Rice: 2020 Fall Football Season Vital to Arizona State’s Ongoing Development

Sun Devils hope to continue momentum of first two years under Herm Edwards

Posted on September 22, 2020

Wills Rice
  By Wills Rice of Dash Sports TV for SportsPac12

“Thunderstruck” by AC/DC blares throughout the newly renovated Sun Devil Stadium.  Sparky marches around Arizona on the jumbotron to “stomp” the opposing team’s bus. As fireworks rush to the sky, players roar down the infamous Tillman Tunnel, signaling the start of Sun Devil football.

ASU emerges from the tunnel. | asu.edu

This euphoria is one that Arizona State fans have yearned for many months. Four of the five Power-5 conferences are playing football this fall, with the Pac-12 being left out. 

The Big Ten reversed course and announced earlier this week that the Conference will be returning to play football at the end of October. The Pac-12 announced that they will be convening on Thursday, September 24 to discuss its future going forward.

The Pac-12 is entering very hot water moving forward. With every day that passes, time becomes more of an enemy. Many coaches have said they would like about six weeks to get their team ready.

The first obstacle created by this scenario is that six weeks from Thursday would put Week 1 of Pac-12 play in the first week of November, most likely eliminating Conference teams from any College Football Playoff scenarios.

The second obstacle is that the Pac-12 does not have the machines the Conference contracted with Quidel for on campus yet to contact-trace the virus or get the rapid results fast enough.  

There are many questions that need answers if the Conference wants to return to play. First, Why is the Pac-12 waiting till Thursday to meet?  And if the Pac-12 introduced the partnership with Quidel, why did the Big Ten jump first?

Obviously, the most important question Sun Devil fans are asking is, What does this mean for Arizona State?

When looking at the past, where the program sits now, and where the program projects to go, no Conference team has more to lose than Arizona State. The Devils do not have the expectations of a historic school such as USC, the talent that Oregon does, or even recent success that Washington or Utah does.  

What ASU does have is a potential First-Round NFL quarterback selection, a Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year, and a head coach creating a Conference-slaying monster in the desert.

A suspended season could potentially prompt premier talent to go elsewhere, and jeopardize recruiting against other Power-5’s moving forward. 

The Sun Devils were supposed to open the season in Tucson, against bitter rival Arizona. It would have been one of the first times ASU had played the team from down South in the First Week of the season.

Although nothing is guaranteed in terms of a season, the news in the past few days provides optimism for Pac-12 football fans. 

A season this year would be momentous for Sun Devil football, BUT it needs to be reminded that ASU most likely would not be competing in the CFP regardless of Covid-19, having not qualified for a Rose Bowl since 1997. 

Rose Bowl Game | southpasadenan.com

Realistically, it should not matter when the season starts, just that there is a season, and that the Devils keep their core intact.  Obviously ASU wants to compete for a Rose Bowl and national rankings, and show they are comparable to other teams across the country.

We have seen a few impact players transfer in Arizona’s Colin Schooler and Tony Fields, two of the team’s best defensive players. Although no Sun Devils have transferred, a season is in question, and with the Big Ten returning, a few players could follow.

Progress comes in increments, and every season is vital. Regardless of when or what the circumstances are, a fall season is essential for the Sun Devils.

You can watch Rice’s Devil Dash Sports Talk Show on Dash Sports TV, and read his other sports stories and columns at Cronkite Sports.

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