ASU could be good, bad or anything else
Aug. 16, 2012
"Extreme scenarios and pieces of fiction." That's what ESPN.com Pac-12 writer Ted Miller calls his "best case-worst case" breakdowns of each of the conference's teams, a series that on Tuesday covered ASU's two possibilities.
A forewarning: "Extreme" was an accurate word choice.
The best-case scenario: 10-3, which includes a 9-3 regular season -- with losses to Oregon, USC and Cal -- and a Holiday Bowl win over Texas that produces a final ranking of No. 14. That scenario also includes Taylor Kelly solidifying himself as starter, ASU finishing with the fewest penalties in the country (ha!), alumni ponying up $200 million for the stadium renovation, etc. Good times.
The worst-case scenario: 2-10 (yikes), which includes beatdowns against the likes of Oregon and USC but also Washington State and UA. In that scenario, the quarterbacks struggle, there's division in the locker room, recruits start spurning ASU to head to UA and, of course, Graham bails after the season. Not good times.
As amusing and unlikely as the the two impressively detailed scenarios are, there's one real-world takeaway: The chasm between a realistic best-case record and a realistic worst-case record for ASU this season is vast. Really, only the USC and Oregon games appear unwinnable. But only the NAU game appears unlosable. There are so many questions about this team -- from the coordinators to the secondary to the big one at quarterback -- that 6-6 seems to be the baseline projection just because that'd be the mathematical average from a season full of toss-ups.
But all that means is that nobody really knows what to expect, especially with a large majority of ASU's practices closed to the media and the public. There are plenty of reasons to expect this team to be bad (new coaching staff, inexperienced quarterback, numerous personnel losses on the line and at receiver, no Vontaze Burfict) and at least a few reasons to expect this team to be good (new coaching staff, no Vontaze Burfict, depth at running back, talented front seven on defense). Until the Devils hit the field, those talking points are just talking points that do little other than indicate the talker's optimism or pessimism.
But hey, unfiltered optimism and pessimism are what August is all about, right?
-- Matt Swartz