Not even 24 hours after Arizona State's emotional victory over the Arizona Wildcats, the NCAA denied the Sun Devils access to the bowl season. After fighting and clawing to six wins, the Sun Devils still fell short, and the NCAA said, "No" to their waiver appeal.
This story began long before the 2010 season. Originally, ASU and San Jose State scheduled a non-conference game to be played in Tempe.
Wisconsin offered San Jose State a significantly larger payout to play at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, WI. As college football has turned out to be recently, SJSU spurned the Devils for more money and television exposure.
Dennis Erickson and the Sun Devil's athletic department were left with an open date, and only 11 games on their schedule.
The Sun Devils sought out a Division 1-A opponent, but none would budge. ASU's only option was scheduling a second FCS opponent, in addition to already scheduled Northern Arizona. This procedure is somewhat uncommon, but not unheard of.
Per NCAA rules, seven wins would grant bowl access in this scenario. Entering the season, the Sun Devils were aware of the raised bar, but could not hurdle it with 12 opportunities.
Although the games and competitive nature of Dennis Erickson's squad was a positive, especially after an excitement-filled rivalry win last night, the young squad could have benefited from three extra weeks of practice, and a 13th game (not to mention the bowl payout money), but it was not in the cards.
After losing to Wisconsin, Stanford, and top-ranked Oregon, the Sun Devils played three of the nation's elite opponents to the wire, only to stub their toe, and fumble away each game.
However, this should not overshadow the Sun Devil's accomplishment in Tucson last night. Brock Osweiler, Vontaze Burfict and Thomas Weber led ASU to one of the greatest Territorial Cup games of all-time, and that success will carry over to Spring football in 2011.
Next Fall, the Sun Devils will be a force to be reckoned with in the inaugural PAC-12 South division, despite the NCAA's response today.