A new step for my daughter makes me Arizona State’s newest fan

Aug 20, 2019, 5:31 PM | Updated: 9:36 pm
(Facebook Photo/Arizona State University)...
(Facebook Photo/Arizona State University)
(Facebook Photo/Arizona State University)

My daughter moved into college on Sunday. That’s when I officially became part of the Arizona State family. You know what they say about choosing your in-laws.

This should be interesting. I have represented something repugnant to a good chunk of ASU fans: a Commie liberal who doesn’t know what it means to properly hate a Wildcat, a loudmouth outsider who claims it’s OK to cheer for the U of Ain’t during the NCAA Tournament.

You’re right and I’m wrong. It’s not OK. At least not anymore. Because if there’s one constant in my life for the past 18 years, it’s that my daughter makes the rules.

Strangely, this story is nearly 40 years in the making. I visited ASU as an enrollment candidate in the early 1980s after posting straight As in junior college. I badly wanted to be a Sun Devil, part of Renegade U. I flew to Phoenix with my late father, who sat 20 rows behind me on the airplane smoking cigarettes.

The whole thing seems like a dream, one that died when the admissions department would not recognize my transcript in full, which meant I would not be arriving as a first-semester junior. I didn’t have the money and couldn’t waste the time. I moved on. I came back. And, oh, the memories we’ve created together:

After one ASU practice in the distant past, the late Bruce Snyder put his hands around my neck in a mock gesture, and it must’ve taken everything he had not to squeeze. The death stare I received from Rob Evans after criticizing his X’s and O’s. The late-night phone call from Dirk Koetter as the Loren Wade tragedy played out in cold blood.

My daughter will fit in very well at ASU. Because she’s cool, smart, beautiful and blah, blah, blah. And because she loves trolling me.

Over the years, when the mood strikes, she has been known to gleefully read aloud from the comment section of my harshest critics. She’ll begin a conversation with, “Dad, I did a Google search on you and … well …”

And then she starts to laugh.

ASU’s Doug Tammaro likes to do the same. He’s one of the best sports information directors on the planet. He does his job extremely well. He does other people’s jobs extremely well, with a rich history of passing on countless story ideas and tips to local media members who should’ve paid him a stipend over the years. And somehow, he still finds the time to make copies of my most outlandish columns and send them to me when I’m wrong.

Sometimes they arrive in the mail. Sometimes via text. He’s ruthless, wonderful and highly unpredictable.

Once, a student at Sun Devil Stadium held up a sign that read, “Ban Dickley.” The next time I attended an ASU game, this is what Tammaro had waiting for me:

This is a new beginning for all of us. And I’m good with all of it, even the $11,000 bill that’s due in five days. Because ASU is hitting its stride just as my daughter arrives on campus.

Skylar Bickley has never had a winning football team to cheer, and now she gets the encore of Herm Edwards. She might experience a new summit for the men’s basketball program. She’s living in a heritage dorm, refurbished but full of history, in the epicenter of ASU’s athletic vortex.

She’s curfew-less and free to experience all that goes with being an ASU student, from Michael Phelps sightings to an energetic school President to the butchers who call themselves Pac-12 officials.

“We’re not going to measure ourselves by whom we exclude, but by whom we include,” Dr. Michael Crow told the ASU Class of 2023.

That includes the surname, “Bickley.” With a “B.”

Reach Bickley at dbickley@bonneville.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

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A new step for my daughter makes me Arizona State’s newest fan