Kevin Camp

Blast From the Buttes: End of the Year Musings

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A huge void has hit us all this holiday season with no upcoming bowl game to concentrate on.  To fill that void we decided to reflect and take a look back at happier times in Sun Devil football history.  Before the time of many of us on this earth, Frank Kush was the architect of a burgeoning football dynasty in the desert.  As we were learning about the three R’s in grade school, John Cooper led a Sun Devil team into Pasadena and brought home roses with a win over a historic Big-10 Michigan program.  Then, armed with tortillas in the student section, we watched Bruce Snyder coach up an underdog Sun Devil team to a monumental victory over the invincible Cornhuskers of Nebraska.  The goal posts would march down Mill Ave. twice that year as the Sun Devils concluded the regular season undefeated.  A National Championship was lost in the finals seconds at the hands of the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl.

Lately, it’s slim pickings in the positive trip down memory lane.  In the past twenty years the crowning achievement for ASU has been a shared conference title with a heavily sanctioned USC program in 2007 and a Pac-12 South division title in 2013.

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December marks the last page on the calendar, the onset of the holiday season, the onslaught of frustrating holiday travel, and college football bowl season.  About a week after the prestigious rivalry game between Army and Navy as well as the awarding of the Heisman Trophy, college football bowl games are almost an everyday occurrence.  Sure, few may care about who wins the AFR Celebration bowl in Atlanta between NC Central and Grambling State, but just think of those extra practices.

Looking back at the ‘Glory Days’ of ASU football, one constant remained through all those years, maroon and gold.  Would it be possible to envision John Jefferson making ‘the Catch’ in white, grey, and copper?  How about the ‘Home Boys’ protecting Jeff Van Raaphorst with their oversized shoulder pads during a ‘Black Out’?  Finally, that lasting image of Pat Tillman with his back to the camera that adorns the Tillman Tunnel in anthracite and copper?  Moving forward, maroon and gold will be the required primary colors in all athletic uniforms.  As for rivalry games, the traditional home or road uniform will always be worn according to a recent memo.  Alternative jersey combinations will still be an option, but the school colors of maroon and gold will have to make up a key part of those uniforms.

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Despite needing extra time on the practice field fine tuning important aspects of the game like tackling, pursuit angles, blocking, tackling (did I mention that already?), and team cohesiveness.  ASU head coach Todd Graham and his Sun Devils find themselves in the comfort of their homes this bowl season.  Left only to look back at the season that was, and plan ahead for a make-or-break 2017 season.  

You see, according to some angry fans, Graham’s seat in Tempe should be as hot as a mid afternoon game at Sun Devil Stadium in September.  All this despite the fact that it is the first time under Todd Graham that the Sun Devils have failed to make a bowl.  And in the preseason, prognosticators said the Devils would most likely not win six games.  But I digress, as December is a time to reflect and also look ahead.

The uniform topic just seems like one that will not go away.  Perhaps ASU will be trendsetters with this new directive towards primarily using school colors on game day.  The change to Adidas brought more options for fans and more choices for the equipment team. But to us, it always felt like ASU was trying to catch up with other schools who had been playing the alternative uniform game much longer.  Now, instead of visiting sites dedicated to what the team will wear on Saturdays, the talk can shift back to the actual game of football.  While all the kids love fresh threads, it’s far better to have tradition, relationships, and success.

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Looking ahead, there are signs of promise for the Arizona State Sun Devils football program.  In the past weeks, two highly rated players have verbally committed to continue their playing career at ASU.  Todd Graham continues to extend his head coaching tree, which creates the ability to bring in a new voice to the locker room and on the recruiting trail.  While missing a bowl game is not ideal, the coaching staff has ramped up the December recruiting with several high profile targets visiting the city and school.  The past two years have been discouraging for fans of the Sun Devils, but patience could be rewarded sooner than even the most die hard fans may think.

About Kevin Camp

Kevin Camp

Kevin is a '96 Sun Devil grad of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Contrary to his last name, Kevin is not one to stay in one place too long. Kevin has called Washington, Arizona, Utah, and again Arizona home since his days at ASU nearly 20 years ago. A passion for photography in his spare time turned to a great opportunity to shoot Sun Devil sporting events. He has photographed Sun Devils football at Camp T, Tempe practices, Utah, and Colorado while shooting some basketball and baseball as the teams visited Utah. Now that Kevin resides in Flagstaff, he is looking forward to reigniting the family tradition of Camp T with his wife and son. Kevin is also the VP of the ASU Alumni Association Flagstaff club.

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