Arizona State has always just been one of those schools I know nothing about but have always wanted to visit. Arizona just seems to be one of those states with a truly unique culture and scenery so I was really excited that they had such a good non-conference match-up scheduled this year. It gave me an excuse to book a trip out here. This past January I attended the AFCA Coaching Convention for the third year in a row and met Arizona State’s Offensive Coordinator, Rob Likens. He alone could make you an Arizona State fan – he is just the nicest guy! He will talk to you about anything and everything for however long you want. He was my first call this past week when I was getting ready to head to Tempe. He was nice enough to invite me up to their brand new football facility to check it out!
Fridays before game days are surprisingly calm – not all of your official visitors are in town yet, you don’t have practice, and everyone is moreso doing administrative tasks and equipment stuff to get ready for Saturday. Saturday and Sunday are the busy days of game weekends. So when I got in on Friday, I headed straight up to the facility since we were trying to catch a Diamondbacks game that evening (unfortunately I ended up with a migraine and missed out on that, but I did take a tour of the stadium still and got to watch batting practice, which you can check out later this week!). Coach Likens and I chatted briefly about the first week’s LSU and ASU victories and then caught up. He set me up with a member of his recruiting staff to show me around while he stepped into a meeting.
Josh was nice enough to show me around. Josh is actually a master’s student finishing up in December, but served in the military before coming to Arizona State. His grandfather also served in the military and was a part of Arizona State’s football team for a couple of years in the late 50s (if I remember correctly).
Their football facility is built onto their stadium end zone. I apparently came in the back way right into the coaches offices because we came through the stadium. I could get lost in that place, it’s a bit of a maze!
I actually didn’t realize how many guys Arizona State has put into the NFL recently. When I was in undergrad at Texas Tech, we played Arizona State in a bowl game in 2013. That year Arizona State finished ranked #14 and won the Pac-12 South Division. Somehow, we pulled out quite the victory that game, even with the departure of Baker Mayfield (who I don’t miss and will never miss).
The coaches’ offices are just off of this wing, which display their NFL player achievements. Really, this is located in the coaches’ offices area to show visiting people where their coaches have places collegiate players. All about visual marketing! Believe it or not.
Next up we headed into the player position meeting rooms. These are the smaller versions of the large halls. I really liked Arizona State’s idea to put a prominent player of that position on the wall. I haven’t seen this before! They also had a lot of them listed outside of the doors.
Fun side note, I recruited Jojo Wicker at Texas Tech when I was in college. He ultimately chose Arizona State but it’s always cool to see them following their dreams!
Their large team meeting room was awesome too! If y’all have followed any of my other stories, you know how much I love black accents. All black rooms like this are my favorite. And these chairs are always so comfortable!
The second I found the bowl game display I knew I had to find the Holiday Bowl plaque! This was the game I mentioned earlier that they played Texas Tech in. Even though Texas Tech didn’t finish the season ranked, we dominated that game. I remember exactly where I watched it, too! I was working for the Cotton Bowl over that holiday break and they had these awesome rooms set up for player/coaches families with every game on. They also had every candy you could imagine in there. I always gained 5 points during Cotton Bowl week!
The same year we played Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl, they won their most recent Pac-12 South Division title vs. UCLA. They went on to lose to #7 Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship Game but still claimed their division.
The Rose Bowl is the big stadium for the Pac-12. UCLA plays here regularly, but this is also where the Pac-12 Championship Game is played. The Rose Bowl Game is also one of the biggest in the country. It is always the Pac-12 champion versus the Big 10 champion, depending on if one of those teams is playing for a national title. Now that the College Football Playoff exists, it is either a semi-final site, or on the off years it is still the Pac-12 versus Big 10.
These are the two Arizona State Rose Bowl appearances versus the Big 10. They haven’t made a recent trip back to the Rose Bowl, but do have a split record of 1-1. They beat Michigan in the 1987 game, but lost to Ohio State by 3 in the 1997 game.
Their fueling station is a lot larger than ours at LSU! It was really similar to the fueling station at UT in my opinion. I like when they have sport-specific fueling stations like these. This one is football-only and makes it really convenient for student-athletes after practices, etc.
Just down the hallway from the fueling station and Bowl Game display are all of Arizona State’s uniforms, including some of the new uniforms for 2018. Arizona State is another school with a lot of uniform combinations and I always really like them!
Arizona State is an Adidas school and is like Oregon for Nike and Texas Tech for Under Armour. They give these schools so much free reign to do whatever they want with uniform designs and combinations!
Like Texas Tech and Oregon, a few of these helmets have never actually seen the field and are more like prototypes than anything else. I’m a huge fan of the pitchfork design and I really love their helmet color combinations with it!
I was shocked to know they have had a football program since 1897 – that’s unheard of!
And look at those team pictures! This might be the coolest timeline feature I’ve seen in a facility before.
The 1970s was a great time for Arizona State. Frank Kush was the head coach (the stadium field is named after him) and they dominated the Western Athletic Conference. I actually didn’t realize that Arizona State was a part of the Western Athletic Conference for so long. They only left in 1978 for the Pac-12. I’m sure their dominating run in the 1970s brought them a lot of attention and made their case for joining the Pac-12.
Though Arizona State hasn’t been as dominate in the recent years, they always put together a solid team with a good run and they can recruit like no other. I’ve lost kids to Arizona State on multiple occasions, to be honest. Most recently defensive end Jalen Bates and wide receiver Ryan Newsome, who are both current starters for Arizona State and I got to see play this weekend!
Actually to be fair, Ryan Newsome went to UT first and then transferred (smart decision, ha!)
In recent years, the Pac-12 as a whole hasn’t been as dominate, even though they feature football legend schools like USC and Stanford. USC is making a comeback, however, and they started the 2018 season with 4 teams ranked. Either way, the Pac-12 schedule is never easy and they’re one of those conferences where anyone can win on any given Saturday.
Their conference and in-state rival? The University of Arizona Wildcats.
They call their rivalry The Territorial Cup and it’s always played the last week of the regular season during rivalry week. They’ve been playing this game since 1899, so over 100 years. This is a good rivalry because it’s always so evenly matched. That’s definitely what makes a good rivalry – teams that can always give their rival a run for their money no matter what the rest of the season looked like.
Arizona currently leads by 8 games (49-41-1) but Arizona State took the W last year and it’s looking like they will again this year. Arizona’s struggling a little. They lost to Houston last week, by… a lot.
Texas Tech is traveling to Tuscon to play the Wildcats next year in September 2019, and I already have it on my calendar!
We all know how much I love academics. Can’t forget about the degrees!
Arizona State also has a good amount of people in the College Football Hall of Fame, located in Atlanta, GA. As many times as I’ve been to Atlanta, I have never been to the CFHOF. It’s on my list this year.
Coaches are so important to the building of a program and you don’t usually see them honored as much as they should be. Sure, the legend coaches get a lot of attention from a university, but Arizona State does a great job of honoring A LOT of their coaches in this display. This was very unique. I really appreciated it.
Frank Kush is probably their most prominent coach, not only for his coaching record but for his dismissal from the program. Frank Kush spent 21 seasons at Arizona State but was dismissed after a lawsuit was filed against him and the program by a punter who was accusing Kush of punching him in the face after a bad punt.
Eventually he was found not liable and the school still honors his legacy for all he did for the program. Hence, the name of the stadium field!
Arizona State’s weight room was awesome, too. This area also houses their strength and conditioning staff (like most facilities).
I liked the highlight of faith, family, and football.
Next up we hit the locker room, and excuse the mess. The equipment staff was setting up uniforms for the game!
Still love the black pitchfork. This game was a blackout game, too, and the pitchfork on the 50 yard line looked like this one!
Following the lead of Oregon, they have a barber shop in the locker room, too. These always crack me up. They’re so cool… but who cuts their hair…? Do they bring someone in? I should’ve asked.
Their cold tub room was freezing! But I would’ve given anything to be in here for the game! I bet it feels great after mid-afternoon practices in 105+ heat. Geez!
Outside of the locker room is the game day tunnel. This is where the team runs through for their entry.
Those glass windows totally open up on game day and the team runs through the tunnel out past this statue.
Let’s talk about this statue. This is a statue for Pat Tillman, who a lot of you have probably never heard of, but with the recent Nike campaign, I bet you’ve seen his picture. Pat Tillman is a true American hero. He was a linebacker for Arizona State from 1994-1997 and earned the last scholarship in 1994 that Arizona State had available. Pat Tillman played on Arizona State’s 1996 undefeated team and was part of the 1997 Rose Bowl that we saw earlier. In 1997, he was Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year.
Not only was Pat Tillman a great player, but he was smart. He was a marketing major and had a 3.85 GPA (way better than mine was, and I wasn’t a student-athlete).
Pat Tillman was drafted in 1998 by the Arizona Cardinals and finished his career with 238 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3 interceptions for 37 yards, 3 forced fumbles, 12 pass deflections, and 3 fumble recoveries in 60 career games. Which probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to some of y’all (it doesn’t always make sense to me), but these are GREAT stats.
So why is Pat Tillman a true American hero? After September 11th, Tillman turned down a contract extension for $2.6 million to enlist in the army, where he lost his life in combat.
Pat Tillman is a name that everyone should know. If you look back at all of my pictures from this tour, you’ll notice a lot of little details that say “PT 42” – this is for Pat Tillman, who wore the number 42 while playing for Arizona State.
And welcome to Sun Devil Stadium!