ASU HC Kenny Dillingham backs Ray Anderson following postseason ban

Aug 28, 2023, 6:27 PM | Updated: Aug 29, 2023, 2:17 pm

TEMPE — The Arizona State football season kicks off Thursday against Southern Utah and it will be an unusual season for the program.

Unlike most years when college football teams are playing for the opportunity to reach a postseason bowl game, the Sun Devils will not have the chance to go bowling in 2023.

On Sunday, ASU self-imposed a postseason ban for this football season due to an NCAA investigation into allegations of recruiting violations committed by former head coach Herm Edwards and his staff during the lulls of the 2020 COVID-19-shortened season.

Outrage against ASU vice president for university athletics Ray Anderson flooded social media after the news came out. Criticisms of the timing of the self-imposed bowl ban and calls for Anderson’s job came from fans as well as media members.

While the negativity toward Anderson has been loud, Sun Devil head coach Kenny Dillingham backed him in his weekly press conference on Monday.

“I think Ray’s kind of gotten the short end of the stick here to be honest,” Dillingham said. “I think he’s kind of in the middle of all this. And Ray’s been really, really good to me since I’ve got here. And I don’t know what happened in the past here but Ray has been really good to me since I’ve got here.”

The team having its motivation potentially altered for its 12 games this season is certainly a valid concern after the self-imposed postseason banned was leveled.

After Sunday’s practice, Dillingham talked about how the motivation to compete will have to be found internally and by being the “very best” they can be each day.

According to Dillingham, the Sunday practice after the players learned of the postseason ban was not good but he said the team did the best it could do.

Monday, however, was a different story. Dillingham was pleased with practice and felt as though it was one of the best of the preseason.

“It may have been our best practice we’ve had (in) fall camp other than maybe one that was mixed in there,” Dillingham said. “Phenomenal day. It just tells you the character of the people that we (have).”

A question was raised in Dillingham’s press conference Monday on if the postseason ban will lead to any differences in the approach to the games this season.

“It’s the same thought process,” Dillingham said. “The seniors deserve the right to try to win every football game. I firmly believe that. That doesn’t change anything. The seniors deserve the right to go into every football game and try to win. … It’s whatever we can do to win football games for our seniors to make this season worth it and to make this season something they remember for the rest of their lives.”

As for the game Thursday, which begins at 7 p.m. and can be heard on the Arizona Sports app, 98.7 and, Dillingham gave his message to the fans.

“To me, the adversity is behind us,” Dillingham said. “It’s like I told our team. I said we’re going to give everybody one day. Get your feelings out. Including me. Get it off your chest. Get it out there. Let’s move on. Because that’s what it’s about. We’re not just going to say something and then get over it instantly.

“That’s not real. We can act like that’s real but it’s not. So to Sun Devil nation, it’s move on. Let’s move on. Let’s show support for the team because that’s what this is about. … Support them. Come out. Support them. Cheer. Be loud. Show that it matters. Show that you care. Show that we’re working in the right direction to get this place where everybody wants to go to.”

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