The Arizona State Sun Devils kick off the 2017 football season against New Mexico State at semi-renovated Sun Devil Stadium tonight at 7:30 p.m. I’m told the game will be broadcast on that mythical creation known as the Pac-12 Network; since I have DirecTV, I can’t confirm it’s existence.
The two teams last met in 1999, when New Mexico State was widely regarded as the worst program in Division I college football and ASU was coming off a couple of bowl appearances before there were 123 bowls and absolutely everybody went bowling in December and January. So, naturally, the Aggies whipped ASU 35-7. It was my second game as a non-student season ticket holder after eight years in the press box and I spent the last five minutes yelling for ASU to burn all its timeouts just for fun because it was just that ridiculous of an experience.
Todd Graham is opening his sixth season, which also likely will be his last unless he manages to do better than last season’s six-game losing streak to end the year. And to think, based on Graham’s previous peripatetic career, we weren’t sure he’d come out of the tunnel for the second-half kickoff that first season.
All snark aside, I’ll be among the thousands making the trip to Tempe tonight for the game as I begin season 19 as a season-ticket holder and year 27 as an alum. I will sing of bold saguaros raising their arms on high and brave tomorrows and eternal mountains kneeling at sunset’s gate. Because, as always, I hail thee alma mater, Arizona State.
Sun Devil pride whooo indeed.
Two other notes.
First, the mega-scoreboard in the north end zone is up and operational. It also happens to be one foot higher and one foot wider than the new scoreboard at Arizona Stadium. So there.
Second, ASU earlier this week unveiled the Pat Tillman statue in the north end zone just outside the new Sun Devil locker rooms and athletic complex. Keep an eye on Instagram, you’re going to see about a billion photos of it. And rightly so.