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An ASU Rose Bowl disappointment leads to big hopes for 2014

Published: Friday, December 20, 2013

Updated: Friday, December 20, 2013 10:12

The Arizona State Sun Devil football team can’t help but think what could have been in 2013.

After their crushing 38-14 loss to Stanford in the Pac 12 Championship game, the Devils saw their possible Rose Bowl berth get turned into a mere Holiday Bowl appearance.

Nothing against the Holiday Bowl, it just isn’t the Rose Bowl.

If you were to tell me that the Sun Devils were going to win 10 games, win the South division and host the conference championship game before the season started, just about any reasonable fan would have been ecstatic. However, after the loss against Stanford, I remember hearing something say that “once you get a smell of roses, everything else is kinda a letdown.”

It’s true. Knowing that the Sun Devils were just 60 minutes away from a conference championship makes the loss all that much more crushing. Also consider that if it were three years earlier, there wouldn’t have even been a Pac-12 championship game. Instead, the Devils would have already earned their ticket to Pasadena.

That being said, you can’t help but be optimistic about what Todd Graham is doing at Arizona State. When he was first hired two years ago, he talked about championships, discipline, an attacking defense and a high octane offense.

At the time, it seemed like generic coach-speak meant to get boosters and fair-weather fans on his side. However, in just two seasons, Graham has delivered.

Now a trip to the Rose Bowl and the possibility of completing for the Pac 12 crown doesn’t seem too far-fetched. Entering the 2014 season, the Sun Devils will likely have a lot of question marks surrounding their team.

After experiencing the success they had in 2013, fans will have even higher expectations for the squad leading into their 2014 campaign. But success might be harder to come by The Sun Devils will be forced to replace 14 senior starters, and possibly more if junior Devilbacker Carl Bradford declares for the NFL draft early.

Next season is pivotal for Coach Graham. If he can win the South again, he will be proven as a legit coach in the Pac 12. But if he limps toward a mediocre “rebuilding season,” critics will begin to say that he can only win with previous coach Dennis Erickson’s recruits.

Only time will tell if Graham can live up to his own lofty expectations, but next year will tell us a lot about his programs ability to develop talent.

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