Yes, technically the Sun Devils won their opener Thursday night. But given the headaches surrounding the program and a performance that can fairly be categorized as unremarkable (a 24-21 defeat of Southern Utah, a Football Championship Subdivision program that went 5-6 last season), Arizona State didn’t exactly do much to whip up enthusiasm about the program in the past week or so.
Credit to the players for putting together a solid defensive performance, and to freshman quarterback Jaden Rashada for effectively running a four-minute offense to close out the game. But it still happened in the shadow of the school imposing a one-year bowl ban on itself after the Sun Devil-may-care approach to the rule book during former coach Herm Edwards’s tenure.
Maybe it was an intentionally vanilla approach in new coach Kenny Dillingham’s debut, but the first impression (coupled with the absence of postseason opportunities) suggests this isn’t a team likely to be relevant this fall.