"The real rivalry games are the last game of the season," he said, "which I experienced when I was at Oregon State, at Washington State, when I was at Idaho, when I was there the first time when we played Boise. When I was at Miami, they kind of varied, a lot of times you played Florida State in the middle of the season. One of the bigger rivalries was when I played and coached at Montana."
Therefore, Saturday's contest will be nothing new for Erickson, except that the two teams competing are from Arizona. "You're either a Sun Devil or a Wildcat, I don't know that there is anything in between," he said. Erickson knows that December 1st is about bragging rights for the next 365 days. "The most important one is the rivalry game, no question about that," he stated.
Earlier in the week Erickson made a decision to keep his players away from the media. Yesterday he changed his mind on this issue. "I felt this after I thought about it; you guys (the media) have been here the whole season, reported on us, and talked to our players," he explained. "In fairness to you people that have followed us to close it down this week wasn't right. I'm not scared about somebody saying something or anything like that, I'm beyond that. And once it's kicked off it doesn't make any difference anyway."
Arizona has a lot of momentum going into this game coming off three wins against Washington, UCLA and Oregon. "They're playing well. I've said this all along; Coach Mike Stoops has done a heck of a job there," said Erickson about his new rival coach. "They got things going right now. But when it's a rivalry game it really doesn't make any difference who does or who doesn't. "
ASU is retiring a relatively large group of seniors, 27 to be exact, this year. "They have had a great season, the best season they have had in a long time and they've adjusted to everything, have done everything that we've asked them to do and bought into everything that we're telling them," said Erickson about the seniors. "So I'm real proud of what they have done. You always want to see your seniors go out the right way."
ASU isn't the only team showing up on Saturday with a group of departing seniors though. "They (Arizona) got a lot of seniors playing," Erickson commented. "You look at that defensive team that they have, which is an extremely good defensive team, they have a lot of seniors on that team that have played for a long period of time. Spencer Larsen is a guy that I recruited when I was at Oregon State and he ended up going to Arizona and then going on a mission. He is what football is all about."
Larsen isn't the only Wildcat to keep your eyes on this Saturday though. "Antoine Cason is as good a corner as there is in the country. He is going to, I would assume, be a number one pick," Erickson said.
ASU's bowl game scenario will be played out depending on a few national games and obviously this final regular season game. Erickson doesn't concern himself with any possible post-season outcomes. "I don't really understand the scenarios myself, to be very honest with you," he admitted. "It doesn't make any difference what bowl game we go to. That doesn't make any difference. This is way more important than any bowl we can go to, any bowl game we can play in, so our focus is totally on this and whatever happens, happens. "
Erickson mentioned that Arizona's spread offense is different than anything they have seen this year, but similar to Oregon's only because it is a spread formation. He added that defending it will be a key component of Saturday's matchup.
In the halls of ASU's ICA building Erickson passed by legendary ASU coach Frank Kush. When asked how Kush handles rivalry week Erickson said; "All he's got to do is look at me; it's understood. When I look at him this week, it's scary."
Erickson Realizes Magnitude of Rivalry
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