Aguano explains ‘why’ of Territorial Cup to transfer-heavy ASU, plays Arizona fight song

Nov 23, 2022, 8:37 AM
Interim head coach Shaun Aguano (wearing visor) and the Arizona State Sun Devils enter the stadium ...
Interim head coach Shaun Aguano (wearing visor) and the Arizona State Sun Devils enter the stadium before an NCAA Pac-12 college football game against the Stanford Cardinal on October 2, 2022 at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, California. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)

TEMPE — Throw the records out the door. There is no next week. It’s the Territorial Cup.

The Arizona State Sun Devils and Arizona Wildcats meet in Tucson on Black Friday to compete for the oldest trophy in college football.

And it seems the off-the-field antics have already begun, as Arizona State’s “A” mountain was painted red and blue over the weekend.

“Trust me, we (saw it) two days ago. They painted it red and I made sure that our kids saw,” interim head coach Shaun Aguano said on Monday.

“I also made sure that our kids saw (Arizonaโ€™s) little scuffle on the sideline and all of those things that we don’t need to do, so anything that I can use for an advantage.”

Aguano and his coaching staff have been fully focused on breaking down Arizona schematically since the Sun Devils’ 31-7 loss on Saturday to Oregon State. In fact, the team “didn’t even worry about what happened” in what was ASU’s third straight defeat.

However, with a total of 43 new players on the roster — including starting running back Xazavian Valladay and defensive tackle Nesta Jade Silvera — not everybody can fully grasp and appreciate the Territorial Cup in the same manner as captains Kyle Soelle and LaDarius Henderson.

The interim head coach took a little bit of time during the team’s meeting and had the media department show the players a video explaining the why behind the in-state rivalry.

“This is a one-game season right here and this game probably means more to them and the state of Arizona more than anybody really imagines. … They talk about the Territorial Cup, but they don’t know the reason why and the history,” Aguano said.

“So we spent about five to six minutes just watching a video of the history of the Territorial Cup so those guys can understand exactly what we’re playing for.”

The interim head coach — who could be preparing for his final game at the helm — has already added mind games at practice for the trip to Arizona Stadium.

While ASU players were stretching out on Monday, Aguano played Arizona’s fight song instead of the usual soundtrack.

โ€œThey really werenโ€™t happy about (it) and that’s good,” he said. “So there are a couple of things from an engagement standpoint and motivational standpoint that I like to throw in.

“But they really need to know that we just need to execute at practice, but I’ll throw those little tidbits this week just to keep it interesting.”

Despite Aguano not knowing what his future has in store beyond Friday afternoon, he’s still going to go about it as if he will be the head coach of the Sun Devils next season. That even includes recruiting. The former Chandler High School coach has promised he would “personally recruit Arizona kids.”

Well, there’s no bigger game for bragging rights in the Grand Canyon State.

An ASU victory would be the sixth in a row over Arizona and would crown the Sun Devils the best college football team in the state after both starting the season with a wins over Northern Arizona.

“Oh, absolutely it matters, especially if you’re fighting with a kid (while recruiting),” Aguano said. “Their motto is, ‘It’s personal.’ Well, it’s personal to us too, and winning this football game gives us another notch from a recruiting standpoint. … We’re a better football team and program than they are.

“There are a lot of things that you can use in the recruiting speech that you can give, but it is huge and especially when you want to win the Arizona battle of kids. And thatโ€™s my goal is to win and keep the best kids and just having that in your speech of course is something that I think is a huge advantage.”

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