Arizona's Improvement can help Arizona State

As the entire nation jumps on the Mike Stoops bandwagon, Arizona is on the "edge" of reaching a bowl eligible season. As the rivalry game looms nearer, it once again means nothing to those outside of the Grand Canyon state. Rivalry games are an important part of college football, and while ours is intense and filled with hatred, it is not very prestigious or significant to the outside world.

When is the last time Arizona State and Arizona were both ranked going into the final week of the regular season? When has this game meant anything to both schools at the same time? When has this game determined a Rose Bowl or major bowl for both schools? We need this game to mean more to everyone because it can only improve on our own football program. The stadium needs to be sold out, and the nation needs to be watching our team showcase their talent against our hated rival. We get no publicity during "rivalry week", and will continue to not gain any respect until both teams are closer to top 25 talents.

Exposure to our rivalry game nation wide is already there because we play the day after Thanksgiving. There are not too many teams playing on the same day as ASU-UA. It is a great tool for recruiting when they can see great games between our schools with a lot on the line. The lure of playing in big games can single handedly gain interest from big time recruits. The importance of Ohio State-Michigan, Miami-Florida State, Auburn-Alabama, Southern Cal-Notre Dame, and Texas-Oklahoma are a huge draw to football fans and recruits from across the nation. I feel that if our program can get back on the good foot and stay there, and "if" Arizona improves like they think they should, it can do wonders for both of us.

Arizona has a population that is growing exponentially, and there are a lot of fans to tap into for support of the rivalry game. Unfortunately most new citizens to Arizona come with their own school's fanfare and their own ties to universities outside of ASU and UA, but they are willing to jump into our local rivalry if given the proper motivation. A more popular game will naturally draw in fans who want to see good football, and tickets would be sold out a month ahead of time instead of a few days (if it even sells out).

The more both schools rely on local recruits, the more intense the game can be. As our population grows larger, the pool of talent increases also. The success of both schools will cause the majority of top Arizona talent to stay in-state and go to either of our schools, and that causes familiarity. Being familiar with your local High School talent causes the game to be even more intense because the intense prep rivalry can be transferred to college. A top tier rivalry game could instantly keep most every Arizona prep star close to home, because he knows he'll play in front of the big crowds at the big game.

Another big improvement to our rivalry game with Arizona's success is the contrast between our two head coaches. Our coach Dirk Koetter is an offensive minded coach. He is a mild intensity skipper who rarely looses his cool. He gained his popularity from Boise State, and is not a nationally recognized head coach for the average fan.

Mike Stoops on the other hand is a defensive minded coach who likes to play smash mouth football. He is a high intensity guy who frequently jumps around on the sidelines and wears his emotions on his sleeves. He came from Oklahoma where he and his brother built a championship level program, and thus the name Stoops is famous around the country with most college football fans. The battle between Koetter and Stoops is a dynamic one because their personalities clash so much, and it adds to the already deep hatred between both schools.

I am not saying I want Arizona to be good, I would prefer them to lose every game from now until a very old age. All I am saying is that their improvement can help our school also, and it is not all doom and gloom. A rivalry game that is focused on the actual football would be healthy for our schools, and stop the annual off the field fighting that takes place between our fans. It would create more of a family atmosphere, and improve attendance on the day after Thanksgiving when people are with their families. I am looking forward to a game that eventually means as much as even a mid-level rivalry game on the national level, and if our schools are successful enough for a long enough time we can gain the exposure of the big schools which we so desperately need.

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