The roller coaster ride of expectations during a football season is an interesting one.
There likely hasn’t been a team that’s had as many drastic peaks and valleys as the 2012 Arizona State Sun Devils. With a new coaching staff in place, the Devils were picked to finish fifth in the Pac-12 South by the media covering the conference.
But ASU came out playing a disciplined style that fans weren’t used to seeing during Dennis Erickson’s coaching tenure. Not only were the Sun Devils playing smart football, they were winning games. Todd Graham’s team won five of its first six games, changing the expectation level of fans and setting up a huge nationally-televised Thursday night affair with highly-ranked Oregon.
A chance to pull an upset and impress observers nationwide fell by the wayside as the Ducks pounded ASU 43-21. That was followed up by a tough last-second 45-43 loss to UCLA.
Suddenly, ASU found themselves with a 5-3 record and a disgruntled fan base has taken notice, responding negatively, jumping off the bandwagon and even labeling this year’s team as “the same ol’ Sun Devils.”
ASU senior linebacker Brandon Magee has noticed, and he’s not all that happy about it.
“Some of our fans don’t even believe in us as a team anymore and they think that we’re going to fall into the same season as last year — I find that kind of ridiculous,” Magee said following Tuesday’s practice.
Last season, the Sun Devils stormed out to a 6-2 start and held control of their own destiny in the Pac-12 South race, but consecutive losses to UCLA, Washington State, Arizona and California derailed a once-promising campaign and ended Erickson’s coaching tenure.
“That’s how I really feel, it’s ridiculous,” Magee added. “I go on Facebook and I see bad messages, I go on Twitter, I see bad stuff, I watch the news, I see bad stuff. It’s like ‘gosh dang!’ Where’s the support at? Y’all was with us when we were winning and we start losing and y’all just go away.
“But it’s cool, I understand that fact and so do my other teammates and we’ve just got stay as brothers and listen to our coaches and we’ll be just fine.”
Magee, who’s in his fifth year in the program, uses the negativity as fuel, but doesn’t like it when it’s directed toward younger players who aren’t used to outside scrutiny.
“I enjoy reading that stuff, it makes me laugh. What else are y’all doing all day? Nothing? People that tweet that much, like what are you doing? Do you go outside?” Magee asked. “And it’s always negative. Negative, negative, negative. It’s been like that for five years, ever since I’ve been here. Once we start losing, people want to start losing faith and nobody wants to say nothing? I’ll say something.”
Despite the fans’ negativity, Magee believes the Sun Devils are in the right frame of mind to get back on the winning track against 11th-ranked Oregon State Saturday night.
“We’re really motivated, and we know we’ve got to close out these last four games at an all-time high,” he said. “We know we’ve got to pull together even closer than we’ve ever been, especially going on the road to Oregon State.”