ASU Gets It Wrong Again With Bad Hire

When I first heard the news that Lisa Love was leaving, my reaction was “Good start. As long as Steve Patterson does not take over”. One minute later it was confirmed through text message via the Arizona Republic that the worst case scenario had been realized. Patterson was in. This guy is so over his skis that when this hire fails, Dr. Michael Crow needs to be held responsible. Dr. Crow has been increasingly vocal about all things sports after spending the past ten years in a lava tube letting others shape the local sports scene. But now Crow has his guy to hang out with and high five all of the bad moves that are about to occur. As Sundevilslegit.com has recently pointed out, Patterson is the business man that no one in the room listens to when the conversation turns to sports. He’s the guy that is going to jam a new Sun Devil stadium down our collective Sun Devil throats that we guarantee will include no collaboration or insight on what our thoughts as boosters and fans think. When he gets it wrong, I blame Crow for this mess and the numerous ones that have occurred to Sun Devil nation over the past decade. Speaking of the Arizona Republic, Bickley gets this one wrong too. Sorry, but explain to me again why Patterson is such a “smooth, stylish and personable” guy? He was an also ran in professional sports. Have you ever heard of this guy before throughout his 25+ years of professional experience?

Look no further than our disastrous basketball program? Guaranteed Jahaii Carson transfers from this mess. Ultimately, it looks like we might have gotten the right guy for the football job, well at least the right guy that we turn to after courting (cough) June Jones. What a disaster. Let’s not start on our once proud baseball program either. That has been totally mishandled from the internal investigation that led to Lisa Love’s contract extension to not accepting the 1-year ban during a transition year wasting a valuable opportunity for future ASU baseball teams.

And you know who was the man behind the curtain pulling the strings and reporting behind Lisa’s back to Dr. Crow as part of the good ole boys club? Steve Patterson. When you clean house, you start anew. You look outside the program and find that “smooth, stylish and personable” guy from a power conference that wishes he could live in Tempe. That’s what is so great about Coach Todd. That guy is living the dream.

Lisa Love was an articulate, accomplished sports executive and former athlete that was far more approachable than given credit for. Did anyone notice the strange coincidence that six of the seven national championships that ASU won during her tenure were women’s teams? Nothing outrageous, just kind of an odd fact. Ultimately, when the good ole boys club gets together, hires your replacement and then forces him to work with you, you might be wound a little tight too. Bad hire. Bad move.

By Devil Russ

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

ASU Strategic Plan By Devil Russ

ASU Athletic Chief Operating Officer is a similar position to that of Ted Phillips of the Chicago Bears. A man with no ties to the program, no ties to the sport of football yet is emerging as the main person in charge of making substantive decisions in ASU’s athletic department. Why is that? Business. My and your good money says Michael Crow thought the $200K+ salary to bring in a person who by many accounts may not be up to the job, is a cheap way of helping secure outdated and ill advised upgrade to ASU facilities. Ted Phillips convinced the city of Chicago to create a district to help pay for upgrades to Soldier Field. We all know how that turned out. Unless you are into watching football being played inside alien spaceships, then you can call the project a failure. Sound familiar? New tax districts, ill advised remodeling plans, no long term plans and a non-football guy running football stuff.

Why is that ASU is always trying to scrounge up funds to do something substantive and anything worth while. One of Sundevilslegit.com’s primary goals is to bring football back to Camp Tontozona. Here is Mr. Patterson asking unidentified people to “put their money where their mouth is” in response to upgrades needed at the quaint facility northeast of Phoenix (http://www.azcentral.com/sports/asu/articles/2012/02/21/20120221asu-athletic-facilities-update.html)

Basically, repairs to the football fields and some work to bring the facility back to working order for a couple of weeks. Why ASU doesn’t have a fund of some sort set up for projects like this is beyond you and me. To fundraise is one thing. To ask presumably alumni to “put their money where their mouth is” is sophomoric. Clean it up ASU’s athletic department and Steve Patterson. Let’s get after it by laying out a fifteen year strategic initiative that addresses fundraising, facilities, coaching philosophy, education, marketing, how to embrace former Devils and filling up a current or reconfigured Sun Devil stadium. Businesses don’t work without business plans and until the current administration realizes this, ASU will lose yet another decade of opportunity.

By Devil Russ

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Sun Devil Stadium

In recent years ASU has made a push to update many of their athletic facilities.  We always hear about the weight room, Weatherup Center for basketball, the new baseball stadium to be shared with the Chicago Cubs at Mesa Riverview, and the potential new Olympic village, but when it comes to the biggest money making sport they continue to play in an antiquated stadium.

Last week, news came out that ASU was close to securing the funds to renovate Sun Devil Stadium.  While that news is great to hear, it also brings the realization that they are more than likely going to settle for a renovation rather than a full re-build.

Anyone who has gone to a football game at Sun Devil Stadium knows it is not a comfortable stadium to watch a game.  If you go early in the season it is an oven, the bathrooms still look like they did when it opened, there are no amenities, you take a hike just to get to your seat from the gate, and worst of all you have to sit on a metal bleacher.  Why would we want to hold on to that?

As of now, the plan sounds like they will keep the lower bowl and re-build a new upper deck.  If you are going to do that, why not go the whole way a build a new stadium that increases the game day experience?

If they do decide to build a new stadium, what should be considered?  The first and foremost, they should not move the location of the stadium.  Having Sun Devil Stadium built into the Tempe Butte is one of the more iconic locations in sports.  Second, you need to increase the comfort level for the fans.  We need real seats as well as suites circling the stadium.  Since we live in Arizona and it gets hot outside there will need to be some form of overhang.  I don’t think there needs to be a full roof but something along the lines of Husky Stadium up in Seattle (photo below) should be incorporated.

Finally, there needs to be a museum attached to the stadium celebrating the history of ASU athletics.  It is nice that they have a hall of fame in Wells Fargo Arena, but how many people actually have seen it?  We need a place where we can celebrate the championships, achievements, and all the players that have worn maroon and gold.  Why not erect a few statues of Sun Devil legends like Pat Tillman, Reggie Jackson, Phil Mickelson, Anthony Robles, Ned Wulk, and Frank Kush?  If you want to engage new fans and build a tradition we need to teach everyone the history of Arizona State athletics.

ASU needs to bite the bullet and move to Chase Field or University of Phoenix Stadium for two or three years so they can build a brand new stadium.  If we play at Chase, it is an easy light-rail ride for students downtown.  After a few years the football team can come home to a brand new, state of the art stadium that would be the envy of the Pac-12.

By Sun Devil Jeff

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Is Phil The Second Best Devil Ever? You and I say yes. By Devil Russ

Is Phil Mickelson the second greatest Sun Devil ever? The answer is surprisingly easy. Yes. Pat Tillman is and will always be the greatest Sun Devil ever. Pac 10-Player of the Year, ferocious and fearless linebacker who helped lead us to a Rose Bowl and if steroid testing was prevalent in college sports (David Boston) a national title. That leaves us with the question, who is #2?

If we stick with the student athletes, the list starts and ends with two names. Reggie Jackson and Barry Bonds. Two of the top 10 players in major league history has some serious cache. Originally recruited by Frank Kush, himself a Top 10 Sundevil legend, Reggie Jackson was a two sport star. His pro career spanned a remarkable 24-years where he earned the legendary and deserved title ‘Mr. October’ which is probably the best nickname by any former Devil save for ‘Lefty’. In a team sport, he had too much help during his career playing on teams that were stacked. The opposite can be said of Barry Bonds who won a remarkable 7-MVP awards with limited support from teammates, is the all-time major league home run leader and possibly during his prime the best all-around player ever with his blazing speed, strong arm and lethal bat. If Barry had not had his late career performance enhancing drug issues, Barry just might be #2.

A whole host of other student athletes are worthy of Top 20 consideration such as Jake Plummer, inspirational story Anthony Robles who is our 1-legged wrestling champion and even Mark Malone who I had to throw in there simply for his great mustache.

If we were to look at the entertainment industry, there are a number of famous Devil alumni. Linda Carter is a contender for hottest, but not greatest. David Spade is simply too weasly to be considered. Back in his days at SAE on fraternity row, upperclassman would mock him into doing standup and than boo him off stage. How about Jimmy Kimmel? Jimmy has made the most out of his talents more than anyone else on this list but he is not even in the Top 30.

Even blending the two, entertainment and sports you would find legendary sportscaster Al Michaels. Michaels made the signature call in United States history with the Miracle on Ice and might be the greatest sportscaster over the past 50-years but falls short of Phil. How about Wes from Real World? Now it’s getting out of hand. Carl Hayden? Impressive. Graduated while ASU was still Tempe Normal in 1896 and became a Senator for the great state of Arizona. But could he hit an 8-iron into the wind on #12 at Pebble Beach and score an eagle? I doubt it.

The point is, Phil with 40-US tour victories, 4-majors and the title of greatest left handed golfer in history is the second best Sun Devil ever. Phil is an ASU legend. Phil won three individual titles while at ASU and was an All American all four years while enjoying all that Palm Walk and ASU campus has to offer. He even won on the tour while in college! He has done all of this dominating in an individual sport that requires a tremendous amount of focus and skill. Let’s hope that our current administration continues to engage Phil. Having legends on ASU football sidelines will only help build an atmosphere of winning, a strong culture built on success that will in turn help ASU recruit better players to our teams and students to our school! Phil is #2.

Posted By Devil Russ

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ASU Football’s Coaching Upgrade By Devil Russ

Have you been noticing a trend with ASU football?  We have been on an impressive run adding quality coaches to the staff.  Many of them former HC’s with impressive resumes.  Just this week HC Todd Graham, who by all accounts has the blandest name in coaching, quietly added former Memphis HC Larry Porter to coach a talented group of RB’s.  Simply reading that headline, we could have easily missed the brilliance of this hire.  By digging deeper you read that Porter was LSU’s recruiting coordinator and running back’s coach during an impressive five year run with LSU.  His classes annually ranked among the top recruiting classes in the country. Normally you and I would take this with a grain of salt, but twice (2007 and 2009) being named national recruiter of the year by rivals.com is impressive.  This in addition to being the position coach for both Joseph Addai and Jacob Hester signals an upgrade for Cameron Marshall and incoming stud DJ Foster.  Just prior to adding Coach Porter, who could end up being an absolute steal, HC Todd Graham and the Devils added Ron West.  Aside from being another one syllable first and last name coach, Ron adds over thirty years of coaching and recruiting experience to the team.  Experience that you just can’t replace.  Assuming Graham flips the recruiting coordinator title from Chip Long (yet another first and last named one syllable coach) to Larry Porter you and I should like the moves.  Another coordinator level and remarkably yet another one syllable first and last named coach is former Washington State University Co-Defensive Coordinator Chris Ball.  We’ve noticed two things with these hires. The Devils should have an impressive upgrade at the coaching positions. Denny’s tenure had too many of Denny’s drinking buddy’s from his days at Miami (See Rich Olson).  It also tells us that for some odd reason, we should expect more one syllable coaches.

By Devil Russ

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coaching Options

When he was hired, Herb Sendek appeared to be the right choice and even produced the type of results we as a fan base should expect.  Unfortunately, that has not been sustainable due to poor recruiting decisions and mass player defections.  The fact is Sendek’s level of success is eerily similar to Rob Evans.

As coach of the Sun Devils, Rob Evans led the team to a 119-120 (.497) record while going 55-89 (.382) in conference while Sendek has a record of 96-91(.513) and a conference record of 42-61 (.408) as of February 12, 2012.  Both coaches were able to bring in a program-changing recruit (Ike Diogu and James Harden) but were unable to build upon the success they achieved.

The current state of the basketball program means ASU will be unable to attract the big names that the casual fan will know and instead they need to look at the mid-major ranks to find the next up-and-coming coach.  The most important quality our next coach needs is the ability to recruit.  You can be the best strategist in the world but without the talent to put that plan into effect you will be doomed to fail.  To me, there are two names every Sun Devil fan needs to learn, Archie Miller of Dayton and Cameron Dollar of Seattle.

Archie Miller should sound familiar to fans of Sun Devil basketball.  He spent three years as an assistant coach for Herb Sendek (two at North Carolina State and one at Arizona State) before heading south to coach with his brother, Sean Miller, for a year with the Arizona Wildcats.  In addition to those coaching stops, he spent two years with Thad Matta at Ohio State University.  Miller is known to be a top-notch recruiter as well as a great game planner.  By hiring Miller, you can be sure that the Sun Devils will get national attention anytime we play the Wildcats.

Here is the link for Miller’s bio:

http://daytonflyers.com/mens/basketball/roster/?player_id=661

Cameron Dollar may be a little bit of an obscure name to outsiders but he has immense experience in the PAC as both a player (UCLA) and assistant coach (Washington).  Dollar spent 7 years on Lorenzo Romar’s staff being a major force on the recruiting trail that has helped Washington rise to the top of the PAC for the past few years.

Here is the link for Dollar’s bio:

http://www.goseattleu.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=18200&ATCLID=3721460

The main argument against both of these coaches will be their inexperience; Dollar is in his second year as a head coach and Miller is in his first.  With ASU having to replace a football coach, basketball coach, and hopefully an AD, they will have little money left to attract coaches.  In a situation like this, it is always better to get a young coach a year too early versus a year to late.  If the Devils decide to wait another year, both Miller and Dollar will be hot names and able to get any available coaching job they want.  The worst thing for the program is to suffer another year with Sendek at the helm.  He has proven how far he can lead the team and unfortunately, it is not far enough.  We as fans should not accept the results the team has given us the past few years and need to demand more success.

Posted by Devil Jeff

Posted in Archie Miller, Basketball, Cameron Dollar, Herb Sendek | 1 Comment

Change at the top

As the 2011-2012 basketball season draws to an end, I think we can all agree changes need to be made.  The only problem is the first change needs to be at the top, without that I fear the cycle of mediocrity will only continue at the highest levels of Sun Devil athletics.

Lisa Love has not been a failure as Athletic Director for ASU; you only need to look to the Director Cup standings to see that.  Since it can be hard to figure out how an athletic department stacks up with other schools the Directors Cup was created.  The Cup combines final rankings in all sports and ranks each school in order of athletic success.  The award was created in 1993 and prior to Love’s arrival at ASU the highest the school ever finished was 9th.  Love was hired as the Athletic Director for ASU in July 2005 and the school’s final rankings for the years she has been here have been 13th (2005-2006), 10th (2006-2007), 4th (2007-2008), 12th (2008-2009), 22nd (2009-2010), and 27th (2010-2011).  If the 2011-2012 season were to end today ASU would be ranked 131st in the country.  The problem is, as you can see, we have been steadily been falling since 2007-2008.

What ASU needs now is a new vision for the program, someone who can fire up the fan-base and bring all new fans to the program.  I believe there is only one choice, Mike Haynes.

Haynes fits the bill in every way imaginable.  Haynes was a two time all-American cornerback at ASU from 1972-1975 and in 2001 he was elected to the college football hall of fame.  Once his ASU career ended he went on to have an outstanding pro career playing for the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Raiders and was inducted into the pro football hall of fame in 1997.

Once his playing career was over, he moved into the business world, gaining the experience necessary to become a viable AD candidate.

Here is part of Haynes’ bio from his companies’ website:

“He spent a distinguished seven years at Callaway Golf, a global leader in the development and manufacture of golf equipment, with six years as their Global Licensing Manager prior to being promoted to Vice President of Recreational Golf Development in 2001.  He returned to the NFL in 2002 where he led the Player Development Department, which developed and managed programs to help players with transition into and out of the NFL.”

http://mikehaynesandassociates.com/about-us.php

After the Lisa Love era, ASU needs to get an experienced businessperson who is passionate about the program.  Having former alum who not only has a recognizable name but a qualified resume is rare and we as a program cannot mess this up.  The good news is someone in the athletic department realizes this since Haynes has supposedly been contacted about joining the program in some capacity (http://arizonasports.com/44/1477259/ASU-athletics-adding-Haynes-to-department).  If ASU wants to get this program heading in the right direction, then naming Mike Haynes the Athletic Director would be a giant step in the right direction.

Posted by Devil Jeff

Posted in AD, Lisa Love, Mike Haynes | Leave a comment