Dear Mr. Football: What is the biggest difference between football fans at Arizona and ASU?
ASU fans brag about going to the Rose Bowl in the 1986 and 1996 seasons. Arizona fans brag about knocking ASU out of the Rose Bowl in the 1982 and 1985 seasons.
Dear Mr. Football: How do fans of the Wildcats and Sun Devils interpret Mike Stoops' sideline demeanor?
Sun Devil fans think he is a screamer and a whiner. Wildcat fans think he is a screamer and that the refs are crazy. Sun Devil fans think Stoops is rude and out of control. Wildcat fans remember Frank Kush. He makes Stoops come off like a Kindergarten Cop.
Dear Mr. Football: Where does the Territorial Cup rank in the list of college football's in-state armageddons?
Because the Sun Devils and Wildcats haven't been ranked simultaneously on game day since 1986, it doesn't have any national cred. It's not the Oregon-OSU "Civil War," the Stanford-Cal "Big Game" and not the Utah-BYU "Holy War." Not even close.
The last time a major network (ABC) televised the Territorial Cup nationally was 1999, and before that 1987. Maybe it's because former UA All-Pac-10 left tackle Eben Britton said the game brings out the worst in its combatants. "People are spitting on each other," he said Monday.
Dear Mr. Football: Have you ever seen a Sun Devil football fan in Tucson?
Unlike Oregon-OSU, Stanford-Cal and USC-UCLA, where boundaries between the rivals are blurred and they are often forced to co-exist, it's unusual to bump into a Sun Devil fan anywhere in Pima County, or Baja Arizona, as Tucsonans prefer in a week like this. I hate to blow his cover, but Oro Valley's Kirk Larson, vice president of New York-based Tug Hill Construction, has in his possession a football autographed by the sainted Coach Kush. On it Kush wrote: "Beat UA; I always did."
Larson is a North Dakotan who graduated from ASU in 1991 and eventually became a vice president in the Estes Co., a Wildcat-flavored building corporation if ever there was one.
"Working for Bill Estes Jr. was awesome," Larson says. "He was a staunch Red-and-Blue guy and liked to give me a hard time about being a Sun Devil alumnus. His entire office was red and blue. They all hated the maroon and gold."
Among Larson's prized ASU memorabilia is a 1997 Rose Bowl jersey with J.R. Redmond's No. 21.
"Everyone in Tucson glares at the jersey," Larson says, "I guess because they've not seen a real Rose Bowl jersey."
Ha, ha, ha.
Dear Mr. Football: How much damage was done to UA football when highly touted runner Ryan Bass, defensive back Jarrell Barbour and receiver Gerrell Robinson all withdrew their 2008 commitments to Arizona and became Sun Devils instead?
After the dust settled and Stoops apologized (somewhat) for intimating that ASU's entrance standards were only higher than those at Faber College, it became a win-win-win for Arizona.
Barbour never met academic requirements and has not played a snap of college football. Bass gained 293 yards in two years, was suspended and is now redshirting at Idaho. Robinson is a semi-starting receiver at ASU, fifth on the club in receiving totals this year.
By losing Barbour, Bass and Robinson, Arizona gave that playing time to '08 signees Juron Criner, who is the best receiver in the Pac-10; starting tailback Keola Antolin, who has gained 1,746 yards and scored 23 touchdowns; and cornerback Robert Golden, who is the UA's most productive defensive back.
Dear Mr. Football: Is ASU quarterback Brock Osweiler the top football player ever from Montana?
If Osweiler ever makes the top two list of best Big Sky football players, he'll be a wealthy man. He's got a lot of ground to cover to catch four-time Pro Bowl tackle Pat Donovan, a Helena native who played at Stanford and then for the Dallas Cowboys.
Then comes Tim Hauck of Big Timber, Mont., a 13-year defensive back in the NFL and now secondary coach under Territorial Cup legend Chuck Cecil for the Tennessee Titans.
We won't mention Great Falls, Mont., quarterback Ryan Leaf, to whom Osweiler has been compared most.
Dear Mr. Football: Does the Territorial Cup have a generally recognized "greatest game ever" to match that Stanford-Cal, smashing-into-the-trombone-player finish, or one of those Apple Cups played in white-out conditions?
The title is vacated because UA fans dispute the legitimacy of "The Catch" in 1975, when 10-0 ASU edged 9-1 Arizona on a controversial catch by John Jefferson. Similarly, Sun Devil fans minimize the classic '86 game, keyed by Cecil's 106-yard interception return, because they still went on to win the Rose Bowl. The most meaningful Territorial Cup game was played in Tucson on Sept. 28, 1946. Arizona won 67-0. It was so humiliating that Arizona outgained the Sun Devils (then Bulldogs) 438-41.
After that, having lost 18 of 20 lifetime games to the Wildcats, ASU fired its coach, vowed to upgrade its football program, changed its name from Bulldogs to Sun Devils and created the Sun Angel Foundation, its fundraising partner of the last 64 years.
Five years later, fully transformed, ASU whipped Arizona 61-14. Game on.
Dear Mr. Football: Who is the happiest man at Arizona Stadium tonight?
Probably ASU offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, who flew to Tucson in the winter of 2004 to interview for a similar job on Stoops' first Arizona staff.
It was a job destined to get a man fired. Arizona didn't have enough skilled position players, especially at quarterback, to be competitive. Predictably, after three years of building, Arizona fired Mike Canales, the man Stoops hired instead of Mazzone.
Now Mazzone is viewed as a program-changer at ASU, a fresh voice in an offensive system that had grown stale under Dennis Erickson. Canales, meanwhile, is working for North Texas in the Sun Belt Conference.
But all might not be good timing for Mazzone tonight. Arizona's offense has been in place for four years and, unlike last season, Nick Foles is getting better at year's end.
In a close game between teams with similar talent, Foles should be the difference unless Arizona's kicking game breaks down again. Arizona 30, ASU 23