Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE
A 5-1 start followed by two straight disappointing losses have allowed a nasty trait in the Sun Devil fanbase to resurface
Oh honey, I love you. You just make me so happy. I never thought I could feel this way. We're going to be together forever...
You bastard! I never loved you! Ugh, you make me sick! WE. ARE. DONE.
Oh baby, I'm sorry, I didn't mean that.
Let's be honest. A lot of us have had that crazy ex whose mood changed on a whim, making you feel like you were walking through an emotional minefield. One minute, you're on Cloud Nine, loving every second, and picturing a future of nothing but great times. The next, you're under fire from a torrent of harsh words about what a huge mistake the relationship is...and probably some choice phrases about your mother.
Sparky knows the feeling.
The Sun Devil football program is now feeling that bipolar wrath from much of their fanbase in the wake of Saturday's 45-43 loss to UCLA. After jumping out to a 5-1 record and a spot atop the Pac-12 South, the maroon-and-gold faithful were ready to deify Todd Graham. Now after two straight defeats, they've become that unstable ex.
Go spend some time in the social media space, living rooms and sports bars where ASU fans dwell. Optimism has been replaced by despair. Pride has given way to indifference. Support has given way to empty seats, both in Sun Devil Stadium and on the bandwagon.
Really? Already? C'mon now. A little perspective, people.
Yes, the last two weeks have been awful. After the surprising run to the top of the Pac-12 South, Sun Devil Nation has been gut-punched to the floor. It sucks. No question about it. Flashbacks to the horrors of 2011 are entirely warranted. Aside from Sucking for Luck, losing is never good. No one is trying to convince you otherwise.
But not let's forget what this season is truly all about for the Sun Devil football program.
This is a rebuilding year, plain and simple. From the coaching staff, players, schemes, program culture and everything in between, 2012 is but one step of a process to wake up the perennial "sleeping giant". It's going to take time. Sun Devil football had degenerated over the last 15 years into a total mess. Cleaning that up and building a winner doesn't happen overnight. The road back to the Rose Bowl is going to be one with plenty of highs and many lows.
Two months ago, most fans would have been thrilled with a .500 season. Then, the team exceeded all of our expectations by winning five of the first six games in a dominant fashion. As a result, expectations rose, and perspective was lost. Now that the team is facing adversity and coming down back down to earth, the all-too-familiar "What else is on?" attitude has returned.
To be fair, this about-face trait that is not limited to just Sun Devil fans. On all levels of sports, "less established" teams and programs all have fanbases that are just a string of wins or losses from a sellout or a half-empty stadium. On a more local level, such fairweather tendencies are ingrained in the Arizona sports fan's DNA. Whether it's the Suns, Diamondbacks, Cardinals or Sun Devils, the transient nature of the state's population has made devotion a rare commodity. Toss in the 140-character, immediate gratification modern society in which we live, and patience is no longer a virtue, its a rarity. Coaches no longer get a five-year plan. Many are lucky to get to see a full recruiting class come and go.
We've seen this fan attitude time after time after time for ASU, and now, it has reared it's ill-tempered head for the first time in the Todd Graham era. Many of the fans who were so passionately speaking victory a few weeks ago are using that same energy to bury the season and the new regime. They're losing sight of what's really important as their hope for a quick fix fades.
So Sun Devil fans have a choice to make.
Do they try to settle down, come to an understanding of the situation and support the team during this rebuilding process? Or do they continue to go round and round in an unstable relationship, falling in love after a few wins in a row, and then threatening to throw their season tickets out onto the front lawn after a couple losses?
As a fan, you should be mad about losing. You should expect better. But you should also see the whole picture. It's easy to cheer for a winner. It's another to be there for your team, your alma mater, your hometown boys through thick and thin and the ride back to thick again.
Which are you going to be?