Bill Slane

To be or not to be? In Sun Devil Stadium

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The Arizona State Sun Devils are 8-2. They are one-win away from clinching the Pac-12 South and with it a spot in the Pac-12 championship game. They are in the middle of a five-game winning streak and have not lost a home game since October 27th, 2012 against UCLA. Every Monday head coach Todd Graham has sat in front of a microphone for the weekly press conference and praised the student section, saying their passion has contributed to their winning streak at home. The fans of the Sun Devils have a special opportunity this season to watch a team that could have a chance to play in the Rose Bowl, so why are the fans becoming less passionate the closer the team gets to that goal? At halftime against Oregon State the Sun Devils led 20-3.

Anyone who watches college football on a semi-regular basis knows that a 17-point lead is one that can go away very quickly. It’s curious then, that during the break so many ASU fans decided they had had enough and left Sun Devil Stadium. At the start of the second half nearly half of the student section had made their way to the exit, as did a good part of the rest of the stadium. The Beavers never got within 10 points, but things weren’t looking great for the Sun Devils when they were shutout in the third quarter and Beavers’ quarterback Sean Mannion hooked up with Caleb Smith for a touchdown to make it a 10-point ballgame. If it wasn’t for Robert Nelson’s pick-six in the fourth quarter, who knows what could have happened; certainly not the people who left. Those who left the Oregon State game did not miss an all-time great finish, although Robert Nelson’s game-sealing interception was a great play. But they did leave a game in the Pac-12 Conference, with the Sun Devils fully in contention to play for the Pac-12 title. There were a lot of reasons I heard people give for leaving, the most often being that the game was out of reach, they won anyway didn’t they? Some left to beat traffic, to get their kids to bed, to drink in the parking lot.

To all of these people I’d say the same thing. This is a special team coach Graham has put together with a special chance to win a championship. If you’re a student, you’ve paid the price for student tickets, many students wait in lines since early morning to get a wristband; yet the student section was nearly barren halfway through the third quarter. If you’re a regular fan, you’ve paid the price of the ticket (or season tickets), there is no legitimate reason to not get the most out of your investment and potentially see something magical on Frank Kush Field. The fan base of a team is also something that bowl committees consider when inviting teams to play. Doug Franz of Arizona Sports 620 reported this week that bowl officials were unimpressed by the showing on Saturday night. However, one Alamo Bowl official was impressed with the showing of ASU fans in Arlington for the Shamrock Series game. The motto for the fans for the past three weeks has been “Conquer November,” but the fans have not been living up to that.

The fan base for ASU has disappointed this writer for a good while now; whether it’s unnecessary profanities that make them look like sore winners or losers (depending on the outcome), or fans making noise while the team is on offense. Perhaps leaving at halftime of a Pac-12 conference game is the worst of these crimes. It’s a shame that this team doesn’t seem to have a fan base that fully appreciates what it has.

Photo Credit: Nick Bastian

About Bill Slane

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