Thursday, November 13, 2008

Jake Plummer... Handballer?

From Where in the world is Jake Plummer? Playing handball.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Clearing the archives -- Pat Tillman (part two)

Much has been written about Pat Tillman since his death. The following articles are not intended to be a comprehensive listing; rather, they form a selection that gives good perspective and provides terrific reading.

First, a basic report from MSNBC immediately following his death. Note that at this time, it was still being reported that he had been killed by enemy fire.

After his funeral, Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote an interesting article: Challenge yourself.
Tillman talked about everything, with everyone. According to the speakers, he had read the Bible, the Koran, the Book of Mormon, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and he underlined passages constantly. Garwood recalled how he'd mail articles to friends, highlighting certain parts and writing in the margins: "Let's discuss."

Tim Layden of SI wrote a tremendous personal essay Remembering Pat Tillman the morning he heard the news that Pat was dead.
A few minutes ago my 12-year-old son walked into my home office to check on me. I turned to him, and all I could think to say was, "Pat Tillman says hello."

Later in 2004, Layden nominated Pat as his sportsman of the year.
And there I sat in my tall chair, spouting off and thinking: Tillman would despise this. He would deplore that television anchors and journalists and politicians are making a fuss over his death or worse yet, using his death to push their own agendas. With each passing live shot, I felt more out of place, more desirous of running and apologizing to Tillman's memory.

In September 2006, SI published Remember His Name by Gary Smith.
Pat just had that way, with colonels and coaches and Nobel Prize winners, too, of slicing through rank and reputation, of turning every encounter into nothing more or less than two human beings talking. Hell, the guy introduced himself to strangers simply as "Pat," and if they asked what he did before strapping it on for Uncle Sam, he'd say he studied some back at Arizona State and quickly ask about them, never mentioning the summa cum laude or the Pac-10 defensive player of the year award, and certainly not the NFL. And still, something about him made you walk away wanting to learn more, laugh more, run more, give more.

The fallen soldier of fortune by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN includes some great insight from Doug Tammaro of ASU's Sports Information Department.
In the year since Tillman died during a firefight in Afghanistan, Tammaro has told a thousand stories that have undoubtedly reached millions of people. He's determined to make sure that people know all about the man Tillman was, about all the dimensions of his life and character that went far beyond the headlines and sound bites centered on the million-dollar football player for the Arizona Cardinals who left it all behind in the wake of September 11th to fight for his country.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Clearing the archives -- Pat Tillman (part one)

After Pat Tillman's tragic death, I started linking to some of the better articles that had been published before he died. Of course, many great essays have been written since, but it's important to go back and read what was written while he was still with us.

A cut above was published in SI while Pat was still at ASU.
This season Tillman has become simply the best player in the country who doesn't have his own (fill in the blank: Heisman, Outland, Lombardi, Butkus) campaign, living proof that there is room at the highest level of the game for a guy without much size or blazing speed but with a brain and cojones. "He epitomizes what college football is all about," says Southern Cal offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, who was an assistant at Arizona State during Tillman's first two seasons.

Privileged to Serve, by Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal, was written after Pat had left the NFL to join the Army.
Right now he has 13 weeks of basic training ahead of him, then three weeks of Airborne School, and then, if he makes it, Ranger School, where only about a third of the candidates are accepted. "It's a long row," said the Fort Benning spokesman, who seemed to suggest it would be all right to call again around Christmas. Until then he'll be working hard trying to become what he wants to become.

On March 20, 2003, published an article "Tillman follows beat of a different drum" by Tom Barnidge, but this has since been removed from the site (probably just lost in the shuffle, not deliberately deleted). If anyone can find a cached version, please send me the details.

The NFL's Lonely Hero, by Paul Beston, was published in the American Spectator in December 2003. All too prophetically, Beston wrote:
Tillman walked away from a three-year, $3.6 million dollar contract with the Cardinals for an $18,000 salary and plentiful opportunities to get his head shot off. That hasn't happened yet, and God willing it won't. But the pay cut kicked in right away.

Pat was killed on April 22, 2004.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Clearing the archives -- Sparky

All ASU fans know about our beloved mascot, Sparky. For younger fans, a brief history can be found at the official site and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism published a nice article about The real life of Sparky the Sun Devil.

Not all current Sun Devils, however, know that the school was originally known as the Owls, and later the Bulldogs. Only after the Arizona State Teachers College became a four-year school named Arizona State College did the Sun Devils moniker arrive.

By the way, Sparky has his own blog!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Kickoff times for the rest of the season -- Update #4

As expected, ABC selected UCLA @ Cal for their regional telecast on October 25, so the ASU/Oregon game will not be televised and will kickoff at ASU's preferred time of 7pm.

Looking forward through the rest of the schedule, two other games are in jeopardy of not being televised. To recap:

On November 1, the game at Oregon State is already set for 7:15pm on FSN.

Daylight savings time ends on Sunday, November 2.

The Washington game in Seattle on November 8 is unlikely to be televised, because there is only one open slot that day, at 1:30pm on FSN (California at USC has already been selected by ABC for 6pm). Oregon State at UCLA or Stanford at Oregon is the most likey selection. I think UW prefers daytime games so I would assume an early afternoon kickoff.

November 15 has two open timeslots: 1:30pm on ABC or 8:15pm on FSN. I would be shocked if ABC wanted to show Washington State so an early start is unlikely. Since this is the homecoming game, it's possible that kickoff will be late afternoon if not selected for TV, but unlike homecoming games in years past, this game is still listed as TBA on the ASU website.

The UCLA game is already set for ESPN2 at 7:30pm on Friday, November 28 (the day after Thanksgiving).

The contest with Arizona in Tucson will be televised, but the kickoff could be 1pm or 6pm.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Clearing the archives -- the Dirk Koetter years

The Archives page will soon be gone. Today's recap starts with the announcement from November 15, 2000 that Bruce Snyder had been fired. Two weeks later, Dirk Koetter was introduced as the new head coach.

I think it's fair to say that the consensus option of Sun Devil nation at the time is that Snyder had to go. It was obvious that he had failed to keep the momentum of the 1996 season (and a pretty good 1997 season) going, and it was hard to present a solid case for his retention.

Meanwhile, Dirk Koetter was received with cautious optimism. Remember, we whisked him away from Oklahoma State at the last minute; he was certainly a hot commodity that winter. However, two red flags went up early following his hire: first, the announcement that he planned to retain the 4-2-5 defense he had used at Boise State; and second, when we saw photos of his coaching staff and realized just how young they all looked.

One thing was certain, however: Koetter was a much better selection than John Mackovic, who the Rats introduced as their new head coach at around the same time. In January, 2001, Rob Miech of wrote a good piece on the challenges facing both men: Arizona schools' new coaches hope to beat heat in desert.
"As I told people when I took the job, my number-one objective is to go and win the Rose Bowl," Mackovic said. "It has to be. If it isn't, I shouldn't be here. No one should be here. It can't be any less, because we haven't done it. It's like scaling Mount Everest. It's there, and you have to do it."
Of course, things never did work out for Dirk in the desert, and six years of mediocrity later (was it really six years?) he was fired, to be replaced by his polar opposite, Dennis Erickson. The best summary of Erickson is Portrait of a winner, written by Jim Meehan of the Spokesman-Review in August, 2006, while Erickson was at Idaho. At the time of writing, the jury is out.

There's a chance

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Clearing the archives -- selling out

The ongoing project to transfer the contents of the Archives to this blog continues...

You'll notice that a lot of the articles come from the New Times. Two primary reasons for this: the New Times has an extensive online history for free; and when they do cover ASU athletics, they tend to do so in depth.

Anyway, two articles today from the late 90's, both of which are still highly relevant.

In March 1998, John Dougherty's article ASU plays footsie with Nike detailed then-AD Kevin White's attempt to secure a $5 million per year deal with Nike. Funny, but 10 years later it's obvious that ASU is not one of Nike's "featured" schools. I can buy an FSU, Texas or UNC cap here in PA, but no sign of ASU merchandise.

In The Selling of ASU Football from September 1998, Dougherty reported on the commercialization of the gameday experience.
The real battle during ASU home football games pits fans against a high-tech marketing machine that employs a distracting array of audio, video, live stunts and bright signage to hammer commercial messages into a captive audience.

No matter how the game unfolds, no matter the situation on the field, Sun Devil fans face a fusillade of advertisements. The ads divert attention from the field and refocus the "market" on products and corporations being hawked.

Two years later, ASU was forced to announce that they were reducing the number of in-game commercial announcements.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Kickoff times for the rest of the season -- Update #3

Updated 9/29/08: as predicted, the ASU @ USC game on October 11 has been selected by ABC for the 12:30pm timeslot. As with the Cal game this coming week, this will be a regional telecast. If you live outside the far West, you'll need to sign up for ESPN Gameplan ($22 for the day) or head to a sports bar.

The next game with a kickoff TBD is Oregon on October 25 at Sun Devil Stadium. Expect an announcement on October 13. The only open slot that day is the 12:30 ABC telecast, and the only other possibility for that time is UCLA at Cal, so the game this week in Berkley will probably have a major influence. If the Oregon game is not picked by ABC, expect a 7pm kickoff with no live TV coverage.


Updated 9/22/08: the ASU @ Cal game has been picked up by ABC with a 12:30pm kickoff. This is a regional telecast, and given how poor the Pac-10 is doing this season you can be sure it will be shown in the Pac-10 region and maybe a few other western states only. For those of us outside that area, you'll need to sign up for ESPN Gameplan ($22 for the day) or head to a sports bar.

The USC game on October 11 is still TBD, with an announcement to be made on Monday, September 29 or Sunday October 5 if ABC uses one of its 6-day selections. ABC's other options that day are:

This is a pretty sorry slate of games, so I think it's likely that ABC will select the ASU/USC game, but no guarantees!


Numerous posts are starting to show up on various message boards asking when certain games will kickoff. Keep in mind that apart from a few games that are selected before the start of the season, most weeks' games are not selected for TV until 12 days prior to gameday. Twice per season, ABC is allowed to wait until 6 days to announce their picks.

Three invaluable resources are the full Pac-10 schedule, the Pac-10 TV schedule, and Matt Sarzyniak's excellent listing site.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that if you are planning to travel to a game, kickoff could be as early as 12:30pm or as late as 8pm, so keep your plans flexible. Typically if a home game is not selected for TV, it will kickoff at 7pm.

Here's what we already know about the 2008 season:

The first three games (NAU, Stanford and UNLV) were not selected for network TV and are being shown by FSN Arizona with a 7pm kickoff.

The Georgia game was selected by ABC prior to the start of the season with a 5pm kickoff.

The three big October matchups are all TBA:

The October 4 game at Cal is likely to be televised, and would kickoff at either 12:30pm on ABC or 4:30pm on Versus.

The October 11 contest at USC is also likely to be televised at either 12:30pm on ABC or 7:15pm on FSN. Remember, ABC cannot show USC every week (it just seems that way!).

The only open TV slot for the Oregon game on October 25 is 12:30pm on ABC, but UCLA @ Cal is also a candidate for that window. If the game is not picked by ABC, I assume ASU would schedule it for 7pm.

On November 1, the game at Oregon State is already set for 7:15pm on FSN.

Daylight savings time ends on Sunday, November 2.

If Washington keeps losing, the game in Seattle on November 8 is unlikely to be televised, because there is only one open slot that day, at 1:30pm on ABC. I think UW prefers daytime games so I would assume an early afternoon kickoff.

November 15 has two open timeslots: 1:30pm on ABC or 8:15pm on FSN. I would be surprised if ABC wanted to show Washington State so the early start is unlikely. Since this is the homecoming game, it's possible that kickoff will be late afternoon if not selected for TV, but unlike homecoming games in years past, this game is officially listed as TBA on the ASU website.

The UCLA game is already set for ESPN2 at 7:30pm on Friday, November 28 (the day after Thanksgiving).

The contest with Arizona in Tucson will be televised, but the kickoff could be 1pm or 6pm.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The greatest of the great, redux

18 months ago, I started a project to name the All-time ASU football team. I received some great feedback from fans, and got in touch with some past players who provided invaluable insight. The project stalled for two reasons: mostly, I got distracted by work, but also, the selections proved far more difficult than I ever anticipated.

I don't want to quit, so the project is back on my front burner. But I need assistance.

First, a recap of the rules (which I set for myself): most importantly, this will be a true team, with the right number of players at each position. That means one halfback and one fullback for example. I'm not going to cheat like the NFL did when they named four quarterbacks to their 75th Anniversay All-Time team. This defeats the entire purpose: it's easy to say that Baugh, Graham, Unitas and Montana were all great; it's a lot harder to say which of them was the very best.

Players will be evaluated based on their college career, not their pro performance, and extended careers will carry more weight. So while Derrick Rodgers' performance in '96 was one of the great single seasons in Sun Devil history, it's not enough for him to make the team. Players will be judged at the position they played in college, not the pros, so Darren Woodson will have to make it as an OLB, not a SS. Football performance will also outweigh off-field contributions or all-around popularity, so while Pat Tillman was without doubt one of the greatest men ever to wear a Sun Devil uniform, he wasn't necessarily one of the two best OLBs in ASU history.

Realistically, only players from the WAC era and beyond will be considered (that's 1962 onwards). It is almost impossible to fairly evaluate players from the Border Conference days, although please let me know if you feel strongly about anyone excluded.

Some positions are relatively simple; others are very difficult. I already named the two cornerbacks: Mike Haynes and Eric Allen. Just 20 more to go. Please send me an e-mail with your suggestions or post comments to this article.

Clearing the archives -- hoops edition

As we continue to retire the archives, today's selection features a recap of the roller-coaster ride that was ASU hoops from the mid '90s to the mid '00s.

The Bill Frieder era was a black mark in our program's history. I would gladly have traded the sweet sixteen appearance for some integrity. I have long argued that one of the most overlooked heroes in recent ASU history is Don Newman. We forget just how bad things were at the start of the 1997-98 history. The Sun Devils were expected to be awful on the court that year, and no one would have been very surprised had some additional scandals arisen off the court. Instead Newman led the team to an 18 win season, and NIT tournament berth, and (far more importantly) restored discipline and respect to the program. John Dougherty's article, The Stopgap Coach, published in March 1998 recaps Newman's season and the decision not to hire him as the permanent Head Coach. Others will disagree, but I said at the time, and I continue to believe that Kevin White should have had the guts to stick with him -- he earned it. I'm glad that things worked out well for him, and he has been an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs for several years now.

Kevin White's "splashy" hire was, in retrospect, a mistake. Rob Evans was the classic example of a great guy who could not, for whatever reason, take the program to the next level. At least he continued to improve the school's reputation in the national media, as evidenced by articles like this one from 1999 and another in 2001.

The Evans era peaked in 2003 with the NCAA tournament selection, as captured beautifully in Paul Rubin's essay Winning Season: Devils go dancing for the first time in years.

After eight years, Lisa Love fired Rob Evans and surprised pretty much everyone with her hiring of Herb Sendek. So far, so good.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Clearing the archives

Back in the early days of Wired Devils, I maintained an Archives page where I could save links to articles of interest related to ASU athletics.

Blogging has rendered this page obsolete, so in a series of articles over the coming weeks I am going to post summaries of the archives and eventually retire the page.

We start with a couple of classics. In 1994 New Times writer Paul Rubin followed the baseball team from opening day in January until the last out at the College World Series. Coach Jim Brock died of cancer on June 12, four days after his team's season ended.

Rubin's first story BROCK SOLID was written before the legendary coach's death.
"Jim Brock's place in the pantheon of all-time-great college baseball coaches is secure."
The second piece, JIM BROCK LIVED FOR BASEBALL, was published a couple of weeks after he passed.
"The old baseball coach sits motionless in his chair, appearing sadly fragile. He is running on fumes now, his body wracked with liver and colon cancer that will snatch his life in just eight days."
Many years later Rubin wrote a fascinating piece on Brock's successor, Pat Murphy.

Monday, September 22, 2008

And so it all comes down to this

It seems like every season there is a defining game. For ASU's 2008 edition, the next game at Cal on October 4 is just that. Win, and the Devils are 2-0 in Pac-10 play and looking good for a decent season. Lose, and the season could get very ugly very quickly. Can we beat Cal? Sure; Maryland was able to beat Cal, and Maryland is not very good. Will we beat Cal? I have no idea.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

First Regular Season National Network TV Game since???

OK, trivia buffs. This week's game versus Georgia is a national telecast on ABC. National meaning every TV in the country will be able to receive the game.

I cannot recall another Sun Devil regular season game ever being broadcast on national TV. We've been on ABC a lot over the past 20 years, but always on regional telecasts; the ESPN/FSN games are only available if you have cable.

There probably has been a national broadcast in the past. My first game was 1990 so I don't have direct memory from earlier than that. Maybe the Nebraska game (the 35-28 loss at Sun Devil Stadium) in 1987?

Please post to comments if you can recall another national broadcast.

PS It's Thursday and I am still not over the UNLV loss. I still feel gutted, and I'm finding it hard to care about this game.

Monday, September 15, 2008


It takes something like the loss to UNLV to make me realize that I take football way too seriously. I feel completely gutted, like the past 9 months of buildup have been a total waste of time. The Georgia game has gone from being the biggest day of the year to just another Saturday.

For those still interested, the Georgia Sports Blog will give you some good insight about the Bulldogs. Oh, what could have been...

Friday, September 12, 2008

All eyes on Pac-10 officiating this weekend

Most people around the country will be watching USC host Ohio State this weekend. At the same time, ESPN will be televising Oklahoma's visit to UW. This will be the first time the Sooners have played at a Pac-10 stadium since the infamous Oregon officiating debacle.

Duck fans hate the Huskies. Trojans and Bruins don't get along. We despise the Rats. But one thing all Pac-10 fans can agree on is that our conference's officiating in terrible. I don't believe Pac-10 officials are biased, but I do believe they are incompetent.

In some ways, I hope that the Pac-10 officials do screw up a major call this weekend, because it may generate enough noise for change to happen. Of course, putting the words "change" and "Pac-10" in the same sentence is pretty funny.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Hoff

Must read post from the world's greatest sports blog, Deadspin: David Hasselhoff Is a Crazy, Wild Arizona Football Fan.
If I was recruiting against Arizona, I think I'd just play this video. Unless you're competing for a German basketball star. In which case Arizona is golden.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Could be a rough NFL season for ASU fans

First, a little background.

When I moved to the Valley to attend ASU in 1991, I had no allegiance to any specific NFL team, so I quickly adopted the Cardinals. Sure they were terrible, but they were the hometown team, and they played on campus. I could scalp a ticket to most games for $5 and sit on the 50 yard line of the upper deck. Even if they were the worst team in the league, it was still NFL football.

After graduating, I became a season ticket holder for a few years, primarily to get into the Super Bowl lottery (I got tickets!). Even after leaving the Valley, I still followed them. In fact, I was at the Eagles/Cardinals game at the Vet where Jake Plummer made his pro debut.

All that changed, however, on the day that the Cardinals filed their lawsuit against ASU. Remember, this was just nine days after the citizens of Arizona had given the franchise a $400 million gift. How did the Cards respond? By suing a state agency for over $20 million. Nine days. Un-freaking-believable.

I said at the time, and I maintain to this day, that the lawsuit was unforgivable regardless of its merit. I don't care if the Cards were 100% right that they were due an additional $20 million from advertising. They should have simply held a press conference and announced: "Although we believe ASU owes us an additional $20 million, as a sign of gratitude to the people of Arizona, we are going to forgo all claims to that revenue."

Of course, as we later discovered, their claims were largely without merit, but that is not the point. The point is that the lawsuit should never have been filed in the first place. ASU still racked up nearly $1 million in legal bills, and for an Athletic Department that struggles to make a profit, that's a lot of money.

Ever since that day I have wished nothing but the worst for the Cardinals franchise and the Bidwill family. I have no ill-will to the individual players on the team, but I take great pleasure at watching them lose year after year.

2008 may be different. The NFC West is possibly going to be the worst division in NFL history. Seattle, San Francisco and St. Louis are all terrible. Not just bad, but horrible. The Cruds could go 8-8 or even 7-9 and win the division by 2 or 3 games. I'm trying to find a way that another team will finish ahead of them, but I can't. So unfortunately, it's going to happen: the Cruds will win their division this season. My only solace is that they won't make it past the first round of the playoffs.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The most overlooked game of all time?

So, hands up if you're excited about the UNLV game this week? As I posted earlier, I didn't think the Devils would overlook Stanford, but it's going to be awfully difficult not to overlook the Rebels. I know all the fans will be thinking about Georgia this week, but what about the coaches? Do they sneak a day to prep for the Bulldogs, or do they give 100% of their time and attention to UNLV? It's going to be a very strange week.

Sparky appears to be safe

After last week's controversy, with Sparky gone from midfield at Sun Devil Stadium, the results of the Wired Devils poll were interesting: over 60% of respondents said that ASU should emphasize Sparky and the interlocking AS logo, and just 28% voted for Sparky only. I don't think Sparky is being eliminated, but I do think the University realizes that outside of Arizona, he may not be the most marketable symbol.

As the photo shows, Sparky is still present on the new basketball floor, but this time the sunburst ASU logo is the center of attention. Some people hate this logo; I quite like it myself.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Changes to Wired Devils

As you will probably notice, some changes are happening at Wired Devils. I have found it difficult to maintain a current blog 24/7, so I am returning the main site to the links page. However, I have added a new feature: real-time links to the headlines from various news sources and blogs.

I will keep blogging, but will no longer feel embarrassed if I go a few weeks between posts. The URL of the blog is but I will link to it from the main page.

This change also allows me to make use of Blogger's toolkit, including their polls service. This week you can vote on your preferred logo: Sparky, AS or both.

Thank you for your continued support of Wired Devils. I am continually amazed by the number of visits I get each day.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Annual NFL Pigskin Pick'em Contest

Have some fun this NFL season by playing Pigskin Pick'em on I have created a Wired Devils group so that you can compete against other ASU fans. No prizes -- just for fun!

This game challenges you to select the winner of each game throughout the 17-week NFL season. No points spread to worry about -- just pick the winner. Best of all, it's FREE to play.

Click here for the group page.

Remember to pick against the Cruds every week!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Pac-10 falls even further behind

A must read column from Tony Barnhart of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Excerpt:
I was still getting calls late Monday night about the SEC’s staggering 15-year deal with ESPN that will reportedly pay the league about $2.25 billion. That deal, coupled with the 15-year deal the SEC has signed with CBS will give the league financial security for a long, long time.
In addition to the SEC, the Big Ten and Big XII have pretty impressive TV deals in place. Meanwhile, the silence from the Pac-10 office is deafening.

Devil Dome pics

A severe storm hit Tempe last night and pretty much destroyed the Devil Dome. Thanks to tiptap for the picture. Additional photos here and here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The most important game of the season is...

Forget UGA, forget U$C. One game stands out as the most critical on the Sun Devils' schedule: Stanford. That's right, the trees. Why? Because it's the Pac-10 opener, and this game has historically been a strong predictor of the season.

Consider these numbers (which count conference games only): since joining the Pac-10 in 1978, ASU has lost the conference opener 17 times, and in those seasons has gone a combined 57-70-2 (a 45% win percentage). However, in the 11 seasons in which we have won our first Pac-10 game, the composite record is 56-31-0 (a 64% win percentage). We tied our opener in 1983 and 1986 and finished a combined 9-4-2 in those seasons.

Since 1982, ASU has only once (in 1999) lost the conference opener and finished with a winning record in the Pac-10. Conversely, 1994 was the only season where the Sun Devils won their conference opener but finished below .500 in the Pac-10.

So feel free to overlook NAU, but don't overlook the Cardinal. September 6 in Sun Devil Stadium is the most important game of the season.

Monday, June 30, 2008

I thought he retired 10 years ago?

Probably the most significant offseason news, in terms of its long-term impact on ASU, was the announcement that Tom Hansen will retire as Pac-10 commissioner next summer (what, he has to hang on for another year?).

I'm surprised that the guys over at didn't update their website in celebration. Let's face it: this guy was inept. Many people will claim that the lack of TV exposure is his biggest "crime"; personally I think his inability to secure a New Year's Day bowl for the second-placed team is the biggest indictment of his tenure.

Phil Knight as the next commissioner? Lisa Love? It really doesn't matter: whoever the Presidents select will be better than Hansen.

While blogs review his accomplishments (or lack thereof), other authors use the opportunity to re-open the discussion about Pac-10 expansion. This article makes the huge mistake of assuming that the Utah TV market is relevant. Let's be clear: Salt Lake City brings negligible additional viewers, and that is all that matters. The only schools that make sense for the conference to add are Texas, Texas A&M, Colorado or Missouri. And that will only happen if the Big XII breaks apart. Given their recent TV deal, however, that is unlikely to happen.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


The ASU-Georgia game is one of the most anticipated non-conference games of the season, and will be one of the biggest games in Sun Devil Stadium history.

Unfortunately, Uga VI will not be part of the spectacle. The bulldog passed away Friday night.

Uga is one of the best traditions in college football (and Georgia is lucky enough to have another: the hedges). Hopefully Uga VII is waiting in the wings and can make it to Tempe for the festivities.

Worth remembering that ASU's original nickname was the Bulldogs.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

2008 schedule

One of the most popular features of Wired Devils is the football schedule, with links to the opponent's website and local newspaper coverage. After each game a link to the boxscore is added.

And don't forget that you can also review all the schedules since 2001 on the Football page.

For those of you already planning trips to Athens or Madison, the official site has the future schedules through 2010, but don't make any firm plans just yet. Remember, planned games often change, and you really have to wait until the spring before each season to know for sure, especially with out-of-conference games.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Annual Misconceptions About Recruiting Post

I haven't done this in several years. At least I don't recall doing it in several years. Every year, when I read the boards, there's always about 10 cats jumping to wild assumptions based on their preconceived notions about how college football recruiting works. Here's a primer list of misconceptions:

1. Recruiting is just like they show it in the movies.

- Not even close. For one, they have no way to show the endless hours coaches spend watching film, talking to coaches, talking to parents, and especially talking to players. Furthermore, recruiting is not about SALESMANSHIP it's about RELATIONSHIP. I don't want to get into a chicken vs. the egg issue, but Mack Brown did not suddenly become a superstar recruiter at Texas. He was hauling similar classes at North Carolina, too. This leads to my next point, and probably the most important:

2. Winning always means great recruiting.

- Way off. Great recruiters recruit greatly regardless of the program. Never, ever forget that. Pete Carroll isn't a great recruiter because he's at USC. The man could have recruited almost as well at Washington State, he just wouldn't have had the added benefit of being in the heart of one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the country. Winning does not recruit. Winning opens doors to recruits you did not previously have access to. This is always what trips up fans. Putting three or four successful years can definitely have an impact on getting recruits, but in the end it's about the people you have recruiting, not really about the product you've previously put on the field. There's also a side misconception that the offensive line coach recruits the offensive linemen, the secondary coach recruits defensive backs, etc. Not true. Staff members are given a geographic region and direction towards which recruits to focus on. They're also responsible for attending games in that region and spotting previously unknown talent. So it's more common, for example, to have your secondary coach recruiting Fresno to be working with a wide receiver, a tight end, and a linebacker. Those kids may not even know the names of their position coaches until they come in for an official visit.

3. Head coaches must be great recruiters to have a great recruiting class.

- Not entirely true. What is true is the best recruiting staffs start with a great recruiter at the top, but it's not entirely necessary. What's most important is each staff has two or three people whose most special talent is developing trusting relationships with teenagers, preferably starting at, say, 16-years-old. Then it's important that the head coach can close, or at least come off genuine enough with the parents to not damage the work the star staff recruiters have done. At most programs, the staff does 80 percent or more of the hard work in recruiting. Head coaches tend to focus on the impact players, but if it comes down to the wire on any player the staff wants, the head coach will almost always get involved there.

4. Recruiting rankings aren't important.

- This is going too far, IMO. The bulk of people involved in ranking recruits: (a) have no playing or coaching experience at any level; (b) know much less about football than they think they do; (c) are almost entirely reliant on the opinions of their peers to justify their rankings. That said, all of those people can't be that far off about the overall group of players. They may whiff hard on a top-rated quarterback or running back. That makes sense. There's too many variables there (type of offense, stability of staff, surrounding talent) to expect them to accurately project every skill player. They'll usually puff up a few players that are workout warriors but have shown real football ability. But the overall rankings ... if a school lands three jumbo athletes with skill-type speed, what are the chances those kids won't produce in big ways? If USC recruits 10 Top 100 players, that's a high-ranking class that deserves the props, because it will be a success if 5 or more of those players have big impacts on the field. What's the difference between the No. 5 class and the No. 20 class? It could be a huge chasm or nothing at all depending on attrition, injuries, and how many kids from the No. 20 class stick around for four or more years. Also, if a program has one No. 5 class surrounded by three classes in the 40s, the program that regularly recruits in the Top 20 is likely to out perform the other every year. Or at least it's fairly safe to say the the team the recruits the most consistently has more available talent.

5. If my coaching staff can't land high rated classes, they should be canned

- I will never understand the hostility from fans regarding recruiting classes. Most of them never seem to see the bigger picture. Recruiting is always, in the end, about performance. If you have a program that is stuck on 6 wins and the coach elevates you to an 8+ win plateau, is there a reason to gripe? Ten years of 8+ wins puts you in a very elite class -- the annual Top 20 -- and a program that has the respect of other coaches, if not national worship. It also puts the program in the position to take another step up with luck and pluck. College football is an endurance sport. Keep your winning coach on the sidelines for a long time and make a financial committment. It's not how a coach recruits in ONE SPECIFIC YEAR. It's how a coach (and his staff) recruit for the duration of their stay at a program. That defines a coach's recruiting. Always. If a coach lands, say, a No. 30 class for four straight years, there's plenty of talent there to be successful and possibly exceed the ranking of the classes with a little luck and a few players who improve. It's even better if the attrition rates mean keeping those playres in school. Solid attrition almost always = winning football; never underestimate a team with a consistently stable second team.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Uniform madness

Nothing seems to generate more discussion that suggestions to change the football uniforms. One thing we can all agree on is that the banana uniforms from the Marmie era were awful.

I see lots of requests for pictures of these atrocities, including today's Uni Watch, so for your viewing pleasure...

Note that the back of the Woodson card indicates that these uniforms were worn versus USC. They were also used in at least one game versus CGU. If anyone can provide the exact dates when these were worn, please post to the comments.

Updated 1/10/08: Today's Uni Watch follows up with some additional pictures provided by the ASU SID here, here (an especially ugly close-up) and here. Also, confirmation of the comment left here yesterday that these monstrosities were used for two games: CGU in 1989 and USC in 1990.