By James Kelley
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
There are two parts to the UA-ASU rivalry: the part that makes you laugh and the part that makes you wonder why the state still recognizes Arizona State University as a four-year institution.
I could easily fill the Wildcat's biggest issue ever with reasons why to hate ASU, but for your reading pleasure (and to avoid carpal tunnel), I've condensed it down.
Sure, it's funny when ASU students wear their nacho cheese-yellow shirts that say "SOLID GOLD," when "The Simpsons" rips ASU's admissions standards or when they brag they beat the UA in every sport besides basketball.
By the way, even winning four of the last five football games, when the Wildcats went through a span so bad they had three head coaches, didn't make a dent in Arizona's lead in the all-time UA-ASU football series. As for the rest of the sports, ASU has only finished ahead of the UA in the Director's Cup ranking of athletic programs once, which was so embarrassing that the UA didn't mention its finish in a press release.
Fate seems to hate the Devils as much as normal civilization does. Coupled with the normal inferiority complex a "State University" feels toward a "University of" school, the Sun Devils can't seem to catch a break.
Just after taking office, their new president, Michael Crow, vowed to reverse their party school image. Right after that it was revealed that student government VP Brian Buck appeared in a porno filmed in his frat house.
I wasn't at all surprised to see that the latest white trash being arrested on COPS a few weeks ago was wearing a Sun Devil hat. I had it on mute, but I'd be willing to bet he was slapping his girlfriend/sister.
The other part of the rivalry is much darker, and you see how the school's oh-so-easy-to-conceive-nicknames, the Scum Devils and ASSU, came about. After all, ASU is the school that named its football field after Frank Kush, who was fired for punching his punter, and has a basketball team best known for shaving points in the mid-'90s.
In the mid-'80s, some of ASU's finest heckled a former UA baseball coach about his wife, Georgia, who was dying of Lou Gehrig's disease. Classy.
Yes, this was an isolated incident, possibly started by two drunken fans, but it was just the first noticeable occurrence of this phenomenon. There is a clear pattern, which even an ASU student can recognize.
A few years later, ASU fans taunted former UA basketball player Steve Kerr with chants of "PLO," "Where's your dad?" and "Go back to Beirut." Earlier in his Wildcat career, Kerr's father, Malcolm (the president of American University in Beirut) was assassinated by terrorists.
OK, maybe you can say, "well, that was ages ago and just a small group; they are long gone and have been politicians or telemarketers for years now."
But the savages continue today.
At UA-ASU games, racial slurs are common and a neutral family, though mostly for the Sun Devils, near me at a softball game in Phoenix became so disgusted at the ASU fans' antics that they switched allegiances on the spot.
The worst I have heard from UA fans is stuff like, "Hey Van Horn, how many wives do you have?" to former Utah basketball player Keith Van Horn, or, "N-I-T ... if you're lucky" to a USC player. But those lines are necessary to build any halfway-decent student section.
The latest public incident is the most puzzling though.
With the UA up by 26 points in a basketball game last fall, UA head coach Lute Olson pointed to the scoreboard near the student section in Tempe. What prompted this action by Olson? That, of course, would be the trash talk about Olson's wife, Bobbi, who died of cancer in 2001.
I personally can't fathom UA students ever chanting something about Pat Tillman.
This is one of the many reasons why we must hate ASU but never stoop to its level. Retain your class and dignity, because ASU fans will eventually embarrass themselves.
Take a cue from Lute and just point to the scoreboard.