Ever since Arizona State football moved their training camp from Camp Tontozona to the Verde Dickey Dome in Tempe before the 2008 season, there has been a strong and vocal movement comprised of fans, boosters and former players clamoring for a return to the pine country that served as the Sun Devils' preseason home for 48 years. On Thursday, ASU AD Steve Patterson and head football coach Todd Graham announced their vision for making that return a reality.
Since taking over, Graham has stressed the importance of embracing ASU's tradition, with "Camp T" high on that list.
In a press release issued from the school, he states, "Camp Tontozona is one of the famous icons in the history of college football. I want to take my first team there because the tradition begins at Tontozona, justlike it did in 1960. Every player, every coach and many fans begin each season in the tall pines northeast of Payson."
He toured the facilities in February, and saw firsthand the state of disrepair that the location had fallen into, thus requiring the fundraising efforts unveiled today, christened by the school as the "Return to Camp T" campaign.
The financing goal for the "Return to Camp T" campaign is $150,000 in order to upgrade the facilities and cover associated costs. If those goals are met by June 1st, the team would head to Tontozona for a portion of fall camp from August 14th-18th, with a scrimmage set for the 18th.
Said Patterson, "Camp Tontozona unites Sun Devil football players from every generation and we want to return to that tradition. We invite former football players, fans and anyone that believes in Camp T and what it stands for to participate by donating money or services. We need the Sun Devil Football family to unite behind this goal."
Should the funding goals fall short this summer, the raised funds will be applied to a return to Tontozona in 2013.
One of the most discussed benefits of the Camp Tontozona experience, spoken almost to a man by former players, is the team bonding that occurs in the pines.
"Camp Tontozona was simply about a bonding experience for us, especially as freshmen," said former Sun Devil Jake Plummer. "For me, it was my indoctrination to college football. It culminated in a Rose Bowl for us in 1996. It was Camp Tontozona that brought us together." (Click here for more player quotes)
Others have stated that with the construction of the Dickey Dome as ASU's new practice facility, time and resources devoted to a Camp T return are wasted.
Regardless, a Sun Devil return to Camp Tontozona is now a matter of "when" and not "if".
Here is a fantastic photo gallery of ASU at Camp Tontozona over the years.
Those interested in making donations are to visit www.thesundevils.com or contact Kevin Miniefield of The Sun Devil Club at 480-727-6644 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow me on Twitter @BDenny29 for the latest on ASU football