1996, 2015, 1976 - - - 2021

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Posted by Big Ron on August 25, 21 at 22:32:25:

Doug Haller had a nice Confidence Meter story today to assess how Sun Devil fans should be feeling going into this season. It made me think about a few past seasons. Which history will repeat itself?

1996: Great QB and RBs. One of our best lines with the best Left Tackle ever. Nasty defense. X Factor - great leadership. Plummer, Tillman, Poole, Rogers, Damien Richardson, all refused to lose. The team was motivated by Nebraska running up the score in the 77-28 loss the year before. The opener against Washington set the tone. I will always remember Plummer screaming at Robert Nycz before the kicker walked out to kick the winning FG.

2015: Coming off 10-3 season with lots of talent. Mike Bercovici, Demario Richards, Kalen Ballage, D.J. Foster, Jordan Simone, Tim White, Zane Gonzalez, Devin Lucien, etc. Yet this team only finished 6-7. I started to worry when Berco and Simone seemed to be at every press conference and sports talk show. X Factor - overconfidence. A season opening loss to Texas A&M and uninspired wins over Cal Poly and New Mexico set the tone for an up-and-down season.

1976: Coming off one of the greatest seasons in ASU history. 12-0 in 1975 and ranked #3 to start 1976. The team was loaded. Dennis Sproul, Fred Mortensen, Freddie Williams, Larry Mucker, John Jefferson, Bruce Hardy, Al Harris, Kit Lathrop, Gary Padjen, Tim Petersen, etc. The team opened with a 4 game losing streak finishing the season 4-7 with a 4-3 WAC record. Frank Kush was completely baffled. X-Factor - Never recovered from a 28-10 opening loss to UCLA.

So I look at the 2021 team. On paper, I see a 10 win season. Then I read about players missing camp and coaches suspended. There are NCAA, COVID and NIL distractions. Key players lost to Transfer Portal activity. I am still optimistic that a 1996 leadership X-factor will emerge. And I try not to think about 2015 or 1976.

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