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.