers at South Carolina Gamecocks
10) California Golden Bears at Arizona Wildcats
TIEBREAKER: Total score of Missouri/Texas
But not to fear! The men of the Pac-10 Square Table are back!
California Golden Blogs is our host this week, and when we arrive, we'll be forced to provide all the beer and then leave with no women after the 24-14 lashing they doled out on us.
To the roundtable!
1. Although it's still too early to make bowl predictions with any sort of accuracy, it seems at this point in the season that the Pac-10 is unlikely to fill its 7 contractual bowl slots. How many Pac-10 teams do you think will eventually become bowl eligible?
First of all, seven bowls is far too many, especially when only one of them is on New Years Day. Thanks, Tom Hansen!
Right now, USC, California and Oregon are the locks to go to the postseason. That takes care of our BCS spot, the Holiday Bowl and the Sun Bowl. Three cheers for El Paso!
After that, I think that Arizona, Oregon State and Arizona State will be the only three others to get bowl eligible, and that the Beavers and Sun Devils will barely scrape in with 6-6 records. Stanford's last five games include trips to UCLA, Oregon and Cal and a home game with USC. Those four losses and their token win over WSU gets them only to 5-7. UCLA has six left...I've got them losing at Cal, vs. OSU, at ASU and home to USC, dropping them to 4-8.
It's still a sad year when the Pac-10 doesn't fill the slots that it signed contracts for and that two of those teams, in my opinion, won't even get to the magical 7 to guarantee a bowl trip.
2. After dispensing with Oregon and Arizona State, USC seems to have righted itself back onto the path towards another Pac-10 championship. Obviously everyone's looking to Cal as the last serious challenge, while no one expects this weekend's trip to Wazzu to be anything but ugly, but 3 potentially tricky road trips remain: Arizona, Stanford, and UCLA. Where are the Trojans most likely to be tripped up?
This is going to sound strange, but their toughest trip will be to the Farm. The Wildcats have all but proven that they fold under pressure (losses to lowly New Mexico and mildly better Stanford) and UCLA doesn't have the magic that took them to the 2006 13-9 upset.
Stanford has a very balanced defense with a couple strong linebackers, they've established their ground game with Toby Gerhart and seem to have found their QB of the future in Alex Loukas.
Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think the Trojans will lose any of those games. Frankly, they should roll up on each of them. However, if there's one of those teams that could pose a bit of a problem, it's the team in Palo Alto that could cause some flashbacks to last season.
3. The season is 7 weeks old, nearly half over. What's the biggest surprise in the Pac-10 so far this year?
I think the biggest surprise is not that the conference as a whole has declined in quality in the span of one season but the swiftness and sudden nature of how bad conference play has become across the board.
No one expected how badly this conference would perform against Mountain West. No one could forsee just how bad the quarterback play would be outside of the Coliseum. And no one...NO ONE...could really know just how bad Washington State would be this season. Seriously.
4. Is it possible that USC puts itself back in the national title race? Is it deserving to be back in the national title race?
Without a doubt, USC should be still in the conversation.
Let's get this straight immediately. With the amount of parity and with the talent level improving across the board significantly nationwide, it's going to be a long time until we see another Perfect Storm like we had in 2005 when both USC and Texas ran the table. It's the only way we can explain Vanderbilt, North Carolina, Kansas and other non-traditional football schools finding success on the gridiron. Last season, LSU won the national title with two losses on their resume.
As long as USC can win out the rest of their games, they should definitely be in the mix for the BCS Title Game. Frankly, with the way top-five teams have been falling in the last year and a half, all it takes is one more wild weekend for Southern Cal to be back on top.
5. Arizona State has obviously been a massive disappointment so far this year. Dennis Erickson has never been one to stay in a "rebuilding situation." How long do you anticipate Erickson staying for and what can be done for next year to rebound from the disaster that is 08?
If you listen to this week's Pitchfork Podcast, you'll hear my answer to this question in detail. Here's the Cliff's Notes:
It all depends on how this situation pans out at quarterback. Rudy Carpenter is gone after this season, ending his illustrious 11-year career with the Sun Devils (or so it seems). None of the guys behind him; Danny Sullivan, Samson Szakacsy, Chasen Stangel or Jack Elway; have emerged as the clear heir apparent to the Under Center Throne.
There are, and I'm being told this as I've had no time to research it myself, apparently a bunch of highly talented junior college quarterbacks looking for D-1 homes this spring.
If DE is in this thing for the long haul and is intent on making Arizona State his last coaching stop, then we'll see Szakacsy/Stangel/Elway (not Sullivan, he's terrible beyond terrible) and have a lean year or two in the desert. If Dennis wants to make 2009 his last go around and have one more chance at a top-2 Pac-10 finish, we'll be seeing a brand new BMOC next season.
Monday, October 13, 2008
What most of you might not know is that I'm pretty good at talking about sports that aren't ASU football.
If you're so interested, my employer has allowed me to keep my own all-encompassing sports blog on their website. It'll touch on everything from the world of the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and college sports. The blog is called Beyond The Scoreboard; the title spawning from my desire to bring you the story of sport without crunching useless numbers.
You can get to the blog directly by visiting bts1060am.blogspot.com or through our station's site, www.thefan1060.com.
Guess that's the nice little side effect of losing four straight.
The Sun Devils' last non-televised game was last year's game against San Jose State.
ASU has not had a non-televised conference game since October 21, 2006, when the Devils beat Stanford 38-3 to snap a three-game losing streak.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Before I go on, sorry it took so long to get a recap up. I had to:
B) Cover the Arizona Cardinals today
C) Give myself a day to cool off and refrain from saying something I might want to take back
Yesterday was shameful. A shutout to extend this losing streak might be rock bottom for the Sun Devils. It was the first time the Devils have been shut out since 2004, but at least that team had some offensive firepower.
This one seems to have lost it all. And after a 4th straight loss, we're once again forced to ask ourselves, where do we begin?
Let's this time actually start with the positive...that being the defense. This defensive unit, inexplicably, has improved greatly over the four game losing streak, and yesterday was arguably their best performance of the season considering the machine they were facing in USC. The third quarter may have been the best defensive showing I've seen since I began covering ASU football back in 2003.
I was very impressed with the play of James Brooks and Jamarr Jarrett. They were buzzing off the defensive end positions and were consistently getting in Mark Sanchez' face all day long. It's refreshing to see them play well so early, especially since Luis Vasquez and Dexter Davis have not really come close to their production of last season. For kids that are new to this program, they look like mature vets. Speaking of Davis, nice to see him make a play when he sacked Sanchez and forced a fumble that ended up being the Trojans' first of four 3rd quarter turnovers.
Omar Bolden and Troy Nolan had much, much better games. Both of their picks were highly athletic, heads-up plays; stuff that we, once again, saw throughout last season. Mike Nixon's interception was especially impressive considering that the ball was a dying quail and Mike had to turn his body around to snag it.
And finally, something good to say about Dimitri Nance, who regained a little of his between-the-tackles ability to pick up 4.6 yards per carry. Oh wait, but he officially now fumbles more than Chris Perry.
That's about all the good I've got. Better get onto the awful.
Awful Observation #1: The offensive line
With a warrior mentality that we've grown so used to since 2005, Rudy Carpenter trotted out to start this ball game. Don't you think that as a unit, that should have inspired this woeful O-Line to step up? Guess not. Rudy dropped back to pass 20 times and was hit on 12 of them. His last play, the aftermath of which you see in the photo, was technically a lateral. If Rey Maualuga was in RC's face one more time yesterday, he would have had to ask him out to dinner. The offensive line again was just awful at pass protecting.
Awful Observation #2: The coaching/medical staff
Bear with me here, this is a long one.
If I was RC's dad, which obviously I'm not, I would be livid at the ASU trainers and coaches. On the last play where Rudy got creamed by Maualuga, Shaun Lauvao and Maualuga had to pick him up, because Rudy wasn't showing any signs of getting up himself. The fact that I (or the radio broadcast team for ASU of Tim Healey and Jeff Van Raaphorst, for that matter) didn't see a SINGLE member of the medical staff move toward him is appalling. What's more appalling, and was pointed out by JVR, is that the referees may have been the ones who had to step in and remove RC from the game. Only then did two members of the Devils' medical staff move, lackadaisically, toward the wobbling QB. Rudy didn't enter the game again.
The rule, of course, is that if a player goes down and is tended to by trainers, he must come out for at least one play.
This is UNACCEPTABLE. This is a kid that has given so much to this program, and you're going to leave him in and take this beating when he's already way less than 100%? As stated above, Rudy was hit 13 times on 21 dropbacks. Every single one of those hits would have put you, fair reader, or me in the hospital. But RC popped back up, gingerly, after 11 of them. The last two, Lauvao had to yank him up by his jersey. That made me sick to my stomach.
I don't know RC personally outside of a few brief exchanges at press conferences, but I've covered him enough to know that he didn't want to leave that game. There's a difference, though, between respecting your quarterback's will to compete and recognizing his inability to perform.
Awful Observation #3: USC's lack of respect
ASU has lost any sort of respect that it previously received. If the Trojans thought that the Devils had any chance to mount a comeback from down 21, why would they attempt a fake field goal on a chip shot attempt for David Buehler with less than two minutes left in the 2nd quarter? That play call was Pete Carroll showing that he knew that ASU had no chance of getting themselves back into the football game.
And now that's something that other coaches will probably do as well. I guarantee you that in two weeks, when Mike Bellotti and his Ducks come to town, we'll see the same amount of respect.
Awful Observation #4: The Field Goal Unit
This is officially out of control. Thomas Weber has now had three field goals blocked this season, only a year removed from Weber's kicks not even getting close to touched.
It's asinine to wonder why Fili Moala was able to block both of those 3rd quarter field goal attempts. Don't you think that after he blocked the first one (which by the way, was kicked with FAR too low of a trajectory anyway) that the Devils line would probably make sure they found Moala on the next one to make sure he's neutralized?
I have no idea why this team all of a sudden cannot protect Weber's kicks and punts, but in that stretch, the Devils had 6 automatic points wiped off the board. Granted, there's a bigger problem here in that Arizona State earned zero points off of four 3rd quarter turnovers, but when you can't even settle for three from the defending Lou Groza Award winner, the problem is out of control.
Awful Observation #5: Nate Kimbrough
Let's get this straight. You've never lived up to any expectations placed on you in 4+ years at ASU. Every time you've been given a chance to work your way into the offense, you blow it and end up being dropped on the depth chart. Your biggest contribution to Sun Devil football since 2004 has been the A-State Shuffle (thanks for the link, Cactus Ranch).
Yet you, Nate Kimbrough, are the one having to be restrained by teammates after losing control of your emotions?
What a joke. Kimbrough, if you didn't see it because you were trying to figure out why the Sun Devils couldn't capitalize off of Troy Nolan's interception, was physically restrained by several teammates after apparently getting into the faces of assistant coaches, most likely overwhelmed with anger/emotion/whatever.
Obviously no place on this team for that. The team is already 2-4, cruising toward possibly 2-5 on October 25, and you're the one that's letting go of your emotions.
RC didn't. Dimitri Nance and these receivers haven't. Frankly, the loudest mouth on this team, Keegan Herring, is noticeably silent. But it's Nate Kimbrough.
Final Awful Observation: The wide receivers
Not much to explain here. When Mike Jones and Chris McGaha...the Jones and McGaha of "having two of the surest sets of hands in the Pac-10" according to ABC...are dropping passes, it's, you guessed it, rock bottom. When Jones straight up dropped Danny Sullivan's first pass of the game in the 3rd, it was over.
Stay tuned to PFN this week. We'll have the Pitchfork Podcast with The Blaze 1260 AM coming tomorrow and plenty more.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
The Devils take the field to start their last week of nighttime practices tonight and I suspect that Danny Sullivan will get the full majority of reps with the first team.
In his weekly press conference today, USC head coach Pete Carroll says that he anticipates Sullivan being the starter on Saturday, but admits that he and his staff know "next to nothing" about him.
ASU head coach Dennis Erickson made the announcement about RC during the weekly Pac-10 teleconference.
Photo Credit: Arizona Republic
Click the link below to listen to the interview, thanks to our friends at fanster.com
Monday, October 6, 2008
Free safety Max Tabach, who has been getting more and more reps in the deep secondary in the past three games, tore his ACL in the loss at California. Tabach is out for the season.
Stepping up to his spot as the backup FS behind Troy Nolan will be Jarrell Holman.
Holman has seen action in every game this season but hasn't shown up on the stat sheet since opening night against Northern Arizona, when he collected one solo tackle and assisted on another.
The injury doesn't do anything to the starting lineup; in four games, Nolan and Rodney Cox have gotten the starts at safety. Against Cal, ASU trotted out three corners (Omar Bolden, Terell Carr and Pierre Singfield) with Nolan at FS to get the game started. What it does do, and it goes without saying, is creates a bit of a depth problem at yet another position.
Dennis Erickson said he has to see how RC does during practice this week to see if he will be able to play this Saturday at Southern California. He also said that Rudy will have to be at 100% strength to take the field in Los Angeles.
Carpenter's personal outlook was much more bleak. He told the gathered press that he has no idea what's going on with his foot. Worse yet, Rudy entered the room limping pretty badly and was wearing a walking boot.
Carpenter has started 36 consecutive games since 2005, the 2nd longest streak in the nation behind Purdue's Curtis Painter.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
He was supposed to be one of the featured tailbacks for
Oh, and those were those terrible, one-season wonders we called the Star Trek uniforms.
Regardless of horrible uniform choices, the 2003 season was one of the most colossal disappointments in college football that season.
With gunslinging quarterback Andrew Walter back in the fold as a junior Heisman Trophy candidate, a slough of talented receivers (Derek Hagan, Terry Richardson, Skyler Fulton and Daryl Lightfoot), a couple veterans in the backfield (Mike Williams and the aforementioned poster boy Canidate) and an exciting freshman running back (Loren Wade), the 2003 Devils entered the season ranked in the top 25.
A nationally prominent season never came. The Sun Devils stumbled out of the gate, barely getting by NAU and lowly Utah State (then featuring Chris Cooley, pre-indecent exposure!) before going on the road and getting trounced by Iowa and Oregon State, then losing to Matt Leinart and USC at home to start 2-3. The Devils never recovered, losing four of their last five on the way to a 5-7 record. It's the last time ASU missed the postseason.
Does any of that sound eerily familiar?
With gunslinging quarterback
That 2003 team, with so much potential and so much hype from the previous season, folded under the pressure. Cornell Canidate and Mike Williams fought nagging injuries and, especially in the case of Canidate, were rendered completely ineffective throughout the season. The offensive line struggled to protect Walter.
Does any of this echo yet? It's 2003 all over again in
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23-20 L (OT)
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@ #8 USC
@ North Carolina
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@ #8 WSU
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That's a look at the schedules for 2003 and 2008. In both seasons, the Devils got two wins against inferior opponents before dropping three straight. That game at
Against UCLA, Andrew Walter was knocked out in the 1st half and true freshman Sam Keller had to finish the loss.
The Devils are in severe trouble of letting 2008 turn into another 2003. In reality, though, this year's Devils may be in more dire straits than that '03 squad. That year, after the win at UNC, ASU was 4-3 and needed only two more wins to get at least bowl eligible. If the scenario plays out where the Sun Devils lose at USC and to
The 2003 Sun Devils failed to get up off the mat after an early season gut check. It's up to the 2008 Sun Devils not to repeat history.
This season, at least, our guys in Maroon and Gold don't look like Trekkies.