Arizona State University football coach Dennis Erickson and the big wigs at the school probably won’t be asking me what’s behind the Sun Devils’ glaring gridiron problems that have resulted in a less than stellar 4-5 record and enough narrow losses to fill a record book.
But, I know the reason.
The Sun Devils’ struggles are due to the Curse of Camp Tontozona.
You see, the Grand Lady of college preseason football camps is upset that Erickson, his fellow coaches and the Sun Devil players abandoned her.
For the past three football seasons, she’s set alone in the majestic Tonto National Forest east of Payson receiving only a handful of visitors — other than mountain lions, skunks, deer, elk and snakes, that is.
A pole-vaulting camp has been there, as was a high school football camp and several school science outings.
But, for the most part, she’s been alone and not allowed to play the training camp role she once did for some of ASU’s greatest football teams including the Rose Bowl champions of 1987 and the Rose Bowl team 10 years later.
Alone, seemingly forgotten and abandoned in favor of an $8.4 million bubble gum-looking balloon in Tempe, Tontozona feels outraged and rejected by those who she graciously hosted for so many years.
Around the state, there are thousands of Devils disciples who understand the Grand Lady’s wrath and continue to question why she was deserted, discarded and forsaken after so many years of loyalty and service.
Without ASU making its annual visits and seeing no recourse as long as Erickson is at the helm of the football program, Tontozona decided to place a curse on the Sun Devils. The gridiron blight is much like the Billy Goat Curse that was slapped on the Chicago Cubs in 1945.
Since that famous curse, the Cubs have not returned to World Series.
Following Tontozona’s curse, the Devils have not been to a bowl game or had a winning season.
To the unbelieving, it’s now obvious, curses do work.
Tontozona threw her damming curse on ASU after the 2007 season. That year, the last the Devils conducted their training camp at Tontozona, the team finished 10-3 and advanced to the Holiday Bowl.
But Erickson decided the Grand Lady was too Spartan for his liking, and threw in the towel on the camps that had been held there since 1960.
Worse yet, Arizona rode Tontozona’s hex last year to a win over the Devils.
The remedy to return to winning?
So, what can be done to end the curse?
It is said in the Midwest that the Curse of the Billy Goat can only be dispelled by the baseball team organization showing a sincere fondness for goats and allowing them into Wrigley field.
Tontozona’s curse can only be dispelled by ASU coaches and school administrators admitting they made a grave error abandoning the fabled training camp in favor of returning to Tempe for preseason training in a sterile, indoor bubble so fragile it once deflated in a rainstorm.
That collapse, I contend, was also due to the Curse of Tontozona.
After ASU concedes to the mistake of leaving the high mountain camp, coaches and players must return each August to Tontozona as they did for 27 years.
Only then will the curse be lifted and Sun Devils be allowed to flourish as they once did under legendary Hall of Fame coach Frank Kush, Bruce Snyder and those who followed.