Before we get this roundtable discussion started, we would like to take a moment thank all of our faithful House of Sparky readers. You could go anywhere for your Arizona State content so we just wanted to share how grateful we all feel that you choose to engage with us. We hope you all have a fantastic Thanksgiving and if you're roasting a Wildcat, save us a bite.
Now that we got the mushy portion out of the way, let's jump right in:
Question: What are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving?
Ryan Bafaloukos: What I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving is Arizona State's ability to close out games. For years, I have watched this team lose leads late or come up a few plays short. We saw it last year against UCLA and this year against Notre Dame. However, starting with the road victory over Utah, Arizona State is showing the ability to win close games late. The fact that this team was able to come from 12 points down in the second half, on the road, in a harsh environment, shows a lot about the character of this team.
This culminated last Saturday, when Arizona State saw a 20-point second half lead dwindle. However, this team made enough plays to win the game and seal the Pac-12 conference. This experience, in close games, will help this team in its next three games.
Nick Krueger: This Thanksgiving, I'm most thankful for the ASU football team equipment managers for giving this program an identity. Even if you are a traditionalist, a different uniform every week is the name of the game now and its time to accept it. Whether it was the helmet with the huge pitchfork on one side and number on the other or the flame helmet from the Notre Dame game with a "charred" face mask, win or lose ASU has looked darn good doing it this season.
It's appealing to recruits and a younger generation that ASU football is obviously trying to please as evidenced by the new Sparky roll out in May. This isn't going away anytime soon and I'm sure more combinations are coming. The annual blackout game has become a favorite among students and as counter intuitive as it seems, the ASU football program is building tradition and staying power by being "that team" that changes up the uniform every week.
Honorable mention of thankfulness: Michael Crow for putting the very fine print in Steve Patterson's contract that didn't allow him to take Todd Graham with him to the University of Texas.
Cory Williams: I'm thankful for an entire November of fun and positive outcomes for Arizona State revenue sports. Between men's basketball and football, the teams are 9-0 with some pretty huge wins. Both teams face stiff tests in the final days of the month, but we should be thankful for having so much to cheer for and the future seems brighter than any time in recent history.
I'm thankful for the Pac-12 South title, but it feels like this team can achieve so much more. It's too cold in DC for flowers, but on Jan. 1, I'd love to be smelling the roses -- I promise to be thankful for that if it comes to fruition.
Ben Haber: There are plenty of people to thank and it starts with Todd Graham. The results don't lie. During last season (Graham's first season), few thought the Sun Devils were going to be competitive. Through good coach and their disciplined approach, the Sun Devils overachieved and nearly won the Pac-12 South. The players all bought in to Graham from day one, which is very rare.
In 2013, the Sun Devils lived up to the hype and are on the verge of surpassing it. Most scoffed at the notion of Arizona State making the Rose Bowl, but now it seems realistic and almost likely. On paper, Oregon and Stanford probably posses better rosters than Arizona State. In spite of the talent differential, Graham made up for the small gap with better coaching. In result, Frank Kush Field may be the host stadium for the conference championship game. The Arizona State football program has officially arrived, and most of it traces back to Graham.
Even off the gridiron, Graham says and does all the right things. The players love him. The boosters and alumni love him. The media love him. The fans love him. It's hard not to love him. Graham grew up in Texas but knows the history of the Arizona State program well. His decision to make Pat Tillman the face of the program was genius. His decision to start Taylor Kelly over Mike Bercovici and Michael Eubank got questioned, yet it panned out excellently. His recruiting continues to rise, stretching it's boarders over to Texas. His premise to launch the stay true to ASU shows he understands the importance of keeping local stars here. His emphasis on playing physical, mistake free, no penalty football can sound repetitive but it's certainty the right approach. The list goes on.
As Graham would say, "good day today". At the end of each practice, Graham states that phrase. Every day has become a good day for Arizona State football and Graham is the reason why. I wanted to have a special senior year, consisting of success on the gridiron, therefore I personally thank Graham on Thanksgiving.
Brad Denny: Anyone can say they want to win. Talking the talk is easy.
When Todd Graham took over, most everyone scoffed at him and his catchphrases. They felt the only thing about him that was "high octane" were his departures. The only victory of which he would speak would be at his next job...and the next one after that.
Two years later, he has more than walked the walk. He has a division title in his pocket, and his Devils control their own Rose Bowl destiny. The Sun Devils no longer whither under the spotlight. They no linger crumble in the fourth quarter, nor do they spiral out of control when things get tough. It's during those situations that #SpeakingVictory transitions into plain ol' "Victory". It's when ASU plays the new breed of Sun Devil football.
Thank you to the players and coaches for their effort and for living his example. Thank you to the school administration for bringing him here. Thank you Arizona Board of Regents for extending his deal.
Cody Ulm: I'm thankful for the unfathomable amount of incredible Sun Devil athletes that we're fortunate enough to watch on a week-to-week basis. It's strange to think about it but we may be in the Golden Age of Sun Devils stars. You Jahii Carson for basketball. Will Sutton and Marion Grice for football. Ryan Kellogg and Ryan Burr for baseball. Dallas Escobedo for softball. The list goes on and on.
It's an honor to cover all of these great athletes and people. They're great role models for their community and any future Sun Devils to come. It's strange to think that we all are watching history unfold but this very well could be the best year for Arizona State athletics in a long, long time. And it's all because of the athletes and coaches who don the maroon and gold proudly.
Kerry Crowley: I'm thankful for plenty of Arizona State-related things this holiday season, but I'm especially thankful for the community we've cultivated at House of Sparky during the last year. First and foremost, I'm thankful to you, the readers, for coming back for more on a daily basis and trusting us to provide you with the Arizona State coverage that you deserve. Without dedicated House of Sparky readers and commenters, our site wouldn't be special. To see members of House of Sparky actively sharing their thoughts about Sun Devil sports on articles and game threads makes this job worth it, and I couldn't be more proud to write for this website.
I'm also especially thankful for the staff here at House of Sparky. Each and every staff member brings a unique perspective that has helped reach different demographics and ensure that we're able to provide you with a variety of coverage that keeps things interesting. The fact that readers comment, like our articles on Facebook, and tweet them out on Twitter speaks volumes about the hard work of the staff, and I'm grateful to everyone on that front.
Finally, I'm thankful for success. Let's be honest, it's a whole lot easier to cheer for a 9-2 team that has locked up the South Division than a 7-4 team that lost to Washington State (I joke, I joke). The Arizona State football team has made this season a year to remember, and the hard work and tremendous individual effort we've seen on the field has made this team a great reflection of the university. Arizona State is my school, and as a student, I'm proud to have men of character wearing the maroon and gold (and black that traditionalists hate) on the football field. Players like Alden Darby, Will Sutton and Marion Grice make this team a joy to cover and it's not just because of how they carry themselves on the field. Todd Graham has instilled wonderful values in the young men he coaches, and I'm thankful that the players have bought in.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving everyone, you deserve it!
Now it's your turn to tell us what you're thankful for. Let's hear it Arizona State fans: share what you're most grateful for when it comes to Arizona State football and the rest of Sun Devil athletics.