Changes give ASU a pulse - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

Changes give ASU a pulse

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Posted: Thursday, April 5, 2012 5:52 pm | Updated: 6:03 pm, Thu Apr 5, 2012.

If Arizona State athletics truly is a sleeping giant, it’s been hibernating so long someone might want to check its vitals.

But what’s this? A pulse?

After various on- and off-field blunders over the past few years, momentum is slowly building at ASU.

On Wednesday, overhaul plans for Sun Devil Stadium were released to the public, and, unlike the over-the-top unveiling of the new uniforms last year, the simple press conference let the substance do the talking.

While the plan is in its initial stages, reports have pegged the renovation at $300 million, which would revitalize a stadium badly in need of a makeover.

Ticket prices will go up, occupancy will come down and the team may have to play somewhere such as Chase Field for a year or two, but this is an easy decision which should increase revenue in the long run.

While sports teams like to trumpet the smallest of upgrades to its audience, a stadium renovation is one move worthy of attention.

“I’m sad I can’t play in it,” Arizona State running back Cameron Marshall said. “...If you’re trying to be great, what better way to start than to get the best facilities possible?”

Marshall’s right in that Arizona State is just now starting the journey, because the football program is back at square one as another rebuilding season beckons.

For a supposed “football” school, the Sun Devils have been decidedly mediocre since 1998, with one 10-win season and an overall record of 89-83.

It’s silly to hear constant talk of a Rose Bowl when the Sun Bowl would be a worthy goal for a program with a new coach, three raw quarterbacks and questions at multiple positions.

Despite the challenges, there is at least light at the end of the tunnel.

Todd Graham has made a good first impression with the fan base, and while he will ultimately be judged by wins and losses, connecting with local power players and recruits should pay dividends.

Then there’s the addition of athletic director Steve Patterson. No one knows how his tenure will pan out, but many fans consider his promotion “addition by subtraction” after Lisa Love fell out of favor in the past year.

There is a feeling of change right now at Arizona State, and with it comes natural optimism.

“We do need to continue to push the momentum here,” Patterson said. “We’ve had a good few months since Todd came on board. He said he’s going to probably have to shake 72,000 hands, and he’s probably in the mid-60-thousands right now given all the appearances he’s made. “... We want to keep that momentum moving, and I think we’re headed in the right direction.”

A couple of uncontrollable factors are also helping ASU.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott did a fantastic job with the conference’s new television contract, which will boost every program’s revenue stream.

Time is also on the side of the Sun Devils. As each year passes, the Phoenix suburbs continue to grow, resulting in more football players and better recruits.

While ASU has never consistently locked down the state’s best players, an increase in top-tier local recruits naturally bodes well, and an upgraded stadium is a great asset.

When Arizona State courted Graham to be its coach, the idea of a renovated stadium helped make the job more appealing.

“I knew there were great plans ahead,” Graham said.

If nothing else, it will keep the spotlight shining on Tempe. From there, it’s up to Graham and Patterson to make it something substantive.

The sleeping giant may be in a coma by this point.

Can this series of events finally rouse the slumber?

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