Saturday, August 13, 2011

Humor: Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott meets with Texas AD DeLoss Dodds

Wired Devils has obtained the transcript of today's meeting between Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott and Texas Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds. Also in attendance were Pac-12 Deputy Commissioner Kevin Weiberg and General Counsel Woodie Dixon. (With apologies to Francis Ford Coppola.)

CUT TO: The interior of Scott's office.

This is my Deputy Commissioner, Kevin Weiberg; Mr. Dodds. He's the one who arranged this whole thing through your man Worley.

Yes -- Yes.

Sit down.

Well I was under the impression that you and I would talk alone.

I trust these men with my life, Mr. Dodds. If I were to ask them to leave, it would be an insult.

Well uh, it's perfectly all right with me, but I should tell you that I am a blunt man and I intend to speak very frankly to you -- maybe -- more frankly than anyone in my position's ever spoke to you before.

[SCOTT lights a cigarette]

The Pac-12 conference has done very well on the West Coast. You own, or, you control, six regional TV networks -- one national. The contracts were negotiated with the cable operators, so there is no problem with distribution. Now, my sources tell me that -- you plan to make a move against the Big XII. They tell me within a week -- you're gonna move Beebe out. That's quite an expansion. However it will leave with one little technical problem. Ahh -- The Longhorn Network will still be in the University of Texas' name.

Worley is a good man.

Yeah, well let's cut out the bulls**t. I don't want to spend any more time here than I have to. You can have Texas in the Pac-16, the price is we get to keep the Longhorn Network. Plus a monthly payment of 20% of the gross -- of all conference TV revenue.

Mister -- Scott.

Now the rest of the conference schools have agreed to pool all media rights and divide the revenues equally, am I right?

That's right.

Now why would I ever consider giving you more than that?

Because I intend to squeeze you. I don't like your kind of people. I don't like to see you come out to this clean country in your $300 haircuts -- dressed up in those polo shirts - and try to pass yourselves off as decent Americans. I'll do business with you, but the fact is, I despise your masquerade -- the dishonest way you pose yourself. Yourself, and your whole f***ing conference.

Mr. Dodds - we're both part of the same hypocrisy. But never think it applies to my conference.

All right, all right -- some people have to play little games. You play yours. So lets just say that you'll give Texas a larger share because it is in your interest to have us in your conference. But I want your answer by noon tomorrow. And one more thing: don't you contact me again -- ever. From now on you deal with Worley.

(then, to Woodie)

Open that door son.

[He starts to leave]

Uh, Mr. Dodds -- you can have my answer now if you like. My offer is this -- nothing. Not even the fee for terminating the Longhorn Network, which I would appreciate if you would put up personally.

DODDS (laughing)
Good afternoon, gentlemen.

[He opens the door and walks out]

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The greatest Receivers

Originally published 9/11/10

The greatest wide receivers in Sun Devil history were J.D. Hill and John Jefferson. They are joined on the All-time ASU team by Todd Heap, the greatest tight end. Although not a criteria for making this team, it's noteworthy that all three were first round draft picks by the NFL.

According to Dean Smith's book The Sun Devils: Eight Decades of Arizona State Football, some call J.D. Hill "the greatest natural athlete in ASU football history." And those who remember him in the maroon-and-gold are quick to agree. Following coach Larry Kentera from Stockton, CA to Arizona State, Hill was an important contributor on the 1967-68 teams. After missing the 1969 season, Hill starred on the 1970 Sun Devil team, one of the top five teams in ASU's history. Hill caught 58 passes for 908 yards and 10 touchdowns as the Devils finished the season ranked sixth in the nation at 11-0 with a Peach Bowl win over North Carolina. Hill was drafted fourth overall in the 1971 NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills (the second-highest an ASU player has ever been drafted). Hill experienced troubles after his football days ended, but turned his life around and is now running Catch the Vision Ministry, whose focus is mentoring youths and encouraging and supporting recovery.

John Jefferson is one of six Sun Devils in the College Football Hall of Fame. "JJ" is probably best known for "The Catch", the game-winning touchdown against the U of A that capped an unbeaten regular season and put the Sun Devils into the 1975 Fiesta Bowl where they beat Nebraska to finish the season #2 in the country. However, it would be a mistake to let that one spectacular play define his career. Remarkably, Jefferson led ASU in receptions in each of his four seasons (1974-77) and was ASU's third consensus All-America in 1977. In the pros, Jefferson joined Charlie Joiner and Kellen Winslow to give the San Diego Chargers one of the best receiving groups in NFL history. Dubbed "The Touchdown Man" by SI, Jefferson was the first receiver in league history to gain 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons. After a contract dispute, he was traded to the Packers where he teamed up with James Lofton. Quoting his teammate at Green Bay, Paul Coffman:
"James was so gifted and very intelligent. J.J. had so much enthusiasm and was able to go up against bigger defensive backs and come down with the ball. He didn't have very big hands, but he had great concentration. And the crowd would always go crazy when he'd go over the middle, catch the ball, and take a big hit."

A native Arizonan, Todd Heap signed with ASU in 1998 out of Mesa Mountain View High School. He played as a true freshman and "began his Sun Devil career by snagging a 15-yard touchdown pass with one hand in the first quarter of ASU's season-opener against Washington". Heap was a first team All-Pac-10 selection in 1999 and 2000 before leaving a year early to enter the NFL draft. Unfortunately, Heap's tenure at ASU coincided with the decline of the Bruce Snyder era, and his teams never won more than six games in any season. However, Heap did finish with a 2-1 record over the Wildcats. Picked with the final selection of the first round in the 2001 draft, Heap joined the Baltimore Ravens where he continues to be one of the NFL's most dominant tight ends.

The greatest Offensive Linemen

Originally published 8/17/10

The offensive line on my All-time ASU team comprises three "Home Boys", one of the most visible former players, plus the most recent Sun Devil to be represented on this team. Each of these players was a member of a Pac-10 Championship team.

The tackles are Juan Roque and Danny Villa. Roque anchored the offensive line that protected Jake Plummer during ASU's unbeaten 1996 regular season. During his senior season, Roque did not give up a single sack. After an injury-abbreviated NFL career, Roque is now the color analyst for Fox Sports Arizona's coverage of the Sun Devils and a frequent blogger. Villa was a member of the 1987 Rose Bowl winning team that featured a starting offensive line of native Arizonans named the "Home Boys". Unfortunately, his accomplishments at ASU and in a 12 season NFL career were overshadowed by a serious conviction.

Both guards were also members of the "Home Boys" line: Randall McDaniel and Todd Kalis. McDaniel is, along with Mike Haynes, one of two Sun Devils in both the College and Pro Halls of Fame. Arguably the greatest guard in football history, McDaniel was a four-year starter at ASU and a force on the 1987 Rose Bowl team. He started 202 consecutive games for the Minnesota Vikings and was selected to 12 straight Pro Bowls. McDaniel now works in education in Minnesota. Kalis was a three-year starter and, together with McDaniel, led the Sun Devils to bowl games in each of those three seasons.

The center is Mike Pollak. A member of the 2003 recruiting class, Pollak is the youngest person on this team. A starter in 2006-07, Pollak led the Devils to a 10-3 record and a Pac-10 Co-Championship in 2007. A second round draft pick, Pollack is now a member of the Indianapolis Colts.

The greatest Safeties

Originally published 8/12/10

Only three Sun Devils have been named consensus All-Americas in back-to-back seasons, and two of those were safeties, so this was one of the easiest positions on the team to select.

Mike Richardson (1979-82) was a standout safety on the Sun Devils teams in the early years of Pac-10 membership, including the 1982 team that came within one win of the Devils' first-ever Rose Bowl appearance. "L.A. Mike" want on to play cornerback for the Chicago Bears, and was a key member of their dominant "46" defense of the mid '80s. Sadly, Richardson has led a troubled life since the end of his football career, and was recently released from prison.

Following Richardson at ASU was David Fulcher (1983-85). Fulcher is best remembered for his hard-hitting but, unlike many other players with that reputation, he was a complete player and tremendous athlete.

From his biography:

David Fulcher was born and raised in Los Angeles, California and received both football and baseball scholarships to Arizona State University. During his career at Arizona State, he began as a Wide Receiver, then after requesting a shift to Defensive Back, he earned the coveted award of Standout Player at that position.

David's nickname, "Fo-Rock" was placed on him by his teammates after their game with Colorado State, where his teammates said he hit one player, "like a rock!" The nickname obviously stuck and stayed with him even to this day. While at Arizona State, David won All American honors three consecutive years. In November of 1996, he received the honor of being inducted into the Arizona State University Hall of Fame for his outstanding college career.

The greatest Cornerbacks

Originally published 2/24/07

We start the unveiling of the All-time ASU team with the cornerbacks.

Mike Haynes is one of only two Sun Devils in both the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame. He was all-conference in 1973, '74 and '75, and was named to six All-America teams at the end of the Sun Devils' unbeaten 1975 season. ASU's record was 40-8 during Haynes' four seasons and Frank Kush nicknamed him "luxury".

Eric Allen was a member of the 1987 Rose Bowl championship team. Listed generously at 5'10", Allen used his blazing speed and football instincts to shut down the best of them. He now appears regularly on ESPN.

Although not a condition for selection to this team, it is worth noting that both Haynes and Allen went on to stellar pro careers. Haynes arrival in Los Angeles midway through the 1983 season set the stage for the Raiders to win Super Bowl XVIII, and Eric Allen was a member of some great Philadelphia Eagle defenses during the late '80s and early '90s before moving on to the Saints and Raiders. Haynes was named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.

The greatest of the great unveiled

Originally published 8/12/10

In the build up to the new football season, I will be naming my All-time ASU team. I will announce the team in a series of articles, position-by-position. Since I started this process a few years ago, I have received some great feedback from fans, and got in touch with some past players who provided invaluable insight. Many of the selections proved far more difficult than I ever anticipated. In the end, I had to make some tough decisions, so if I did not pick your favorite player that does not mean that I ignored your input.

I imposed the following rules on myself:

(1) 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 Anniversary All-Time team. This defeats the entire purpose: it's easy to say that Baugh, Graham, Montana and Unitas were all great; it's a lot harder to say which of them was the very best.

(2) The defense will be a 4-3. During much of the Kush era the defense was a 5-2, which is effectively a 3-4 in modern parlance. In the 80's and 90's the 4-3 was the dominant formation.

(3) 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.

(4) Players will be evaluated based on their college career, not their pro performance. For example, Jerry Smith was a great tight end for the Redskins, but it's his time at ASU that counts.

(5) Players will be judged at the position they played in college, not the pros, so Darren Woodson gets judged as an outside linebacker, not a safety.

(6) Football performance will also outweigh off-field contributions or all-around popularity. Nathan LaDuke was a fan favorite on an otherwise horrible team, but he wasn't necessarily one of the two best safeties in ASU history. Charley Taylor's historic contribution in breaking the color barrier for the Redskins doesn't influence his inclusion on this team.

(7) 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.

(8) Individual honors carry a lot of weight, but do not make selections automatic. Multiple All-Americas (Woody Green, Mike Richardson and David Fulcher) and Hall of Fame inductees (Mike Haynes, John Jefferson, Randall McDaniel, Ron Pritchard, Pat Tillman and Danny White) are virtual locks.

Most importantly, this is "my" team. I feel comfortable that each of the selections I have made are the best at their respective positions, but in most cases there were at least two or three other candidates that deserved careful consideration.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Packard Stadium, RIP?

As reported by the Arizona Republic, ASU is considering a move to the Chicago Cubs' new stadium in Mesa in 2014.

Predictably, this has produced a strong response. I was expecting 95% of the feedback to be negative, but right now it's tracking more as a 50-50 split. You can follow the discussion on the Sun Devil Message Board and Sparky's Pigskin Forum.

As I posted, I'm really torn. I'd much prefer to keep all sports on campus, but the opportunity to play in a state-of-the-art stadium for free may be too good to pass up.