Confessions of a Former Sun Devil Fan...(old stuff here)

Discussion on Rich Rodriguez and the Arizona Football team

by Doug » Mon Nov 24, 2014 5:24 pm

I wrote this for the old AFO board probably over a decade ago. At least. I have been coming to AFO since 1998, and have posted this a handful of times during rivalry week. But I don't think I have posted it either of the last two years. Maybe I did, but if I didn't, then I am looking to do something different to shake up the Football Gods. My story is a fan of both schools, and owner of a 1987 Rose Bowl shirt, became so disgusted by the Mustard and Rust. These are my confessions...of a former Sun Devil Fan:

Life is full of choices…you choose your job, your spouse, your clothes, whether to eat that last piece of cake. Lots of tough decisions, all of which impact your life to one degree or another. Your life is given definition, fairly or not, by your decisions in these matters. One of the most important choices a young person growing up in the State of Arizona faces is the decision of which college to attend, should you not be fortunate enough to be able to afford out-of-state options. Now, you can always opt out of the whole battle, and go to Northern Arizona. We all like the Lumberjacks, but unless elementary school teaching or a career in forestry are on your list of possible careers, you are probably making a decision based on availability to skiing and illegal substances. So, that narrows the field of choice, minus valid Apollo College or ITT Tech studies, to the University of Arizona, or Arizona State University. I faced that choice, as did many of you. Of course, I made the right decision in attending the University of Arizona. But it wasn’t always that cut-and-dried. See…I am a former Sun Devil fan. What follows is a study of sorts…a detailed timeline of the events that have taken me from a proud owner of an 1987 Rose Bowl Champion shirt to a Red and Blue bleeding Wildcat with nothing but disdain for the Tempe School of Lunacy. These are the confessions of a former Sun Devil fan.

I grew up in Arizona, and my older brother was a pretty fervent Devil fan. Yet my Grandma lived just down the road from the U of A campus in Tucson. I spent more than one fall night either in attendance, or listening to the PA announcer from the big, gray stadium down the road bark out numbers and downs. In 1980, this 8 year old was up for grabs; I could have gone either way, Cat or Devil. But when it came to academics, and proximity to family, the route to Arizona was obviously the one for me. And when I pulled into Tucson in the Fall of 1990, I was definitely a Wildcat first, but I had no real distain for the Devils. They were just a #2 to root for. I was an Arizonan, and that meant pulling for Arizona teams, one and all. Solidarity and stuff. It would take just one year for all that to be just so much noise.

Dateline November 1991. The place: Sun Devil Stadium. The end of the streak. Nine straight times, the Cats and Devils had met, and save one tie, the Cats had walked off the field victorious every time. But on this November night, the Cats were obviously overmatched, and the streak was to end. A number of starters were out with injury, and the Devils were rolling along to a 2nd half lead of 37-0. The game seemed done, but the drama was about to ratchet up a notch in mere moments. 1st, an elderly couple just down the section from me, Wildcat fans warmed by crocheted ‘Cat caps and blanket, were assaulted with a full cup of soda, thrown from a Devil in human clothing just a few rows above me. The congratulations (grunting ‘high-fives” mostly) for the offending Devil had barely died down when the incident known simply as “The Fake Punt” transpired. 37-0, and the Devils wanted more. Lined up in punt formation from the shadow of their own end-zone, the Larry Marmie-led Devils did not kick, as I discovered when I, along with 73,000 spectators, noticed something clutching a football, clad in mustard and rust, streaking for the Arizona endzone. My head was spinning….Grams and Pops are assaulted, people cheering the offender, fake punts up could this be happening? What the hell was wrong with these people? Alas, a yellow hankie lay on the Sun Devil turf, and the play was called back for some long-since-forgotten infraction. The football Gods broke us off a little piece, as the ‘Cats blocked the ensuing punt and returned it for a touchdown. Little solace, though, as my initiation to the evil of Tempe was just beginning.

No real incidents to report in 1992. Just that it is freaking ridiculous to get beat when the opposing team has 2/3rds of their yards come in one play. Just ridiculous.

Back to Sun Devil Stadium in 1993, we went. This was all Cats, and with a dash of class at the end. On the same field as the Devils ran a fake punt up 37 two years earlier, Dick Tomey has Dan White take a knee inside the Devils 5 yard line to end a 34-20 victory. We took their dignity, and their pet quarterback’s name…Danny White was a U of A hero that day. The win took the sting out of an incident on my walk into the stadium involving a 6 year old with an expanded vocabulary, a middle finger, and a parking structure. We’ve all seen the email-attached picture of that little soccer fan with the face painted and the middle finger extended, photoshopped to wear the gear of every team in the country. I experienced the original just south of University, from the 4th level of a parking structure. His dad just laughed. And I worried about the Devil nation.

The final straw on the journey to righteousness takes us to 1996. Yep…1996. All you have to do is mention the year to make a ‘Cat fan’s blood run cold. The stadium looked as mustard as red, as rust as blue. The last real team from Tempe, the #4 ASu Sun Devils, led by Jake “the Grope” Plummer, and some other thugs, came into the stadium and beat my ‘Cats silly. Where do you start? The flea-flicker, up 35? The cheap shot that left Daniel Greer with a broken leg? The fights in the stands? Over OUR goalpost? Where you end is with the last vestiges of Sun Devil-osity permanently removed from my being. The system was flushed, and the veins were to always be pumping Red and Blue from that point. I think I may have even burned an old Florida State Fiesta Bowl shirt I had just because of the colors. The exorcism was complete. I was a clean soul.

So, someday, someone, somewhere may uncover my ID photo from junior year in high school, showing me wearing a Sun Devil Rose Bowl shirt, or may find an old, thrown out box with my “Terrifying Towel” tucked in the bottom. Yes, that was me. But I am different now. I was Born Again in 1991. The Devil tempts me not. How could he? I am a Wildcat fan.
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by b_dog » Mon Nov 24, 2014 7:02 pm

You don't dislike ASu because of personally witnessing the a-hole behavior of so many of their fans, or the institutionally sanctioned classlessness by their sports administration, coaches, and players. You're just jealous; you WISH you could be an ASu fan. (There's no real explanation as to WHY anybody would want that, but that's what they always say, anyway.)

Great read, by the way.

Every year at this time, the illiterate and ethically-challenged scum push the envelope of deceit so far that to simply call their string of fabrications "lies" doesn't do them justice. You need to add "bald-faced" or "outrageous" before it. I lose brain cells reading their crap, so I try to keep it to a minimum. But, suffice it to say, they talk about worrying about their safety at Arizona Stadium and how whatever happens at scum devil stadium is a "fair" response to it.

Now in my 40 years of going to games, I've never seen anybody wearing a yellow shirt in Tucson have any more hassle than any opposing fan could expect for wearing the visitor's colors and cheering for the opposition at an away game. No doubt they get the "shut up", "you'll be quiet when you walk out of here with a loss", and comments to that effect. But what they conveniently omit from a true representation of the facts is how THEY instigate most trouble with their obnoxious behavior and comments as they cling together in packs and try to show off for each by picking on "safe" targets, like the elderly couple you mentioned.

Just despicable, and not remotely funny or clever in any way. They can (and will) deny it until they're blue in the face, but the core of the rivalry isn't about medical schools, a teacher's college being opposed from tacking "university" on the end of its name, some football game 45 years ago, painting of respective A's, or any imaginary baggies of urine.

It's that their fans are ass-holes who trigger most of the bad incidents that occur. And they don't like it when somebody calls them out, fights back, and makes them look bad in the process, which is precisely what we will continue to do.

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by rickyk » Mon Nov 24, 2014 7:59 pm

Great narrative Doug. I just want to say one thing about NAU. Since my kid has made his living in the casino industry in Las Vegas one thing I've learned is that a ton of the management slots in Las Vegas are filled by grad of NAU's hotel management degree. It's like the gold standard in that town.
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by Doug » Mon Nov 24, 2014 8:27 pm

rickyk wrote:Great narrative Doug. I just want to say one thing about NAU. Since my kid has made his living in the casino industry in Las Vegas one thing I've learned is that a ton of the management slots in Las Vegas are filled by grad of NAU's hotel management degree. It's like the gold standard in that town.

Absolutely. My brother in law was a pit boss by his 20's after going through that program. It was an easy shot to fit a narrative, but I actually have a lot of affinity for NAU and Flagstaff. I have a real love/hate relationship with my home town, but do love NAU. Hotel & Restaurant Management was just too much to type....I could have gone with the acceptable HRM acronym :)
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by FlagCat » Mon Nov 24, 2014 9:06 pm

I'd also say that NAU's engineering grads are pretty equivalent to the grads of the bigger schools. It seems doubtful that I'd convince my kids to stay home for college though.

Great writeup by the way. I hear you as far as there being segment of people in Flag who are fans "of both schools". Someone at work alternates between U of A and ASu sweaters and it drives me up the wall. In general I'd venture to say such people aren't alumni and are somewhat separated/naive? regarding the whole thing.

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by Doug » Wed Nov 26, 2014 3:19 pm

Looking back in my old yearbook, there is a segment of "where FHS graduates are going to school." 2/3rds said U of A. I had friends (one close, one more of an acquaintance) win the Flynn Scholarship during my Junior and Senior year, and both went to Arizona. There was a pretty strong pro UA bias among those kids I knew, and thanks to the revival of the hoops program during my time in high school, my Arizona fandom definitely outpaced any residual "love" I had for ASu, so I certainly had some bias. But looking at that yearbook, what I remembered is what was reported...the majority of my fellow classmates favored UA over ASu.

If you didn't go to either, it is easy to be a fan of both, if you aren't a hardcore fan of sport. I was, but I stuck with the rule "I pull for Arizona no matter what when playing head to head", even in '86, so I had a clear #1 and #2. #2 just eventually became #117 or something...
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