TEMPE, Ariz. — As the Sun Devils stepped foot onto the practice field early Sunday morning, the dejecting news that ASU self-imposed a one year bowl ban for the 2023 season hit the team. The ban will start in coach Kenny Dillingham’s debut game and Sun Devils season opener against Southern Utah on Thursday Aug. 31. at Mountain American Stadium.
The Sun Devil football program has been under NCAA investigations for three years for alleged recruiting violations in 2020 under former coach Herm Edwards. ASU hosting recruits on campus during the pandemic year, which required a 15-month no contact period, is among one of the violations ASU is being accused by the NCAA.
The program has been in a hellish spiral since the news, with five coaches leaving, deterring players and the ominous cloud of the NCAA looming like a bad hangover.
Arizona State parted ways with Edwards three games into the 2022 season after a pathetic 30-21 loss to Eastern Michigan. Former Chandler High coach and ASU running backs coach Shaun Aguano stepped in as interim coach for ASU after the program moved on from Edwards. Aguano coached nine games in 2022 before Kenny Dillingham announced he would take over for the 2023 season.
Programs will often hand down punishments while under investigations in hopes it mitigates any harsher punishments later down the road. However, Arizona State received a flurry of backlash over social media regarding the timing of the announcement of the punishment.
The timing of the punishment by Athletic Director Ray Anderson and President Michael Crow is not what the program needed while looking to move on from the incident. It puts new coach Dillingham, his staff and the 50 new players who were not part of the program during the alleged violations in way to pay price.
The announcement just days before the season opener will force Dillingham and company to pull every tool they possibly can to maintain focus, commitment and motivation while the season seems to be for not. Fifteen seniors will not have an opportunity to play in a bowl game nor do they have the opportunity to transfer as the portal for the 2023 season is closed.
Arizona State could have implemented the ban last season when the program registered a 3-9 record (2-7 Pac 12) and was searching for new leadership.
Why are we still doing this? 1. Postseason bans are not a deterrent and sanction the blameless. 2. Self-imposed penalties are useless. Unless part of a negotiated plea, they sacrifice players to protect institutions. 3. Funny how this was timed for after the portal closed.…— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) August 28, 2023
Ray Anderson hired his former client with no college coaching experience, it led to the program imploding and now under a bowl ban … but of course Ray Anderson is still there. https://t.co/FyFut8FtzM— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) August 27, 2023
This is what sticks with me about the situation at Arizona State: On a difficult day, Kenny Dillingham and players had to answer questions about something they didn’t have anything to do with, all while those who were actually at fault have yet to experience consequences.— Justin Toscano (@JustinCToscano) August 27, 2023